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South AfricaJapanJunior Springboks (14) 59 / 19 (19) Japan U20 (Final Score)

South Africa’s Junior Springbok Under 20 and Japan Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Manchester, at 16:15 SA Time (14:15 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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FranceArgentinaFrance U20 (8) 15 / 24 (6) Argentina U20 (Final Score)

France Under 20 and Argentina Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Salford, at 16:15 SA Time (14:15 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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WalesIrelandWales U20 (17) 25 / 26 (15) Ireland U20 (Final Score)

Wales Under 20 and Ireland Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Manchester, at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.

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AustraliaScotlandAustralia U20 (7) 10 / 15 (3) Scotland U20 (Final Score)

Australia Under 20 and Scotland Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Salford, at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandItalyEngland U20 (17) 48 / 10 (3) Italy U20 (Final Score)

England Under 20 and Italy Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Manchester, at 20:45 SA Time (18:45 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.

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New ZealandGeorgiaNew Zealand U20 (31) 55 / 0 (0) Georgia U20 (Final Score)

New Zealand Under 20 and Georgia Under 20 did battle in the World Rugby Under

20 Championship 2016 at Salford, at 20:45 SA Time (14:15 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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Guinness PRO12 Final, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland 28/5/2016 Connacht vs Leinster Connacht captain John Muldoon lifts the PRO12 trophy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht captain John Muldoon lifts the PRO12 trophy
©INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht became the seventh team to claim the Guinness PRO12 title with a magnificent display at BT Murrayfield, beating Leinster 20-10 to complete a dream season

In front of a record crowd for a Guinness PRO12 Final of 34,550, Pat Lam’s team scored three tries on the biggest day in their 131-year history.

While they were nervy in the opening exchanges once they got their hands on the ball, Connacht dominated the opening 40 minutes.

Able to open up Leinster with alarming regularity, they scored two fantastic first-half tries, through Tiernan O’Halloran and Niyi Adeolokun to lead 15-0 at the break.

While Jonathan Sexton cut the deficit with a penalty early in the second half, Matt Healy’s try just before the hour stretched the lead out to 17.

That was cut to ten when Sean Cronin went over to set up a huge last ten minutes but there was to be no comeback as Connacht produced one final effort to see it out.

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SaracensSaracens beat Exeter Chiefs to win the Premiership final and become the first English side to complete a domestic and European double since 2004.

Exeter, in their first play-off final, were blown away by a dominant first half from Sarries, who led 23 / 6 through Duncan Taylor and Chris Wyles scores.

Jack Yeandle and Jack Nowell crossed after the break as a rejuvenated Chiefs reduced the deficit to 3 points.

But Alex Goode’s late try secured the title for the defending champions.

Victory also means Mark McCall’s side, who won the European Champions Cup 2 weeks ago, become the first English club since Wasps 12 years ago to win the top-flight and European titles in the same season.

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IrelandIreland have included three South Africans for their three-Test tour to South Africa in June.

Loose forward Christiaan Stander, lock Quinn Roux and hooker Richardt Strauss are the three inclusions named in Joe Schmidt’s touring group.

Roux, 25, is one of only two uncapped players included in the squad, with New Zealand-borne Ulster flank Sean Reidy also set to earn his first international stint.

Roux represented Western Province and the Stormers at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level, before signing with Leinster in 2012, making 21 appearances for the province.

He then switched to Connacht in 2015 and earned six caps for the side.

Loose forward Stander has will be looking to boost his international experience as he has already earned five Test caps for Ireland, having made his first international appearance during their 2016 Six Nations campaign.

He previously represented the Bulls at Super Rugby level.

Strauss, the cousin of Springbok and Bulls hooker Adriaan, has racked up 16 caps for the Irish since joining them in 2012.

Richardt played with Adriaan,  who is tipped to captain the Boks for the June fixtures, for two years at the Cheetahs before heading abroad to join Pro12 finalists Leinster in 2009.

The veteran second row has featured 114 times for Leinster.

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ScotlandGlasgow Warriors flyhalf Finn Russell picked up a nasty injury very early on in the Warrior”s match against Connacht in Galway in the PRO12 semifinal on Saturday. He was involved in one of those ‘freak’ events when he and team mate Zander Ferguson ran into each other.

Current Scotland U20 tighthead prop Fagerson had to leave the field but was able to walk off although he didn’t return for the rest of the game.

