Here are the latest rugby headlines for Friday March 31st.
Tomkinson penalized for tackle that sparked outrage
Dragons RFC center Sio Tomkinson has been suspended for three games for the grim red-carding of Ospreys star Jack Walsh in last weekend’s Welsh derby.
The ugly late challenge drew condemnation across rugby, with Dragons manager Dai Flanagan admitting his players crossed the line with their brutal attack on Walsh throughout the match.
A URC disciplinary hearing found Tomkinson guilty of a reckless, though not willful, act, but halved the six-week point-of-entry ban due to his remorse and acceptance of the foul play charge.
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Unhappy Ospreys coach Toby Booth said Walsh was still reeling from the incident after “his head was taken off his shoulders”.
In Tomkinson’s responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Tommy Dalton (Ireland)), he accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card. Mr. Dalton found that the incident reached the red card threshold and that the player’s actions were reckless and not deliberate. He determined that the appropriate entry point was the midrange that warranted six weeks.
If Tomkinson completes World Rugby’s Coaches Intervention Program, the ban will be reduced by one week.
Sio Tomkinson Calendars is not available for:
– Glasgow Warriors v Dragons RFC, April 1, 2023 EPCR Challenge Cup
– *Quarterfinals of the EPCR Challenge Cup, April 8, 2023
-Ulster v Dragons RFC, 14 Apr 2023 BKT URC
*In the event Dragons RFC fail to win the match against Glasgow Warriors on 1 April 2023, the third suspension match will be Dragons RFC v Scarlets, 22 April 2023 BKT URC
Rees-Zammit faces the ultimate test
Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit is relishing the prospect of taking on European champions La Rochelle in their own backyard as Gloucester try to score a shock victory.
The English team travels to France after a bad defeat against Newcastle, with a place in the quarterfinals of the European Cup at stake.
He said: “We have to recover.
“Obviously it was difficult last Friday at Newcastle, and we didn’t put in our best performance at all, but we have a great opportunity this weekend to fix that.
“Everyone is looking forward to this game against the defending champions.
“They play very good rugby, but we are focusing on ourselves and the game plan that we are taking and hopefully we can win.
“The Champions League doesn’t take much to measure up, especially in La Rochelle.
“The fans are very hostile and they get all over you, but we’re going to use that as our own energy and hopefully we can go out there and put on a good performance.”
Dragons break the side
Dragons RFC have made nine changes since their 37-18 loss to Ospreys as they take on Glasgow Warriors in the round of 16 of the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (17:30 kick-off).
Rio Dyer returns to the side, while Wales Six Nations squad members Bradley Roberts and Aaron Wainwright return to the XV after being named replacements last week.
Prop Leon Brown is also back among the visitors’ replacements.
Jordan Williams switches to full-back in place of Angus O’Brien, who is unavailable as he prepares to welcome his second child with his wife.
A new front row sees prop Aki Seiuli along with prop Roberts and prop Chris Coleman.
Second row George Nott is determined to get over last week’s derby loss to the Dragons. Nott will partner Ben Carter again at Scotstoun Stadium.
He told the club’s official website: “We were bitterly disappointed as a team and as individuals, not just with the result but with our performance. It wasn’t us, it wasn’t a good reflection of us.”
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the league when it comes to knockout rugby. We have reached a bit of a calm in the URC, so this is an opportunity to regain momentum,” he added.
“Sometimes we have won our victories when people have written us off. We are in the round of 16 and we are going up there to win”.
Their opponents have also made nine changes since their last XV, with six from Scotland’s Six Nations team returning. Allan Dell, Ritchie Gray, Jack Dempsey, Huw Jones, Sione Tuipilotu and Kyle Steyn return to the team. Scott Cummings will make his 100th appearance for Glasgow in the match.
The Dragons have lost their last four meetings with The Warriors, including a 42-28 loss at Rodney Parade in January in the United Rugby Championship. They haven’t won a game since January 13 when they beat Section Paloise in the Challenge Cup.
Glasgow Warriors: Ollie Smith; Kyle Steyn (captain), Huw Jones, Sione Tuipulotu, Cole Forbes, Domingo Miotti, George Horne; Allan Dell, Johnny Matthews, Lucio Sordoni, Scott Cummings, Ritchie Gray, Rory Darge, Sione Vailanu, Jack Dempsey.
Dragons: Jordan Williams; Rio Dyer, Steffan Hughes, Max Clark, Jared Rosser, Will Reed, Rhodri Williams (captain); Aki Seiuli, Bradley Roberts, Christian Coleman, Ben Carter, George Nott, Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.
Ospreys team news as Anscombe return
Gareth Anscombe will be on the Ospreys’ bench when they take on the Saracens in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 match at StoneX Stadium in Barnet (3pm).
It was feared that the shoulder injury the 31-year-old suffered playing for Wales against Australia last November could keep him out until well into the summer, which could threaten his World Cup hopes.
But Anscombe has challenged those concerns.
Now the 35-cap flyhalf will want to help the Ospreys take another step on the European path while also signaling to Warren Gatland that he is determined to participate with Wales in the world tournament in France this autumn.
It is part of a powerful day 23 that has 16 internationals, with 11 of those headlines.
Saracens: Alex Goode; Max Malins, Alex Lozowski, Nick Tompkins, Sean Maitland; Owen Farrell (captain), Ivan van Zyl; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Marco Riccioni, Maro Itoje, Hugh Tizard, Andy Christie, Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Tom Woolstencroft, Eroni Mawi, Alec Clarey, Nick Isiekwe, Jackson Wray, Aled Davies, Duncan Taylor, Alex Lewington.
ospreys: Michael Collins; George North, Owen Watkin, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan; . Owen Williams, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Ethan Roots, Justin Tipuric (capt), Morgan Morris.
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Gareth Thomas, Tom Botha, Rhys Davies, Dan Lydiate, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Iestyn Hopkins.
Wales star returns to Cardiff
Cardiff welcomes a number of Wales internationals for Saturday night’s European Challenge Cup knockout game against Sale Sharks (8pm kick-off).
It will be an emotional evening for all involved following the sad death of former Chairman and Chairman for Life Peter Thomas.
A tribute will be held before kick-off, and huge crowds are expected to honor the man who did so much for the club and Welsh rugby in general.
Tomos Williams, Josh Adams and Mason Grady start at the bottom line, with Taulupe Faletau at number eight. A strong bench contains players like Dillon Lewis, Rhys Carre and Thomas Young.
It will be the first time Cardiff have played since the passing of Thomas, whose death was announced on Wednesday.
Saracens v Ospreys team news: Anscombe defies expectations as England and Wales giants collide
The man in the blue hat tells the boy in the yellow hat that it will be great news for Welsh rugby
Cardiff v Sale Sharks team news as the Welsh stars return for an emotional night
European rugby’s top try scorer believes Wales’ chances are over