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Sunday rugby headlines as Dan Biggar in danger of missing Lions warm-up and Mike Brown reveals struggles after red card ban

Here are the latest rugby headlines from Wales and beyond for Sunday, May 30.

Dan Biggar faces anxious wait

Dan Biggar could be a doubt for the Lions’ warm-up clash with Japan after a controversial Gallagher Premiership incident at Franklin’s Gardens.

Playing for Northampton Saints, the Wales international escaped on-pitch punishment for a hit to the head area of Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga.

But the 31-year-old could still be in trouble if the citing officer opts to take action.

Biggar was key to Northampton’s 30-25 victory, marshalling his side and supplying 13 points in a display which underlined why he’s favourite to nail down the Lions No. 10 jersey in the Tests this summer.

However, Warren Gatland will hope there are no repercussions over the incident which saw the home fly-half clear his opposite number from a ruck.

Inexperienced referee Adam Leal and his TMO Graham Hughes didn’t appear to review what had happened.

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said later: “I thought the TMO chose when he wanted to come in and when he didn’t want to.

“I think when you’ve got young officials out there on the field, you need experience. Graham Hughes has that, but I do not think he wanted to look at the incident with Dan Biggar.”

The Lions play Japan at Murrayfield on June 26.

A forearm to the head can carry a usual-case ban of between three and six weeks.

Biggar left the field with a leg injury nine minutes from time.

Mike Brown’s struggles after red card ban ends Harlequins career

Mike Brown has opened up on the premature end to his Harlequins career following an unsuccessful appeal against his red card ban.

Brown was sent off for standing on the head of Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor at Twickenham Stoop, prompting a disciplinary panel to bring a high-end sanction of 12 weeks down to six because of the England international’s unblemished disciplinary record and admission of guilt.

A subsequent appeal to reduce the suspension proved unsuccessful, meaning Brown’s 17-year career with Quins is officially over.

The Newcastle-bound wing/full-back has admitted he has struggled but has “had good people around me to talk to, and to stop me from slipping into a dark hole”.

In a column for the Mail on Sunday, Brown said: “It’s a bitter pill to swallow because what happened was not intentional and the disciplinary panel accepted that. I don’t think that was reflected in the high-end 12-week sanction.

“I’ve always tried to play the game in the right way: competitive, tough, physical and on the edge. I think I’ve been a good ambassador for our sport so to have this on my record doesn’t sit easily.

“A lot of people have been piling into me on social media and they quickly forget that it’s one mistake in 17 years. I deleted the Twitter app from my phone. Look at the Marcus Rashford abuse in the week; it’s become a platform for people to have a pop at you and it needs more monitoring. What happened hurts enough, without people abusing you on top of that.”

South Africa boss Rassie Erasmus expecting surprises from Gatland

Rassie Erasmus believes that old rival Warren Gatland is plotting a few tactical surprises for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Erasmus coached against Gatland’s Wales on three occasions, losing the first two before masterminding a 19-16 victory in the 2019 World Cup semi-final with the Springboks going on to be crowned global champions.

The need to match South Africa physically while also offering a cutting edge in attack has shaped Gatland’s squad selection, but Erasmus suspects the New Zealander may also be preparing an ambush for the Test series.

“We are not friends. I don’t go and have a BBQ with him when I see him, but he is a guy that I’ve always felt has the right intention with coaching,” SA Rugby director of rugby Erasmus said.

“There is never a weird, funny feeling after a match – lose or win. I enjoy him as a person and I think we have very similar mindset in terms of coaching and that’s why it’s always such a weird tussle when we play.

“The way Warren has picked his Lions squad, his backline, his support staff and assistant coaches with Gregor Townsend in there, I think he has something up his sleeve.

“I don’t think we will see the battle of attrition and grinding it out like in the World Cup. I think he has other plans.

“I think we will see a change in his gameplan, but he might just be throwing us some bait, I’m not sure.

“Finishing with two Highveld games and the loose forwards that he has picked, I think he has a few plans.”

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Lions centre Chris Harris leaves pitch injured

Lions call-up Chris Harris was an early exit from Gloucester’s 30-28 win over London Irish with a hand injury.

Scotland international Harris was taken off midway through the second half with a hand injury.

Gloucester boss George Skivington said: “Chris took a bang on the hand and it will need to be assessed. It was an easy decision to take him off with Lloyd Evans coming on and Billy moving to the centre.”

Skivington was also full of praise for fly-half Billy Twelvetrees after he kicked a last-minute penalty to secure a 30-28 win over London Irish at Kingsholm.

Twelvetrees held his nerve to succeed with a 40-metre kick to send the home crowd of 3,250 happy with a bonus-point win.

Tries from Santiago Carreras, Willi Heinz, Kyle Moyle and Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit earned Gloucester that point with Twelvetrees adding two conversions and two penalties.

Curtis Rona, Will Goodrick-Clarke and Albert Tuisue scored tries for Irish with Paddy Jackson kicking three penalties and two conversions.

Glasgow Warriors come from behind to secure win over Dragons

Glasgow Warriors came from behind to record a 27-16 Rainbow Cup victory over the Dragons at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Tries from Kyle Steyn, Ross Thompson, George Turner and Kiran McDonald were enough to get the Warriors over the line, while Thompson also contributed seven points from the kicking tee.

Aneurin Owen scored the Dragons’ only try with Sam Davies kicking 12 points.

Glasgow centre Nick Grigg had an early try disallowed after

Benetton maintain perfect Rainbow Cup record with win over Connacht

Benetton maintained their flawless tournament record with a 20-12 victory over 14-man Connacht in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

Unbeaten in the tournament going into the game, Benetton extended their winning run with an impressive physical performance against Connacht, who finished with 14 men after Abraham Papali’i’s 73rd-minute red card.

Benetton’s dominance of the scrum limited Connacht’s chances throughout the game, especially in the second half, with the visitors unable to add to the scoreline after their 42nd-minute try.

Paolo Garbisi, who made six kicks from six two weeks ago, also had a good game despite a slightly less impressive record with five successful penalty kicks.

Despite Connacht scoring two tries to Benetton’s one, it was not to be for the Irish side, with some resolute defending denying them just metres from the line just before the half-time break.

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