Category: Six Nations

Nigel Owens’ column: It may be time for summer rugby but it won’t work for the amateur game – #WelshSportsNews

World Rugby’s attempts to bring about a globally-aligned season goes to a crucial vote on June 30.

One proposal would see the northern hemisphere move on to a calendar-year campaign, beginning in January and continuing through to November, with the July international window moving to October.

What everybody needs to do now over the next few days is take a step back, put their vested and personal interests aside to make sure we move forward with the right decision for the global game.

Everybody involved in the game must make the decision not just for their country, their union, competition or club. They must do it for the benefit of the whole game, as it will have a knock-on effect from the very top all the way down to the grassroots community game.

— Read more on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/nigel-owens-column-time-summer-18498413.amp

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

The Wales Team that could face Scotland when the Six Nations resumes…

The very different and stronger-looking Wales XV that could face Scotland when Six Nations clash is rescheduled (According to Wales Online):

Certain Wales players may be fit again, while others could be unavailable if the clash takes place in October like its expected too.

Gareth Anscombe is amongst the players who could be back for Wales:

In these uncertain times, with rugby and sport generally pretty much in hibernation because of the Covid-19 emergency, it’s hard to look much beyond next week let alone seven months ahead.

But all will hope the nasty little bug will be seen off in the coming months.

If it is, and the Six Nations is able to resume, then the next challenge will be to find suitable dates for the four postponed matches.

October 31 has been mooted as a potential option for the three round-five matches, namely France v Ireland, Italy v England, and Wales v Scotland. A weekend also would have to be found for the Ireland v Italy match that was also called off.

The problem is that October isn’t an international-window month, meaning clubs would not have to release players.

Could special dispensation be arranged given that the matches are Six Nations fixtures?

We do not know, with all of us operating in uncharted waters.

But the way things stand, neither Wales nor Scotland would be able to choose their England-based players.

What team would Wayne Pivac be able to field, then?

Here’s our best guess…

15. Liam Williams

Liam Williams eased his way back into Test rugby against England.

It’s set to be a straight choice between Williams and Leigh Halfpenny for the No. 15 shirt. If the 2020-21 season starts on time, Williams will have had opportunities to move back up the gears and the assumption is he’ll be back to his exceptional best. It’s very much a flick-of-a-coin call, mind, with Halfpenny having beaten off threats to his position before.

14. George North

Let’s assume the big man makes his determined and gutsy performance against England at Twickenham his default setting. If that happens, the No. 14 jersey will surely stay with him.

13. Jonathan Davies

Back in November, there was a suggestion Wales’ number one centre would be sidelined for six months after knee surgery. Predicting how long it will take for any injury to clear up isn’t a precise science, but the hope will be that master midfield organiser is playing again by the autumn.

12. Nick Tompkins

Let’s take a punt and say Tompkins will have hooked up to a Welsh region by the time the new season starts, with Cardiff Blues said to be the favourites. If he has and he’s available for any Wales game in October, the likelihood is he will switch to inside centre, where he has played with impressive effect for Saracens. If such a move doesn’t happen, it will be Hadleigh Parkes wearing the shirt — or Owen Watkin, depending on whether Wayne Pivac is in live-for-today mode or looking to tomorrow.

11. Josh Adams

He makes try-scoring look easy and, within three months, he’ll be recovered from the ankle injury he picked up in this Six Nations. He starts.

10. Gareth Anscombe

Gareth Anscombe is helped off the field after sustaining a serious knee injury while playing for Wales against England at Twickenham

Dan Biggar has had a strong Six Nations, so if he’s available Wayne Pivac will have a difficult call. But, as things stand, the  Northampton-based player would be beyond Pivac’s reach for October.

Jarrod Evans and Sam Davies are in the mix, but if Gareth Anscombe is fit and ready after his long-haul recovery from knee surgery, with his leadership and self-belief, he’d likely be first in line.

9. Rhys Webb

He’ll be frustrated after working his way back to the front of the queue with a strong performance off the bench against England. But the man has unshakeable confidence and that counts for a lot at any level of sport. It’s for others to catch up with him now.

1. Wyn Jones

Not too much to see here. Jones was picked to face Scotland for last Saturday and, assuming his form holds up, the squat, hard-working Scarlet would be fancied to get the nod again.

2. Ken Owens

He’ll blow out 34 candles on his birthday cake come January and there are some who’ve already questioned how much time he has left at Test level. But change for the sake of change is a course past Wales coaches have pursued with sometimes disastrous results. Before saying goodbye to Owens — and everybody has a sell-by date — Pivac will know another No. 2 needs to prove himself better. That hasn’t happened yet, not by a long chalk.

3. Dillon Lewis

Tomas Francis and WillGriff John are likely to be off limits to Wales in October as they play for English clubs. Samson Lee seems to have vanished from the international radar, with injuries not helping, so it could be another chance for Lewis to wear the jersey.  

4. Cory Hill

Like Rhys Webb, the Dragon will be frustrated after working his way back to prominence only to see his scheduled return to the starting line-up take a direct hit. Like Webb, he’s a character who’ll want to keep his foot pressed to the metal, though.

Jake Ball should be available but Hill is tireless on the pitch and the previous Wales regime enjoyed his capacity for hard graft. Adam Beard doesn’t seem to be pressing the right buttons in the eyes of the current coaches. Hill appears out in front.

5. Alun Wyn Jones

It’s a Lions year and Wales’ captain will want a big campaign to stake a claim.

He will also want to put behind him the absurd criticism that’s come his way over the Joe Marler affair. Marler may be ‘a joker and people love him for it’, as England international Mike Brown claimed, but even that’s open to question and, for sure, grabbing a fellow player’s private parts isn’t the wittiest move ever.

In sum, the prop appeared to be trying to force a reaction out of Jones but it didn’t happen and he’ll have 10 weeks to reflect on his actions. Having a go at Jones for his press-conference response to a clearly offensive act isn’t Brown’s finest hour, either.

