These are your rugby headlines on the morning of Tuesday, February 15
Six Nations to look at Nowell incident
Six Nations chiefs will analyze the circumstances surrounding the decision to allow Jack Nowell to carry on playing after he suffered a blow to the head during England’s match against Italy in Rome on Sunday.
Referee Damon Murphy came in for heavy criticism after he appeared to rush medics to come to a decision on whether the England man needed a HIA 13 minutes into the game after a heavy tackle with Marco Zanon.
The winger played on for another minute but struggled to maintain his balance. Murphy appeared keen to get the game restarted and said “Come on. He’s either going to an HIA or he doesn’t, let’s go. Make a decision please.”
England’s doctor said he believed Nowell was OK to continue but intimated he wanted a ruling from the independent doctor at the Stadio Olimpico.
Play resumed for 70 seconds before the ruling came down that Nowell required a HIA.
He was eventually replaced by Elliot Daly, and Nowell subsequently failed his HIA and didn’t return.
Ben Kay said on commentary for ITV: “The referee has rushed the decision there, which is wrong.”
Six Nations Ltd will now review the incident.
England face Wales next up and Nowell will have to go through the necessary return-to-play protocols to be cleared to play.
England receive injury boost for Wales clash
Meanwhile, Manu Tuilagi is one of several England stars poised to return for the upcoming Six Nations clash with Wales at Twickenham.
Tuilagi has made an impressive return to action with Sale following a recent hamstring injury, and now appears to be closing in on return for Eddie Jones’s squad this week.
After watching his team ease to victory in Rome, Jones revealed that a number of familiar faces might soon be returning to action.
Asked who might soon be available again for round three of the tournament, Jones said: “Potentially, Joe Launchbury, Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam. There’s a question mark about Sam Underhill too, so there are a few who could come back into the squad.”
It comes ahead of a tough finish to the championship for England, who welcome Wales and Ireland next, before heading to Paris for a final with title favorites France.
And Jones believes the explosiveness of Tuilagi can give his side a new dimension.
“Just having a power-running center would give us a different option. Everything we’re doing now is about trying to create opportunities through finesse – through good running lines and passing.
“To have someone who can take you forward quickly and engage two or three defenders allowing you space would be really useful to us.
“When you’ve got smaller centers, you’ve got to be much better at your running, support lines and passing.
“I think we’re making some progress. We’ve had three centers play and Henry Slade has been very good. Joe Marchant and Elliot Daly have had their moments, but we need to get more out of that and we understand that.
“If Manu is fit… I’ll have a chat to Alex (Sanderson, Sale’s director of rugby) and Manu, see where they’re at and whether he’s got enough petrol in the tank to make the step up.”
Devastated family pay tribute to tragic rugby player
The sister of Jack Jeffery, who tragically died while scoring a try for his club Evesham at the weekend, has paid tribute to her “wonderful baby brother”.
Jack, aged 27, suffered the injury during the game against Berkswell and Balsall on Saturday.
He was taken to hospital but the fly-half later died.
The tragedy has shocked the rugby community, with tributes pouring in from across the country.
In a post on Facebook, as quoted by MailOnline, his sister Daisy wrote: “My beautiful baby brother. I can’t even believe I’m having to write these words.
“It was just a simple game of rugby, like any other Saturday doing what you loved most.
“You scored an amazing try but just one accidental tackle and you never got back up. I’m so sorry they couldn’t save you.
“And I’m so sorry I had to kiss you goodnight in that hospital bed.”
His father Glenn added his own heartfelt tribute to his son.
“It is so clear to us that not only will Jack be missed by his close family but also by everyone that he knew and came into contact with,” he wrote.
“He was a very special soul and we are so proud to say he was our son.
“Bless you Jack, shine on.”
Jack’s club Evesham released their own statement on Monday night, thanking well-wishers for their support.
“We are extremely humbled by the tributes and outpouring of support for Jack,” a statement read on social media.
“There are many stories and experiences that have been shared. The World of Rugby has demonstrated togetherness in Jack’s honour.
“Your messages have come from all corners far and wide, and all unions and codes and at every level of the game.
“We cannot even begin to describe the love and affection that has been displayed to Jack, his family and our club. We would love to be able to reply to each of your heartfelt messages, however, such is the scale of support we are struggling to be able to respond to all.
“We want you all to know how truly grateful for each and every one of your messages of support. Please continue to share your thoughts, they are such a source of strength. With love, Evesham Rugby.”
Beard would get AWJ thumbs up – Barnes
Stuart Barnes reckons Adam Beard’s lineout performance for Wales against Scotland in Cardiff would have received the Alun Wyn Jones seal of approval.
The England international named Beard as the only Welshman in his Six Nations team of round two.
As vice-captain, Beard galvanized the Welsh pack and was the main jumper during Wales’ 20-17 victory. The 6ft 8in lock also oversaw the calling and presided over a perfect 12/12 set-piece.
There was also much grafting at mauls and the Osprey contested a number of breakdowns, especially in the closing minutes with Scotland pressing hard.
It all led Barnes to believe Jones would have signed off his regional team-mate’s effort.
“The lock – and the rest of the Welsh pack – remain firmly in the shadow of the legend that is Alun Wyn Jones, but the great man would have been impressed with Beard’s lineout work, not to mention his unstinting effort in making his long presence count at the breakdown,” said the England international in a piece for Rugby World.
Some on social media pointed to stats which showed a fairly modest effort from Beard as a carrier – the official figures revealed he made one run for four meters – but he also put in 11 successful tackles.
And The Sunday Times saw him as one of three Welsh players worthy of nines in their player ratings, saying: “Played a monster game. The leader of the Wales pack played with real authority in all departments.”
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac also singled Beard out for praise. “What I like is Adam Beard’s leadership up front,” Pivac said. “He took full responsibility for the forward pack and he’s putting pressure on his fellow players.”
There are six Frenchmen led by Antoine Dupont in Barnes’ side, with four players from Ireland, three from England and one apiece from Wales and Scotland.
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Buchanan back on WRU council
Ex-Wales and Llanelli prop Anthony Buchanan has been elected to the Welsh Rugby Union National Council.
Buchanan returns to succeed Liza Burgess, who resigned from her role following her appointment as a Wales age-grade coach.
He previously served on the board from 2014 to 2019.
“It will be an honor to serve once again on the WRU Council and I would like to thank the WRU’s members for the faith they have shown in entrusting me with their votes,” said Buchanan.
“The National Council Member role is an important position within the WRU’s governance structure and Anthony will be committed to making a difference to Welsh rugby,” added WRU chair Rob Butcher.
“I am delighted to welcome him back on board and I would like to thank each of the high caliber candidates who took part in the process.
“We are extremely grateful to all three individuals for offering their services to our game.”
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