Gareth Southgate gets England’s summer off to winning start in darts challenge

Gareth Southgate got the summer off to a winning start as the England manager triumphed in the inaugural battle of the rebooted darts tournament against the media.

A lot has changed on and off the field since St George’s Park, the Three Lions’ training centre, last hosted journalists 19 months ago.

The main talking point then was Raheem Sterling’s fracas with Joe Gomez, who is among 14 players from that 27-man squad in November 2019 that are not in the final Euro 2020 selection.

Now the immediate focus is on staving off the threat of coronavirus, with media required to provide a negative test upon arrival and wear masks throughout their time on site, even when asking questions.

A limited pool of reporters were allowed at the media centre, which was formed of tents and resembled the backstage of a festival rather than your standard tournament facility.

A handful of journalists sat on the socially-distanced chairs in the main tent as others asked questions over Zoom, while written media interviews were done on picnic benches under Three Lions-branded umbrellas.

Media were kept three metres away from those in the coronavirus bubble as a throng of players did interviews on the launch day, which started with Southgate making a speech before keeping up England’s darts dominance.

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The Three Lions thrashed the media during the daily darts duel held at their media base in Russia during the run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

Southgate got England off to a winning start against Football Writers’ Association chair Carrie Brown on Tuesday, triumphing 40-30 in the three-dart challenge.

The Three Lions boss will be hoping that the darts tournament lasts right through until the final in July.