Rugby evening headlines as another released regional player joins England exodus and Wales Sevens are hammered


Yet another regional player off to England

Wales U20s and Sevens international Will Talbot-Davies is the latest player to head for the English Championship after being released by a region. The 24-year-old back three man is joining Coventry following his departure from the Dragons.

He’s one of no fewer than 20 players moving on from the Gwent outfit as they carry out a major squad overhaul. Talbot-Davies made his debut for the region as a teenager in the autumn of 2016 and went on to make 32 appearances for them at full-back and wing, scoring five tries. He also turned out for Newport, Bedwas and Ebbw Vale in the Premiership.

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He was born in High Wycombe and grew up in Solihull, but qualified for Wales through his father and was discovered through the Exiles programme. He played in the 2017 World Rugby U20s Championship out in Georgia and has also featured heavily for Wales Sevens, including the World Cup in Los Angeles in 2018. Now he is linking up with Coventry, who finished eighth in the English Championship this season.

Talbot-Davies is one of a number of departing regional players heading for that league. Fellow Dragons back-three man Jonah Holmes has signed for Ealing Trailfinders after turning down a WRU elite 38 contract, having lost his wage appeal. Centre Garyn Smith is joining Cornish Pirates after being released by Cardiff following some eight years and 111 appearances with the Arms Park outfit.

Two more recent Cardiff players – No 8 Alun Lawrence and lock Ben Murphy – are now with Jersey and Doncaster respectively.

Wales Sevens whitewashed

Wales have drawn a blank in the London Sevens at Twickenham, losing all five of their matches. Richie Pugh’s team were beaten by Fiji (38-17), USA (33-19) and Spain (42-17) in Saturday’s Pool A matches. Then, on Sunday, they lost 14-5 to Scotland in the ninth-placed quarter-final and went down 22-21 to Canada in the 13th place semi-final.

Former Aberavon full-back Morgan Williams was Wales’ top try-scorer in the tournament with three, while Owen Jenkins and Tom Brown crossed twice. There were also tries from Callum Williams, Morgan Sieniawski, Tom Williams, Luke Treharne, Ewan Rosser and full Welsh international Tyler Morgan, who was recently released by the Scarlets. The final is being contested by New Zealand and Australia, with Fiji and Samoa meeting in the bronze medal match.

O’Gara’s surreal success

Ronan O’Gara has described La Rochelle’s last-gasp Heineken Champions Cup final victory over Leinster as “surreal”. The former Ireland international became just the third person to win the trophy as a player and head coach, following on from Leo Cullen and Ugo Mola. O’Gara had lifted the cup as a fly-half with Munster in 2006 and 2008.

Last year, he was in the losing camp as a coach, with La Rochelle being beaten by French rivals Toulouse in the final, but this time it was their day, as they claimed their first European title thanks to a try from replacement scrum-half Arthur Retiere.

Speaking after the 24-21 triumph at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, he said: “Twelve months ago we went to Racing and got beaten 49-0. There was fighting and it was carnage, but it will be carnage in the port of La Rochelle for the next few days after this. It was such a tense game and it all feels a little bit surreal that we will wake up in the morning as European champions.”

La Rochelle’s Aussie second row Will Skelton, who had previously won the trophy with Saracens, was named Man of the Match. He said: “This means everything to this club, the players and to me.

“We are only a small town, we aren’t supposed to be playing in these big games. It hurt a lot last year when we were beaten by Toulouse but sometimes you have to lose before you can go on to win the big one. We showed a lot of character and the way we won it shows how much we care for this club, the town and each other.”

Welsh club’s charity cycle ride

Llandeilo RFC are celebrating the club’s 150th anniversary by staging a three-day charity cycle ride from north to south Wales. Some 25 players, coaches, committee and parents will set off from Bangor on Thursday (June 2), with more riders joining along the route. The plan is to return to Llandeilo by the evening of Saturday June 4. The group will be joined for the final mile by the club’s junior section.

In all, they will be cycling over 300 miles to raise money for Noah’s Ark Appeal and Prostate Cymru. Along the way, they will be welcomed by all 10 of the other WRU founder member clubs and hosted overnight at Bangor, Lampeter and Newport rugby clubs.

Llandeilo’s coach is Rhodri Gomer, the former Dragons, Scarlets and Northampton centre, who has gone on to work in sports broadcasting. Outlining the thinking behind the cycle ride, he said: “I see it as a special opportunity to rebuild the relationship between some of the oldest clubs in Wales.”

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