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Wales Online
Wales Online
Katie Sands

Tonight's rugby news as Wales star issues statement after 'challenging' time and Davies says exodus not over

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Wednesday, June 21.

Bigger Welsh rugby exodus to come, says Wales fly-half

France-bound fly-half Sam Davies believes there could be a bigger Welsh rugby player exodus to come next season.

Liam Williams has become the latest Wales international to leave Welsh regional rugby, with his move to Japanese side Kubota Spears after the World Cup confirmed on Wednesday. He follows the likes of Rhys Webb, Tomas Francis, Ross Moriarty, Will Rowlands and Joe Hawkins in all exiting the regions next term.

Ex-Dragons playmaker Davies, who himself is headed for Grenoble after being released by the Dragons at the end of last season, is of the view there will be more to come next season as the reality of smaller playing budgets sets in. Playing budgets for each region are dropping to £5.2million next season and then £4.5m for the 2024-25 campaign.

"I don't see how it's going to be slowing down any time soon," he told the Scrum V podcast. "The budgets are coming down and boys are out of jobs, getting out of the country, so how is it going to get better? It's just not, is it?

"There's going to be a massive fallout of players, probably, next year out of the regions, and where are them players going to go? The ones that are lucky enough, some of them will get the top tier, some of them have fallen into second tier, but a lot of them are just not finding jobs.

"It's really not great for the players, and it's probably going to hit a few of them in the coming year, like it did this year for myself. I think they've just got to be prepared for the worst.

"Now the market is flooded. You've got the fallout of London Irish now as well, Worcester and Wasps last season, so you've got three teams who have just disappeared which adds to the market already being clustered. It begs the question what's going to happen in the next two or three years in Welsh rugby?"

Liam Williams statement as he leaves Cardiff

Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back Liam Williams has left Cardiff to join Kubota Spears in Japan. The 32-year-old had a year remaining on his contract, but Cardiff - along with the other three Welsh regions - are operating in a difficult financial climate and Jarrod Evans and Dillon Lewis left the club to join Harlequins in April.

"I'm delighted to announce that I have signed with Kubota Spears for next season," Williams, who has been capped 84 times by Wales, wrote on his Twitter account. "I have fond memories of playing in Japan in the 2019 World Cup. I will never forget how welcoming everybody was. I am looking forward to experiencing a new way of life with my wife Sophie and we are excited about the opportunity.

"I have made some incredible memories in Welsh rugby over the years and must thank the @welshrugbyunion and @cardiffrugby for their understanding in what has been a challenging few months. I will be doing everything possible to be selected for the World Cup campaign with @welshrugbyunion and am excited about the opportunity to be involved."

Teams discover European opponents

Cardiff will take on heavyweights Toulouse and Harlequins once again as they were drawn in the same Champions Cup pool for next season, when the Welsh side will return to European rugby's top tier.

The Arms Park side famously put up an incredible battle against the two clubs back in 2021 when the Welsh side had been robbed of several first-team stars through quarantine.

Cardiff have also been drawn against Bath, Racing 92 and Ulster in Pool 2.

In the Challenge Cup, the other three Welsh sides all discovered their fate.

The Dragons were drawn into Pool 1 alongside Section Paloise, Zebre, Oyonnax, Cell C Sharks and the first of the invitational teams.

Pool 2 consists of the Ospreys, USAP, Newcastle Falcons, Emirates Lions, Montpellier and Benetton.

The Scarlets find themselves in Pool 3 with Edinburgh, Castes Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Gloucester and the second invitational team.

These three Welsh teams are waiting to find out who they will face from their respective pools. The new format for next season dictates that clubs will play four different opponents home or away during the pool stage with same-league matches being kept to a minimum, and only impacting clubs from the URC.

The Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24 and 25, 2024.

Poll: How far will Wales go at the World Cup? Have your say here or below

Young All Black from same town as Parkes to face Wales

Junior All Blacks full-back Harry Godfrey is gearing up to face Wales in their World Rugby U20 Championship opener this Saturday.

The 20-year-old, who has already made eight appearances for Super Rugby side Hurricanes, actually hails from Hunterville, the same small town as Hadleigh Parkes, who qualified to represent Wales on residency grounds and went on to become a favourite in the red jersey before heading for pastures new in 2020. The North Island town has a population of around 400 people.

Godfrey, meanwhile, has been a member of the New Zealand U20s for two years and in their most recent clash in Wellington helped his side save face against Australia, RugbyPass report. After a shock 34-26 defeat in the first test, New Zealand edged Australia 19-18 in the second, with Godfrey having a hand in all three New Zealand tries.

He will be hoping for more of the same this weekend against Mark Jones' Wales U20s side, but is expecting a challenge from Mark Jones' men in red.

“They enjoy their set piece, scrum, and lineout," he said. "It’s a different style of rugby, more kicking, so we’ll have to be ready in that department and balance the way we play. We like to attack from anywhere, even our own 22, but we might have to adapt on the run.”

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