For Finn Russell however the collision was more costly, as the medics rushed onto the field to treat the two it became clear that Finn had suffered a nasty injury to his face. Early on during the on-field assessment they had him standing up but then lay him on the ground. After what seemed like quite a while he was stretchered off to a sporting applause from concerned fans at the ground and taken to hospital.

Glasgow Warriors put out a short message on Sunday night confirming that Finn was still in hospital undergoing observation. Today the club put out a longer statement with the news that although he remained in hospital he didn’t require surgery and that he may be released later this week.

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EnglandFormer Stormers and current Exeter Chiefs loose forward Don Armand has been included in England Saxons squad for their short tour of South Africa in June. However, flying Saracens winger Chris Ashton has turned down the opportunity of joining the Saxons squad after he had earlier been omitted from Eddie Jones’ England squad for their tour to Australia.

England Saxons are to be coached by Ali Hepher in their two-Test series against South Africa A, with a 27-man squad being named for the tour.

The squad, compromised of experienced names and emerging talent, will play South Africa’s second team in Bloemfontein on Friday 10 June and Outeniqua Park in George on Friday 17 June (7.10pm local time).

England internationals Kieran Brookes, Dave Attwood, Danny Cipriani, Matt Kvesic, Christian Wade, Luther Burrell and Semesa Rokoduguni bring 69 senior caps to the squad and many of the remaining 20 have represented England in age-grade teams in recent years.

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Guinness Pro12Connacht and Glasgow Warriors will be battling it out in today’s Guinness PRO12  semifinal in Galway for a place in the final against Leinster at Murrayfield next weekend. This after hosts Leinster pulled off a comfortable victory against Ulster last night in the first semifinal. The final score in that match was : Leinster 30 / 18 Ulster.

Connacht must surely be heading into today’s match in a very confident frame of mind as the last time they played Glasgow Warriors they ended up on the winning side with a 7 point margin of victory in a low scoring affair. That match took place 2 weeks ago in the last Round of the regular league stage and was also played at Connacht’s home ground in the picturesque Galway.

Today’s match should be played in far better conditions than the last one between these 2 teams and this could help Glasgow who like to play an attractive attacking brand of rugby. The only thing is that Connacht, under Pat Lam, have also developed into a slick unit who have the ability to run with the ball and offload smartly too and are at this stage possibly the more rounded team as they proved 2 weeks ago that they also have the ability to ‘win ugly’.

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ScotlandHead Coach Vern Cotter has named a 27-man Scotland squad for the national team’s 2-Test summer tour of Japan next month.

The Test matches will be played on consecutive Saturdays at J1 League football stadia; the 1st at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota City (18 June), the 2nd at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo (25 June), homes of Nagoya Grampus and FC Tokyo respectively.

Cotter also confirmed that Glasgow centre Mark Bennett has not been named to allow him to be considered for extended GB 7s selection ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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rorylamont

Rory Lamont: On-field treatment following Fibula fracture against France in 2012

The relationship between Rory Lamont and rugby has always been uneasy. When it was good, it was really good: 29 Scotland caps, two World Cups, and stints in Europe’s top leagues with Toulon, Sale and Glasgow.

When it was bad, it was really bad: whispering campaigns about his attitude, 16 operations, “double figure” concussions. By the time the game ran out of uses for him, the feeling was entirely mutual.

Three years ago this week, Lamont announced his retirement. The last of his many injuries, a lower leg fracture from the previous year, hadn’t properly healed and the end came as a relief.

“I was thinking, ‘finally it’s over’. I felt like an animal being put out of its misery. I’d had a miserable year, people questioning my integrity, and I couldn’t wait to crack on with my life and all the amazing things I was going to do.”

Never did he picture becoming a recluse, battling severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Nowhere in the retirement brochure did it say he’d lose 25kg in four months and be unable to stomach solids for a further five. The bit about being so low he hoped he’d be run over by a bus? Not what he’d signed up for either.

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Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone Holmes in action for Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors have announced a group of players who will leave the club in the summer.

Prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa, looseforward Tyrone Holmes and hooker Kevin Bryce are among the departures.

Fijian international Yanuyanutawa joined the club from London Irish in 2013 and has gone on to make 46 appearances for the Scotstoun-based side.