Anyway, time heals and come the autumn the Wales lock will be keen to kick on. He’ll be 35 in September, but no Welsh rival is yet near him.

6. Ross Moriarty

Will he still be playing in Wales next season? Uncertainty mounts the longer it takes to resolve his contract situation. There’s appears to be an issue over his valuation by the Welsh rugby panel that’s dealt with his case and it’s taking worryingly long to deal with to the satisfaction of all concerned. The Dragons want Moriarty to stay and, apparently, he’s not averse to sticking around and doing his bit under Dean Ryan.  But there’s been no announcement and English and French clubs are watching closely.

Taulupe Faletau won’t be available for an October Test as he plays over the border. If Moriarty’s still in Wales, he’ll be favourite to feature. If not, Aaron Shingler or Aaron Wainwright would likely step up.

7. Justin Tipuric

Justin Tipuric runs in his team’s first try against England.

He’s had a outstanding Six Nations and will be there or thereabouts to be named Welsh rugby’s player of the year. Like a top batsman, he seems to take a fresh guard each season and not content himself with anything but excellence. Wales are lucky to have him.

8. Josh Navidi

His performance against England, after so little rugby over the previous four months, was something else.

Close on three years ago, after New Zealand had defeated Wales in Cardiff, Steve Hansen had enquired of Warren Gatland: “Where did you get the kid with the dreadlocks from?”

Navidi became a Gatland favourite, with the then Wales coach valuing his grit, his selflessness and appetite for unglamorous work.

He still has those qualities.

And he’ll still have them next season.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Welsh Sports News – Ireland international claims England are ‘the most unlikeable team in recent memory’ after Six Nations conduct – Wales Online

Former Ireland rugby star Alan Quinlan has slammed the England rugby team’s behaviour during the Six Nations.

Quinlan criticised coach Eddie Jones and the likes of captain Owen Farrell and prop Joe Marler in a stinging newspaper attack.

He was speaking after three England players, Marler, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes, all faced citing hearings on Thursday after the 33-30 victory over Wales.

Skipper Farrell’s conduct has also come under the microscope after he sparked the mass scuffle that resulted in Marler grabbing Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals by pushing George North in the chest.
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/ireland-international-claims-england-the-17925943.amp

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

WRU Chairman Gareth Davies defends Six Nations decision to pull Wales v Scotland…

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies has defended the decision to postpone Wales’ Six Nations match against Scotland in Cardiff just 24 hours before kick-off.

The WRU had said earlier on Friday that the game at the Principality Stadium would go ahead but then called it off because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It has been a tough week,” said Davies. 

“But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do.”

Davies added: “I don’t think we could’ve dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.”

Several sports have been severely disrupted, with all Premier League and EFL football matches suspended until 3 April.

The Cardiff game was the last major sporting event to be postponed this weekend despite government medical advice saying the match could still potentially be played.

“We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until last night,” said Davies.

“We had an emergency board meeting last night to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

“Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course as did the Celtic v Rangers game in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled

“We spoke to the Government this morning, who understood our position.

“For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk.”

“We’ve made a judgement as to whether there was a danger. By the time we arrived at lunchtime today we thought there could be exposure so we decided to pull the game.”

Image copyrightGARETH EVERETT

Gareth Davies is a former Wales captain

Image captionGareth Davies is a former Wales captain

Davies denied they were forced into the decision by public opinion.

“I wouldn’t say it was public backlash; we took everything into account,” said Davies.

“We know despite the government and advice saying there’s no evidence there would be a spike at a major event. 

“When you take everything into account with what’s happened in Italy, there will be spikes. 

“The medical advice says 60% of the population are going to catch this disease and I don’t think we wanted to be the mid-point of that.

“We reassessed the position, other sporting bodies decided to change their stance, and we made the decision that was the most sensible decision to take.”

Davies admitted he sympathised with fans who had travelled to Cardiff already and had spent money on accommodation and tickets.

“I understand and sympathise with that scenario,” said Davies.

Image copyrightHUW EVANS PICTURE AGENCY

Wales players in training just hours before the Six Nations match against Scotland was postponed

Image captionWales players in training hours before the Six Nations match against Scotland was postponed

“There’s not a lot we can do in that respect because we took the responsible decision for 75,000 in this stadium possibly being subjected and open to this killer disease.

“When the match is finalised, we’d advise people to keep their tickets safe.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to come to the match if they’re unable for whatever reason we can look to refund them.”

There are four Six Nations matches to be rescheduled – the three final-round games, plus the Ireland v Italy game in Dublin, which was postponed from 7 March. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches.

“It’s an understatement to say it’s unsatisfactory the four matches won’t be completed,” said Davies.

“There will inevitably be an anti-climax when the games are played but we want to finish the tournament. 

“We’re not sure when that’s going to be. The Six Nations will have to take soundings and make a decision in the next few weeks.

“It’s difficult to plan at the moment because who knows how long this episode will last? The likelihood from what I’ve picked up is that it’ll happen in the autumn sometime.”

An article from the BBC.

For more Welsh Sports News, Coronavirus News or General News, please follow the links.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations News – Wales v Scotland off due to Coronavirus

Wales’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other scheduled games in round five had already been postponed and no dates have been confirmed for completing the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union, which had insisted earlier on Friday the game would go ahead, said it was “in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries”.

Several sports have been severely disrupted, with all Premier League and EFL football matches suspended until 3 April.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the Welsh government and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue. 

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

It added that there would be an announcement on rescheduling the fixture “in the coming days”. 

Friday’s Under-20 Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland in Colwyn Bay will go ahead but will be played behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby has suspended all rugby in Scotland for the remainder of March.

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “We have taken on board all expert medical advice before now and we are taking a precautionary approach to give time to assess what the impact of coronavirus will be on Scottish society in the coming weeks before deciding on next steps.

