Headline your rugby evening on Sunday, January 7.
Louis Rees-Zammit has been ruled out of the Premiership match
Louis Rees-Zammit was ruled out of Gloucester’s match with Bath just an hour before kick-off.
Rees-Zammit was initially named on the substitutes’ bench, with Jonny May and Ollie Thorley taking up the wing positions in the starting XV on Sunday. But just before the match it was confirmed that he would not take part in the match because he was too unwell.
Italian international Stephen Varney, who was born in Wales, and young Welsh star Max Llewelyn were on the bench. Flyer Lloyd Evans took Rees-Zammit’s place in round 23. Get the latest rugby news delivered straight to your inbox for free with our daily newsletter.
Lawes joins George North?
According to French media reports, England veteran Courtney Lawes is in talks to join George North and Tomas Francis in Provence next season.
Rugbyrama reported the news on Sunday, following previous reports Racing 92 and Toulon were also interested. However, PRO D2 information from Provence is making the most notable progress.
The French club has huge financial resources and is determined to reach the Top 14 and become a major force in French rugby.
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Liam Williams first tried his hand at Kubota Spears
Liam Williams has had his first try for new club Kubota Spears in Japan Rugby League One.
This was the Welsh legend’s second game for Spears, following a painful three-point loss to Shizuoka Blue Revs on December 23.
In round 4 of the tournament, Spears faced a star-studded Toshiba Brave Lupus team consisting of All Blacks Richie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell, as well as Japan captain Michael Leitch.
Lining up alongside Williams for Spears was New Zealand legend Dane Coles, but unfortunately the starring duo couldn’t do enough to stop Toshiba from claiming a 24-20 win.
Mo’unga was booked just a few minutes into the match and Spears took full advantage of the man advantage. Williams’ conversion put Spears four points clear of their opponents with five minutes remaining, and saw the Welshman pounce on the loose ball for one of his simpler scores.
The Welshman’s team has had a poor start to defending the title and is currently ranked 9th in the rankings after 4 rounds.
Sir Clive Woodward hopes the Farrell situation is a catalyst for change
Former England head coach Clive Woodward hopes the Owen Farrell situation can be a catalyst for change.
The British and Irish Lions were recently said to intend to reach the Top 14 with Racing 92, and also made the decision to leave test rugby for mental health reasons.
Writing in his Mail on Sunday column, Woodward expressed his thoughts on the RFU’s policy towards English stars playing abroad. Currently, Henry Arundell cannot represent England because he has signed a contract extension with Racing 92.
Woodward explained: ‘My overriding reaction when I heard that Owen Farrell was in advanced talks to join Racing 92 was that this was a great opportunity for him to move to Paris and take his game to the next level new.
‘Farrell could put himself under pressure to succeed in a completely different environment after spending his entire career with Saracens and England.
‘There are no negatives surrounding the proposed two-year contract except for the fact that it means he cannot play for England. That’s so wrong.
“The RFU should abandon their foreign selection rule. Farrell is just showing the absurdity of it all and underlining how far behind English rugby is in its thinking and structure .
“This will be a fantastic change for Farrell on and off the field, and a wonderful life experience for him and his young family. Everyone in English rugby should eat Celebrate this move.
“Instead, many people are asking questions because it means that according to the rules he cannot play for England.
“It’s absurd. If Farrell – or any other player – was playing rugby for their club in France or anywhere else, they would still be eligible for England.”
Six Nations injury worries for the French giants
France have suffered an injury scare surrounding talisman winger Charles Ollivon.
The Toulon back rower is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks after training. This means he is likely to miss the opening match of the tournament against hosts Ireland.
Les Bleus suffered a heavy loss to Antoine Dupont, arguably the greatest player on the planet. The scrum-half will be absent with the French Sevens team ahead of this year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
This poses a difficult situation for France head coach Fabien Galthie, who will need to choose a captain with both Ollivon and Dupont absent. Ollivon’s back-row mate, Gregory Alldritt, is leading the race for captain, as he takes charge of his club La Rochelle.
France host Ireland in Marseille at the Orange Velodrome on Friday, February 2. The match is the first of the 2024 tournament.