Tag: UK Rugby News

#UKSportsNews – Sports Star Chats on the Mike Armstrong Podcast Show – #WelshSportsNews

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Introbiz online networking event with Welsh Rugby Legend, Jonathan “Jiffy” Davies • #Introbiz #WelshBiz #WelshEvents

July 1 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Free

Join us for an Introbiz Online Networking Webinar Event, on Wednesday, 1st of July, from 4:00-6:00PM

Jonathan Davies is a former Welsh rugby player who played in the 1980s and 1990s and represented Wales in both rugby union and rugby league. He was named player of the 1993–94 season, winning the RFL’s Man of Steel Award.

Since retiring from rugby, Davies has worked in the media as a commentator and pundit in both codes, mainly for the BBC in both the English and Welsh languages. Since 2004 Davies has hosted his own rugby themed chatshow, Jonathan, on S4C. Davies was also the President of Super League side Crusaders until 2009. In 2015 Davies was awarded the OBE for his charitable services to people with cancer through his role as president of Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre, where he has raised over £10 million!

Schedule for the event:

Welcome by Introbiz
Introbiz Masterclass Q&A with keynote speaker Jonathan Davies
Questions from the audience
Networking starts, referring to our highly successful power group format:
Who are you?
What are your products and services?
Who are your clients?
What’s your target audience for your business?
What new introductions can we make for you?
How can you follow up effectively?
Event closes
Introduction to upcoming events
Tickets for this exclusive webinar are completely free – you can book your place below!

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Date:
July 1
Time:
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Cost:
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— Read more & book online on introbiz.co.uk/networking-event/introbiz-online-networking-event-with-welsh-rugby-legend-jonathan-jiffy-davies/

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

Welsh rugby star Owen Williams walks away from Wales career as he announces move to Japan -#WelshSportsNews

Owen Williams has signed for Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, making him ineligible to play for Wales.

The three-times capped utility back is heading for the Osaka-based outfit after a three-year stay with Gloucester.

He will be linking up once more with South African coach Johan Ackermann, who left the Cherry & Whites to take charge of the Red Hurricanes last month.

Both the Ospreys and the Dragons had been keen on bringing the 28-year-old former Scarlets playmaker back to Wales.
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/welsh-rugby-star-owen-williams-18491850.amp

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

Ex All Black names the best Wales rugby players in the current team and the one he wishes he’d played with -#WelshSportsNews

Cardiff Blues legend Xavier Rush has revealed the current Welsh player he’d have loved to play alongside most, as well as the best player he played with during his time in Wales.

The former All Black No. 8 was speaking on WalesOnline’s Welsh Rugby Podcast when he was asked about the current Wales stars that have caught his eye.

“There’s a few,” explained Rush.

“If I look at some of the players there currently, Gareth Davies has had a wonderful 24 months.

“If any team had Alun Wyn Jones in their tight five, it’s a big plus for them.

“It will be nice to see Taulupe Faletau back to his best. He’s a real inspirational player and has talent only a few are blessed with.

“Justin Tipuric has had a great 12 months since Sam (Warburton) retired. He’s played fabulous rugby.
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/ex-black-names-best-wales-18481818.amp

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

The morning headlines as powerbrokers deliver verdict on World Cup-style tournament and Welsh rugby favourite makes kind gesture – Wales Online

The morning headlines as powerbrokers deliver verdict on World Cup-style tournament and Welsh rugby favourite makes kind gesture – Wales Online
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/morning-headlines-powerbrokers-deliver-verdict-18321330.amp

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

Guinness PRO14 boss lifts lid on multi-million pound deal, British & Irish League and how this season will end – Wales Online

The PRO14 recently secured a £125 million investment from CVC

— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/guinness-pro14-boss-lifts-lid-18313859

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

How the Welsh Regions are shaping up for next seasons Pro14 season…

Some quality signings and the return to fitness of big names could produce scintillating rugby for Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons supporters next season in Europe and the Guinness PRO14

Nick Tompkins was excellent for Wales

Nick Tompkins could soon be bringing his excellent Wales form to Cardiff Blues(Image: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)

Welsh rugby fans don’t know when their favourite sport will return but there’s plenty to excite them about next season.