“This decision has been taken with the best interest of everyone involved in the game and in support of the country’s work to address the impact of Coronavirus.”

News of the Wales-Scotland postponement comes on a day of widespread sporting postponements worldwide.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Wales under 20’s beat England under 20’s in the U20 Six Nations

Wales U20 produced a stunning performance to make it two wins in a row in the U20 Six Nations as England U20 were overcome at Kingsholm on Friday night.

Head coach Gareth Williams had made just one change to the starting XV that had beaten reigning World Rugby U20 Championship champions France in Colwyn Bay last time out, with Will Griffiths and Dom Booth starting at hooker, and it showed in the early exchanges.

Wales started confidently in front of a big and typically vocal Gloucester crowd, playing on the front foot against a host nation who were smarting off the back of a defeat against Ireland U20 in round three.

The kicking game was playing a big part in proceedings early on as the men in red just edged it, and with that came plenty of territory but pressure could not be turned into points as England’s defence stood form throughout the opening 10 minutes.

It needed a moment of magic to get the scoreboard moving and it came from Sam Costelow as he took a pass at first receiver, saw nothing was on outside him so stepped back inside and broke a tackle to make a line break before breaking a second tackle and crossing for a stunning individual try.

The fly-half converted his own try but England hit back just over 10 minutes later as they flexed their power game, pushing a driving maul close before Emannuel Iyogun was in possession as a pick-and-go made it over the line.

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Ellis Bevan England U20.jpg

It seemed like the hosts were starting to get the upper hand in proceedings but two huge high ball claims from Jacob Beetham prevented them pinning Wales back in our own half, and then just before the break that man Costelow was on hand to produce another moment of magic.

In a similar way to his earlier try he broke back on the inside to glide through a gap in the England defence around the breakdown, this time drawing a defender before finding Ben Carter in support and the big second row was equally skilful in getting his hands through a tackle and offloading for Bradley Roderick to score.

Costelow’s conversion made the score 5-14 at half-time, but it appeared that the English had been given a kick up the backside in the changing rooms, as they came out firing early in the second half.

A handling error from Wales gave them field position and on the second phase after the scrum George Barton was on hand to dive over from close range.

Costelow’s penalty extended the lead to seven-points but England continued to push, crossing the try line for a third time only for it to be ruled out for a forward pass in the build up.

Then came a moment of controversy as Beetham once again took to the sky to secure a high ball, only this time to be taken out by Freddie Stewart. The Wales full-back was forced from the field with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, but the referee decided it was only dangerous enough for a yellow card.

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Morgan Strong England U20.jpg

This was followed by a lapse in concentration from the men in red as an attempt to exit our own 22 saw Ellis Bevan drag the ball back over his own try line at the back of a breakdown, allowing Sam Crean to dive in and touch down for an opportunistic try.

Despite that being their third try of the evening, missing all three conversions meant England were still 15-17 down on the scoreboard, while Sam Costelow added another three points off the tee as he continued to be a point of difference between the sides.

It all changed with just under 10 minutes of the game to go though as the Welsh defence, solid throughout despite the three tries conceded, had a disappointing moment with Josh Gillepsie slicing through far too easily before finding Jack van Poortvliet on his inside shoulder who battled his way over.

A conversion at last from Will Haydon-Wood gave England a two-point lead and what seemed like would be a smash-and-grab victory at Kingsholm, but Costelow was not done yet.

Wales battled up to the opposition 22 and the fly-half dropped back into the pocket, slotting a nerveless drop goal to put the men in red ahead, a lead we held on to for a fourth win over England in six U20 Six Nations games.

Gareth Williams’ side rise to fourth in the table on the back of it, and could finish next weekend in second place if Ireland beat France, with England’s trip to Italy called off, a fantastic turnaround from losing the first two games of the tournament in disappointing fashion.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Will Eddie Jones stay on at England – a view from the Guardian…

At some stage in the next fortnight Eddie Jones will sit down for dinner with the Rugby Football Union’s chief executive, Bill Sweeney, to discuss the future. There will be no shortage of agenda items, not least the fall-out from a tempestuous Anglo-Welsh contest which at times was more like rollerball than rugby. England may have collected a triple crown but, not for the first time, the hosts won few awards for grace or diplomacy.

Does it matter how a national team behaves as long as it wins? Jones has never been over-burdened by such considerations but over the coming months the RFU has a fundamental decision to make. Does it stick with the devil it knows and renew its vows with a man increasingly threatening José Mourinho’s position as the country’s prickliest coach? Or does it take a more holistic view, decide a less Marmite personality will improve the squad’s 2023 World Cup prospects and tell Jones his contract will not be renewed when it expires next year?

This truncated Six Nations campaign – as yet it remains to be seen when England’s final game in Italy will take place – has yielded evidence to support both arguments. On the one hand Jones has unquestionably made England a tougher, fitter team; on the other his side underperformed horribly in Paris and owe Scotland a large beer for breathing fresh life into the Six Nations title race.

For more on this and other news please follow the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

France blow best Grand Slam chance in a decade…

There will be no Grand Slam. France’s best chance in a decade to pull that off was ruined at Murrayfield by a stellar Scottish performance, featuring a brace from Sean Maitland and a back-breaking red card for the France tighthead prop Mohamed Haouas for a punch at the end of the first half, from which the visitors never recovered. 

The outcome also capped off a good weekend for England, who have now gone top of the Six Nationstable on points difference ahead of France with one round to go.

As Haouas departed here, rightly sent off for a punch to the head of Scotland’s Jamie Ritchie after the two came together in a ruck, you sensed that France were once again destroying another golden opportunity. Haouas’ mindless act brought back memories of Sebastian Vahaamahina’s own implosion in Oita at the Rugby World Cup, red carded for an elbow on Aaron Wainwright that killed off France’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals.

