The (Next) Year in British Sports: What’s Ahead in 2013

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Wow! It really was a cracking sporting year for Great Britain in 2012 as the country’s sportsmen and women hit the headlines, for the right reasons, at home and away. The London Olympics' success was the exclamation mark, and it's going to be tough to match the euphoria in 2013. But we do have quite a bit to look forward to over the coming months. The highlight: the Ashes in July, as England cricket battles Australia for that little tiny urn — not to mention bragging rights for fans.

Here are my other highlights for the coming year:

Six Nations rugby (February – March)

The highlight of the Rugby Union calendar, the Six Nations sees England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy battle it out for Northern Hemisphere supremacy. Teams tried out various personnel and tactics against the best from the Southern last autumn, but the Six Nations is when teams put their money where their mouths are.

Will Wales defend their title, or will England use their win against New Zealand as practice to win back the title they won in 2011? Will Italy win a record 10th wooden spoon (given to the team coming in last)? Will The Eel Pie pub run out of beer? Questions, questions…

159th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (March)

Nothing quite says “historical grudge match” like the light blues versus the dark blues, as two of the world’s most famous university rowing crews go at it on the River Thames. The light blues (Cambridge) lead the series 81-76. Can Oxford close the gap? Will someone do the swimming equivalent of jay walking and disrupt the race again, as happened last year? Will anyone catch a crab (snag an oar in the water) and sink a boat? Be sure to join me — and much of England — to find out…

World Snooker Championship (April)

The World Snooker Championship has been staged in Britain since 1927, and at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England, since 1977. Although snooker (a form of billiards) doesn’t always conjure up the thoughts of controversy, over the years we have seen fisticuffs, hissy fits, refusals to leave the playing room, and a player taunting his opponent by clearing up the table left handed.

The culprit in that incident was Ronnie O’Sullivan, now four-time world and defending champion, although it appears he is taking a rest (no pun intended) this year and might not compete. Will Judd Trump realize his true potential? Will John Higgins win again? Will a Davis win again? It does help to have that surname, since a good number of World Championship winners have had it. Tune in…

2013 Aintree Grand National (April)

Since 1839, the Grand National has been run at beautiful Aintree racecourse near Liverpool and is probably the world’s most watched horse race. With famous fences such as Bechers Brook and Canal Turn, not to mention more than 4 miles of grueling steeplechase course, the race is always pulsating. It’s also been controversial due to fears about horse safety. Organizers have worked to ensure safety in recent years while maintaining the challenge and spectacle of the race.

Will 2013 see a finish as close as 2012, when Neptune Collonges pipped Sunnyhill Lad by a nose hair? Will any jockeys call a cab? We will find out…

The Ashes: England vs. Australia (July-August)

The London Summer Olympics took center stage last year, dominating the newspapers’ front and back pages. You can bet your sticky wickets that the Ashes will do likewise this year. One of the oldest international sporting fixtures, the original Ashes occurred in 1882, when England lost a cricket match to a “colony” (Australia) for the first time in history. The crowd was silent. An obituary ran the following day in the Sporting Times, indicating that English Cricket had died and the ashes had been sent overseas. When England next toured Australia, it was the “quest to regain the ashes.” And battle has raged every two years since! A lot more to follow on this fixture later on in the year. Will bodyline bowling (pitching) tactics make the headlines? Probably….

We also have, of course, the FA Cup Final, the UEFA Champions League Final, the London Marathon, Rugby League World Cup and the usual suspects of Wimbledon, The Open Championship and more. What other sporting events are you looking forward to and what would you like us to cover? Drop me a line in the comments box…

by Matt Goff

Top: Six Nations Rugby will be one of the big sports stories in 2013. Here, England plays Ireland in 2012. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Right: Ronnie O'Sullivan, colorful winner of last year's World Snooker Championship, has said he's taking a break this year. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

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