Some super signings have been made by the regions and other captures, like new Wales star Nick Tompkins, are being heavily touted.

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

Gavin Henson keeping spirits up in Wales…

The former Wales rugby star has done his bit to keep spirits high in what are difficult times.

Gavin Henson delivers pints of beer to a local:

Gavin Henson recently hit the headlines after it was announced that he and his wife had opened up a new restaurant.

The former Wales international and his partner Katie are the new proud owners of The Fox in St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan.

But as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, it is one of many thousands of businesses set to feel the pinch in the coming weeks and months.

However, the current pandemic has not stopped Henson from winning the hearts of his new locals.

With the government calling on pubs and restaurants to close after Friday in a bid to contain the Covid-19 spread, Henson’s former region Ospreys revealed they were donating £58,000 worth of kit to cash-strapped clubs in the local area after it was confirmed that the 2019/20 season had been cancelled.

And Henson made a typically brilliant goodwill gesture of his own by personally delivering pints of beer from his new pub.

Writing on Twitter, NHS worker Richard Johnson revealed details of the delivery.

He said: “Thanks to @KatieHenson89 and @gavinhenson82 from @TheFoxStBridesM for the takeaway service tonight.

“Avoiding the crowds #socialresponsibility #FlattenTheCurve #supportthenhs #supportsmallbusiness.”

And Henson duly responded via his official Twitter account.

He said: “No problem doc! Sorry about the spillage, I blame the cattle grid! Enjoy.”

The stone pub has undergone a complete overhaul since being purchased by the former Wales rugby international.

It reopened in February and has a restaurant that offers fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere as well as a bar area where locals can watch the biggest sporting events on a large screen.

Business may be limited for the foreseeable future, but Henson is still proving why he is loved so much by so many.

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

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

Welsh Sports News – Wales release the special tribute to Matthew J Watkins that was supposed to be played at cancelled Scotland game

The Welsh Rugby Union have revealed the special tribute they planned to pay to Matthew J Watkins ahead of Wales’ game against Scotland.

Today’s Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium has been postponed due to fears over the coronavirus.

Watkins, 41, passed away last week after a seven-year battle with a rare form of pelvic cancer.

During a successful career, he earned 18 caps for Wales and played 150 times for the Llanelli Scarlets.

The WRU were due to hold a minute’s applause and play some of Watkins’ highlights on the big screens at the Principality Stadium 15 minutes before kick off.

With the game now not taking place, the Union have released the video on social media and a short statement to go with it.

“Matthew continued to give back to rugby after his playing days and despite battling cancer, helped coach Oakdale minis and juniors and Brecon in their Plate-winning season,” the statement from the WRU read.
— Read on www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/wales-release-special-tribute-matthew-17925299.amp

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

Pro 14 Suspended Indefinitely due to Coronavirus…

The current Guinness PRO14 season has been suspended in response to the evolving Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.

The PRO14 is an international league. Cross border travel is inevitable and that brings with it unique challenges. With governments in Italy and Ireland already putting in place clear directives and restrictions around public activities and travel, the decision to suspend the competition is appropriate.

It is in the best interests of everyone that games are not played at this time. The suspension has been directed by the board of Celtic Rugby DAC and the decision will remain under constant review.

David Jordan, Tournament Director PRO14 Rugby, said: “We have made this decision with everyone’s welfare foremost in our minds. With an evolving situation in the five countries that take part in Guinness PRO14 it is important to make a clear decision that is in keeping with the advice of the various governments involved.”

Resumption of the 2019/20 season will now become a matter of constant review. To this point PRO14 Rugby has ensured that it has the latest information and guidance made available by the local and national authorities via our participating unions in the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.

This will remain the case for the duration of the suspension. This is an unprecedented action for the tournament and as such no end date to the suspension can be provided at this time.

In keeping with our practice during the outbreak, PRO14 Rugby will provide updates on the suspension when more information is available.

