England scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the Lions tour to New Zealand after the wife of his brother Tom learned that she is terminally ill.
Ben, 27, is a team-mate of hooker and captain Tom, 30, at Leicester Tigers and the pair will play in the remainder of the Premiership season for the club.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw replaces Ben Youngs on the Lions tour.
“We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together,” said Ben.
“The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.”
The 1971 and 1974 Lions were the greatest touring teams that have departed these shores, but the monopoly they appear to have on key positions in the Four Home Unions is now coming under scrutiny. The appointment of John Spencer, the 1971 Lions and England centre, as manager of the 2017 Lions is a case in point.
Spencer’s installation was not greeted with unanimous approval, and the same was true when Tom Grace, the 1974 Lions and Ireland wing, was appointed as Lions chairman.
The 1971 and 1974 Lions have rightfully had a major influence on the future of the touring side, and that has been recognised with luminaries from those sides being awarded the majority of the management, coaching and administrative roles in the intervening 40 plus years.
However, exactly how appointments are made in Lions rugby has always been shrouded in fog.
Four Home Unions appointments have always had a whiff of the clandestine about them, with vested national interests and horse-trading to the fore. As a result, in the professional era they have been a mixed bag.
Warren Gatland has been named British and Irish Lions coach for the 2nd time and will lead them on the 2017 tour of New Zealand.
The Kiwi will step down from his job with Wales and be replaced on a temporary basis by Rob Howley.
“It’s a huge honour when you get offered probably the biggest job in world rugby against the best opposition in world rugby,” said Gatland.
The Lions have not won a series against New Zealand since 1971.
“When I was offered the position, it was definitely a ‘yes’ straightaway,” added Gatland. “To challenge yourself against the best, there is no bigger challenge.”
Howley took over from Gatland the last time the 52-year-old took on the Lions role in 2013, when they went to Australia and claimed a 2-1 series win.
Gatland intends to travel to New Zealand on Thursday with tour manager and former England captain John Spencer to start planning.
The Lions face 10 games on what will be an extremely challenging trip, which includes 3 Tests against the All Blacks – unbeaten on home soil since 2009.
Wales coach Warren Gatland will quit his post after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and return to New Zealand, media reports in his homeland said on Friday.
Gatland, already Wales’ longest-serving coach after taking up the position in 2007, said he wanted to head home and possibly take a break before resuming his career in New Zealand.
“I’m here (Wales) until 2019 and the plan for me then is definitely to come home for a period,” he reportedly told commercial radio.
Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, ruled himself out of the running to succeed England coach Stuart Lancaster by telling reporters: “I don’t think they can afford me.”
Although under contract until 2020, Lancaster’s time in his job could soon be up after England became the 1st Rugby World Cup hosts to be knocked out of the tournament at the group stages.
Wales played a key role in England’s demise with a thrilling 28 / 25 win over their old rivals at Twickenham.
Australia then delivered the telling blow to England’s hopes of getting out of the ‘Pool of Death’ with a comprehensive 33 / 13 win over Lancaster’s team last weekend.
Since England lost to the Wallabies, there has been plenty of speculation about how Lancaster could be out of a job following the team’s now ‘meaningless’ concluding Pool A match against Uruguay in Manchester on Saturday.
Gatland, whom England could have tried to appoint after the 2007 World Cup, the year before he oversaw his 1st match as Wales boss, has been 1 of several names linked with Lancaster’s job in recent days, along with Australia’s Eddie Jones and South Africa’s Jake White even though, as yet, there is no vacancy.
Wales have received an official warning from World Rugby for a breach of Rugby World Cup regulations during training.
Back-up players who did not make the final 31-man squads are not allowed to take part in practice sessions.
But a group of players not in Wales’ squad did participate during training at Sunbury on Wednesday.
“While World Rugby is satisfied that no deliberate breach was intended, an official warning has been issued to the Wales Rugby Union,” the sport’s governing body said.
“All participating teams have been informed that additional players from the extended squad, including potential injury replacements, may not be included in any training sessions.”
While there was little prospect of a points deduction for the infraction, with a fine likely to have been the sternest punishment, the incident will have been an unwelcome distraction as Warren Gatland prepares his side to face England on Saturday.
