Here is your rugby bulletin for Saturday June 4 as the Bank Holiday weekend continues.
Biggar unsure on future for club and country
Wales captain Dan Biggar admits he is unsure what his future holds beyond the World Cup as he accepts it will be the ‘end of a cycle for us 30-odd-year-olds.’
Biggar will enter the final year of his Northampton contract building up to the 2023 tournament in France and according to the Mail could consider moving abroad at the end of it. A move back to the Ospreys, or one of the other Welsh regions, appears off the table, they say.
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The Lions fly-half today focuses on trying to fire Northampton into the English Premiership play-offs with victory over Newcastle, a result which would delay him teaming up with Wales for the summer tour to South Africa.
After that, he told the paper: “I don’t know what the future is going to hold. We’ve got a World Cup coming up which I want to get to. I’ve absolutely loved my time at Northampton. I hope there is a bit more to come, but I’m quite relaxed about it.
“‘Because of international commitments I feel like I haven’t been around at Northampton as much as I would have liked. The way the game is at the minute you’re almost less valuable to your club if you’re an international because you ‘re away for the autumn, the Six Nations and the summer.
“It is an aim of mine to get to the next World Cup and see where we go from there. From a Wales point of view they are probably looking at the World Cup as the end of a cycle for us 30-odd-year- They’ll probably look to freshen things up after that.
“I think the World Cup is a good target and then we’ll reassess.”
Biggar is one of a plethora of ThirtySomethings Wayne Pivac automatically selects when fit, with Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric and George North among many others also in that category.
Although Tipuric is injured, it is that old guard Pivac will rely upon as Wales look to bounce back from what Biggar dubs an embarrassing Six Nations loss to Italy. Next up are three Tests away to world champions South Africa and Biggar insisted: “‘This team always has a way of bouncing back and responding to tough defeats and criticism.
“I’ve no doubt there will be a reaction and you’ll see a much better performance than what we produced in the finale to the Six Nations.
“Going into this summer there is no doubt we’ll start very much as underdogs. I’m sure everyone outside our camp will be looking at how much South Africa are going to win by, not whether they’re going to win. That suits us down to the ground. It’s a great place for us to be.”
Biggar also issued a plea for Welsh rugby to come together following the in-fighting which followed that Italian humiliation in Cardiff, insisting as far as he is concerned that Pivac remains “100 per cent the right man” to take the national team forward.
“Everyone has got to try to come together for the greater good rather than look after themselves,” said Biggar of the chaos which subsequently unfolded, which included suggestions a Welsh region could be axed. “There is a lot of fighting in house and it’s really incredible the success the Welsh team has had over the last 10 years considering there is always something going on.
“We’ve got a group of players in Wales who can mentally dig in and get on with things. That’s how we’re going to have to be again.”
Leicester, Saracens and Harlequins are in the English play-offs, with Northampton and Gloucester battling it out for the remaining top four spot.
Faletau bids farewell
Biggar’s fellow Wales stalwart Taulupe Faletau says his goodbyes to English rugby when he makes a farewell Bath appearance today.
The Wales No.8 is chosen in the back row next to Jaco Coetzee and Sam Underhill for his last appearance in Bath colors when they meet Worcester at Sixways.
It is Faletau’s 72nd match for the fallen English giants before he returns home next season, having signed for Cardiff.
Faletau will be determined to go out with a bang. Bath need victory to ensure they don’t finish bottom of the English Premiership and instead consign Worcester to that fate.
Ulster roar into semis
Ulster marched into the United Rugby Championship semi-finals with a comfortable 36-17 last eight triumph over Irish rivals Munster.
John Cooney and a brace from Stewart Moore put the home side in charge for half-time at Kingspan Stadium. Nick Timoney and James Hume continued the scoring in the second half as Ulster cemented their last four spot.
They will next meet either Edinburgh or the Stormers in next week’s semi-finals, Ulster looking to win their first trophy since 2006. Those other two sides meet on Saturday evening.
Scottish sides bid for upsets
Scotland’s United Rugby Championship duo know they must overcome the odds to keep dreams of the title going.
Edinburgh have their tough challenge away to the Stormers, but Glasgow must go to Leinster.
The Irish side topped the table to secure a home-tie and will be red-hot favorites against Danny Wilson’s Warriors, who finished eighth.
Leinster will also be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s last-gasp European Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle, who snatched the trophy with a try at the end having trailed for most of the match in Marseille.
Leinster are chasing a fifth successive league title and the winners of the clash will have a home semi-final against either Sharks or Bulls next weekend.
Leinster boss Leo Cullen said: “You try your best to park the La Rochelle game, I think it’ll be there in the back of our minds for the future, but it’s onto the next challenge, isn’t it?”
Glasgow coach Wilson admitted: “Playing away at Leinster is as big a challenge as it gets. They have been the benchmark in the league in recent years. We know we go into this game as underdogs, but we’re confident that we have prepared well, welcome the challenge and look forward to putting our own imprint on the game.”