Here are the latest rugby headlines on Thursday, May 12.
Welsh coaches wait for decision
Cardiff boss Dai Young admits it’s a difficult time for everybody involved in professional rugby in Wales amid the possible axing of one of the four regions. That’s one of the proposals in the Oakwell report which has looked into the financial health of the game in Wales, with the findings now being considered by the powers-that-be.
Young says everyone agrees there needs to be change, but just what that change will be and how to get there is the big question, with people understandably not wanting anything that will impact upon them negatively.
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“It is a difficult time for anybody in any walk of life when their livelihood becomes threatened, whether you are a rugby player or a policeman or anything,” said the former Wales and Lions prop.
“Part and parcel of professional sport is that uncertainty. You can only live from contract to contract half the time, so you do get a little bit used to the uncertainty of a professional career. Even if it doesn’t affect you, it is always going to affect you. At the minute, we don’t seem to be a part of the discussion, but we all feel for each other.
“The difficulty is everyone has said something needs to change. We have all said that. We all feel there is need for change. What that looks like, who knows? That’s certainly not my decision. That’s for other people to look at really.
“We all fight change if it means an adverse effect personally, individually or collectively around yourself. It’s always going to be tough, but the reality is we can’t get away from something has to change. What that looks like is over to other people really.
“I am not part of any discussions and I’ve got no influence on anything that moves forward. I don’t know any more than I am reading in the media. It is a difficult time, but I don’t think anybody feels things don’t need to change. I am not advocating cutting regions or whatever. That’s not my decision, but we all want to be more competitive and we all want to be thriving. How we get there, I’m not quite sure really.”
Tragic rugby star’s partner is six months pregnant
The team-mates of tragic rugby star Kelly Meafua have launched a fundraising page for his partner, who it has emerged is expecting their child in August.
They will also honour his memory when they play their final match of the season tonight, less than a week after his death.
The Samoa Sevens international died after falling off a bridge in south-west France, his club said. Montauban, a club in France’s second division, said in a statement over the weekend that the 31-year-old player died in the early hours of Saturday after a fall into the Tarn river.
According to media reports in France, Meafu jumped off the bridge after a night out with friends to celebrate a victory. Montauban said one of Meafu’s team-mates tried to rescue him.
Club president Jean-Luc Leroy said they have lost a real warrior who was a very good player who got fans out of their seats.
“We are saddened and devastated by the death of Kelly Meafua,” he told French news outlet La Depeche.
“This season ends very badly, in the worst way.”
The Montauban club have confirmed that his partner, Priscilla, is due to give birth in August.
Hooker banned for pulling hair
London Irish hooker Agustin Creevy has received a one-week ban after he was cited for pulling an opposition player’s hair.
Citing commissioner Eugene Ryan lodged a complaint against Creevy after he pulled Toulon lock Eben Etzebeth’s hair during a European Challenge Cup quarter-final tie last weekend.
Former Argentina captain Creevy accepted the charge during an independent disciplinary hearing, and he will be unavailable for next week’s Premiership Rugby Cup final between Irish and Worcester.
Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby said: “The (independent disciplinary) committee upheld the citing complaint, finding that Creevy had intentionally pulled Etzebeth’s hair in a manner that warranted a red card.
“It then determined that the offence was at the low-end of World Rugby’s sanctions, and two weeks was selected as the appropriate entry point.
“On the basis that the player accepted that he had committed an act of foul play and had a good disciplinary record, it was decided to grant the full 50 per cent mitigation and the committee therefore reduced the sanction by one week.”
Five World Cup hosts to be decided today
The destination of five World Cups will be confirmed on Thursday when the World Rugby Council vote in Dublin on host countries for the upcoming tournaments.
While France are geared up to welcome nations from across the globe in 2023, there are several other key decisions to be made for the men’s and women’s editions in the years to follow.
England are the frontrunners to host the 2025 Women’s World Cup while Australia look set to host the 2027 Men’s World Cup and the women’s showpiece two years later.
The USA is set to be awarded the 2031 and 2033 editions in a move that would help grow the sport in the country, given it does not hold the history and tradition associated with England and Australia when it comes to rugby union.
President Joe Biden expressed his support for USA Rugby’s bid last month with a letter which was part of material submitted ahead of Thursday’s World Rugby Council meeting in Ireland, where a vote followed by a press conference to announce the respective hosts will take place.
New Ireland star signs deal
Ireland wing Mack Hansen has signed a new deal with Connacht. The Irish province announced that Hansen, whose existing contract still had 12 months remaining, has agreed terms until 2025.
Hansen, who was born in Australia but qualifies for Ireland through his Cork-born mother, burst on to the Test scene this season. He starred in Ireland’s Triple Crown-winning Six Nations campaign, gaining man-of-the-match honours on his Six Nations bow against Wales, then scored a stunning try when Ireland lost to France in Paris.
“Ever since I arrived in Ireland, I cannot speak highly enough of the staff and my team-mates who have made me feel right at home,” Hansen told Connacht’s official website.
“Personally, I am pleased with how my first season has gone, and now I want to do everything I can to help the club achieve success for the next three seasons.”