A full roundup of the latest rugby news and headlines on Monday morning 17th January.
Peel dishes from home truths
Dwayne Peel reflected on Scarlets’ Heineken Champions Cup mishap in Bordeaux before declaring: “We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and get better.”
Peel could have hidden behind apologies after beating 45-10 at Stade Chaban-Delmas, with the West Walians having played just once in the past three months and had to drop out too late.
Instead, the Scarlets head coach bemoaned his side’s poor ball retention and the mistakes that put them under pressure against a Bordeaux team that had suffered multiple Covid-related issues en route to the match.
“We are disappointed,” said Peel.
“The reality is that we disrespected the ball and turned it over too cheaply. We put pressure on us.
“We held them for as long as we could for long periods. Offensively, especially during one period, we put together some good sets, but unfortunately we let it slip under pressure.
“If we can’t hold the ball, you’re constantly putting pressure on yourself.
“We had two late changes but we were prepared for all situations and you have to adapt. Morgan Jones did a good job after he came in and had a guy like Samson Lee come in and I thought Harri O’Connor did well too did, after he came On.”
Liam Williams and Gareth Davies scored consolation attempts, but Bordeaux himself ran in seven touchdowns and applied pressure in all areas. The Scarlets looked rusty from the start, but they didn’t help themselves.
On his side’s lack of rugby, Peel said: “That’s a role to play, but we’re not going to dwell on things we haven’t played.
“We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and get better. We weren’t good enough.”
The Scarlets close their European group campaign on Saturday evening with a home game against Bristol.
READ MORE:New Wales name enters Six Nations selection talks after beating England sensation
Scarlets couple adds to Pivac .’s concerns
Scarlets Scott Williams and WillGriff John were belatedly concerned about Wayne Pivac’s well ahead of the announcement of Wales’ Six Nations roster on Tuesday.
Center Williams left the field at 46 minutes in the Heineken Champions Cup clash against Bordeaux-Begles at Stade Chaban-Delmas, while prop John withdrew with a back problem sustained during the warm-up.
It was hardly what Pivac would have wanted in the run-up to his team’s unveiling in Wales.
And with Blade Thomson also pulling out late, it didn’t help the Scarlets much as they crashed to the Top 14 leaders 45-10.
Dwayne Peel has not confirmed Williams was injured, but when asked about him and John, the head coach said: “We’ll wait and see where we are on Tuesday when we meet at home.”
READ MORE:Ian McGeechan says Wales will lose their Six Nations title because of Shaun Edwards
New England star compared to Barry John
Shane Williams says Eddie Jones should be fired immediately if he doesn’t start Marcus Smith for Owen Farrell in the Six Nations, even comparing the new man to the great Barry John.
Smith led Harlequins to one last gasp of the Heineken Champions Cup win over Cardiff at Arms Park on Friday night and calls are growing for him to wear the England No.10 jersey for England skipper Farrell.
Former Wales wing ace Shane has joined the Smith train and even made the analogy with The King.
“What an achievement, what a player. On a site where Barry John was displaying his gear, there was a player of a similar model to ‘The King’,” the wing legend wrote in his Rugby Paper column.
“If Eddie Jones doesn’t give him his first chance at England’s No. 10 in the Six Nations, the RFU must fire him immediately.
“He makes things happen around him and he must be a nightmare to play against.
“Three tries came from his great kicking game and he scored one himself. Is there anything he can’t do.”
Smith has received critical acclaim over the past year, with Williams’ former team-mate in Wales, Adam Jones, calling him “an absolute superstar”.
Former prop Jones took a closer look at Smith’s work in his capacity as part of the Quins’ coaching team.
READ MORE:Wales’ last Six Nations talks at Monday’s decisive selection meeting as the fly-half threatens to miss
Laws boost for England
Northampton Saints have allayed concerns over Courtney Lawes’ injury ahead of the announcement of Eddie Jones’ England Six Nations squad.
Jones will designate his squad for the upcoming Northern Hemisphere tournament this week, which will include Lawes.
The 32-year-old was shocked by Jones and the Saints on Sunday when he was forced off the field in the 64th minute of his side’s narrow 24-20 Champions Cup defeat to Ulster.
However, Northampton forward Phil Dowson has brushed aside concerns about Lawes’ plight after his withdrawal from Franklin’s Gardens over what will be the 250th appearance of the towering lock for the Gallagher Premiership outfit.
“We thought we’d bring some fresh legs, so it was more of a precaution than anything else,” Dowson said.
“He was exhausted and we had a lot of attackers on the bench to bring in. Courtney is experienced enough, old enough and 250 games ugly enough to tell us when he’s ready. He’s fine.”
England will kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland in Edinburgh in 2022 on Saturday, February 5.
Jones will announce his team on Tuesday.
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Boss embarrassed by ‘basketball score’
Philippe Saint-André couldn’t hide his embarrassment after Montpellier’s 89-7 Champions Cup loss to Leinster, despite 18 members of his squad having contracted Covid-19 in the past two and a half weeks.
The French side – currently fourth in the Top 14 – took a 28-0 win against Leinster earlier this season after the Irish side were unable to field a team due to the spread of the coronavirus in their camp.
It was a decision that irritated Leinster head coach Leo Cullen at the time, and his side produced a brutal display, including 13 attempts to beat the French club at the RDS Arena on Sunday.
And Montpellier head coach Saint-André says he expected more from his admittedly underpowered team in Ireland.
“You know, I’m not a member of EPCR, it’s not my job. As a story I’m not worried about Leinster, today they get five points, they are already qualified I think,” said the former French boss.
“It is difficult for me to give one opinion, instead of the EPCR making the decision with the medical staff, with one specialist from the parliament. Like us last week, we wanted to play, but we didn’t have enough front rows to play against Toulouse, so the game was canceled and you can see what we showed today.
“If you have a cluster in your team, you have pain. You have to adjust quickly, you have to come back fitter and we showed that today.
“It’s not a rugby score, it’s a basketball score. We fought last year to win the Shield (Challenge Cup) and the League, and to not show more than this is very painful after we had three or four positive cases three days ago, many in the back row. Today our back line was very young with little experience but I expected more than we showed but Leinster was great.
“Today we managed to have a team, but we switched teams three times during the week. We had a hard time from the first to the last minute, I coached for a long time. I never lost with this score. There’s not much to say.”
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