South Africa-born Holmes joined the Warriors in 2013 and has made 34 appearances for the club over the last 3 seasons and was capped by Scotland against South Africa in 2014.

27-year-old Bryce has made 12 appearances for the Warriors since joining the club in 2013 and has gone on to represent Scotland on 2 occasions.

Loose forwards Will Bordill and Jason Hill, hookers Shalva Mamukashvili and Fergus Scott, flyhalf Gregor Hunter and prop Javan Sebastian will also be leaving the club.

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Jake White at Montpellier

Montpellier’s Jake White

Newport Gwent Dragons bowed out of the European Challenge Cup with semifinal defeat by a strong Montpellier side.

Montpellier’s dominance earned them a 22 / 0 lead, with Demetri Catrakilis scoring 5 penalties and Bismarck du Plessis crossing for a try.

Dragons rallied with tries from Hallam Amos and Carl Meyer but they suffered their 2nd successive semifinal loss in Europe.

Montpellier will face Harlequins in the final in Lyon on 13 May.

Dragons’ build up to the game had been overshadowed by the departure of director of rugby Lyn Jones, with namesake Kingsley Jones assuming control until the end of the season,

Wales No 8, Taulupe Faletau, was passed fit for the Dragons despite injuring his eye in the derby defeat at Cardiff Blues.

Montpellier, coached by 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White, boasted 8 South African players in their squad, including front row brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

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Jake White

Montepellier’s Jake White

Newport Gwent Dragons produced a stunning upset when they crossed the River Severn to beat Aviva Premiership Gloucester at Kingsholm in the European Challenge Cup.

But that 23 / 21 quarterfinal triumph would pale if they were to beat star-studded Montpellier at the Altrad Stadium in the south of France on Saturday evening.

So what are their chances of reaching the final of Europe’s 2nd-tier tournament? Rugby Correspondent Andy Howell assesses the head-to-head contests and marks each opposing player in the respective starting line-ups out of 10 with the Montpellier players mentioned first.

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Mike Blair

Mike Blair

Glasgow Warriors scrumhalf Mike Blair has retired from playing with immediate effect and will take up a new coaching role at the club next season.

The 35-year-old will remain with Scottish Rugby as an assistant coach at the Warriors.

Blair joined Glasgow this season and has made 12 appearances for the club and was voted Player of the Month in October.

The 85-capped former Scotland international has had an illustrious career, representing Edinburgh Rugby, Brive, Newcastle Falcons and the Warriors.

Blair enjoyed 10 years with Edinburgh Rugby, playing his first professional game in 2001. Highlights included being runners up in the Magners League in 2009 and reaching the semifinals of the European Cup in 2012.

Scotland’s most capped scrumhalf captained his country on 14 occasions before retiring from international rugby at the start of 2013, aged 31.

He was named Scotland’s Player of the Year in 2008 and was nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year that same season. He toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

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Roger Morgan

Roger “Chicky” Morgan

He is the ultimate club man, hard-working, loyal, and most of all durable. He’s almost at pensionable age, but this real life Peter Pan is still lacing up his boots.

He’s been with the same club for 40 years, he’s appeared in every single position in the team and he is still playing at the age of 60!

Roger “Chicky” Morgan is Mr Usk RFC, the ultimate 1-club man, the kind of stalwart servant who is the heartbeat of the community game in Wales.

He’s a tireless hard worker for the Gwent club, cutting the grass, marking the pitch, putting the flags out, sorting the kit, cooking the meals, arranging the fixtures, painting the clubhouse and driving the mini bus.

And he’s still getting his boots on and playing on a Saturday afternoon, lining up wherever he’s needed.

So what does he put his enduring fitness and his longevity down to?

“That’s from my father that is,” he explains.

“He played football for Newport County and Swansea. So fitness is in the blood.”

“I just love playing the game. I have made some great friends over the years and there’s always a laugh with the boys.

“From when I first went down to the club in 1975, I just felt welcome.

“It’s great with the different generations and the crack you have with all of them.”

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones has a well-deserved reputation for psychological warfare but, 10 months before the next Calcutta Cup, the voluble England coach has started early even by his standards. In an interview with a mass-circulation Japanese paper,  Jones talked about his very 1st Six Nations game against Scotland at Murrayfield and was dismissive of the hosts.