Haouas’ exit, a third penalty by Scotland fly-half Adam Hastings and then a well-worked try to put Maitland over in the corner all came in the space of less than five minutes. Collectively it felt like a knockout punch, not only in the context of the match but for France’s Grand Slam hopes as well, even with the second half still to come. Maitland’s second try shortly after the interval – made by a fine break from Chris Harris, slipping past Paul Willemse then combining with Ali Price – hammered that point home.

For more on this and other news please follow the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Wales Fall Short At Twickenham…

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Full WRU Match Report from England v Wales…

Battling Wales ensured they picked up a losing bonus-point at Twickenham as they closed to within three points at the end of another epic battle against the auld enemy.

England led 20-9 at the break, but were hit by a try from the kick-off at the start of the second half as Wayne Pivac’s men got their fight-back off to an explosive start. Justin Tipuric scored twice after the break, the second try coming when England were down to 13 men.

Having lost replacement prop Ellis Genge to a yellow card, they lost centre Manu Tuilagi to a straight red for a shoulder to the head in a last ditch tackle to try to stop the Wales wing. Even so, they hung on to clinch the Triple Crown for the 25th time.

In a rip-roaring start Dan Biggar was smashed early on by a combination of Tom Curry and Tuilagi as England set out their stall. They continued to be dominant in the tackle and took the lead from a neat line-out move through returning wing Anthony Watson.

Maro Itoje won set-piece possession, Jamie George found Ben Youngs, and the scrum-half passed inside to Watson. The Bath man danced past Tomos Williams and reached the line to score a try that Owen Farrell converted.

Liam Williams and Elliot Daly then competed for a Biggar cross-kick as Wales looked for a response and George North crossed the line only to see the ball spilled in contact. England’s Jonny May, meanwhile, left the field for a head injury assessment to be replaced by Henry Slade.

When North went over the line, Farrell was penalised for a shove and Halfpenny stepped up to kick the penalty. Farrell responded with an England penalty after Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones was penalised for not rolling away at a ruck.

Halfpenny – kicking ahead of Biggar initially – cancelled out the home captain’s effort soon after. The game was dominated by a kicking battle. It was fast, frenetic and brutal.

After his team won a scrum penalty Farrell kicked to the corner rather than at goal and England went on the attack. The move ended with Farrell and George Ford sending Daly over in the corner for England’s second try.

Farrell nailed the touchline conversion to give the hosts a 17-6 lead. His conversion was followed by a penalty after Wales flanker Ross Moriarty was penalised for collapsing England’s driving maul.

Biggar then stood up from the tee on the half-time whistle and his first kick of the afternoon meant Pivac’s side turned around for the second period 11 points down.

They needed a fast start to the second half and they got exactly that. England kicked off deep to the Wales 22, Wales broke clear up the right touchline through the sensational Josh Navidi.

The flanker passed inside to Tomos Williams and he then went inside once more to Tipuric. The Opsreys’ flanker had 30 metres to go, but nobody was going to stop him from scoring a try at the posts that Biggar improved.

England restored their poise and advantage with successive penalties from Farrell and Ford and then conjured up a walk-in try for Tuilagi that Farrell converted. That stretched their lead to 17 points and put them firmly back on course for the Triple Crown.

Wales were up against it in the final quarter, but knuckled down and emerged with great credit as they cut the gap to a mere three points with tries from Biggar and Tipuric.  Biggar converted them both, but Wales ran out of time at the end and had to be content with taking home a single point.

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England 33 – 30 Wales – Six Nations News…

England consigned Wales to a third consecutive defeat in this year’s Six Nations in a dramatic match at Twickenham.

First-half tries from Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly gave Wales an uphill task at half-time – with the hosts leading 20-6 at the break.

A stunning try from Justin Tipuric 27 seconds into the second-half gave Wayne Pivac’s side hope, but Manu Tuilagi’s score put them in control again.

Tuilagi was sent off late on for a shoulder charge to George North’s head – but it wasn’t enough for Wales to manufacture a comeback despite late tries from Dan Biggar and Tipuric.

Eddie Jones and Pivac will be facing the media post-match and you can follow everything they say right here in the live blog.

Live updates below:

KEY EVENTS

That red card

Plenty of differing views on the Manu Tuilagi red card.

Lots of England fans thinking it was harsh.

What will the two coaches have to say about it?

Find out this and more via the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations News – England v Wales…

England host 2019 champions Wales in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday, needing to win to keep alive hopes of a third title in five years.

England make two changes with Mark Wilson coming in for injured flanker Sam Underhill and Anthony Watson replacing Jonathan Joseph on the wing. 

Wales face England under head coach Wayne Pivac for the first time having lost successive Six Nations matches. 

They make four changes from the home defeat by France two weeks ago.

Scarlets-bound back Liam Williams makes a first appearance since the World Cup after recovering from an ankle problem. 

Cardiff flanker Josh Navidi, who has been injured since January, is preferred to Taulupe Faletau at number eight, and Rob Evans replaces fellow Scarlets prop Wyn Jones in the front row. 

Cardiff scrum-half Tomos Williams makes a first appearance against England, with Gareth Davies dropping out of the squad altogether, while Bath nine Rhys Webb, Saracens prop Rhys Carre and Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler all come onto the bench. 

Commentator’s notes

BBC Sport’s Eddie Butler: The double blip of defeats against South Africa and France has turned into a back-to-back recovery against Scotland and Ireland. 

England are back on track with a vengeful determination and have home advantage against Wales to boot. Or to pass, or to drive. Any which way they like. They look formidable. 

Wales have lost their last two games and are fully aware that England are never the easiest to face when your timing is a little off and your title has already slipped away. But there’s nothing like the prospect of humiliation to concentrate the mind. Wales are close to being excellent. 

Having predicted high-scoring adventures in all rounds, this time both teams are going to deliver. England 39-38 Wales.

