Here are your latest rugby headlines for Thursday, June 23.
Crowd limits lifted for Wales Tests in South Africa
Wales will be faced with capacity crowds when they take on the Springboks during their three Test tour of South Africa. Covid-related government restrictions have been lifted, so there can be full houses for the games in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. Attendances have been limited to half capacity in the Rainbow Nation up until now, including for last weekend’s United Rugby Championship final between the Stormers and the Bulls. Now there will be no restrictions at the Test venues of Loftus Versfeld (52,000), Free State Stadium (46,000) and Cape Town Stadium (55,000).
The Springboks have not played in front of a capacity crowd on home soil a since the onset of Covid-19 in 2020. With full houses returning for the first time in more than two years, it makes the assignment all the trickier for Wayne Pivac’s Wales as they step into boisterous packed arenas. The Welsh squad are flying out from Heathrow this evening and will be based in Johannesburg until July 7, travelling to Pretoria and back by bus on match day for the first Test on July 2.
Winger Lane called up by Barbarians
Cardiff’s Owen Lane will start on the wing for the Barbarians against Spain at Estadio El Molinón in Gijón on Saturday evening, having been called into the squad in place of South African speedster Seabelo Senatla.
Lane joins fellow Welsh internationals Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Baldwin and James Botham in the starting line, along with Cardiff’s Samoan star Rey Lee Lo, who partners skipper Parkes in the centre. The bench features three more Wales caps in front row pair Kirby Myhill and Scott Andrews and No 8 Dan Baker.
It will be prop Andrews’ last game before he hangs up his boots to move into coaching with the Cardiff Academy, while Ireland lock Devin Toner, England flanker Tom Wood and Samaon forward Joe Tekori are also retiring after the weekend. The famous invitation team are being coached by former Cardiff boss John Mulvihill, with the game kicking off at 8pm UK time.
Barbarians: Tim Nanai-Williams (Samoa); Owen Lane (Wales), Rey Lee-Lo (Samoa), Hadleigh Parkes (capt, Wales), Adam Byrne (Ireland); Rhyno Smith (South Africa), Sebastian Bézy (France); Ed Byrne (Ireland), Scott Baldwin (Wales), Charlie Faumuina (New Zealand), Devin Toner (Ireland), Steve Mafi (Tonga), Tom Wood (England), James Botham (Wales), Abraham Papali’i (New Zealand)
Replacements: Kirby Myhill (Wales), Allan Dell (Scotland), Scott Andrews (Wales), Joe Tekori (Samoa), Rob Harley (Scotland), Dan Baker (Wales), Mathis Galthié (France), Ahsee Tuala (Samoa).
Phil Bennett funeral details
With large numbers expected to attend Phil Bennett’s funeral service at Holy Trinity Church, in Felinfoel, on Friday (June 24), Dyfed-Powys Police have outlined the parking arrangements aimed at easing traffic disruption in the area. The main parking will be at Calsonic Sports & Social Club, Llethri Road, SA14 8HU (120 places), while overflow parking will be available at Felinfoel Resource Centre, Ynyswen Road, SA14 8BE, and the Diplomat Hotel, Aelybryn, SA15 3PJ.
People attending are advised to allow plenty of time to arrive before the service and to follow any traffic management directions. A service of remembrance will be held for Llanelli, Wales and Lions legend Bennett at Parc y Scarlets on Friday morning at 11am, followed by a public service at Holy Trinity Church at 1pm.
Dragons contracts for five youngsters
The Dragons have handed Academy contracts to five homegrown youngsters in centre Harri Ackerman, scrum half Zak Roberts, outside half Sam Berry, wing Walker Price and prop Jordan Morris. Ackerman captained the Dragons U18s as they were crowned Regional Age Grade champions in February and, along with Berry and Price, he was part of the Wales U18s squad that took part in the recent Six Nations Festival in Marcoussis, France.
Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “We have always stated that the continued growth of our club is underpinned by prospering homegrown youngsters coming through our Academy system. We’re therefore pleased that these five young talents have committed to Dragons and we look forward to helping them continue to grow and develop in our environment in the coming years.”
Scarlets forward on international duty
Scarlets tighthead prop Javan Sebastian starts for Scotland A against Chile in Saturday evening’s first match of the tour of South America. Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie captains the team for the game at the Estadio Santa Laura Universidad in Santiago. English-based Premiership players are unavailable due to the game falling outside of the international window.
Chile will use the match as preparation for their Rugby World Cup play-offs against USA after beating Canada last year in an Americas qualifying match. It will be the first time they have played a Six Nations team in more than 60 years. Following the game, Gregor Townsend’s Scotland touring party will travel to Argentina for a three Test series against the Pumas.
- Wales call up uncapped 21-year-old Harri O'Connor for South Africa tour in shock announcement
- Dragons appoint new head coach amid shake-up at Welsh region