“It was a game I always thought we’d win,” the Australian told the paper’s London corespondent. “I don’t see Scotland being a strong team. You look at Scotland at the World Cup, who did they beat? They were lucky to beat Samoa, they beat USA, they beat us (Japan), and we had 4 days’ preparation, and they were beaten by Australia and South Africa.

“So, they didn’t have a great World Cup, but everyone was talking as though they were a fantastic team. England didn’t have a good World Cup but we’re a stronger team than they are.”

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quinnroux

Quinn Roux

Connacht’s South African lock Quinn Roux and trio of other South African players have been included in an Ireland squad which will meet for a training camp on Sunday.

The uncapped Roux is joined by loose forward CJ Stander, and hookers Richardt Strauss and Rob Herring who have all played for Ireland before. The quartet will be hoping to make it into Ireland’s final squad for their tour of South Africa in June.

However, Ireland flanker Chris Henry’s hopes of being selected for the summer tour of South Africa appear to have suffered a blow after he was left out of the squad for Sunday’s training camp.

Henry, who did not play in the Six Nations, is not among the 44 players who will meet up in county Meath.

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European Rugby Champions CupSaturday’s games:

The European Rugby Champions and Challenge Cup quarterfinals matches which were played yesterday (Saturday) were all fiercly contested affairs.

In the 1st Champions Cup quarterfinal Ashley Johnson’s London Wasps beat Don Armand’s Exeter Chiefs by the narrowest of margins. Wasps Jimmy Goperth converted Frank Halai’s try which was scored after regular time was up on the clock to send Exeter crashing out of the competition.

Victor Matfield’s Northampton were beaten in the2nd Champions Cup quarterfinal by a Saracens team that featured various players with Southern African connections. Brad Barritt, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, Neil de Kock, Michael Rhodes and Alastair Hargreaves all featured for Saracens who won the match by 9 points.

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Francois Steyn celebrates Montpellier win over Sale Sharks

Francois Steyn celebrates Montpellier win over Sale Sharks

Montpellier head coach Jake White cannot wait to return home triumphant for their European Rugby Challenge Cup semifinal, after beating Sale Sharks in their own backyard.

The side sat 2nd in the Top 14 turned on the power in the 2nd half after a tight 1st half. Benoit Pallaugue hit 6 penalties to steer his side to a 25 / 19 triumph, despite a late solo score from Sale centre Sam James.

The victory for Montpellier has set up a last-4 clash against either Challenge Cup champions, Gloucester, or the Newport Gwent Dragons. White is targeting a pair of victories on home soil in their pursuit for European glory.

He said: “I’m obviously very happy, it wasn’t that pretty, we didn’t play that well and we made a few mistakes which allowed them field position, and they put us under the pump. But it’s a new squad and Montpellier have never got themselves in positions like these, so I’m very happy that we can take another step forward.

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Joe Marler

Joe Marler

England prop Joe Marler has been banned for 2 matches and fined £ 20 000.00 by World Rugby for calling Wales forward Samson Lee “Gypsy boy”.
Marler, 25, had avoided punishment by The RBS 6 Nations organisers, but World Rugby conducted its own investigation.

He made the comment in England’s RBS 6 Nations win over Wales in March and had an apology accepted by prop Samson.

The Rugby Football Union said Marler would not appeal against the decision and considered the matter closed.

World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, said it had “Exercised its right to take appropriate action before an independent judicial committee in the absence of such a process by Six Nations Rugby in accordance with the regulations”.

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BT PremeirshipA horror misunderstanding cost Currie a shot at their 3rd championship title as Heriots snatched a dramatic last-gasp victory in Saturday’s BT Premiership semifinal at Malleny Park.

A ding-dong battle in which the lead changed a total of 5 times appeared to have swung decisively in the home side’s favour when No 8 Ross Weston finished off a driving maul for his 2nd try of the afternoon to put Currie 22 / 21 up with minutes remaining.

Heriots pushed for a response but, when they knocked on to concede a scrum, it looked like their dreams of a double (or treble if you include the Charity Shield) were over.

Currie kept possession as the clock ticked down but scrumhalf Richard Snedden was premature with the boot out and the Goldenacre side were given a lifeline, which they took superbly by setting up replacement flyhalf Gregor McNeish for his 2nd drop goal with the last kick, to spark wild celebrations in the away camp.

It means Heriots, who 1st face Melrose in the BT Cup final a week on Saturday, will travel to Millbrae to face Ayr on 23 April and look to retain their Premiership crown.