Following Saturday’s narrow win over Italy, Wales have now been hit by the news and reality that Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb are out of the Rugby Wolrd Cup, their injuries serious enough to keep them out of the tournament in total.
Leigh Halfpenny suffered torn right knee ligaments in a warm-up match against Italy at the weekend.
Wales coach Warren Gatland named prop Samson Lee in his 31-man squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Lee has not played since rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.
Flyhalf Gareth Anscombe was left out in favour of Matthew Morgan.
Wales are in Pool A with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Experienced trio James Hook, Mike Phillips and Richard Hibbard were among 8 players released from Wales’s World Cup training squad.
The announcement was made by Welsh coach Warren Gatland on Thursday.
Flyhalf Hook, capped 78 times, scrumhalf Phillips, who has made 94 international appearances, and 38-cap hooker Richard Hibbard failed to make the cut after Gatland trimmed his squad from 46 players to 38.
Jack Dixon, Rhys Patchell, Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton and Dan Baker are the other players who will return to their respective clubs and regions.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has revealed he and Ireland counterpart Joe Schmidt discussed team selection before naming their sides for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff.
Gatland has handed debuts to four players in an experimental Welsh side.
Wales host Ireland on Saturday, before playing them in Dublin on 29 August and hosting Italy on 5 September.
“Joe rang me last week to talk about what we were looking at in the squad,” Gatland said.
“I said we were going to have a mixed squad with an opportunity for some younger players.
“He sort of indicated that they were probably going to do the same thing.
“I think they will experiment with the squad too.”
Warren Gatland has revealed there have been altercations in training as the Welsh pack battle for World Cup places.
Members of the Wales squad were involved in fights during training this week as the battle for World Cup places boiled over.
Coach Warren Gatland revealed the incredible edge that has been present in the build-up to Saturday’s sell-out clash with Ireland, admitting members of his pack have become embroiled in physical altercations.
Gatland is delighted with the way his team are preparing for next month’s World Cup and has relished watching his players give everything they have to ensure they make his final cut at the end of this month.
A potential move by barnstorming Newport-Gwent Dragons No 8 Taulupe Faletau to English Premiership team Bath would not hinder his international chances, Wales head coach Warren Gatland insisted on Thursday.
The so-called “Gatland’s law” was put in place with the theory that home-based players would be favoured over those choosing to ply their trade overseas.
But it has appeared increasingly irrelevant, with a host of current Welsh internationals turning out for the national side despite playing in England or France, although the ‘law’ will reportedly only allow 2 wildcard selections from those playing outside the country after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Tonga-born Faletau has a year left on his Dragons contract, but it seems increasingly likely he will be bought out of that deal, to the reported value of £ 250 000.00, with Premiership club Bath keen to sign the 24-year-old British and Irish Lions forward.
“We’re discussing it at the moment with the Dragons, the regions and Bath,” Gatland said.
“Toby’s got the biggest choice to make, that’s ongoing and hopefully that gets sorted out in the next week.
“There is potential there for Toby to move, that’s up to him, but he wouldn’t be hampered by that.
Wales have made 2 changes in their front row to face Italy in their final Six Nations encounter of the season, in Rome on Saturday.
Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis come into the starting 15, replacing the injured duo of Gethin Jenkins (hamstring) and Samson Lee (Achilles).
The team which will take to the field at the Stadio Olimpico is otherwise unchanged team.
Evans will make his first start as he wins his 2nd cap in Rome and will line-up alongside Ospreys duo Scott Baldwin and Jarvis.
Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones continue in the second row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Sam Warburton in the back row.
The backline remains unchanged with Rhys Webb (No 9) and Dan Biggar (No 10) at halfback, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the centre and a back 3 of George North, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny.
Wales have made 1 change to their side to face Scotland on Sunday, with Liam Williams coming into the starting 15.
Scarlets back Williams will win his 20th cap at Murrayfield and replaces George North.
North is currently symptom free and whilst nearing the conclusion of the graduated return to play protocol the decision has been taken to allow him an elongated recovery period in light of his recent concussive episode in the autumn period.
The 1 change results in the same starting backline that beat South Africa, in the final autumn international, taking to the field this weekend.
The Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.
The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.
The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.
Former Wales and Llanelli flyhalf Phil Bennett has questioned Scarlets’ move for Welsh-qualified flanker Jack Payne from Queensland Reds in Australia.
Payne, 20, has arrived in Wales, but any move cannot be made official until passport issues have been resolved.
Scarlets president Bennett would prefer to see local players at Scarlets, but admitted importing Welsh-qualified players from abroad could help Wales.
“There’s a lot of mixed feeling from Llanelli,” he said. “We’re kind of old fashioned here. People still go back to the great Llanelli days . . . they all want to be Welsh, Welsh-speaking if they had their way,” joked 66-year-old Bennett.
“But let’s be honest, look at the Australians, the All Blacks and how they’ve milked the situation of getting players from Fiji, Samoa and different places. You’ve got to get and live with the very best in the world.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland has denied he was under extra pressure as his team sought an elusive win over a Southern Hemisphere side when they clash with South Africa on Saturday.
Gatland’s record against the SANZAR sides of Australia, New Zealand and the Springboks since taking charge in 2007 does not make for pleasant reading: played 27, won one, lost 26.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland on Thursday played down reports in the media that he was under extra pressure, 10 months away from the World Cup in England.
After opening their November campaign with a 28-33 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales side scraped past Fiji 17-13 before rebounding against New Zealand, leading after 69 minutes before leaking three late tries to go down 16-34.
Welsh defensive coach Shaun Edwards has bad memories of what Willie le Roux did to them in June and is wary of the Springboks’ threats.
South Africa managed two victories over the Welsh back in June, with a tight one-point win in Nelspruit proving to be a heartbreaking one for Wales.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was instrumental as an attacking threat in both those games and was seen to terrorize the Welsh defence.
For Edwards, a watchful eye will be kept on Le Roux, but he is not fooling himself into believing that the wylie fullback will be the only threat.
“They have got intelligent players, they’ve got a constructive kicking game as well,” the coach said.
They’ve got an outstanding fullback in Willie le Roux, who was the main torturer for us throughout the June Tests.
Wales coach Warren Gatland’s record against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa now stands at played 27, won one and lost 26 after a 16-34 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland insisted that his team did not lack self-belief against the SANZAR nations, praising New Zealand’s kicking game in a brutally entertaining match in Cardiff.
“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s sometimes just getting across the line and doing it, and the first time you do that, it’s easier the next time,” said Gatland.
“That’s a big thing for us, we get over that line and that’s what will create that belief and that composure to finish a game off.”
Gatland, himself a Kiwi who took charge of Wales after the 2007 World Cup, added of the “nearly-men” tag.
“It’s disappointing. You’ve got to keep working hard to try to rectify that in terms of critical moments when we’ve come under a bit of pressure.
Wales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.
Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named a 34 man squad to play in the upcoming End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) which features just one uncapped player but no place for Adam Jones and James Hook.
Instead of British & Irish Lions prop Jones, 20-year-old Ospreys prop Nicky Smith has been called into the squad for the first time and features alongside 12 players who return to International duty after missing the summer tour to South Africa.
Gatland’s side take on Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends in November as the countdown begins to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
In the front-row, former Wales Under 20 prop Smith, who has started all seven of the Ospreys’ encounters this season, joins the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Paul James.
Wales coach Warren Gatland fired an early shot at the All Blacks’ World Cup defence, suggesting the New Zealanders may be hampered by their weak pool.
New Zealand and Wales face vastly different challenges to make the World Cup playoffs. The All Blacks head Pool C that includes the improving Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.
In contrast, Wales find themselves in the “pool of death” with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Warren Gatland’s role in helping to broker peace in Welsh rugby’s civil war has included the adoption of a rule preventing players who ply their trade overseas being available for the national team.
After months of bickering, Wales’ national body and its four regions have agreed to terms, signing a £60 million (NZ$118m) deal for six years.
With finances approved, it is hoped the clubs and country will be able to stop the player drain to competitions like the lucrative French club scene.
The Times reported that equally important in the attempt to plug the talent drain was a new ruling, dubbed “Gatland’s Law”, under which players plying their trade outside Wales would be unavailable for selection for the national team.
