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Today’s rugby headlines as Grand Slam hero reveals cancer fight and Shaun Edwards’ son is victorious

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Sunday, May 8.

Scottish legend battling cancer

Scottish rugby legend and Grand Slam hero Scott Hastings is undergoing treatment for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with the 57-year-old former Scotland center taking to social media to reveal the news on Saturday.

It is a type of cancer which develops in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body.

Hastings was capped 65 times by Scotland and twice toured with the British and Irish Lions, to Australia in 1989 and New Zealand four years later. He played his club rugby for Watsonians and was a key member of Scotland’s Grand Slam-winning team in 1990, alongside his older brother Gavin. Since retiring in 1997 as Scotland’s most-capped player, he has moved into commentary for BT Sport, Sky Sports, ITV and BBC.

He thanked his followers for their support and shared pictures of himself after chemotherapy, saying: “Thanks for all your supportive messages that are helping me get through my chemo for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I am half-way through treatment which is going well apart from hair!”

Read more: WRU investigate image apparently showing white powder on national trophy

Shaun Edwards’ are elected as Labor councilor

James Small-Edwards, the son of rugby defense guru Shaun, has been elected as a Labor councilor for the City of Westminster Council.

The 25-year-old politician, who played rugby for Wasps as a youngster, claimed victory in the Bayswater ward and was one of three Labor candidates to win a seat after Thursday’s local elections. Small-Edwards, whose mum is nineties icon and Moving On Up singer Heather Small, wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely delighted to have won Bayswater from the Conservatives, turning the ward red for the first time since the 1980s. Thanks so much to my family , friends and fellow candidates for all the love and support over the past few months!”

Dad Shaun, Wales’ former defense coach who now coaches France, previously told the Metro of his son’s foray into politics: “I think it’s a noble journey, to make anywhere in the country a better place to live for people.”

Former Labor communications chief Alistair Campbell was quick to congratulate James on his victory, writing on Twitter: “Get your Twitter bio updated. You’re not the candidate anymore – but the elected councilor in Bayswater ward, Westminster. I know because your proud dad has been texting to tell me ‘he didn’t just win – he smashed it!’ Time to get your mum’s Proud album out!!”

‘Wales should keep four regions and reform academies’

Welsh rugby must keep its four professional regions, according to Sir Ian McGeechan, who believes four academies should be reduced to two. The former Scotland and Lions coach has been weighing in on the proposals to cut a Welsh region to try and improve the financial stability of Welsh rugby in his column for The Telegraph.

“A three-, five- or even 10-year strategic plan for Welsh rugby is now urgently needed,” he said. “It should be root and branch, starting with the schools and amateur clubs, and how they feed into the semi-pro and professional set-up. I just don’t believe there is less talent in Welsh rugby than in previous generations, but much more effort needs to be taken to nurture it and give it direction.There are currently four academies – why not look at two, which should play the Irish and English academies on a regular basis.Young players should also be brought up through the semi -professional clubs to ensure late developers are not missed.

He also questioned whether player salaries represented value for money in Wales, adding: “More generally, the professional regions need to be prioritized as the best route to achieving a successful national side. That, for instance, means the amateur clubs no longer having any say in the way professional rugby is run (at the moment if 10 per cent of Welsh clubs call for an EGM, they can overturn any WRU decision). But most of all, the four regions need to be maintained. As the song says, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…”

Danny Wilson disappointed as Glasgow let lead slip against Lyon

Glasgow head coach Danny Wilson bemoaned his side’s lack of discipline as they were knocked out of the European Challenge Cup by Lyon in France, the Press Association reports. Midway through the second half the Scottish club looked odds-on to reach their first European semi-final as they held a 14-point lead, but they capitulated in the final quarter as Lyon turned the screw up-front to run out 35-27 victors.

“I think the yellow card to Jamie Bhatti was a turning point, we struggled with a few kick-offs, and a few exits,” said Wilson. “That led to us playing in the wrong positions on the field, and the yellow card hurt us.

“A few tries came during that period. I think they changed their tactics by attacking us aerially. They kicked bomb after bomb after bomb and didn’t play any rugby because I think we defended pretty well against them on the whole.

“Off the back of those kicks, whether it was the counter rugby or the loose ball, they managed to play into some good field position. We didn’t find any good field position in the last 20 minutes, so it was a tough end to that game, but I think commitment, effort, and heart for Glasgow Warriors was in abundance.

Tries from Baptiste Couilloud, Romain Taofifenua, and a brace from Georgian wing Davit Niniashvili fired the Top 14 side into the Challenge Cup semi-finals. Josh McKay and Cole Forbes scored tries for Glasgow with Ross Thompson kicking 10 points. This was a clash of styles with Glasgow hurting their French hosts whenever they were able to get quick ball, but ultimately the power of Lyon’s pack and their superior bench made the difference.

Ellis Genge says Leicester not just ‘plucky losers’

Ellis Genge refused to cast Leicester as gallant losers following their 23-14 defeat by Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at Mattioli Woods Welford Road. Leinster amassed a 20-0 interval lead, and while Tigers fought back in the second half through tries by Chris Ashton and Nic Dolly, it proved an insurmountable deficit.

Thirteen of the visitors’ starting XV were Ireland internationals and it showed as the leaders of the United Rugby Championship thumped the team that sits at the summit of the Gallagher Premiership. It exposed the gulf in class between English clubs and Europe’s heavyweights, but Genge bristled at the suggestion Leicester were unable to compete.

“We came out there and we fought as hard as we could,” he said. “They have 13 internationals but don’t put us in that bracket of ‘we gave it a good crack’. We could have won that game. Our boys fought all game so I’m not going to come here for someone to say we gave it a good crack and we’re plucky losers.

“I don’t want to give an excuse and say they had two weeks off and we were knackered. I would play again now if it meant we had another crack of the whip. Being centrally contracted, they benefit from being able to rest players as and when. I’m just upset at the missed opportunity. It’s hard to win from 20-0 down. We did not stop fighting. We did what we did all year for 40 minutes, I just wish we had done it for 80 minutes.”

Leinster now face Toulouse in a semi-final between the two most successful sides in Europe.

La Rochelle beat Montpellier to reach Champions Cup semi-finals

La Rochelle booked their place in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals with a 31-19 win over Montpellier at the Stade Marcel Deflandre.

Dany Priso scored under the posts to settle the hosts, with Ihaia West converting and also adding a penalty inside the opening 20 minutes. Victor Vito went over to further extend the lead, with West again adding the additional points.

Montpellier gave themselves hope heading into the break with a try from prop Henry Thomas, which was converted by Louis Foursans-Bourdette to reduce the deficit to 17-7. The visitors continued their momentum as Yvan Reilhac drove over from a loose ball, but Levani Botia’s try in the corner soon restored La Rochelle’s cushion.

A try from Zach Mercer on the left flank kept Montpellier in touch before West landed three penalties, taking his total points tally to 16, to push La Rochelle through to a semi-final against either Top 14 rivals Racing 92 or Sale Sharks.


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