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Wales Online
Wales Online
Jon Doel

Rugby evening headlines as Nigel Owens warns refs are being influenced by players and Hadleigh Parkes enjoys Hollywood moment

Today's rugby evening headlines on Wednesday, February 2.

Owens warning to refs

Nigel Owens has warned the current crop of rugby referees are getting too friendly with players and inviting dissent.

Writing in the Telegraph, Owens has urged officials to draw a line on their interactions with individuals, suggesting some decisions are being changed because of players' protestations.

He said: "One area that needs to be addressed, and it is not a major issue yet but has been creeping in over recent months, is the amount referees talk to players. It comes up with the Welsh referees who I coach, who I am trying to get out of the habit. I see them talking almost too much with players, who talk them out of decisions.

"There is a time for communication and there needs to be a balance. But the more you talk in a game, the more you open yourself up to have a two-way conversation, and players feel they can talk to you about anything.

"We are seeing more of referees going 'don't do that, mate', which makes players feel: 'I am speaking to my mate here, I can say whatever I want'. I would like to see less of that, and it's why a hint of dissent has come into the game recently.

"Communication is important, but it does not have to be constant. Less is often more. There is no need for a debate on the field."

Munster sign All Black

Munster have signed 2015 World Cup-winning All Black Malakai Fekitoa from Wasps for next season.

The 29-year-old is a major addition to the United Rugby Championship, with the Irish sides once again flexing their financial muscle.

Centre Fekitoa now represents Tong and previously played for Toulon.

Hadleigh Parkes' moment of genius

Former Wales star Hadleigh Parkes continues to make a huge impact in Japan, with a wonderful piece of skill in his last match winning huge plaudits.

Parkes is a key man for Saitama Wild Knights and helped to inspire them to a 41-37 comeback win over Kobelco Kobe Steelers on the weekend.

The centre, who was a mainstay of the Wales national team during Warren Gatland's final couple of years in charge, assisted a try for team-mate Dylan Riley with a world class kick pass.

The Wild Knights, coached by former Australia coach Robbie Deans, won the league last year.

Parkes has been joined in Japan by former Wales team-mates Jake Ball and Cory Hill this season, who play for NEC Green Rockets and Yokohama Canon Eagles respectively.

Read more: The new life of Jake Ball, the man who suddenly ended his Wales career for personal reasons

WRU to shut bars during Wales games

The Welsh Rugby Union has moved to curb alcohol-related disorder by ordering the bars to be closed during the second half of this year's Guinness Six Nations matches at the Principality Stadium.

The decision comes as the WRU addresses reports of anti-social behaviour during the Autumn Nations Series games earlier this season.

The WRU said a number of high-profile incidents, including two intrusions onto the pitch in consecutive matches, were accompanied by some reporting of poor behaviour at the 74,000-seater venue.

A statement read: "A series of measures, which include closing food and beverage outlets in all concourses after half-time in all three home matches against Scotland, France and then Italy, have been put in place on a trial basis for the 2022 Championship and will be subject to an ongoing review."

WRU chief executive Steve Phillips said: "We want our supporters to remain passionate and enthused and to continue to bring their best voices to the Principality Stadium - throughout the recent pandemic it is our supporters who we, and the Wales team, have missed most - but we also need them to behave responsibly and to encourage those around them to do the same."

Full story here.

Duchess of Cambridge joins England training

The Duchess of Cambridge has joined an England training session in her new role as patron of the Rugby Football Union.

Kate headed to Twickenham on Wednesday to meet players from the men's and women's squads as they prepare for the Six Nations championships.

The duchess, known for her love of sport and her competitive nature, is taking to the pitch with the players for a special skills session run by head England head coach Eddie Jones.

Kate has taken over the Duke of Sussex's former roles as patron of both the RFU and the Rugby Football League after being given them by The Queen.

She is the first member of the royal family to officially receive one of the Sussexes' past royal patronages, which they were stripped of post-Megxit.

Kate, who used to watch rugby with her family growing up, shared her joy at the appointments in a personal message on Twitter.

England's first Six Nations game at Twickenham is against Wales on February 26, following away games against Scotland and Italy.

Kate's new affiliation with England Rugby puts her in direct competition with husband the Duke of Cambridge, who is the Welsh Rugby Union's patron.

Scotland 'must put it all together'

Ali Price admits buoyant Scotland must become more consistent if they are to challenge for the Six Nations title this year.

The Scots have recorded impressive victories over England, France and Australia in the last 12 months but have never won more than three of their five matches in a single Six Nations campaign.

Last year, the historic wins at Twickenham and in Paris were offset by narrow defeats against Wales and Ireland.

And Glasgow scrum-half Price acknowledges they need to string together a solid run of results if they are to win the competition for the first time since 1999, when it was still the Five Nations.

"If you get four or five wins then you're knocking at the door on that last weekend to see where you finish up," he said.

"Last year we had a couple of famous victories away from home that we hadn't managed to achieve for a number of years.

"But it was six or seven match points in total that covered the losses at home, whereas in years gone by we've managed to win our home games and not pick up the away wins.

"It's trying to put it all together, that's the challenge. That's the challenge for all sides to get that four or five wins and get the title, and that's no different for us.

"We're going into this wanting to win every game and hopefully if we can put it all together, draw on the experiences from last year and the year before, we should be in a good place come the last weekend."

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