Here are the latest rugby headlines on Tuesday, May 3.
Scarlets flop set for Stormers move
Former Scarlets flop Clayton Blommetjies will reportedly be joining the Stormers at the end of the year.
According to reports in South Africa, the 31-year-old utility back will join the Cape Town outfit from the Cheetahs for the start of next season.
Blommetjies could be a replacement for Springbok full-back Warrick Gelant, who has been linked with a move to Racing 92 next year.
During his time in Llanelli, the South African struggled to make any sort of impact – being shipped out to Leicester Tigers on loan before having his contract ended early.
Wales coach set for talks on his future
Wales Women head coach Ioan Cunningham is preparing for talks about his role in Welsh rugby after this autumn’s World Cup in New Zealand. The former Scarlets coach has just guided Wales to a third-place finish in the Six Nations, their best finish in 13 years, after just four months of 12 of the players becoming full-time professionals. He will be expected to oversee further progress ahead of the autumn global showpiece tournament as the squad further settles into its new professional era.
But he is only contracted with Wales Women until the conclusion of the World Cup. The former Wales U20s boss has in recent weeks been linked with a return to that role, although the Welsh Rugby Union insisted no such talks had taken place while Cunningham publicly said: “My full attention is with the Wales Women team.”
Asked post-Wales v Italy on Saturday when he would be having talks about his role post-World Cup, he said: “Good question. Soon, I’d imagine.”
As for his first Six Nations in charge of this team, he said: “I’ve absolutely loved it. I’ve loved working with this group of players, they want to learn, they want to get better, their passion for the jersey is unbelievable. I’m just really happy to be part of this group and excited by what we can achieve.
“I really believe with the hard work and what we can do over the summer period and through August and September we can really do something special, hopefully, come October.” Wales are set to face England and Canada this summer in World Cup warm-up matches, which you can read more about here.
One Wales player in Alphonsi’s team of the Six Nations
No. 8 Sioned Harries is the only Wales player to have made it into Maggie Alphonsi’s Six Nations team of the tournament. The World Cup winner and seven-times Six Nations champion’s combined XV is dominated by seven Red Roses stars, with four France and three Ireland internationals also in the mix.
Wales flanker Alisha Butchers is name-checked for her efforts as top tackler for her team, while hooker Kelsey Jones is praised for her consistent impact off the bench, but it is only Worcester Warriors forward Harries – who made her return to the Test arena for this campaign after more than two years in the wilderness – who makes it into the team.
Alphonsi said of Harries in The Telegraph : “Harries’ workrate and impact off the bench has epitomised a reinvigorated Wales side. In round four, she scored a try and has constantly inspired the team to move forwards.”
Lancaster dismisses unfair claims
Stuart Lancaster insists Steve Borthwick’s claim that Leinster have an unfair advantage over Leicester coming into their Champions Cup clash is wide of the mark.
The Tigers host Leinster at Welford Road on Saturday in the clash of the two League leaders, with Leicester sitting top of the Premiership and Leinster at the summit of the URC.
While the Irish province have been able to keep a large amount of key players at home working with Lancaster while a second string side toured South Africa, Leicester have been naming full-strength teams in the Premiership.
“The context is quite different,” said Borthwick, referring to the build-up for both sides.
“Look at the size of their squad, the number of internationals in their squad and the nature of their League, it is very different.
“Compare that to where we are at, the Premiership is a fierce competition and we’ve had games we want to get results in and that’s what it is.
“We operate under a salary cap and limited squad size. Leaving one squad in South Africa and one in Ireland is a different situation.
“They are a very good side, they have been together a long time. We’re getting to test ourselves against an outstanding team at the very early stages of the project we are on.
“Look at France – their budgets are not that dissimilar to Leinster in terms of budget and caps and it is one of the challenges we need to get over.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to ask some questions of Leinster.”
However, former England coach Lancaster has dismissed the idea that Leinster will gain any benefits from being able to keep players back from touring South Africa.
“I’m not sure it is an advantage to be going to South Africa before a Champions Cup quarter-final – I’m not sure anyone would wish for that in their preparation,” he said.
“Hence the decision we made because if we weren’t clear in the URC – and we earned that right by working so hard during the course of the season – then we might have made a different decision.
“But we are and we did.
“It’s played out that way and it means that we, you could argue, haven’t played since Connacht, and Leicester are battle-hardened and ready.
“When we look at the quality of Leicester every player is, or has been, an international player or will be in the likes of Jack van Poortvliet or Dan Kelly.
“(Nemani) Nadolo is an Fiji international, Freddie Stewart is excellent. The list goes on, really.
“They’ve recruited really well and they have got good homegrown talent coming through.
“In the half-backs in particular, Ford and Youngs are both England players, as I know better than anyone.
“It will be a great matchup across the board but I don’t think we have an unfair advantage.
“It’s right up there, it’s one of the toughest challenges we have faced for sure on a variety of fronts and we’ll have to be at our best, for sure.”