Here are the latest rugby evening headlines on Sunday, May 8.
Collins puts his hand up for Wales summer tour
Ospreys centre/full-back Michael Collins has put his hand up for a place in Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad for the summer tour to South Africa with a strong outing in the 50-31 win over the Dragons.
Usually a centre, the 28-year-old was shifted to full-back for Sunday’s United Rugby Championship Welsh derby and created the Ospreys’ third try with a direct break which was finished off by Reuben Morgan-Williams.
Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt, commentating for Premier Sports, said of Collins’ chances of heading to face the Springboks: “He’s playing well, making line breaks, causing problems. I don’t think think there’d be too many surprises [if he went to South Africa with Wales].”
Read more: Ospreys beat Dragons 50-31 in thrilling 11-try Welsh derby as Morris shines
Collins, who has a Welsh grandfather, had impressed at No. 15 in the reshuffle which followed George North’s arrival onto the pitch in the Loughor Bridge derby. “He’s played a ridiculous amount of Super Rugby games at full-back,” Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said in the run-up to the match. “He’s absolutely fine there.”
It’s a selection that could interest Pivac as he mulls over options for Wales’ tour of South Africa this summer. He is a known admirer of Collins, having signed him during his tenure as Scarlets head coach, and has previously spoken about the player’s ability to play in more than one position.
Welsh youngster ‘brilliant’ in first start
Young Dragons fly-half Will Reed has been hailed as “brilliant” after impressing on his first start for the Welsh region in the derby against the Ospreys. The 20-year-old Wales U20s international was preferred to Sam Davies on this occasion, and made a strong start as he helped Jarred Rosser’s score and then orchestrated Adam Warren’s second try as the Dragons built up a 24-8 lead.
He scored three three conversions and a penalty in all, with Shane Williams telling Premier Sports he had been one of the best players on the field in the first half.
Dragons captain Harri Keddie said of his outing: “Really proud of Will, he’s worked really hard all year in training and then going away with Newport he’s been on fire. It’s great to see him get a reward in such a big game. It’s a great occasion for him and he rose to it, I thought. He was brilliant.”
Director of rugby Dean Ryan said: “Let’s just put some context to the young 20-year-old playing in his first derby, his first URC, the glimmer of some of the way out for us is the young group – Ben Carter and people like Will Reed.”
As for the result, the skipper added: “If you give a team like that multiple opportunities to score, you’re going to struggle to contain them and that’s what happened.”
Arundell’s boss not surprised by wonder try
London Irish boss Les Kiss was not surprised by Henry Arundell’s astonishing near-100m try in the 19-18 Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat to Toulon. The 19-year-old replacement full-back received the ball just in front of his own try line in the 74th minute at Stade Felix Mayol and left six would-be tacklers in his wake as he dived over in the corner. You can watch the remarkable try here.
Had fly-half Paddy Jackson nailed the difficult touchline conversion Irish would have pinched the victory, but his effort sailed wide.
Kiss later said of Arundell: “He makes people make defensive errors. He is a good lad, a level-headed lad. We weren’t surprised when that happened, we know what’s possible with him.
“For Henry, Will Joseph, Tom Pearson, Juan Gonzalez… there’s four young guys who have got a taste of European rugby in one of the toughest cauldrons. That’s great for us and it was great to see Henry do what he did today.”
Kiss rued errors “in the middle period” of a match which had seen the Exiles go into a 10-0 lead in as many minutes after a blistering start was rewarded with a pushover try by number eight Albert Tuisue, but they were unable to prevent Toulon from shifting gears to come out on top.
South Africa bosses ‘not selling’ Springboks
South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander has insisted the union is not planning on “selling the Springboks” as it seeks private investment, IOL reports.
Alexander, who was re-elected for a final four-year term as president of SA Rugby at last week’s annual general meeting, said: “We realise that we need to bring in private investors to help us reach our goals. We do not have the money to fund all of these programmes. We cannot just keep looking to the government.
“We need to do things for ourselves. The government cannot help us with everything. We need to complete this private equity transaction. We are not selling SARU. We realise that we need to bring more private investors into our game.
“I want to say this upfront now – we are not selling the Springboks, we are not selling SARU. All we are doing is taking our rights and putting them into a vehicle and maximising our rights at a different level.”
Sale out of Champions Cup after defeat to Racing 92
Sale bowed out of the Heineken Champions Cup following a 41-22 quarter-final defeat to Racing 92 in Paris. English representation in the top tier of European rugby is over for another season after Leicester also lost this weekend and Racing will now play last season’s beaten finalists La Rochelle in the semi-finals next weekend in Lens.
Teddy Thomas, Finn Russell, Juan Imhoff and Max Spring scored Racing’s tries with Nolann Le Garrec and Maxime Machenaud kicking 21 points between them. Sale scored three tries of their own courtesy of Manu Tuilagi, Akker van der Merwe and Ben Curry, with Robert Du Preez kicking seven points.
Wasps boss eager to end trophy drought
Lee Blackett is desperate to end Wasps’ 15-year trophy drought after they reached the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup. The Premiership outfit have not won a major competition since landing the Champions Cup back in 2007.
They are now potentially 160 minutes from glory after defeating Edinburgh 34-30 in a thrilling contest at DAM Health Stadium on Saturday to set up a semi-final against Lyon.
“It’s big to be in the semi-final,” said head coach Blackett. “For a club the size of Wasps, it’s been a long time since we won a trophy. It’s been too long. We’re delighted to be in the semi-final, but in this tournament this year there are some monster teams.
“Saracens are still in it, Lyon are in it – these are quality sides, these are Champions Cup sides. We know it’s going to be hard to win it, but we’re in the last four so we’ve got a chance.”
Blackett is excited by the possibility of making it to the final in Marseille later this month, although he knows Wasps must overcome a formidable test away to Lyon next weekend.
“It would be massive for any club to get to the final in Marseille,” he said. “That’s why you do the sport. They’re the occasions you dream of at the start of the season. We can’t get too carried away with thinking about Marseille. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t slightly think about it, but it’s our job as coaches to keep everyone on task. Being away to Lyon is going to be a massive ask.”