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Warren Gatland gives positive update about Robbie Henshaw’s Lions hopes

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Warren Gatland has allayed fears over Robbie Henshaw’s fitness for the start of the Test series against the Springboks in three weeks’ time by intimating the Irish centre will only be ruled out of consideration for the next one or two matches.

“He’s got a very, very mild hamstring strain. He definitely won’t be considered for next Wednesday, then we’ll just assess his progress,” said Gatland in reference to the British & Irish Lions second tour match against the Sharks next Wednesday.

“We won’t push him if we don’t have to. It may be a couple of games, we just want to make sure he’s 100 per cent right because there’s no doubt he’s been one of the standout players in the Six Nations and the way he’s been playing – we’d like to get him back to full fitness without putting him under any pressure and be able to give him a couple of games before we start considering the Test side.”

Gatland seemed reasonably pleased with his sides’ opening effort on South African soil, a 56-14 win over the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg, all the more so as his medical team reported no injuries.

“The positive thing is that there’s still lots of things to work on. We’ve been getting better and better as a squad the more time we spend together. We made 14 changes.

“We put down bit of a marker but we know as a group that as a group we won’t be 100 per cent satisfied until we show lots of improvements, but we feel we can get there and make lots of improvements too.”

The game was notable for Josh Adams becoming the first player to score four tries for the Lions since Shane Williams scored five against Manawatu in 2005.

“The guy on the left wing did okay,” noted Gatland ironically when asked to single out individuals or other aspects of the performance.

“I was pleased with the bench, they brought some energy.

Probably we went in there with a gameplan that we had to adjust because we were getting a bit more success in terms of… they probably didn’t pressure us as much in defence as we had expected.

Josh Adams scored four tries in the Lions’ warm-up win over the Sigma Lions. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
Josh Adams scored four tries in the Lions’ warm-up win over the Sigma Lions. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

“So we were able to change the way we play, which was a pretty good reaction. I was just pretty pleased. The energy and enthusiasm with guys working hard to get back when they made a few breaks and we made a couple of mistakes.

“They were hard to get the ball off because there was a lot of one-pass rugby, two-pass rugby. When we turned it over they played lots of phases against us, but I thought it was a really positive start.”

True to his word that every member of the 38-man squad will be given a start in the opening three games, including last week’s win over Japan in Murryfield, Gatland confirmed: “The players who haven’t started will start on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a day off tomorrow. The non-23 had a tough hot out this morning with some fitness and skill work. We’re trying to get everyone on the same cycle, so we’re off tomorrow and will probably name the team to players tomorrow, (then) Monday training and then the captain’s run, so it’s a very short turnaround.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with the players, their attitude and how they have been preparing with their own walk throughs and time on the laptops. It’s good for everyone to have a start in the first three games, so we’ll probably still be a little bit rusty with making so any changes, but we’ll see how we go on Wednesday.”

The backrow is shaping up to be particularly competitive, as expected, after a try-scoring man of the match performance by Hamish Watson at openside and a big game by Courtney Lawes.

“We’ve been really impressed with Courtney so far, he came on at second-row last week and then backrow today.

“His foot-work and workrate was fantastic, he does give us options for secondrow and backrow.

“The pleasing thing is we’ve got so much competition. It will be interesting to see next week a different sort of backrow with Tom Curry, (Josh) Navidi and Sam Simmonds. That’s pretty exciting as well.

“So, the competition is huge. We’re kind of not really, at the moment, trying to predict what a Test side looks like. We’re trying to let that unfold and see how the players keep performing, playing, how the combinations work.

“Then, we’ll start looking at our options. We definitely don’t want to pigeonhole anyone.

“We’re keeping an open mind about how we play and how we keep improving.”

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How the cost of renting an apartment in Copenhagen compares to other cities in Denmark

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With the arguable exception of second city Aarhus, Copenhagen is significantly more expensive to rent housing than anywhere else in Denmark.

But the extra cost in the capital depends on where else in Denmark you compare with, as well as the type of housing you rent.

Private or general housing?

First, it is important to note the difference between the two main types of rental housing in Denmark: private rentals and almene boliger (literally, ‘general housing’), a form of subsidised housing.

For almene boliger, local municipalities put up 10 percent of building costs and in return have the right to decide who is allocated one in four available apartments, enabling them to provide housing to municipal residents who need it. The housing therefore plays a role in the social housing provision.

This type of housing is normally managed by a boligforening or housing association. Rent goes towards costs of running the housing and to pay off the housing association’s loans, which means property owners aren’t profiting from rents and prices are controlled.

