Your rugby morning headlines for Friday June 10.
Biggar sends condolences to Youngs
Wales captain Dan Biggar has passed on his condolences to former Leicester hooker Tom Youngs after his wife passed away this week.
Biggar’s Northampton face Youngs’ former side this weekend in the semi-final of the Gallagher Premiership in what is sure to be a dynamic East Midlands derby at Welford Road. And I have finished an interview with Planet Rugby previewing the match to send a touching message to the Leicester legend.
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The Wales and Lions No.10 said: “I don’t know how much time we’ve got left but with Tom Youngs’ wife passing away, I just wanted to pass on personal and from a team point of view our condolences.
“Realistically, how unimportant rugby is in the grand scheme of things. I hope that the game is played in the spirit on Saturday. I’d like to pass on our condolences on behalf of myself and the team.”
Scarlets players miss Liam Williams’ stag do
Scarlets players were unable to attend team-mate Liam Williams’ stag do recently because they were forced to train, despite their season being over.
The Wales full-back, who is a long-term servant of the region but is moving to Cardiff this summer, is engaged to long-time partner Sophie Harries and went away with his mates to Ibiza before the big day.
But, speaking on the RugbyPass Offload Podcast, fellow Wales international and Ospreys winger Alex Cuthbert explained that the Scarlets players were not able to attend, despite their URC season being done and dusted after finishing 10th.
“It took me until about Thursday to get over it. There was 32 of us.
“There’s was quite a lot of us, Sanj [Williams] you have got a lot of mates, so you can imagine what that was like. But it was good.
“We were in Ibiza Rocks and it was a good couple of days, really needed after the long season we’ve had. Out of the rugby boys it was myself, Rhys Priestland who was on top form, Gareth Anscombe was on it but a lot of the boys weren’t allowed to go.
“The Scarlets got held back because they’re still training, so a lot of the boys weren’t allowed to come. A few of the boys from Wales camp had little niggles, so they weren’t allowed to come but we managed to get out there.
“I don’t know whether Sanjay remembers much but, yeah, it was one of them!”
On the absence of Scarlets players, Cuthbert added: “He’s [Scarlets boss Dwayne Peel], got them in training for the last couple of weeks. They’re doing Broncos, runways and loads of fitness tests apparently before they get their time off.
“They weren’t allowed to come and he knew it was Sanjay’s stag, it’s been booked in for ages.”
Skinstad’s hopes for Pivac’s ‘directionless’ young stars
Former Springboks skipper and Dragons back-rower Bobby Skinstad says Wales’ daunting tour of South Africa may be needed if they are to return to prominence again.
Prior to the 2019 World Cup, Wales briefly rose to the No.1 ranked team in the world but have been on the slide ever since the global gathering in Japan concluded.
That slide was arrested during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Wayne Pivac’s side stunned everyone by winning the 2021 Six Nations. But they are widely considered underdogs for the upcoming three-Test trip to South Africa.
Skinstad said: “Sometimes you have to go on a difficult tour like this to rise again out of the ashes. I was part of a very difficult Welsh tour a long, long time ago where Welsh rugby was trying to find itself. They really, really struggled, but then actually came good and a few years later fixed all the problems and were champions of Europe.
“I think the Welsh team will do very well to be challenging the Springboks, but I think they will get more out of this than just a pop at the ‘Boks. They will get a chance to blood some really talented young players who I suppose felt a bit directionless this season.
“There is so much conjecture, off field influences and machinations going on that it’s been really hard. Also, coming out of Covid hasn’t been easy because the Welsh fans have been disgruntled anyway and this has just given them more of a reason to be unhappy and perturbed.
“But I genuinely feel the squad can see this as a positive. They can go to South Africa and play some really tough, competitive games and get some caps against some of the best players in the world and start to meld together as something that can put Welsh rugby right back to where it should be.”
Youngster wins top URC award
Stormers back-rower Evan Roos has won the URC Next Generation award.
The explosive 22-year-old had a stand-out regular season campaign with more successful carries (126) and defenders beaten (49) than any other player in the competition over the 18 rounds.
He was selected for the under-23s award by a media panel and also caught the eye of Springbok selectors, earning a nod for an alignment camp.
Roos said: “It is a huge honor to get this award, I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me this season. My family is a great source of strength and pride for me and everyone involved in the DHL Stormers set-up has been amazing as well. I am so proud to play for this team and our incredible fans every week.”