View from both camps

England head coach Eddie Jones: “You’ve got to remember they beat us last year so we owe them one.

“They’ve lost two games in a row. They’ve got a new coach and they’ll want to make a statement on Saturday.

“Traditionally our games are very close so they’ll come with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.”

Video captionWales are on the right track – Pivac

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac: “We’ve had a good two weeks and we are really excited about heading up to Twickenham for what will be a huge Six Nations clash.

“We have had the chance to put the disappointments of the loss to France behind us, and we know we need to be more clinical in attack and convert the opportunities that we are creating.

“Liam’s return to full fitness is a positive after the loss of Josh Adams, as is the return of Josh Navidi.”

Image copyrightBBC SPORT

Six Nations table

Line-ups

England: 15- Elliot Daly; 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Owen Farrell (capt), 11-Jonny May; 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs; 1-Joe Marler, 2-Jamie George, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 4-Maro Itoje, 5-George Kruis, 6-Courtney Lawes, 7-Mark Wilson, 8-Tom Curry

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Ellis Genge, 18-Will Stuart, 19-Joe Launchbury, 20-Charlie Ewels, 21-Ben Earl, 22-Willi Heinz, 23-Henry Slade

Wales: 15-Leigh Halfpenny; 14-George North, 13-Nick Tompkins, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Liam Williams; 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Tomos Williams; 1-Rob Evans, 2-Ken Owens, 3-Dillon Lewis, 4-Jake Ball, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 6-Ross Moriarty, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Josh Navidi

Replacements: 16-Ryan Elias, 17-Rhys Carre, 18-Leon Brown, 19-Aaron Shingler, 20-Taulupe Faletau, 21-Rhys Webb, 22-Jarrod Evans, 23-Johnny McNicholl

Match facts 

Head-to-head 

  • England can win four straight home matches against Wales for the second time in the Six Nations era.
  • England’s last four Six Nations wins in this fixture have all been decided by a margin of six points or fewer. Six of Wales’ seven Six Nations victories have been by a converted try or more.
  • Wales scored just six points on their last Six Nations visit to Twickenham in 2018 – their lowest return in this fixture since 2000. 
  • England have won all four meetings in round four of the Six Nations by an aggregate score of 135-70.

England

  • Victory for England would secure a fifth Triple Crown of the Six Nations era (level with Ireland).
  • England have only lost seven home games in Six Nations history. Two of those defeats came against Wales, in 2008 and 2012. 
  • They have been beaten only twice in their last 24 games at Twickenham. 
  • It takes opponents 4.49 seconds to clear an English ruck, a full second longer than any other nation.
  • They have won just five of their last 11 Six Nations matches (D1, L5). 

Wales

  • Wales could lose three straight Six Nations games for the first time since a run of five losses ended in 2007. 
  • They have lost four of their last five Tests.
  • Wales have not beaten England in the Six Nations with Dan Biggar starting since 2013 (L3). 
  • Biggar’s goal-kicking success rate of 86.7% is the best of any Wales player in the Six Nations era (at least 20 kicks).
  • Wales have conceded 22 penalties – the fewest of any team. They are the only nation yet to concede a penalty for offside in this Six Nations. 

Match officials

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) 

Touch judges: Romain Poite (France) & Alexandre Ruiz (France)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Wales News - WelshBiz News

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Ref News from Nigel Owens…

Wales News - WelshBiz News

Wales News - WelshBiz News

When England meet Wales today in what rugby fans on this side of the Bridge always regard as the big game of the Six Nations, I will be at Twickenham doing some work up in the hospitality suites and for the Clwb Rygbi TV show.

Unfortunately this is one fixture I will never be able to referee, for obvious reasons.

The honour down on the pitch today goes to my colleague Ben O’Keefe from New Zealand. Ben has run touch for me on several occasions and I was honoured to do that for him a few years ago in his first Six Nations match out in Rome when Italy met France.

He had a great game that day and has continued to climb the ladder to become one of World Rugby’s top officials. He is a great referee, more importantly a great guy too, and today’s match is in very good hands, for sure.

For more on this article and other news please follow the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

England decision to exclude Mako Vunipola, unnecessary…

England’s decision to exclude prop Mako Vunipola as a precautionary measure against coronavirus was “unnecessary”, says Public Health England (PHE).

Vunipola was stood down for England’s Six Nations match with Wales after recently travelling through Hong Kong.

The prop has trained with Saracens this week and will start against Leicester in the Premiership on Saturday.

“PHE current guidance on coronavirus is clear on when self-isolation is necessary,” a PHE tweet said.

“Earlier this week the RFU asked a player, having returned from travel overseas, to not attend the camp to avoid the risk of spread, which was not necessary as he was not displaying any symptoms. 

“The RFU accept this and this clarification.”

On Wednesday, England assistant coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Our medical team looks at our team environment, not other people’s.

“And that’s the advice we followed. We are a camp-based environment and we stay in together 24 hours a day effectively.

“Mako didn’t come into camp on the advice of our medical team, who looked into the situation closely and as a precaution they advised us that the best thing for our environment was for him not to come in.

“Mako is not ill, he is not in self-isolation, but the advice we got for our environment from our medical team and the relevant parties they consulted was that he should not come into camp, and that’s the advice we followed.”

‘Heightened awareness around hygiene’

Vunipola’s Saracens teammate Jamie George says the England squad have had a “heightened awareness around hygiene” because of the virus,

England host Wales at Twickenham in their final Six Nations game on Saturday, after their trip to Rome was postponed because of the outbreak in Italy.

“In a rugby environment a cold would go around the team a lot quicker than in the general public,” said the hooker.

“It’s an unfortunate situation with Italy but I presume the health experts are doing exactly what’s required.”

No England players have been symptomatic or tested, and George says the squad are taking “simple” measures to guard against the outbreak.

“We have to have a heightened awareness around hygiene and it’s the simple things that need to be done, like washing your hands,” he added.

