The Cardiff hooker made his competitive comeback against Ulster at the Arms Park on Saturday night. The Welsh international had been previously diagnosed with cancer earlier in this season and was given the all clear a couple of weeks ago. The rugby community is delighted to welcome Rees back onto the paddock and the best of luck for the rest of his career. Maith an fear!
After seventeen straight losses in the league this season, the Warriors finally picked up their first win beating Newcastle 17-12. A try from wing Josh Drauniniu has closed the gap for the Sixways side to nine points in their bid to stave off relegation. Worcester’s chances are slim but at least they are still alive. Is the great escape on?
New Zealand Sevens
The dominant team in the shortened form of the union game took the most prized title on the Sevens circuit as they beat England 26-7 to claim the Hong Kong leg. The Blacks won all of their six games as they regained top spot in the World Series standings with only two legs to go. Can New Zealand make it four series wins in a row?
The Eagles secured their place at next year’s World Cup with a second leg, 32-13 win over Uruguay in Atlanta. The first match ended in a draw which meant it was win or bust for both teams. Uruguay led at halftime like they had done in the previous encounter. However, the Americans turned on the power in the second half as they ran in four unanswered tries against the amateur Uruguayans. The USA go into Group B alongside South Africa, Scotland and Samoa.
The northerners were absolutely dreadful in the Welsh capital on Saturday night. Missed tackles, knock-ons galore and inaccuracy at the lineout contributed to the Ulstermen being 22-5 down to Cardiff at halftime. A second half fight back through the boot of Paddy Jackson gave them hope. But resolute home defence and poor finishing kept the Red Hand from crossing the whitewash. A significant improvement will be needed by Ulster if they wish to get the better of Saracens next week in the European Cup. Bhí siad uafásach!
Italian Rugby Federation
We thought the war of words over next year’s European Cup had ended and that a peace accord had been signed. But the men in charge of the oval game in Italy have thrown a spanner in the works. They are not sure if the new deal shaping European rugby’s landscape is good for them. Considering that they do not now have to pay 3 million euros a year to participate in the Pro 12 and that they are guaranteed a place in Europe despite both of their teams finishing bottom of the league, Italian rugby has got a pretty good deal. But it looks like European rugby’s great debate will rumble on a little while longer.
The North-East side had a chance to finish off the relegation fight once and for all at Kingston Park on Sunday as they clashed with winless, basement team, Worcester. However, the Falcons became the first victims of the Warriors this season as they put in a poor performance in front of their hardy supporters. There are three games to go and nine points between them and Worcester. Relegation is unlikely for Newcastle but stranger things have happened.
A fourth defeat out of four for the Cape Town outfit concluded their miserable Australasian tour in Brisbane. The Queensland Reds were the victors this time as they won 22-17 in a hard fought match. The Stormers have only won one game this season and are second last in the table. If the form of the team does not improve Captain Jean De Villiers and other Stormer Springboks will be worrying about their places on the national team with the Summer Tests on the horizon.
Matt Cassidy, Pundit Arena.