Here are your rugby morning headlines for Friday, 31 December.
Scarlets and Ospreys await test results
The New Year’s Day derby between Scarlets and Ospreys looks like being the first festive rugby fixture to go ahead – as long as test results come back negative today.
The Scarlets players have all undergone PCR tests, while the Ospreys will take further lateral flow tests today. As long as the results come back negative later, the match will go ahead.
“We tested this morning and we’re in pretty good shape, Scarlets boss Dwayne Peel said on Thursday.
“We PCR tested as well, so we’ll find out. But so far we’re okay.”
“From where I’m sitting now, from our side unless we have some bad news, the game will be fine.
“Both in terms of selection and cases here.”
The Scarlets have not played a game of rugby since October 22 because of various Covid-induced cancellations.
Ospreys chief Toby Booth added: “We’re good to go. This scenario is difficult to manage. The close contacts have been more from the community rather than the other way around, which makes it difficult to manage.
“We’ve trained today so as long as there’s no other changes, we’re good to go. We test every day. We’ll do one more lateral flow tomorrow (Friday). The people that are not in the building are out of the building so, unless something happens in the next 24 hours, we’ll be good to go.”
Ex-All Black dies while surfing
Former All Black Terry Morrison has died while surfing in Australia on Christmas Eve.
Morrison, 70, died on the Sunshine Coast, where he has lived for several years. Reports in New Zealand say he suffered a heart attack.
A winger, he played four matches for the All Blacks in 1973.
New Zealand rugby legend and former All Blacks team-mate, Sir Bryan Williams said: “It’s really sad news. I’m saddened by it.
“We played quite a bit of rugby and socialised together.
“Apparently he had a heart attack while surfing, and they couldn’t revive him.”
Former Ireland international passes away
Former Irish rugby international Denis J Hickie, who won six caps in the 1970s, has passed away after a period of illness.
Hickie, along with his brother Tony, played on the first team from St Mary’s College to win the Leinster School Senior Cup in 1961 and they were also part of a hugely successful era for St Mary’s RFC teams during the 70’s.
During his career, the No. 8 won 23 caps for Leinster and one cap for the Barbarians. Along with Seán Lynch, he was one of the first St Mary’s RFC players capped for Ireland.
He also featured in the Irish side of 1972 that defeated both France and England in away fixtures, only to be denied a Grand Slam when Wales and Scotland opted not to travel to Ireland due to the Troubles in the North.
His son Gavin Hickie followed him into rugby, turning out Leinster, London Irish, Worcester Warriors and Leicester Tigers. He also featured for Ireland ‘A’.
While his nephew Denis was a household name for Leinster and Ireland, as well as touring with the Lions in 2005.
Adam Jones can’t understand where ‘soft’ Quins tag comes from
Wales legend and Harlequins coach Adam Jones doesn’t understand where the tag that the English champions are a soft touch has come from.
With their swashbuckling march to the Premiership title last year, the work of their pack seems to have been overlooked – much to the ire of Jones, one of Wales’ greatest forwards.
“There is always that question – can Quins mix it?” Jones told RugbyPass.
“Everyone says Quins are soft but I am sure the Premiership teams (who face us) wouldn’t be saying that and if they do it would be fake motivation. We can play tough.
“I am sure that people expect us around Christmas to start slipping up because of the weather and the pitches and we enjoy opponents coming after our scrum and line out -it’s what you play for. The Shed at Gloucester love to stick it to you and the boys enjoy that and there will be chat back and forth.
“Will Collier has to be in the mix for England at the moment. He is not old and as a prop you do mature later and it takes a few tough years to come through; at one point he was getting penalised a lot and I can’t remember when he last gave away a penalty in the scrum. He has done a great job and if Eddie Jones and Matt Proudfoot want to call him into the England squad I am sure he would do a great job.
“Will is growing in confidence and tight heads are confidence players. His technique is there and is phenomenal in the gym and outside the scrum he is a good maul defender and everyone remembers his try against Bristol.”
Italian derby postponed
The United Rugby Championship have postponed a fourth game this weekend due to Covid-19, with the Italian derby of Benetton and Zebre the latest to be called off.
The URC confirmed the postponement on Thursday, with the Treviso outfit reporting multiple positive cases.
“The Round 9 United Rugby Championship fixture between Benetton Rugby and Zebre Parma has been postponed,” a league statement reads.
“The game was due to take place on Sunday, 2 January in Treviso, however, a number of positive Covid-19 cases within the Benetton Rugby squad have been reported by the club.
“The URC Medical Advisory Group has liaised with Benetton and the local health authorities and deemed that the fixture cannot go ahead as scheduled.
“The United Rugby Championship will now consider available dates to reschedule the game.”
It’s the fourth game of the New Year’s weekend block to be postponed with Dragons v Cardiff, Ulster and Leinster and Edinburgh v Glasgow also having to be rescheduled following outbreaks of the virus among sides.