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Rugby headlines as England star blown away by Wales youngster and first big name player backs World 12s

Here are your rugby morning headlines for Friday, September 10.

May piles praise on “naturally talented” Rees-Zammit

England star Jonny May has heaped praise on Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit after a stunning season that saw him make his Wales debut and tour South Africa with the Lions.

The pair are team-mates at Gloucester, where May has seen the potential of Rees-Zammit up close – leading him to believe the 20-year-old has the “world at his feet”.

“What a season he had,” said the England winger.

“To be fair to Louis, in terms of what I see with where he is at, he is one of the most naturally talented players I have ever come across.

“He is as fast as anybody I have seen and he is natural on the ball as well. It all just comes very easily to him.

“Really, in terms of what’s in store for his career, the world is at his feet. I am confident he is going to go on to achieve great things.”

England star backs World 12s

Danny Care believes the new World 12s competition scheduled to launch next year could be the spark needed to improve rugby as a spectacle.

Former England scrum-half Care was an influential figure as Harlequins lit up the Gallagher Premiership last season with a thrilling attacking style that swept them all the way to the title.

It is hoped that the World 12s, a competition that has similarities to cricket’s Indian Premier League, will attract new fans by having fewer players on the pitch – 12 on each side – using adapted laws designed to speed up play in games that last only 30 minutes.

Taking place in August and September, the hope is that top players from across the world enticed by large salaries will be auctioned to appear for eight privately funded franchises.

It must first overcome several major stumbling blocks but while the response of governing bodies has so far been lukewarm, Care believes it could be the shake-up the sport needs.

“If you watch the majority of international Test matches at the moment, if New Zealand and France aren’t playing then it doesn’t really excite me, I’ll be honest with you.

“If there are any ways of trying to change that and inspire kids to pick up a rugby ball then I’m all for it.

“I tried to get my son to watch the Lions tour and he was like ‘what is this’? I’d like to think our club tries to play in a way that inspires kids to play.

“I know international rugby is very different to club rugby and they say ‘you can’t play like that in international rugby’. Why not? Why can’t you? You can if your coaches let you play like that.

“Maybe the 12s thing is an opportunity for coaches to look at that and think ‘maybe we could play more of an expansive game’.

“It’s certainly something I’d want to watch and maybe get involved in – if I make the auction!”

Pick your greatest ever Wales XV now

Stormers face URC boot with Cheetahs in line to replace them

The Stormers face being booted from the United Rugby Championship, according to reports.

Four South African teams will take part in a reformatted version of the Pro14, with the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls and Lions joining teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy in the URC.

But Rugby365 report that the Stormers may lose their spot to the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs unless the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) ‘get their house in order’.

It’s understood South Africa Rugby president Mark Alexander contacted WPRFU counterpart Zelt Marais, instructing him to fix his union’s finances or risk the Stormers’ URC berth.

The South Africa Rugby Union recently liquidated its WPRFU/SARU Advisory Committee, with the next step being to place the Western Province union under administration.

Their situation puts South African lawmakers in a tricky position considering the inaugural URC campaign is set to get underway on September 24—just a fortnight away.

Reports in recent weeks have referred to the WPRFU as ‘almost bankrupt’, and Alexander seemingly won’t hesitate to enforce a last-minute change in URC participants as punishment.

Quade Cooper handed remarkable Wallabies recall

Quade Cooper will complete a stunning return to the Wallabies fold this weekend when he plays his first Test since 2017.

The Sydney Morning Herald report that the 33-year-old former Queensland Reds flyhalf will start for Australia against South Africa in Sunday night’s Rugby Championship clash on the Gold Coast, displacing Brumbies’ Noah Lolesio.

Cooper had been recalled to the extended Wallabies squad for the recent Bledisloe Cup series against New Zealand, but wasn’t used in any of the three Tests, all won by the All Blacks.

However, Australia’s poor form has led to Wallabies coach Dave Rennie giving an opportunity to the flamboyant Cooper, who played the most recent of his 70 Tests four years ago against Italy.

Cooper has spent the past two years playing for Japanese club Kintetsu Liners, but having made more the 60 appearances for the Wallabies, can still be selected for Australia via the “Giteau Law”.

England stars back Jordie Barrett decision on social media

England duo Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell have come out in support of All Black star Jordie Barrett after his Bledisloe Cup red card was overturned earlier this week.

Barrett was sent off by Australian referee Damon Murphy in the 27th minute of the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship test after striking Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete in the face with his boot while fielding a high ball.

He faced a SANZAAR judicial committee on Tuesday charged with contravening law 9.11 which says “players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.” The committee found Barrett not guilty and imposed no suspension or other sanction.

Watson tweeted: “Can’t believe some people still think that Jordie Barrett high ball was a red card. Anybody who’s ever caught one (cue the lions jokes) knows this can happen when your off balance.”

In response to the replies Watson’s tweet was receiving, fellow England star Nowell tweeted: “Love this, one of the current best players in the world getting told he’s wrong and doesn’t know what he’s on about. Check the comments!”

Toulouse president opens up on Kolbe departure

Toulouse president Didier Lacroix has said that Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe’s departure for Toulon was not financially motivated.

According to French media reports, the 27-year-old moved to Toulon in a record transfer worth 1.8 million euros (ZAR30.2 million), with two years left of his contract at Toulouse.

“Did it have a link with saving money? The answer, really honestly, is no,” Lacroix said.

“We didn’t have to do it. The player wanted to leave.”

Thanks to winning the French Top 14 and the European Champions Cup last season, Lacroix said his club made a profit of “between one and 1.5 million euros.

“I think it’s the best squad we’ve ever had.

“It’s a very young squad, who are already very talented and are gaining experience year on year.”

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