The latest rugby headlines on Saturday, June 18.
Title triumph for Wales new boy
Wales new boy Tommy Reffell will head for South Africa in buoyant mood after helping Leicester win the Gallagher Premiership title in a dramatic final against Saracens at Twickenham.
Tigers replacement fly-half Freddie Burns secured a 15-12 victory with a drop goal with only 20 seconds left on the clock, just as it looked as though the game was heading into extra time.
It’s a triumph that seals a memorable season for uncapped flanker Reffell whose outstanding performances have been rewarded with selection for Wayne Pivac’s squad for a tour of South Africa that will take in three Tests against the Springboks. The 23-year-old openside will link up with Wales on Monday, with the party to fly out at the end of the week.
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He had 63 minutes in the final, with fellow Welsh squad member Nick Tompkins having 72 in the center for Saracens, who leveled the game at 12-12 through the boot of Owen Farrell with five minutes to go. Farrell’s penalty followed a yellow card to center Matt Scott for a high tackle on Billy Vunipola, giving Sarries a one man advantage for the closing stages.
But, despite being down to 14 men, it was Leicester who finished the strongest, with Burns having the last word as he slotted the decisive drop goal to earn them their first Premiership title in nine years.
The Tigers had led 12-6 at half-time, with their South African back row forwards Hanro Liebenberg and Jasper Wiese crossing for tries while Sarries’ Welsh international scrum-half Aled Davies was in the sin-bin for a shoulder to the head of Hooker Julian Montoya. You can read more about the contentious yellow card for Davies here.
Eddie’s English young guns face Baa-Baas
England coach Eddie Jones says Sunday’s Twickenham clash with the Barbarians is the chance for a batch of new faces to make their mark on the international stage.
Northampton full-back Tommy Freeman and Harlequins hooker Jack Walker make their first England appearances in this non-cap fixture, while there is a first start for Gloucester center Mark Atkinson, with the uncapped trio of Bath fly-half Orlando Bailey and props Will Goodrick -Clarke and Patrick Schickerling figuring on the bench.
At the other end of the age scale, 35-year-old scrum-half Danny Care is in line for his first England outing since November 2018 having been named among the replacements, with wingers Joe Cokanasiga and Jonny May returning after long spells out with injury.
Flanker Tom Curry captains the side, with Courtney Lawes, skipper in the Six Nations, in reserve as a sub. Saracens and Leicester players were unavailable with those two clubs locking horns in the Gallagher Premiership final.
The Barbarians have a French flavour, with coach Fabien Galthie picking 10 of his countrymen in the starting line-up, including flanker Charles Ollivon, who missed the Grand Slam-winning campaign with a knee injury.
Commenting on his selection, Jones said: “This is a young team, they have prepared really well and worked hard over the past few camps to come together as a group. It is a great opportunity to play in this England XV side and show what they can do.
“We’ll use it as an opportunity to develop combinations and assess players for the Australia tour. We will put our best foot forward and it should make for a great game of rugby for the supporters at Twickenham.”
England: Tommy Freeman (Northampton); Joe Cokanasiga (Bath), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Mark Atkinson (Gloucester), Jonny May (Gloucester); Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Harry Randall (Bristol); Bevan Rodd (Sale), Jack Walker (Harlequins), Will Collier (Harlequins), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Jonny Hill (Exeter), Tom Curry (capt, Sale), Sam Underhill (Bath), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins).
Replacements: Jack Singleton (Gloucester), Will Goodrick-Clarke (London Irish), Patrick Schickerling (Exeter), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Jack Willis (Wasps), Danny Care (Harlequins), Orlando Bailey (Bath), Jack Nowell ( Exeters).
barbarians: Max Spring (Racing 92); Damien Penaud (Clermont Auvergne), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Levani Botia (La Rochelle), Davit Niniashvili (Lyon); Antoine Hastoy (France), Batiste Couilloud (Lyon); Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon), Pierre Bourgarit (La Rochelle), Beka Gigashvili (Toulon), George Kruis (Panasonic Wild Knights), Will Skelton (La Rochelle), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Charles Ollivon (capt, Toulon), Yoan Tanga (Racing 92).
Replacements: Danny Priso (La Rochelle), Christopher Tolofua (Toulon), Sipili Falatea (Clermont Auvergne), Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), Nolann Le Garrec (Racing 92), Louis Carbonel (Toulon), Sekou Macalou (Stade Francais), Tani Vili (Clermont Auvergne)
Crusaders crowned Super Rugby champions
Crusaders claimed their 11th Super Rugby title as they defeated the Blues 21-7 in an all-Kiwi final at Auckland’s Eden Park.
The Blues had won 15 games in a row to top the table before the play-offs, earning themselves home advantage for the final. But, in rainy conditions, it was the visitors from Christchurch who triumphed with a dominant display.
They led 13-0 at half-time, with scrum-half Bryn Hall going over from close range just before the break, ahead of his opposite number Finlay Christie touching down just before the hour mark to give the hosts some hope. But, with four minutes left, winger Sevu Reece sealed the outcome as he won the race to a kick through from Argentine flanker Pablo Matera, with fly-half Richie Mo’unga landing four shots at goal.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson produced his now trademark celebration dance after the game.