The Welsh Rugby Union and the nation’s four regions could announce a deal this week to end almost two years of in-fighting over funding and control.
Wales captain Sam Warburton is expected to be joined by nine more players on dual contracts under the new agreement.
If the deal goes ahead, funding for the 10 will be in addition to an annual £6.7m shared between Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons.
The WRU and regions have been asked to comment.
Their last deal ended in June 2014, and if a fresh settlement is not forthcoming the regions face a combined £6.7m shortfall going into the 2014-15 season.
The controversial penalty try two minutes from time which condemned Wales to a heartbreaking 31-30 defeat has not been argued by Warren Gatland.
Wales, having held leads of 17 and 13 points at different stages, were up 30-24 with just over two minutes remaining when Hendricks escaped the clutches of George North down the touchline.
It left fullback Liam Williams covering across to make a try-saving tackle, but he made no effort to wrap his arms around Hendricks and instead shoulder-charged him into touch.
Walsh referred the incident to the TMO, Glenn Newman, and after seeing replays from several angles the referee explained his decision at length to Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones before heading under the posts to award the penalty try.
Warren Gatland hopes Wales will “right the wrongs” of last week’s 38-16 thumping at the hands of the Springboks, when the teams play their second Test in Nelspruit on Saturday.
“We have been really happy with the response from the players during training this week, we have had a good week and we see Saturday as an opportunity to right the wrongs of last weekend,” said Gatland, announcing two changes to the side that got hammered in Durban.
“We were disappointed with last week’s display but we want to finish the season with a big performance and show what we know we are capable of.”
Wales, and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been awarded an OBE in the Queens Queen’s birthday honours.
Gatland is currently on tour with Wales in South Africa where they lost the opening test of two matches 38-16 but he said that being honoured was a massive honourt.
“I was surprised really,” said Gatland.
The Springboks completed a successful first match of their season on Saturday against Nick Mallet’s World XV at Newlands but the first proper international action for them starts this weekend as the Castle Lager Incoming Series gets underway with a Test against Wales in Durban on Saturday.
There often is debate and criticism about the make up of squads that Northern Hemisphere countries send on these mid-year tours which take place after their taxing domestic seasons. This year though the two teams due to play against South Africa have got good reason to be fielding teams which are going to be under strength in certain areas. The Test against Scotland falls outside the international window and so their players who ply their trade outside Scotland will not be making the trip over. The tour for Wales has been made much harder due to numerous injuries, no least to inspirational captain Sam Warburton.
The bookmakers have installed South Africa as overwhelming favourites, but Wales coach Warren Gatland has his eye on a 2-0 sweep for his team.
If Gatland was a betting man he would have jumped at the 18-1 on offer by some SA bookies for a Welsh series win.
It is not surprising for a coach to publicly back his side, but Gatland went further by suggesting that only 2-0 series victory will do when they meet the Springboks in Durban (this Saturday 14 June) and Nelspruit (next week, 21 June).
Wales coach Warren Gatland has warned that he might consider not selecting England-based players in future.
The Premiership clubs have said they may not release Welsh players for a trial game on 30 May in Swansea as it is not a Test match.
Negotiations are ongoing, but Gatland remains concerned by the continuing uncertainty over player availability for Wales duties.
The Welsh Rugby Union have revealed on Thursday that they will stage their first full trial match in 14 years ahead of next month’s two-Test South Africa tour.
Rob Howley will coach the Probables, with his fellow Wales assistant Robin McBryde in charge of the Possibles for a game that will take place at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on 30 May.
Adam Jones has spoken about reaching some personal landmarks, the motivation of having two young Wales tight-heads after the number three jersey, and looking forward to another tour to South Africa.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has revealed that his star fullback Leigh Halfpenny will miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder in the 29-18 loss to England at Twickenham.
Ryan Jones has been ruled out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign because of a hamstring injury. The 32-year-old back-row forward led Wales in three of their matches in the 2013 tournament as they retained the Championship title.
Gethin Jenkins has been included in a 32-man Wales squad for the Six Nations despite concerns over his damaged knee. The 33-year-old prop had a scan on Monday after he was injured in Cardiff Blues’ Heineken Cup defeat by Toulon.