“It definitely hasn’t been a distraction, rather it’s been a reinforcement that we need to prepare for this week properly.

“We have to pay our respects to Wales and prepare in the way we need to win the game.”

Victory for England will secure the Triple Crown and keep alive their hopes of a third title in five years, and George says the hosts are “preparing for a proper battle”. 

“We’ll be back at Twickenham and you can’t take away the edge that this fixture brings,” he added.

“I’d say it’s our strongest rivalry historically. If you look back at the big games throughout my career they’re the ones we get most excited about.

“There’s a different edge to it. The Welsh fans when you play in Cardiff make it petty hostile, so we’re looking forward to welcoming them to Twickenham and want to make it as tough for them as we possibly can.

“We’re aware Wales are coming in off the back of two losses and will be hungry as ever to get that victory. They’ll be as physical as anything so we’re preparing for a proper battle.”

For more on this and other news follow the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

This weekends Six Nations fixtures…

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

England v Italy in the Six Nations has been postponed…

England’s Six Nations games against Italy on 14 and 15 March have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The men’s, women’s and under-20s contests will be played at “a later date” say organisers. 

“Six Nations fully intends to complete all 15 games in all three championships when time allows,” they added.

Ireland’s Six Nations games at home to Italy on 7 and 8 March were postponed last week.

Italy is the worst-hit European country with more than 3,000 cases.

Six Nations officials made the decision to reschedule the fixture on Thursday after the Italian government ordered all sporting fixtures in the country to be held behind closed doors until 3 April as part of measures to contain the outbreak.

The decree, announced by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, affects all areas of the country, including those places were the virus has not been found.

Playing the men’s match behind closed doors would have meant the Italian Rugby Federation missing out on the ticket revenues from the 73,000-capacity Stadio Olimpico. The women’s match was due to be played at the Stadio Plebiscito, a venue in Padua which holds about 10,000.

“We will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation,” added organisers.

“Based on the information that is currently available, all other Six Nations matches are set to go ahead as scheduled.”

Remaining Six Nations fixtures
7-8 March  England v Wales
Scotland v France
Ireland v Italy Postponed
14 -15 March Wales v Scotland
Italy v England Postponed
France v Ireland

With their away match against Ireland this weekend already postponed, Italy’s Six Nations campaign is now effectively over until their final two fixtures can be rearranged.

If France, who have three victories from three games so far in the championship, beat Scotland and Ireland in their final two games, they will clinch the men’s title before Italy play their postponed games.

However any slip-up from the French could open the door for England and Ireland and mean the champions cannot be determined until Italy’s rescheduled matches have been played.

Sergio Parisse, Italy’s talismanic captain and winner of 142 caps, had planned to mark his international retirement with a farewell appearance against England. 

The 36-year-old’s previous plans to bow out of Test rugby in his country’s final Rugby World Cup match against the All Blacks in October were wrecked by Typhoon Hagibis, which caused that pool game to be cancelled.

When could the match be replayed?

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

England lift title in 2001

Image captionEngland lifted the title in 2001 but were denied a Grand Slam as Ireland won their rescheduled match 20-14 in Dublin

Space is scarce in the rugby calendar.

The first Saturday free of domestic and European action is 27 June, but playing Tests then would affect planned departures for summer tours with England heading to Japan and Italy due to play in the United States, Canada and Argentina.

When an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease caused three of Ireland’s games to be postponed during the 2001 Championship, the remaining fixtures were played in September and October, almost six months after the rest of the matches were completed.

Spectators who had been planning to head to Italy for this month’s fixtures have three options if they booked through England’s official travel company. 

Fans are being offered the choice of rescheduling their booking for the revised date, an alternative fixture in the autumn or next year’s Six Nations or a full refund.

For more on this or other sports news please follow the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Entire Six Nations could be called off as UK Government considers banning sporting events as tournament bosses meet to make decision – Wales Online

The UK Government is considering following in France’s footsteps with a ban on public events in a bid to stop the coronavirus spreading further, which could spell the end of this year’s Six Nations for now.

Ireland v Italy – which had been due to take place this weekend in Dublin – has already been cancelled.

Another match hangs in the balance after the French government imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces on Saturday, throwing the French team’s Super Saturday Six Nations clash against Ireland in Paris under further doubt.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock admitted on Sunday that it was an option, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are looking at all those sorts of things – we do not rule them out.”

— Read more on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/entire-six-nations-could-called-17844242.amp

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

The John Inverdale interview: My Welsh connections, accusations of English bias and the real story behind THAT famous picture – Wales Online

Here are a few things you might not know about John Inverdale.

As a boy, he lived in Newport, while his father worked at the Heath hospital in Cardiff.

The first Five Nations match he saw was Wales v France at the Arms Park in 1970 and he was back there in 1973, as a 15-year-old, to watch THAT game between the Barbarians and the All Blacks.

At Southampton University, he was at one point the only non-Welshman in his college rugby team and he went on to study journalism in Cardiff, at the same establishment as yours truly, as it happens.

— Read more on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/john-inverdale-interview-welsh-connections-17825620.amp

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations 2020: George Kruis in line for final Twickenham appearance and England star eyes mega-money Japan deal

Six Nations 2020: George Kruis in line for final Twickenham appearance and England star eyes mega-money Japan deal

GEORGE KRUIS could make his final Twickenham appearance next week — ahead of a likely move to Japan.

The England second-row has a mega-money deal on the table.

George Kruis could make his final Twickenham appearance next week ahead of a likely move to Japan

And he is set to make a call on joining the Top League, boasting World Cup legends Dan Carter and Kieran Read, when the Six Nations ends.

Quitting relegated Saracens for Asia would end Kruis’ Test career, with Eddie Jones only allowed to pick home-based players.

And Kruis, 30, said: “It’s tough but extremely exciting on all fronts.

