Today’s rugby headlines as Dan Biggar admits ref having sleepless nights and 10 players forced to leave France camp

Here’s your round-up of all the latest rugby news from Wales and beyond for Tuesday, January 25.

Biggar jokes of sleepless nights

Dan Biggar admits dealing with referees in a positive way will be a challenge for him, and he joked one Six Nations official is likely to be having sleepless nights already.

Biggar, the new Wales captain, will go up against old rival Johnny Sexton in Dublin on February 5, with both skippers known for their vocal nature on the pitch.

And Biggar told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast he knows he has to make a positive impression: “I saw an article Johnny Sexton did. For the first game Jaco Peyper has got me and him so I bet he’s having sleepless nights!

“[In all seriousness] it will be a challenge because my nature is very fiery and competitive. It is kind of a double-edged sword. For me, as a player, I need to be at a level where I am emotionally on edge but obviously there has to be a line.

“I’m really looking forward to testing myself. Only time will tell if it will come across right but I’m going to fly into it the best I can.”

Sexton previously congratulated Biggar on his appointment, saying: “I’m not sure the refs are going to be too happy having to deal with me and him! But there will be two of us in it anyway!

“He’s a good choice, he’s a leader and obviously one of the first names on the team sheet. He’s a Test match player. He’ll be good for them I think.”

England hit by injury ahead of Six Nations

George Ford has been given a chance to revive his international career after being named in Eddie Jones’ training squad ahead of thie upcoming Six Nations campaign.

Ford’s inclusion comes after the withdrawal of Owen Farrell, who is set to miss the opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5 due to an ankle issue.

“Following Owen Farrell’s withdrawal from the squad, Eddie Jones will now name a new team captain ahead of the Calcutta Cup fixture,” a Rugby Football Union statement read.

Courtney Lawes was initially expected to take the captaincy, but is unable to train this week due to concussion, and now faces a race against time to be fit.

Jonny May has compounded England’s woes by picking up a knee injury, and he is set to be replaced in the 36-man squad by Elliot Daily.

Dupont one of many removed from France squad

France have been hit by significant disruption ahead of the 2022 Six Nations with a raft of players forced to leave the squad either through Covid or injury.

Star scrum-half Antoine Dupont is among those who has had to isolate after testing positive for the virus and it remains to be seen whether or not he will make the opening round of fixtures a week Saturday.

Romain Ntamack, François Cros, Gaëtan Barlot, Anthony Jelonch, Cyril Baille, and Bernard Le Roux were other star names forced to leave the squad due to Covid, though they too my return when they recover.

Hooker Pierre Bourgarit has also left due to Covid, although there are reports that he is also injured.

Cameron Woki and Uini Atonio have also left due to injury, which takes it up to 10 players in total that have been removed from Fabien Galthie’s training set up.

Swan Rebbadj, Dorian Aldegheri, Louis Carbonel, Léo Coly, Paul Boudehent, Yacouba Camara, Jérôme Rey and Thomas Lavault have been drafted in.

Waratah’s confirm Robert’s signing

The Waratahs have announced the signing of Wales center Jamie Roberts.

It comes as little shock with the move heavily mooted before the juggernaut 12 announced he was leaving the Dragons imminently.

Roberts cited personal reasons, with his Australian-born fiancee now living back in Sydney and the pair expecting their second child in March.

The Waratahs have picked up the 93-cap international on a one-year injury cover contract.

“Losing two of our centers in Joey Walton and Mosese Tuipulotu was a big blow as we view them as the future of the side. So, to be able to bring in a player with the experience and talent that Jamie has on an injury coverage contract is huge for us,” said Waratahs head coach Darren Coleman.

“Jamie has been playing at a consistently high level with Dragons in Wales this season and adds a really big body for go forward and is very sound defensively. He adds vital depth in our midfield and will complement the mix of players we currently have.

“Off the field he will also add a lot to the group and our team culture with his professionalism and experience.”

Van der Flier fears ahead of Wales opener

Ireland could be without flanker Josh van der Flier for next month’s Six Nations opener with Wales.

The Leinster star suffered a groin injury during the win over Bath on Saturday, a problem that has since been described as ‘minor’ by the Irish province, although he will face further assessments.

Meanwhile, there’s better news for Irish boss Andy Farrell on the fitness of Josh Lamour, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan.

In a statement, Leinster said: “Jordan Larmour was removed temporarily during that clash with Bath after picking up a facial injury but he is still expected to be available for the Six Nations.

Both Tadhg Furlong (calf) and James Ryan (hamstring) have been making good progress and will continue their rehabilitation with the Irish Rugby medical team.

“Josh van der Flier has a minor groin injury, picked up against Bath, and will also be assessed by the Irish Rugby medical team.”

Premiership chief outlines hopes for new TV deal

Premiership Rugby is hoping that it’s new free-to-air television deal will help the domestic game ride the wave of popularity enjoyed by the Six Nations and open the game up to millions of new fans.

It emerged last week that the English league had signed a landmark deal with broadcasters ITV, in a move that would see the showing of five live games from the Gallagher Premiership, in addition to the final.

The channel is also set to broadcast a weekend highlights show, and those at the top of the English game believe it will help to bring the sport to a new audience.

Simon Massie-Taylor, Premiership Rugby’s new chief executive, told The Times’ Ruck Podcast : “Giving the league more oxygen helps us all.

“Going on terrestrial clearly accesses that broader, more casual rugby fan.

“In the Six Nations you’re going to have seven or eight million tuning into the BBC and ITV, and given how exciting the Premiership is there is no reason why you can’t migrate some of those fans to watching more regular club rugby.

“The strategy is to align ourselves more with the international game. ITV are the broadcaster for the England Six Nations games and are a Rugby World Cup broadcaster, so being where the rugby fan is, feeding off those big peak moments that you have with the Six Nations and bringing them into the club game is part of the vision with ITV.

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