Aside from housing assigned by the municipality, almene boliger are open for anyone. However, to get one, you must get to the top of a waiting list, which you join by signing up with associations which operate housing in the city where you live (or want to live).

In Copenhagen or Aarhus, it can take years to get to the top of these lists, while in smaller cities you might get an offer in weeks or even days.

As such, many newcomers to Denmark must turn to the private rental market if they are living in one of the main cities.

READ ALSO: Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

Private housing: Copenhagen clearly pricier 

A study conducted by housing research centre Bolius in November 2020 found the cost of a 56 square-metre apartment in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district to be 8,536 kroner per month.

The study, which was based on data from 2019 and 2020 from rental platforms boliga.dk and boligportal.dk, shows the average monthly cost of non-limited private apartments on Nørrebro, compared with 16 other locations in Denmark.

The cost takes into account the cost of a deposit (normally three months’ rent) and adds it to the average cost of renting the housing for five years (thereby assuming none of the deposit is returned to the tenant).

In comparison to the price in Nørrebro, the study found rent in Hillerød north of Copenhagen to be slightly less (8,218 kroner) for a slightly larger apartment (65 square metres).

Moving further out from Copenhagen, costs begin to drop even more.

In Kalundborg on the west coast of Zealand, you can rent a 71-square-metre flat for 5,167 kroner per month. Næstved, a commuter town between Copenhagen and the Great Belt Bridge, comes in at 6,039 kroner for an apartment at 72 square metres.

The cheaper rents are consistent further to the west, exemplified in Jutland cities Aalborg (5,544 kroner for 62 square metres), Vejle (6.696 kroner for 84 square metres) and Esbjerg (4,399 kroner for 54 square metres).

Although Aarhus is not included in the study, third-largest city Odense is. Here, there is still a significant saving on Copenhagen, with 8,488 kroner, a similar rent to that in Nørrebro, getting you an apartment over 50 percent bigger at 82 square metres.

General (almene) housing: closer, but still higher in Greater Copenhagen

Rent prices for almene or subsidised housing were most recently analysed in a 2020 report by Landsbyggefonden (National Building Foundation), a support institution for the social housing sector.

According to that report, the rent for family housing (meaning housing not reserved for students or seniors) is “on average, approximately 100-200 kroner per square metre higher [per year, ed.] east of the Great Belt Bridge than west of it”.

Of the five administrative regions, average rent for family subsidised housing is highest in Greater Copenhagen at 906 kroner per square metre for a year’s rent.

The lowest rents can be found in South Denmark, where the yearly cost is 722 kroner per square metre.

Zealand is the region that comes closest to Copenhagen on the costs for this type of regular housing. Here, tenants can expect to pay 859 kroner per square metre in a year. The equivalent costs in Central Jutland and North Jutland and 778 kroner and 747 kroner respectively.

The study also places Greater Copenhagen as the most expensive region when rents are presented as the median monthly rent for family housing.

Here, the median values are split into five categories based on apartment size, with Copenhagen coming out as the most expensive region for each category.

For example, the median monthly rents for apartments between 50-60 square metres are as follows: 5,039 kroner (Greater Copenhagen); 4,913 kroner (Zealand); 4,541 kroner (Central Jutland); 4,388 kroner (North Jutland); 4,236 kroner (South Denmark). The national average is 4,667 kroner.

Sources: Domea, Bolius, Landsbyggefonden



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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms

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The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.

The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.

The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.

The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.

“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.

The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.

The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.

“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.

The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.

‘Badly needed’

Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.

“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.

“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”

The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.

Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.

New centres

A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.

Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.

“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.


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IN PICTURES: French daredevil takes hair-raising Seine tightrope walk

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Attached by a strap to a safety lanyard, 27-year-old Nathan Paulin slowly progressed barefoot on a line stretched across the river between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theatre.

He stopped for a few breaks, sitting or lying on the rope.

Paulin holds an umbrella as he performs, for the second time, on a 70-metre-high slackline spanning 670 metres between the Eiffel Tower and the Theatre National de Chaillot. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

“It wasn’t easy walking 600 metres, concentrating, with everything around, the pressure … but it was still beautiful,” he said after the performance on Saturday.

He said obtaining the necessary authorisations had been a difficulty for him, plus “the stress linked to the audience, the fact that there are a lot of people”.

Photo: (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Paulin, holder of several world records, performed the feat to celebrate France’s annual Heritage Day – when people are invited to visit historic buildings and monuments that are usually closed to the public.

He said his motivation was “mainly to do something beautiful and to share it and also to bring a new perspective on heritage, it is to make heritage come alive”.

He had already crossed the River Seine on a tightrope, on Heritage Day in 2017.



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