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Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore

Waratahs new CEO Andrew Hore

Could Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht one day be taking on the Bulls, Highlanders and Waratahs?

If you believe new New South Wales chief executive Andrew Hore, then the answer is yes.

Hore is leaving his post with Welsh side Ospreys to join the Australian Super Rugby outfit in mid April, and the New Zealander sees a potential future link-up as beneficial to both competitions.

Hore has had a ringside seat in recent seasons as the huge influx of financial muscle into the French Top 14 and England’s Premiership has threatened to leave European rugby’s poor Celtic relations trailing behind.

The southern hemisphere has also felt the commercial weight of French and English riches, with an increasing number of top-class players heading north in their primes for a big payday.

But the prospect of competing against the high-quality teams in Super Rugby would certainly offer television companies a more enticing product, according to Hore.

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BT Murrayfield Stadium

BT Murrayfield

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has announced the key dates for the 2016 / 2017 season ahead of the knockout stages of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

Next season’s tournaments will get underway with 2 Rounds in October, followed by Rounds 3 and 4 in December, and as is customary, the pool stages will reach their conclusion with Rounds 5 and 6 in January.

The quarterfinal matches will be staged at the end of March and the beginning of April 2017 with the semifinals played 3 weeks later.

Then European club rugby’s showcase weekend will return to Edinburgh for the 1st time since 2009 when both the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals will be held at BT Murrayfield Stadium on 12 and 13 May 2017.

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Guinness PRO12The player of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations, Stuart Hogg, went from hero to villain to hero last night at Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow. Hogg, who was presented with the player of the tournament trophy by Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend during a Warriors practice session earlier this week, was shown a Yellow Card less than 2 minutes into the match against Rob Herring’s Ulster for what was deemed by referee John Lacey to be a professional foul on Glasgow’s try line. However, after spending the obligatory 10 minutes off the field his night went from bad to better to brilliant.

Hogg was involved in play on numerous occasions gaining much ground with his incisive running and scored a super try down the left side of the field with a wonderful chip of the top and gather effort. He also had the final say in the match landing a monster penalty kick late on the game to deny Ulster a losing bonus point and send the final score to Glasgow Warriors 27 / 17 Ulster. John Lacey awarded Glasgow a penalty almost 5m inside their own half of the field, up stepped the man of the moment Hoggy who slotted the penalty with ease in spite of a swirling wind.

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RBS 6 Nations trophyWho was your standout player of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations? Read the profiles below for a reminder of the achievements of our nominees.

 

Gareth Davies:

The Wales scrumhalf took the opportunity that Rhys Webb’s injury presented and impressed throughout the Championship.

He scored a stunning try in their victory over Scotland in Round 2, was RBS 6 Nations Man of the Match in Round 3 against France and claimed the final score of Wales’ Championship when he came off the bench against Italy on Super Saturday.

 

Guilhem Guirado:

Guy Novès’ France side might have finished with 3 defeats but their captain Guirado led by example throughout.

The hooker was superb, crossing for tries against Wales and Scotland, driving his pack forwards and demonstrating brilliant tackle and breakdown work in every match.

 

Stuart Hogg:

The Scotland fullback’s scorching try in the final Round against Ireland will live long in the memory but Hogg’s influence throughout the Championship was apparent.

He made 2 tries as Vern Cotter’s side ended their winless run in downing Italy, scored 1 and he scored 1 and made 1 in their historic win over France – while also adding a penalty from his own half. All that before his fantastic solo score in Dublin on Super Saturday.

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Scott Cummings

Scott Cummings

Over the past year the flower of Scottish rugby is beginning to come back into bloom.

Last season Glasgow Warriors became the first Scottish side to win the Guinness PRO12, then Scotland were agonizingly close to a Rugby World Cup semifinal place with their last gasp defeat to Australia.

Last weekend in the penultimate Round of the RBS 6 Nations, the Scots broke a decade long hoodoo by beating France at BT Murrayfield.

Their compatriots at Under 20s level had made history of their own by beating “The Auld Enemy” England in the tournament’s opening Round for the 1st time since the inception of the Under 20s Six Nations Championship.

Leading the charge of this new generation of young Scots is Under 20s captain and lock Scott Cummings, who due to commitments with his club side Glasgow Warriors will not be playing against Ireland in the final Round of competition after guiding his side to 2 wins.

