Today’s headlines as Dan Biggar’s grandfather sparks panic and Ireland gets a huge Six Nations boost

These are your rugby heads from Wales and beyond on Friday 21st January

Biggar’s grandfather almost let cat out of the bag

The New Wales captain has spoken of his family’s pride after being named skipper for the Six Nations, but revealed that his grandfather took the cat out of the bag almost too early.

Biggar was briefed on the news Monday night by Wayne Pivac, ahead of Tuesday’s announcement of the roster. Like all good boys, he called his grandparents to tell them the good news in silence.

But it almost failed because of their bursting pride in their grandson.

“It’s been a strange couple of days since we got a wink on Monday night,” Biggar said.

“I think, admittedly, it’s a bit of a short-term fix with a lot of guys injured and a lot of older guys missing – but I’m still very, very proud to be asked and seen by the coaches in that regard.

“It’s something I’m looking forward to, I’ll need some help and guidance, but I’m really proud.

“My wife kind of shut me up, when I ask her to do things around the house, she says things like ‘You didn’t ask me that before you were captain’.

“I called my grandparents and told them Monday night. My grandfather said it was always his dream for me to become Captain Wales.

“I think they were actually more excited about it than I was; they called all the neighbors to tell them on Monday night before the squad was announced, so I panicked a bit in case the news got out.”

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Ireland’s huge Six Nations boost

dr. Ireland’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan has advised the Irish government they can begin lifting most of the remaining Covid restrictions – meaning full houses for Six Nations matches in Dublin.

Ireland welcome Wales on the opening weekend of the tournament at the Aviva Stadium.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will deliver an important State of the Nation speech today, according to the Irish Mirror, lifting the curfew at 8pm in pubs.

dr. Holohan has “green lighted” the government to lift all Covid rules for the hospitality industry. All restrictions, including limits on the number of people who can attend indoor and outdoor events, may also be lifted.

The ruling will be in line with Wales, with a full house expected at the Principality Stadium for clashes against Scotland, France and Italy.

Together with Wales, the Italians and Scots will head to Dublin this year for the competition.

Dupont tests positive

French star Antoine Dupont has tested positive for Covid.

Doubt surrounds Cardiff’s Champions Cup match against Toulouse this weekend over a number of coronavirus cases within the French club, with Dupont being the most notable.

He is one of about 10 who have had positive results with the players and staff.

Dupont has been sidelined with a knee injury since December 11, with Covid now further complicating his preparations for the Six Nations.

Cardiff prepare for the game despite the hosts’ difficulties.

“We have received no word from anyone that there is any doubt about the match,” said Cardiff rugby director Dai Young.

“So we’re just planning as the game goes on. We’re moving on.

“It’s in the media that there have been cases. Obviously that’s something we’re not involved in. It’s for them [Toulouse] to speak to the concerned parties.”

‘No Djokovic matters going on’

Exeter coach Rob Baxter has hinted that Henry Slade has been given the vaccine after declaring that his squad will have no medical exemptions or “Novak Djokovic matters to worry about” when they travel to Montpellier this weekend.

Slade has been outspoken about Covid-19 vaccinations in the past, initially pointing his suspicions in May 2021.

His vaccination status raised questions for England coach Eddie Jones, with the Red Rose heading to France and Italy during this year’s tournament – countries where athletes cannot travel unless they are fully vaccinated.

But Baxter seems to have dismissed those fears, giving Jones a big boost in the process.

“So to speak, if you don’t see him getting picked it won’t be because he’s injured unless he gets injured today. [Wednesday] in training,” said the Exeter rugby director.

“Suppose you will. The truth is – and I know Henry doesn’t mind me saying this – despite what everyone said and what everyone was trying to say, Henry never said he wouldn’t get vaccinated.

“He said at the time that he wanted to see what the situation was like and that was months and months and months ago.

“That’s all I’m willing to say because that’s what Henry said was fine to say. He never said he wouldn’t get it, he said he wanted to see what the situation was. Everyone seems to have guess what they want from there.

“It’s not up to me to discuss each player’s individual medical status, but you’ll see the team when we go there and we don’t have any players with medical exemptions or anything, so there’s no business with Novak Djokovic anywhere. .”

Wasp star raises £40k to support Tonga

Wasp star Malakai Fekitoa says he hasn’t heard from his family in Tonga nearly a week after a devastating tsunami hit the island following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

His mother and family come from the island where the communication lines have been damaged.

He has raised nearly £40,000 in an online fundraiser amid warnings of a crisis in the island.

“I want to make sure all aid is received by the community,” Fekitoa wrote in the first post for the campaign, before adding: “We need to ship essential products so we will be sending as many containers as possible from Auckland. , New Zealand to Tonga No matter what kind of help you want to work with, any kind of help is appreciated [sic]. We will provide an address where material products can be delivered.”

In an update, he added: “Thank you to all of you who make this possible. I am very grateful and overwhelmed by your support. It is amazing to see how joining forces and working together can make a big difference Donation, big or small, can have an extraordinary impact Receiving so much support from all of you [sic] been incredible.”

Walker doubles down

The Welsh Rugby Union’s performance director, Nigel Walker, has redoubled his ambition to make the Wales Women’s program the best in the world, but said that doesn’t mean it will have the most money.

Twelve Wales Women internationals last week became the first to become full-time pros in Wales, while a further nine semi-professional players have signed “retentive” contracts. Up to six part-time players will follow.

All contracts will run for 12 months, with negotiations to extend the deals or offer them to other/more players to start late this summer or early fall, ahead of the postponed World Cup in New Zealand this fall.

“This is just the beginning,” Walker says.

“I said a few months ago that I wanted to build the best women’s program in the world and that is still the ambition.

“It doesn’t mean it will have the most money or the most players with contracts, but in terms of the ethos around the program and the performance that is at the heart of everything we do, it will be the best program in the world and we are committed to doing that.

“We know we need some professional full-time athletes on that squad and that will be the ambition. I’m not saying money isn’t an issue, but we’re going to make the best program for our female players that we can.”

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