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Tonight’s rugby news as Super Rugby could collapse amid shock threat

Here are your rugby evening headlines for Thursday, June 16.

Australia considering leaving Super Rugby

Rugby Australia have told New Zealand they are strongly considering pulling out of Super Rugby to pursue their own domestic competition.

Fox Sport report that RA chairman Hamish McLennan informed his New Zealand Rugby counterpart Stewart Mitchell over dinner of potential plans to walk away following the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season. It is understood that Australia’s governing body are unhappy with how South Africa and Argentina have already been cast aside, as well as NZR’s own suggestion that just two Australian sides compete in Super Rugby Pacific.

Read more: Will Rowlands named Wales Player of the Year as he sets his sights on historic triumph in South Africa

Previously, television income was split equally between SANZAAR partners but that is no longer the case, with New Zealand being paid significantly more than Australia. As such, McLennan and RA board member Phil Waugh are understood to have told NZR at a dinner earlier this month that they’re prepared to walk away.

“We’ll honor our commitments in ’23 but we need to see what’s best for rugby in Australia leading up to the Rugby World Cup in Australia in ’27,” McLennan told Fox Sports.

“All bets are off from ’24 onwards with NZ. The RA board doesn’t want to prejudice the PE/debt process with any competitions presented as a fait accompli. Some board members have strong opinions that a domestic only competition like the AFL and NRL would generate more money for the game and that is fair comment.”

Wales to face full-throttle South Africa amid coach warning

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has warned that Wales will be facing a full-strength Springboks side this summer despite the inclusion of new caps in his squad.

Nienaber’s 43-man squad includes eight uncapped players, but the likelihood remains that the ‘Boks, who have changed very little in terms of personnel since the 2019 World Cup, will field largely the same side. After naming his squad, Nienaber clarified his plan for the new caps and what it might mean for the visit of Wayne Pivac’s side.

“That is why we do have a squad of 43,” Nienaber said earlier this week when asked about the likelihood of uncapped players featuring against Wales. “There are ‘SA A’ games lined up for the end of the year tour where we can be a little bit creative and start introducing younger guys.

“We obviously have a nice plan out for the whole year where we can start introducing some younger guys and introduce them to top high performance environments. But that would be dependent on our results and that would be dependent on injuries.

“Our plan might be to play a player in the SA A game on the end of the year tour but if we pick up a few injuries he may be starting a Test as soon as the first test match against Wales. Yes, we do have a plan for 2022, but that plan changes quickly based on results and injuries.”

“When you represent your country or the Springboks, there are a couple of things you have to keep in mind,” Nienaber added. “You are representing your country, you’re representing a brand that has been there for years, for hundreds of years. I don’t think that is necessarily the platform to develop. When you represent your country, when you represent the Springboks, you want to win. That is why we play for the Springboks, to make the country proud.”

Dragons new signing excited to get started

New Dragons lock Sean Lonsdale is excited to get started after swapping Exeter Chiefs for Newport.

Lonsdale has been signed primarily as a second-row but can also play in the back row and is returning to Wales after helping RGC to promotion to the Premiership. The Wales-qualified forward, who studied at Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay, caught the eye of Exeter boss Rob Baxter and moved to Devon in the summer of 2016.

“I’m really excited,” Lonsdale said. “Obviously playing in a new league will present new challenges but it will be exciting.

“When I met with Dean (Ryan), he said that they’re looking to build for the next couple of seasons. A lot of the signings they’ve made are pretty decent and I’m excited to get into it. The mindset they’ve got it a good one. It’ll be exciting.”

Leinster sign former All Black

Leinster have announced the signing of Lyon center Charlie Ngatai. The former All Black arrives having just won the Challenge Cup with the French outfit.

“I’ve had a great few seasons in Lyon but I’m now excited to get started in a new environment, a new team culture and to take on new challenges,” said Ngatai. “I’ve had a few good chats with Leo and it will be exciting to play alongside some new and also some familiar faces.”

Speaking about his arrival, Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen said: “I first came across Charlie back in 2014 when I visited the Chiefs late on in my playing days and as I was preparing to make the transition into coaching. Even then, as a young man, you could see the influence he had on that Chiefs squad and that influence I think has only increased over the years with Lyon most recently.

“He’s a New Zealand international and I believe would have been capped far more only for his injury issues [concussion] which were well-documented at the time but he has been back playing now a number of years and you could see even in the Challenge Cup final in Marseille just how influential a player he is.

“The important element for us I think when you look at some of the experience we are losing out of the environment this season with departures and retirements, is that Charlie will be an ever-present figure around UCD and will be a great asset to our younger players in terms of his leadership and experience.”

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