Rugby headlines as England try ace Jonny May reveals his Lions snub agony and Ross Moriarty dubbed ‘fantastic role model’

Here are the rugby headlines making the news across the world on Thursday, September 16.

May’s anguish after Lions disappointment

Jonny May has opened up on how he felt after being overlooked for the Lions this summer.

The England wing played through the pain barrier in an attempt to catch Warren Gatland’s eye but his efforts weren’t enough.

He had to watch on as Gloucester team-mates Chris Harris and Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit were given the nod for the South Africa tour.

His pain was then compounded by catching Covid which hit him hard.

“I was in bad place for a good couple of weeks,” May said. “I hurt my ankle, had the scans and I was still hoping to go on (the Lions) tour because I thought I could get picked.

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“Not to get picked was disappointing. I had played as hard as I could to get on that tour, but you can’t control selection – that’s just the way it is. Then I got Covid so that left me in a bit of a rut. I was in bed for a couple of weeks with a sore ankle. I was disappointed, hurt.. So, yeah, it wasn’t great.

“This is not the first tough block I have come across in rugby and it won’t be the last. There are times when the game challenges you and that’s when your family are there for you. This summer was a bit of a low but I have to accept it for what it is and push on.”

Moriarty is our leader – Ryan

Dragons chief Dean Ryan has hailed the leadership qualities of Ross Moriarty, stating that the Wales man is a “fantastic role model” for those around the camp.

Ryan says he has held a number of conversations with the forward over his ability to lead his team-mates and feels he has a positive aura about him.

“I have a lot of time for Ross,” said Ryan. “I’m keen to develop him in leadership, which sometimes fights against the perception people have of him.

“He’s been outstanding. When he talks, he’s very articulate and people definitely listen. He is a natural leader.

“I think people’s perceptions about what leadership is are pretty varied. The reality is he’s a fantastic role model and a great example. People listen to him and he’s articulate about the game.

“I’m not sure what else you need, and I think he’s one of those people that others have opinions about based on nothing really.

“I really enjoy working with him, I’ve got a very good relationship with him, and I want to challenge him.

“Him being more impactful on the leadership front is an area we talked about a number of times.”

Ryan also backed Moriarty to return to the Wales fold while also maintaining his influential role at Rodney Parade.

“He’s been outstanding for Wales and for us. We probably saw more of Ross last year than we’ve seen in a long period,” he added.

“His ability to turn up for big games consistently is second to none. He’s also very difficult to keep off the field so he’s constantly badgering me that he wants to play.

“We did a good job last year of making sure he’s out there for as many games as he can be both for Wales and for us. We intend to do the same this season.

“I want him back playing for Wales and he’s done that consistently well by playing for us. He’s become a heartbeat of what we want to do here.

“He was a peripheral personality but now he’s very much in the middle of what we want and drives what we want and drives other people to it. He’s been outstanding.”

Alun Wyn Jones ends summer break

Wales and Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones is back at the coalface today as he returns to training.

Jones and his fellow Lions were granted extra time off this summer following their exertions with the tourists in South Africa.

The 35-year-old revealed on TV on Wednesday morning that he’d be lacing up the boots again today. The Ospreys’ season starts in earnest next weekend but Jones and fellow Lion Adam Beard are unlikely to feature much before October.

It has been something of a whirlwind week for the international skipper, having launched his autobiography and fulfilling media duties around that.

Connaught call for investigation

Connaught women’s squad have said they are “disappointed and upset” and have called for an investigation after they had to get changed in an unsuitable area at Energia Park before their inter-pro match with Ulster last weekend.

An image circulated on social media showing waste bins where the women were asked to prepare for the game, with rats reportedly in the area.

A full apology has now been issued by the IRFU and Leinster Rugby.

“We are very disappointed and upset by the facilities that were provided for us to change both pre and post-match and for our post-match meal,” the squad said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“The location was not suitable for the purpose.

“We pride ourselves on representing Connacht Rugby in a professional manner on and off the pitch. We did our best to perform on the day, despite this situation, but these circumstances were far from the standards we would expect for this level of our sport.

“We acknowledge the apology issued by the IRFU and Leinster Rugby earlier this week. We sincerely hope that something like this will never happen again, for any team.

“We would request that a review of the decision-making process which led to these circumstances be conducted and our hope is that more thought will go into decisions like this for the women’s game in the future.

“We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support we have received from Connacht Rugby this season. We are all working together to improve Women’s rugby in the province and throughout Ireland.

“We believe that every province is doing the same. Great progress has been made this season with all the women’s interpro games televised by TG4 and Vodafone coming on board as a sponsor of the series is a massive step in the right direction.

“However, the circumstances on Saturday highlight there is still much work to be done.

“More young girls got to see women’s rugby on TG4 over the last three weeks and hopefully we have inspired them to take up the game and fall in love with the sport that we love.”

Dragons hooker joins Pirates

Dragons’ James Benjamin has joined the Cornish Pirates on loan.

The short-term contract is seen as an opportunity for the backrower to continue his transformation into a hooker.

The Wales Sevens man heads to the second tier with immediate effect.

“After good exposure in pre-season, it is vital that we find opportunity for James to continue his learning and development in a quality environment,” said Ryan.

“We are grateful to Gavin [Cattle, coach] and his team at Pirates for working with us in this instance.”

He could make his debut for the Pirates against Richmond on Saturday.

“The arrival of James at this present time works well for us. We have a good working relationship with the Dragons, and he has been identified as someone who has potential to fill the role well,” said Pirates joint head coach Alan Paver.

“We are excited and looking forward to working with him and to see what he has got.

“I am sure he will do us proud and that we will be able to further aid his development. He will also, no doubt, be warmly welcomed by supporters.”

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