“It’s always emotional playing for England. It is clearly an absolute privilege, so if I stay, it’s an unbelievable opportunity. If I go, it is also a great opportunity.

“This is something I need to have a proper think about once we have finished up the Six Nations.”

Sarries and England team-mate Jamie George has no doubt his pal will be big in Japan.

The hooker said: “George is incredibly impressive. He’s squeezed the most out of his career he possibly could because of the amount of work he’s put in.

“I remember him joining Saracens as an 18-year-old. He was awful, a bad rugby player, and everyone was like, ‘Is he a competition winner?’.

— Read on www.thesun.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/11066216/six-nations-george-kruis-england-japan/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Josh Adams will see no more Six Nations 2020 action following Saturdays Ankle Injury 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏉📰

Josh Adams will play no further part in the 2020 Guinness Six Nations following an ankle injury sustained in the 3rd round narrow defeat against France.

The in form Welsh Rugby and Blues winger is likely to be out for up to 3 months.

He is due to have surgery this week and it is envisaged that he could return in 12 weeks for the latter stages of the Guinness PRO14.​

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

How Wales Could Still Win The Six Nations – as per Wales Online…

According to a recent Article on Wales Online – Here how Wales could still Win the Six Nations title in 2020, although it’s a bit unlikely…

Wales v England

The first thing Wales need to do is win their remaining games, preferably with maximum points, starting with England at Twickenham.

Yes, it’s a tough ask, but this is England v Wales. Anything could happen, Pivac’s attacking game-plan might click and Wales run in four tries for a bonus point in a thrilling clash with England not getting anything.

They would, of course, need other results to then go their way too.

Scotland v France

That means Scotland to triumph over France at Murrayfield. Yes, some might view that as a little unlikely we accept, but if Gregor Townsend’s men click anything can happen.

Italy v Ireland

The other result Wales need would be more seismic, Italy beating Ireland.

On the surface that may look nigh on impossible, but Italy troubled France in Paris, are desperate to end their losing streak in the Six Nations and won’t travel without hope.

Also, this is an Ireland team who have been heavily criticised by former players, the media and the public on the Emerald Isle with calls for wholesale changes, in Dublin. Conor Murray and skipper Johnny Sexton, key figures for so many years, are under fire.

The pressure is on.

Sport is a funny game. If Ireland get a player sent off early on, or a couple in the bin, who knows?

Buster Douglas, Wimbledon FA Cup final v Liverpool, Leicester winning the Premier League… sporting shocks do happen.

Such a sequence of results would mean France remaining on 13 points, and England and Ireland on nine.

The big movers would be Wales with a maximum points haul in a smash and grab raid on their neighbours taking them to 11, just two points behind the French.

Scotland could be on the same number, or a point behind, if they beat France without securing a bonus.

That would leave a situation of their top five being covered by just four points, each retaining hopes of the title, and setting up a truly Super Saturday.

What needs to happen in Round Five

(Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)

 

Wales v Scotland

Again, Wales have to take care of their own business. They are first up, at home to Scotland, and can pile the pressure on the other teams with a bonus point victory which would take them to 16 points.

Wales have the wood over the Scots in Cardiff, so a bonus point haul from this one is certainly not unfeasible.

Italy v England

England could only get 14 points if, as expected, they run up four tries and beat Italy.

That match is due to take place in Rome but emergency measures taken by the Italian government to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country have already caused sports events to to postponed or cancelled and could put it in doubt.

There is also a question-mark over Ireland’s previous round fixture with the Azzurri, with the Irish government monitoring the situation. It hasn’t ruled out postponing the fixture.

France v Ireland

An Irish triumph, with a bonus point, could only take them to a maximum of 14 points.

France could still finish on 16 points if that match finished in a draw and they scored four tries to pick up a bonus point.

But if they lose, the title would be Wales’.

Wales could even still win the title if they fail to pick up a bonus point in one of the games against England or Scotland and finish the Championship with 15 points.

That would be enough for them to finish above England and Ireland with only France able to match or better it through one or two draws, or losing bonus points.

Wales could even still win the title if they fail to pick up a bonus point in one of the games against England or Scotland and finish the Championship with 15 points.

ALSO DON’T MISS THESE RUGBY STORIES:

Josh Adams out of Six Nations as Wales face potential crisis ahead of England match

The emotion of Wales’ newest player and his Welsh dad who always hoped he would choose them over England

Wales star Rhys Webb makes shock move to Bath with immediate effect

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Six Nations RESULTS: France see off Wales to keep Grand Slam hopes alive, Scotland cruise to victory against minnows Italy 🏉📰

Six Nations RESULTS: France see off Wales to keep Grand Slam hopes alive, Scotland cruise to victory against minnows Italy 🏉📰

Six Nations RESULTS: France see off Wales to keep Grand Slam hopes alive, Scotland cruise to victory against minnows Italy 🏉📰

— Read more on mikearmstrong.me/six-nations-results-france-see-off-wales-to-keep-grand-slam-hopes-alive-scotland-cruise-to-victory-against-minnows-italy/

