June 14, 2023
Tonights rugby news as Wales duo stand out in training and Gatland wants one to shut people up
Here are the latest rugby headlines on Wednesday, June 14. Beard backed to silence critics as two impress Adam Beard has been backed to silence his critics after impressing the Wales coaching staff by reporting for World Cup training in fine shape. When asked which players had impressed him so far this summer, Wales head coach Warren Gatland pointed to Ospreys lock Beard and Cardiff scrum-half Tomos Williams, among others. In a wide-ranging Scrum V podcast interview, Gatland said: "I'll tell you who's in brilliant shape at the moment is Tomos Williams. He's really done a lot of work and I've got to give credit to someone else who's worked his butt off, and I know he gets a huge amount of criticism from fans and stuff, but Adam Beard has really worked hard. He's coming in in good shape. I'd love to see him be able to shut a few people up and for them to go 'actually, in fairness to him, he looks good'. "The centres look pretty exciting. Joe Roberts is a bit different. There's some real youngsters that we're excited about. "The two Cardiff boys in terms of Domachowski and Assiratti. With Kieron the other day, I sort of made a joke, I couldn't believe his skill level, his handling and side-stepping, I said 'you could be a brilliant 10 if you lost about 40kg'. He's got some skill. Those boys are going to put some real pressure on the others. The age 25/26, in the next few years they're only going to get better and better. "I'm being really positive because that's the way I feel. I always try to be honest and upfront." Poll: How far will Wales go at the World Cup? Have your say here or below South Africa's Kolisi to return in time for warm-ups World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi is set to be fit for South Africa in time for their World Cup warm-ups, which culminate with a clash against Wales in Cardiff on August 19. The 31-year-old forward had surgery last month for a knee ligament injury, but is now ahead of schedule in his recovery having previously targeting a return for the World Cup pool fixtures. "We are aiming to get Siya involved in the warm-up games," the coach of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning team told a press briefing in Pretoria. After three Rugby Championship fixtures in July, the Springboks are set to play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches: against Argentina in Buenos Aires on August 5, Wales in Cardiff on August 19 and New Zealand in London on August 25. Ex-Wallabies lock named in Tonga squad Former Australia lock Adam Coleman has been named in Tonga's 35-man squad for their July warm-up games ahead of the Rugby World Cup. The 31-year-old out-of-work London Irish player was capped on 38 occasions by the Wallabies, including at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but has now switched allegiance to represent Tonga thanks to World Rugby's rules on doing so, effective from January 2022. Tonga boss Toutai Kefu has also selected ex-All Blacks duo Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau, along with former Wallaby Isreal Folau. Tonga kick off their World Cup preparations against Fiji on July 22 and will face Japan seven days later, before playing Samoa on August 5. Tonga then begin their Rugby World Cup campaign with a September 16 clash versus Ireland in Bordeaux. Champions Cup sees shake-up of pool stages for 2023/24 By PA Sport Staff The Heineken Champions Cup will return to a multi-pool format next season. Tournament organisers have scrapped a two groups of 12 system, with the 24 qualifiers now featuring in four pools, each containing six teams. There will be a maximum of two clubs from the same league - Gallagher Premiership, United Rugby Championship and French Top 14 - in each pool. And there are no matches between clubs from the same league. Each team will play four games against four different clubs who are not from the same league, either home or away, during the pool stage. The leading four clubs in each pool will qualify for the round of 16, and each fifth-placed team progress to the European Challenge Cup knockout phase. The Challenge Cup will comprise 18 teams in three pools of six, with games in both tournaments being played over eight weekends and culminating in finals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next May. European Professional Club Rugby chairman Dominic McKay said: "Our focus has always been to ensure that everyone can easily understand, engage with and follow our tournaments, and also to ensure we have a structure that creates real sporting jeopardy in as many matches as possible. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to look at ways in which we can improve both tournaments, an objective which is at the heart of our strategy and commitment to fans, clubs and partners. Our competitions truly are the pinnacle of professional club rugby, and we have to ensure that they continue to engage and to enthral existing and new audiences along the way." The pool draws will take place in London on June 21, with the opening round of games taking place in December. Champions Cup qualifiers: Saracens, Sale Sharks, Leicester, Northampton, Harlequins, Exeter, Bath, Bristol, Munster, DHL Stormers, Leinster, Ulster, Glasgow, Vodacom Bulls, Connacht, Cardiff, La Rochelle, Toulouse, Racing 92, Bordeaux-Begles, Lyon, Stade Francais, Toulon, Bayonne. Challenge Cup qualifiers: Gloucester, Newcastle, Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions, Benetton, Edinburgh, Ospreys , Scarlets , Dragons, Zebre Parma, Castres, Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier, Pau, Perpignan, Oyonnax, plus two invited teams. READ NEXT: Warren Gatland wouldn't have taken Wales Job if he'd known full picture as he addresses World Cup withdrawals and Rhys Carre Cory Hill's 'desperate' situation and Gatland's disappointment in Joe Hawkins decision as Wales legend confesses 'I don't get it' WRU to exploit World Rugby rule change and England star 'felt like he was going to die' before Wales game The new rugby trends you'll see at the World Cup as a 'new set-piece' emerges 'More players, better players' — The radical WRU shake-up to save rugby in Wales revealed
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