Here are the latest rugby headlines on Friday, July 7.
Dragons coach leaves for new adventure
Dragons defence coach Simon Cross is leaving the region to become head coach of Major League Rugby side Old Glory DC in America.
The former Scotland international first linked up with the Welsh side in 2018 and has been a key part of the backroom team at Rodney Parade. He has also had coaching spells with English Premiership club Worcester Warriors and Scotland U18s and U20s.
Dragons head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Simon is a talented and well-respected coach who leaves a lasting impression on our playing squad and the wider environment at Dragons RFC.
“While we’re disappointed to see him leave, we’re also pleased that he has secured a head coach role in the MLR and can take the next step in his own coaching career path. We see his appointment as an endorsement of his work and development at Dragons. We wish Simon and his young family every success with the next chapter in Washington and look forward to welcoming them all back to Rodney Parade in the future.”
Cross succeeds Josh Syms, who led Old Glory to its first MLR playoff appearance and playoff win in 2023.
Cross said: “I’ve absolutely loved my time as a Dragon. I firstly want to thank Dai Flanagan and David Buttress for the support they’ve given me in allowing me to take up this head coach role.
“Dragons will always be a special club to me, but this is an opportunity that I need to take for my own coaching progression and for my family as we look to start a new adventure in Greater Washington. Finally, my thanks to all the staff and playing squad at Dragons. I’ve really enjoyed working with such a hard-working and driven group and I’m confident the team will have many successful seasons to come. I look forward to coming back to Newport to watch the team from the terraces soon.”
Wales U20s make three changes as coach demands passion
Wales U20s head coach Mark Jones has made three changes and a positional switch to his starting line-up for the World Rugby U20 Championship clash against Georgia on Sunday (3pm UK kick-off time, live on S4C).
The winner of the match will then play the victor of Australia v New Zealand to determine fifth place in the championship next Friday.
Harri Houston switches from wing to full-back after Cameron Winnett took a knock against France which rules him out. Llien Morgan comes in on the wing while centre Joe Westwood gets a first start of the campaign after impressing as a second-half replacement in the defeat against France, with Bryn Bradley dropping to the bench. Lewis Lloyd replaces Sam Scarfe at hooker.
Georgia have impressed in the championship and only missed out on a top four spot by points difference and will fancy their chances of overturning last year’s defeat to Wales in the U20 summer series held in Italy.
"We’re in that knock-out scenario now, we’re going to be fighting for that fifth ranking opportunity," said Jones. "We want to give ourselves the best chance of fighting for that fifth and sixth spot final and we feel the selection keeps some cohesion within the group whilst freshening it up in a few positions as well.
"I’m always confident with this group of boys because I know they have got potential but sometimes it’s about how well you execute what you are trying to do. It’s going to be a battle of style for sure. The weather is due to be okay although it’s going to be a bit damp over the next couple of days so that could play a part.
"We’ll find out from our boys how passionate they are around how they want to give themselves a shot at finishing fifth – that’s the key for us. We’ve won one game, put in some decent performances in blocks but we are still waiting for that performance that we can look back on and say, ‘wow we got pretty much 80 to 90 per cent of that game nailed'. We’re hoping all the time that this is the one."
Wales U20s: 15. Harri Houston (Ospreys), 14. Tom Florence (Ospreys), 13. Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby), 12. Joe Westwood (Dragons RFC), 11. Llien Morgan (Ospreys), 10. Dan Edwards (Ospreys), 9. Archie Hughes (Scarlets), 1. Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths (Dragons RFC), 2. Lewis Lloyd (Ospreys), 3. Kian Hire (Ospreys), 4. Liam Edwards (Ospreys), 5, Jonny Green (Harlequins), 6. Ryan Woodman (Dragons RFC – capt), 7. Seb Driscoll (Harlequins), 8. Morgan Morse (Ospreys).
Replacements: 16. Lewis Morgan (Scarlets), 17. Josh Morse (Scarlets), 18. Louis Fletcher (Ospreys), 19. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby), 20. Lucas De La Rua (Cardiff Rugby), 21. Bryn Bradley (Harlequins), 22. Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby), 23. Harri Williams (Ampthill).
Alun Wyn Jones joins Toulon on short-term contract
Alun Wyn Jones has joined Toulon on a short-term contract.
The former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain has signed for the French club as a "medical joker" for the duration of this year's World Cup.
"We are delighted and honoured to welcome a legendary player like Alun Wyn Jones to Toulon," director of rugby Pierre Mignoni said. "His career demonstrates the immense talent of this player. His experience and his mental and physical strength will add to the locker room and to his team-mates."
Jones, 37, announced his international retirement in May as the most-capped player in world rugby. The second-row forward, who had been named in Wales' preliminary World Cup squad, has played a world-record 170 Test matches - 158 for Wales and 12 for the Lions.
Jones ended his 17-year stay at the Ospreys in June. He has initially signed a short-term Toulon deal to cover squad absences as the domestic Top 14 season starts in mid-August before resuming after the World Cup in the final week of October.
Luke Cowan-Dickie completes move to Sale from Exeter
By PA Sport Staff
Luke Cowan-Dickie says he was ready for change after completing his move from Exeter to Sale. The 30-year-old England and British and Irish Lions hooker will join up with the Sharks immediately after injury ruled him out of this autumn's World Cup.
"I've been at the same club for 13 years and I felt it was time for a change," Cowan-Dickie said. "This is the perfect move for me and I can't wait to get started.
"I know Jonny (Hill) and Tom (O'Flaherty) from Exeter and they have raved about this club since they came up here. They have told me how good the environment, the lads and the coaching team are so it was an easy decision.
"It's been a long journey trying to get fit and not knowing where I'd be playing but I can already see myself being here for a long time. This team reached the (Gallagher Premiership) final last year and speaking to the boys here, they all want to go one better. I want to win and I'm confident we can have a successful year."
Cowan-Dickie made his England debut in 2015 and has gone on to win 41 caps for his country, while representing the Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa. He scored 41 tries in 165 appearances for Exeter and had been due to join Top 14 club Montpellier this summer. But reports from France suggested the deal broke down on medical grounds as Cowan-Dickie worked his way back from ankle surgery.