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Atletico Madrid v Liverpool Team News ⚽️📰
February 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Atletico Madrid v Liverpool Team News ⚽️📰
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool Team News Line-ups Atl Madrid 13Oblak 24Vrsaljko 18Felipe 15Savic 12Lodi dos Santos 8Saúl 6Koke 5Partey 11Lemar 9Morata 10Correa Substitutes 1Adán 2Giménez 14Llorente 19Diego Costa 20Machín Pérez 21Carrasco 22Hermoso Liverpool 1Alisson 66Alexander-Arnold 12Gomez 4van Dijk 26Robertson 14Henderson 3Fabinho 5Wijnaldum 11Salah 9Firmino 10Mané Substitutes 7Milner 8Keita 13Adrián 15Oxlade-Chamberlain 18Minamino 27Origi 32Matip Referee: Szymon Marciniak — Read on www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51533273
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Champions League: What to look out for in the knockout stages ⚽️📰
February 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Champions League: What to look out for in the knockout stages ⚽️📰
Champions League: What to look out for in the knockout stages – The Champions League group stages did not disappoint with a record 308 goals scored – and Europe’s elite club competition returns with the start of the knockout stages. All four English teams – holders Liverpool, runners-up Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City – progressed to the last 16, with last season’s finalists both in action this week. Paris St-Germain against Borussia Dortmund has been described as “the tie of the round”, so will this finally be the French side’s year? And can Dortmund’s teenage star Erling Braut Haaland continue
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Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss tells friends he intends to stay at club despite Champions League ban – 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📰
February 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss tells friends he intends to stay at club despite Champions League ban – 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📰
Pep Guardiola: Manchester City boss tells friends he intends to stay at club despite Champions League ban – Pep Guardiola has told friends he intends to stay at Manchester City despite the club’s two-year ban from the Champions League. Unless City overturn the ban imposed by Uefa on Friday, they will not compete in European football until 2022 after this season. Guardiola’s contract is due to expire in 2021. He is expected to speak about the subject for the first time on Wednesday. His contract does have a break clause at the end of this season and it was anticipated he would
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Champions League prize money 2019/20: How much can every team earn? ⚽️ 💼 💶 📰
February 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Champions League prize money 2019/20: How much can every team earn? ⚽️ 💼 💶 📰
Champions League prize money 2019/20: How much can every team earn? Champions League prize money 2019/20 Prize money accumulates as the rounds progress Reaching the group stages: £12.4m Reaching the round of 16: £7.9m Reaching the quarter-finals: £8.7m Reaching the semi-finals: £10m Reaching the final: £12.4m Winning the final: £3.3m Total for winning Champions League: £54.7m — Read more on www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.radiotimes.com/news/sport/2020-02-18/champions-league-prize-money-2019-20/amp/
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Aaron Ramsey could go to United as part of a Juventus bid for Pogba 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📰
February 16, 2020 | Comments Off on Aaron Ramsey could go to United as part of a Juventus bid for Pogba 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿⚽️📰
Juventus will offer Manchester United Wales star Aaron Ramsey and French international midfielder Adrien Rabiot in a bid to re-sign Paul Pogba this summer. Ramsey’s first season in Serie A hasn’t gone to plan, with game-time in short supply and injuries hampering his influence. Rumours of a return to the Premier League emerged earlier this week, with United and former club Arsenal mentioned as possible destinations for the Welshman. For more on this story and other news please follow the link.
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— Read on mikearmstrong.me/category/sports-news/

Welsh Rugby Union | Wales & Regions | Wales Women heavily beaten by France

Wales were beaten 50-0 by France in their third game of the 2020 Women’s Six Nations.

Chris Horsman’s side had their moments, but it was Les Bleus who wew fully deserved winners at Cardiff Arms Park as they racked up a half century of points.

There were eight French tries in total with Cyrielle Banet and Laure Sansus both scoring twice.

Safi N’Diaye, Marine Menager, Julie Annery and Camile Boudaud added further efforts for Les Bleus as they kept Wales scoreless in the capital.

France fly-half Jessy Tremouliere kicked five conversions as player of the match Pauline Bourdon ran the show from fly-half.

Wales fell behind to an early French try as wing Banet raced clear to score in the corner and the conversion attempt from out wide was unsuccessful.

After that the home side responded well.

Wales had plenty of possession and territory as they camped themselves in the French half with flanker Alisha Butchers impressing with one huge tackle.

Butchers was putting herself about physically, but she also showed deftness of hand with one nice pass out of the tackle.

Wales’ problem was they could not convert their field position into points as captain Siwan Lillicrap brushed off a knock.

France finally got some possession after long periods of Wales dominance and they showed the home side how to be clinical.

The away set-piece had been very good all day and from a scrum close to the Welsh line, French scrum-half Sansus was the one to pick up and dart over.

The conversion from Tremouliere was good.

It was a cross-kick to the corner which led to France’s third try.

Banet grabned her second after the excellent Bourdon had booted the ball to her in space. Tremouliere’s conversion attempt was successful as Wales turned around 19-0 down.

Wales had also lost back Kerin Lake in the first half as she departed for a head injury assessment to be replaced by Lauren Smyth.

Unfortunately for Wales, France only moved further clear in the second half.

Lock N’Diaye crashed over from close range and Tremouliere converted.

Sansus then grabbed her second of the afternoon as she picked up from a pack surge and went down the blindside to score with ease.

The conversion went wide, but the French scoring continued.

Menager raced clear down the left wing to score and Tremouliere converted from wide out.

Flanker Annery and replacement back Boudaud completed the scoring late on.

— Read on www.wru.wales/report/wales-women-beaten-by-france/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

England v Ireland: ‘No-one argues with a Farrell’ as father and son prepare for Twickenham game

There is an arc in the competitive relationship between most fathers and sons.

Stage one: father teaches son. Stage two: father lets son win. Stage three: equally matched. Stage four: son unrepentantly triumphant. Stage five: son patronises father by throwing him occasional bones.

Andy and Owen Farrell are not most fathers and sons. Which is why, when they come up against each other at the elite level once again this weekend, the dynamic between them will be so perplexing to the majority of those watching.

England v Ireland is always a huge game. With Ireland two games unbeaten and England on the rebound from World Cup final disappointment there is extra weight on this one, but you can find subplots anywhere you care: Farrell senior returning to Twickenham as head coach for the first time; Eddie Jones with a new-look coaching staff containing only a solitary Englishman; both looking to move their teams on as a new World Cup cycle begins.

But it is the Farrell against Farrell narrative that will draw the eye, because each is so integral to everything their side is, and because their characters are reflected in the style and attitude of the teams around them.

— Read on www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/51560161

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me