However, Cummings’ contribution to Scotland’s Under 20s and the experience he has gained playing in the Guinness PRO12 reflects the current renaissance in Scottish rugby.

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Joe Marler

Joe Marler

England prop Joe Marler has avoided any sanction for striking an opponent during his side’s RBS 6 Nations win over Wales at Twickenham.

A Six Nations disciplinary committee found he struck prop Rob Evans in the 15th minute of Saturday’s match.

But it said in a statement: “The disciplinary committee found that the offending would not have warranted a Red Card and so imposed no sanction.”

Marler could now play in England’s final game against France on Saturday.

However, that could still be in doubt as the 25-year-old Harlequins forward may yet face action for calling Wales prop Samson Lee “Gypsy boy” in the same game.

Marler apologised to Lee – who is from the Traveller community – for that comment, and Lee has said he accepted the apology as “banter”.

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Joe Marler

Joe Marler

England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler has been cited for striking Wales prop Rob Evans in England’s 25 / 21 RBS 6 Nations victory over Wales at Twickenham.

Harlequins prop Marler appeared to land a forearm in the face of Evans while trying to assist Dan Cole ground the ball over Wales’s try-line.

“Joe Marler has been cited by the independent citing commissioner for allegedly striking an opponent in the 15th minute of the 1st half of the RBS 6 Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham,” said an RBS 6 Nations statement.

If found guilty at a disciplinary hearing later this week, Marler will face an “entry-point” ban of 2 weeks, which would rule him out of England’s attempt to seal a 1st Grand Slam since 2003.

Officials have yet to decide whether a separate incident of verbal abuse, in which Harlequins prop Marler called Wales’s Samson Lee “gypsy boy” during the 1st half of England’s 25 / 21 win at Twickenham last Saturday, warrants disciplinary action.

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RBS 6 NationsIreland have made 2 changes, with fit-again Jared Payne starting at centre and Simon Zebo deputising for injured full-back Rob Kearney.

Stuart McCloskey, who made his Test debut against England a fortnight ago, drops out of the squad altogether.

Hooker Rory Best will captain the side on his 50th championship appearance.

Flyhalf Edoardo Padovani makes his 1st start as 1 of 4 changes for Italy, along with Guglielmo Palazzani, David Giazzon and George Biagi.

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Glasgow WarriorsThis feels like a semifinal age in the tempestuous domain of European rugby.

The financial behemoths prowling the leagues of England and France are on a seemingly inexorable rise, hoovering up the galacticos of the southern hemisphere.

Theirs is a monetary clout Scottish rugby cannot hope to match.

From Edinburgh, Dave Denton has gone to Bath, Greig Tonks to London Irish. Captain Mike Coman will follow, so too Matt Scott to Gloucester at the season’s end. There may be others.

Along the M8, speculation continues to heighten on the future of Fijian sensation Leone Nakarawa – reportedly heading for Racing 92 with a year left on his contract – and Taqele Naiyaravoro, the monstrous winger, returning to the Waratahs of Australia.

 

A shrewd acquisition

Amidst this leakage of talent, though, the Warriors have, rather shrewdly, recruited an ex-Crusaders hooker, a 4-time Super Rugby champion, 15-Test All Black and Rugby World Cup winner.

Corey Flynn joins Gregor Townsend’s squad on a 2-year deal this summer following a sojourn at Toulouse, one of the most storied and wealthy of the French heavyweights.

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RBS 6 NationsWales head coach Warren Gatland has named his team to face England in Saturday’s key RBS 6 Nations match at Twickenham.

Gareth Davies retains the scrumhalf spot ahead of Rhys Webb, who is named among the replacements.

Webb, 27, was recalled to the squad after 6 months away from international rugby with injury.

Lock Luke Charteris is on the bench where Paul James comes in to cover the injured loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins.

We’ve named a pretty experienced side for Saturday,” said Gatland.

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StretcherMore than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools.

In an open letter to ministers, they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children.

They argue 2 3rds of injuries in youth rugby and most concussions are down to tackles and urge schools to move to touch and non-contact rugby.

Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging.

The concerns have been raised as a 7-year programme headed by the Rugby Football Union is on target to introduce rugby to a million children in state schools across England.

The RFU’s programme, which began in 2012 and is running until 2019, has so far reached 400 schools, with 350 to follow.

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