Here are the latest rugby evening headlines on Friday, June 17.
Cardiff to face Gloucester in pre-season
Cardiff will face Gloucester in a pre-season warm-up game in September, it has been announced.
The Cherry and Whites, who will also face Munster in a friendly, will welcome Dai Young’s men to Kingsholm on Friday, September 2 (7.45pm kick-off).
Readmore: TMO law changes announced with almost immediate effect to speed up the game
Cardiff finished 14th out of 16 teams in the United Rugby Championship in 2021/22 and Gloucester finished fifth in the Gallagher Premiership, narrowly missing out on a play-off spot. Both teams will be keen to use pre-season fixtures against meaningful opposition as a chance to head into the new season fully firing.
It is the third Anglo-Welsh summer derby to be announced, with both the Dragons and Scarlets set to host Bristol Bears.
Springboks plugging gaps in Wales prep
South Africa are awaiting the arrival of 13 players in camp as they plug a number of gaps during preparation to face Wales in a fortnight.
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber is waiting on the arrival of a contingent of Bulls and Stormers players who are featuring in the United Rugby Championship final this Saturday in Cape Town.
Nienaber, who has just overseen his squad’s second week in camp in Pretoria, conceded that the team had to be creative in training due to so many absentees, forcing players to take on new roles.
Nienaber said, via RugbyPass: “One could see the difference in the quality and intensity of our training sessions this week, so we are pleased with the strides made. The players are grasping what we would like to see in terms of the detail in our patterns and systems, and that is very encouraging for us with our opening Test against Wales in two weeks.
“The guys have been working hard on and off the field and it was great to see their keenness to help out in positions where needed, so that we could get the best out of our training sessions.”
As for the impending arrivals, he said: “They will also enter the camp match fit and in a good space from a confidence perspective, so we are looking forward to returning to the training field after a good break this weekend and we believe we will take things up a notch with an eye on the Wales Tests.
Three Welshmen in Gallagher Premiership final
Nick Tompkins, Tommy Reffell and Aled Davies will all start in the Gallagher Premiership final between Saracens and Leicester Tigers on Saturday.
The Tigers have Reffell starting at No. 7 amid three positional changes elsewhere, while Tompkins starts at center for Sarries alongside Elliot Daly and Davies lines up at scrum-half. Mark McCall’s only change to the Saracens starting XV is promoting Nick Isiekwe to start from the bench in place of the retiring Tim Swinson, who is omitted from the matchday 23.
Leicester Tigers: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Matías Moroni, 12. Guy Porter, 11. Harry Potter, 10. George Ford, 9. Richard Wigglesworth, 1. Ellis Genge (capt), 2. Julián Montoya, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Ollie Chessum, 5. Calum Green, 6. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Nephi Leatigaga, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Harry Wells, 20. George Martin, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Freddie Burns, 23. Matt Scott.
Saracens: 15. Alex Goode, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Max Malins, 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Aled Davies, 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Nick Isiekwe, 6. Theo McFarland, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Kapeli Pifeleti, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Alec Clarey, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Andy Christie, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Duncan Taylor, 23. Alex Lozowski.
Danny Care to return for England v Barbarians
Danny Care is poised to complete his shock England comeback after being named on the bench for Sunday’s non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Care won the last of his 84 caps in 2018 but has forced his way back into Eddie Jones’ plans through his electric form for Harlequins over the last two seasons. The 35-year-old will provide cover from the bench for starting scrum-half Harry Randall, who has also been appointed vice-captain with Tom Curry leading the team.
Randall will partner Marcus Smith at half-back while Jonny May returns to the left wing after missing the Six Nations because of knee surgery. The powerful Joe Cokanasiga is present in the number 14 jersey for his first appearance since facing the USA and Canada a year ago, stationed outside a center combination of Mark Atkinson and Joe Marchant.
Jonny Hill’s foot injury meant he missed the Six Nations, but he is restored to the second row with Curry, Sam Underhill and Alex Dombrandt forming a strong back row.
“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’s a great opportunity to play in this England XV side and show what they can do,” head coach Jones said .
“We are looking forward to playing against an unusually French Barbarians side – which you normally only get when you play the French Barbarians. We’ll use it as an opportunity to develop combinations and assess players for the Australia tour.”
Dragons warning over Wales international call-ups
The Dragons cannot expect their Wales hopefuls to receive international call-ups if the region’s win rate does not improve, according to director of rugby Dean Ryan.
He regularly lauded uncapped duo Harri Keddie and Jack Dixon plus one-cap Ollie Griffiths last season but all three have missed out on Wales’ summer squad, with Ryan believing their dire season which yielded just two victories plays a part.
“It’s a huge disappointment but I spoke with all three to let them know that my opinion is that they have been outstanding and great ambassadors of what we are trying to build here at the Dragons,” he told the South Wales Argus.
“We have to create a higher platform because if we want these guys to play for Wales then our team has to be playing at a more consistent level. Potentially we don’t paint them in the same light as others so we have to drive this team to be more competitive more often.That will drive more awareness of those who really put a stint in here.”
Four Dragons were selected in Wayne Pivac’s 33-man squad, tighthead Leon Brown, locks Will Rowlands and Ben Carter plus flanker Taine Basham, but Brown has since withdrawn due to injury.
Glut of Wales internationals sign new deals
Wales international loosehead prop Gwenllian Pyrs and scrum-half Megan Davies will join Bristol Bears Women for the new season from Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs respectively.
Pyrs, who has 20 caps and is one of 12 full-time Wales professional players, will bolster Dave Ward’s front-row ranks. He said: “She is an outstanding set-piece operator and a powerful ball carrier, so we’re looking forward to seeing her de ella in Bears colors next season.”
As for No. 9 Davies, 20, she moves closer to home from rivals Exeter having won three caps for her country so far. She featured five times during her time with the Premier 15s finalists.
“Megan is an exciting talent with ambitions of winning more international caps,” Ward said. “She is a pacey and elusive scrum-half and her attacking instinct de ella makes her a strong addition to our squad.”
Meanwhile, at Gloucester-Hartpury Women, five Wales players have re-signed for the club. They include Wales center Kerin Lake, props Cerys Hale and Cara Hope, fly-half Lleucu George and forward Sisilia Tuipulotu.
Head coach Sean Lynn said: “We are really pleased to be able to keep such a big group of current players going into the future. We feel that we are building something really special here and with this group of players we are excited for the future.” and the potential we have as a squad.”