ITALIANO

La stagione corrente di Guinness Pro14 è stata sospesa in risposta all’evoluzione del diffondersi di COVID-19.

PRO14 è una manifestazione internazionale, i viaggi oltre confine sono inevitabili e questo comporta delle situazioni uniche e sfidanti. I Governi di federazioni coinvolte nel torneo hanno già posto in essere chiare direttive e restrizioni circa attività pubbliche e, di conseguenza, la decisione di sospendere la competizione risulta appropriato. E’ nel migliore interesse di tutti che in questo momento le partite non vengano disputate.

La salute e la sicurezza di tutti i nostri giocatori, squadre, staff e tifosi è cruciale ed è nel miglior interesse di tutti che non si disputino partite in questo momento. La sospensione è stata determinata dal board di Celtic Rugby DAC e rimarrà oggetto di costante revisione.

Il Direttore del Torneo PRO14 David Jordan ha dichiarato: “Abbiamo preso questa decisione con il welfare dei giocatori e la sicurezza dei nostri tifosi quali imprescindibili priorità. Con una situazione in evoluzione in cinque nazioni che prendono parte al Guinness Pro14 è importante prendere una decisione chiara, coerente con le indicazioni dei vari Governi coinvolti”.

La ripresa della stagione 2019/20 sarà oggetto di costante revisione. Ad oggi PRO14 Rugby si è assicurato un flusso di informazioni e indicazioni costantemente aggiornato da parte delle autorità locali e nazionali attraverso le federazioni membre del Regno Unito, Irlanda, Italia e Sudafrica.

Questo costante monitoraggio si protrarrà per l’intera durata della sospensione. Questa è un’azione senza precedenti per il torneo e ad oggi non è possibile fornire una data certa per la conclusione della manifestazione.

In linea con le nostre disposizioni durante l’epidemia, PRO14 Rugby fornirà ulteriori aggiornamenti sulla sospensione quando nuove informazioni saranno disponibili.

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

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

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.

Partners and Suppliers

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

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

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

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

Fantastic Rugby Poem…

A Poem for old rugby players:

When the battle scars have faded

And the truth becomes a lie

And the weekend smell of liniment

Could almost make you cry.

When the last rucks well behind you

And the man that ran now walks

It doesn’t matter who you are

The mirror sometimes talks

Have a good hard look old son!

The melons not that great

The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways

Used to be dead straight

You’re an advert for arthritis

You’re a thoroughbred gone lame

Then you ask yourself the question

Why the hell you played the game?

Was there logic in the head knocks?

In the corks and in the cuts?

Did common sense get pushed aside?

By manliness and guts?

Do you sometimes sit and wonder

Why your time would often pass

In a tangled mess of bodies

With your head up someone’s……?

With a thumb hooked up your nostril

Scratching gently on your brain

And an overgrown Neanderthal

Rejoicing in your pain!

Mate – you must recall the jersey

That was shredded into rags

Then the soothing sting of Dettol

On a back engraved with tags!

It’s almost worth admitting

Though with some degree of shame

That your wife was right in asking

Why the hell you played the game?

Why you’d always rock home legless

Like a cow on roller skates

After drinking at the clubhouse

With your low down drunken mates

Then you’d wake up – check your wallet

Not a solitary coin

Drink Berocca by the bucket

Throw an ice pack on your groin

Copping Sunday morning sermons

About boozers being losers

While you limped like Quasimodo

With a half a thousand bruises!

Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain

And curse Sambuca’s name

Would always pose the question

Why the hell you played the game!

And yet with every wound re-opened

As you grimly reminisce it

Comes the most compelling feeling yet

God, you bloody miss it!

From the first time that you laced a boot

And tightened every stud

That virus known as rugby

Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it when you played it

All the rest took second fiddle

Now you’re standing on the sideline

But your hearts still in the middle

And no matter where you travel

You can take it as expected

There will always be a breed of people

Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him

Like a gravitating force

With a common understanding

And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies

Like it was yesterday old friend

You’ll know that if you had the chance

You’d do it all again

You see – that’s the thing with rugby

It will always be the same

And that, I guarantee

Is why the hell you played the game!

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