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‘European qualification vitally important’ – Rhys Priestland

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Rhys Priestland: On the importance of European qualification

Rhys Priestland: On the importance of European qualification

SCARLETS outside half Rhys Priestland believes passionately that European qualification is a must for the Scarlets despite his departure to Bath Rugby at the end of the current season.

The international outside half who has spent his entire professional career with the Scarlets, and has made 155 appearances for the region since his debut over Exeter Chiefs in August 2007, is hoping to finish his tenure in West Wales on a high.

Speaking at the Millennium Stadium earlier this week, ahead of the region’s clash against Newport Gwent Dragons in Judgement Day, Priestland said: “We can’t afford to slip up now. People have said we have an easy run-in but we have two away games and it’s taken until the last game (against Zebre) to get our first away win of the season. The results are by no way given eventhough the teams are below us in the league.”

A top six spot will ensure Scarlets remain in the top flight of European Rugby next season, a feat that the Region have done since their, and the competition’s, inception.

The Scarlets are currently in seventh place, tied on 44 points with sixth placed Connacht, and Priestland believes making the top six in the Guinness PRO12 is crucial for the West Wales Region; he said: “It’s vitally important. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in the top tier of European rugby since I’ve been with the Region. Nobody wants to be a part of the first squad not to be involved in the competition. We’re treating this as if it’s the be all and end all now.”

With his time at the Scarlets coming to end, as he prepares to make a move to Bath ahead of the new season, Priestland says a strong finish to the season with the Scarlets would be a fitting end; he said: “It’s a strange part of the season now. We have weeks off and it’s hard to keep the rhythm going. There are a few boys leaving but we all want to finish the season strongly. I want to do well for the Scarlets in the last three games. We’ll try and win the last three games, they are games we can win. It would be nice to sign off with three wins now at the end and really leave on a high.” JUST when its General Election campaign was making a faltering recovery from a shambolic start, a UKIP candidate has revealed that she is considering whether to take legal action against her own party.

Norma Woodward, UKIP’s candidate in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr claimed to BBC Wales that she had been ‘intimidated, harassed and libelled by the UKIP Wales committee’.

UKIP’s organization in Wales, which is headed by MEP Nathan Gill, attempted to remove Ms Woodward as its candidate for the Carmarthenshire constituency after making public allegations of financial impropriety.

The farce originally extended to an ‘oh no she isn’t, oh yes she is’ tussle about Ms Woodward’s status as UKIP’s Westminster election candidate. At one point UKIP Wales’ website showed no candidate as being selected for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, while the UK website did.

In the end, UKIP’s UK leadership prevailed in the dispute, determining that its Wales office lacked the requisite power to deselect Ms Woodward as its candidate.

A statement at the time from UKIP said UKIP’s Welsh committee had ‘misunderstood its constitutional position’.

Ms Woodward claimed: “Right from the beginning I’ve had a tremendous lot of intimidation and harassment, libel and slander and sexual discrimination against me as a female.”

She continued: “The campaigning itself is straightforward, the work is easy.”

“It’s been the bullying that’s been very hard to cope with so I would like the opportunity to clear my name because I haven’t committed any of these things I’ve been accused of.”

Ms Woodward went on to state that UKIP’s central office had been ‘extremely supportive’ of her.

UKIP Wales responded to the allegations by claiming they were unaware of their candidate’s concerns: “These comments have only now been brought to our attention. Had they been raised with the committee previously we would have immediately investigated them.”

UKIP’s campaign in Wales has been a hit and miss affair, with a dispute in Brecon & Radnor resulting in a stand-off between party activists and UKIP Wales’ officers.

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Six Nations: North set for 100th cap against England

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GEORGE North is set to become the youngest player in the world to reach the 100-cap milestone for his country on Saturday, February 27, when Wales take on England at Principality Stadium (KO 16.45 BBC & S4C).

North, 28, made his international bow in November 2010 and has amassed 42 tries in his 99 appearances.

North will line-up in the centre alongside Jonathan Davies on Saturday, outside of half-back pairing of Kieran Hardy and Dan Biggar. Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams comprise the back-three.

Wales name an unchanged front-five with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis packing down in the front-row and Adam Beard partnering captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.

Josh Navidi returns to the side to line-up alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

“We’ve had a great two weeks leading into this game and we are looking forward to Saturday,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“We continue to build and we know there is plenty left in us in terms of improvements from the opening two rounds. We are 2/2 but we want to continue to improve performance wise.

“Saturday is a great milestone for George, it is a huge achievement at his age and we are looking forward to seeing him in action.”

Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones and Leon Brown provide the front-row cover for Wales with Cory Hill and James Botham completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy and Uilisi Halaholo provide the back-line cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY ENGLAND (SATURDAY FEBRUARY 24, KO 16.45)

1. Wyn Jones (32 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (79 Caps)

3. Tomas Francis (54 Caps)

4. Adam Beard (23 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (145 Caps)

6. Josh Navidi (25 Caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (82 Caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (83 Caps)

9. Kieran Hardy (3 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (89 Caps)

11. Josh Adams (29 Caps)

12. Jonathan Davies (85 Caps)

13. George North (99 Caps)

14. Louis Rees-Zammit (6 Caps)

15. Liam Williams (68 Caps)

Replacements:

16. Elliot Dee (34 Caps)

17. Rhodri Jones (19 Caps)

18. Leon Brown (14 Caps)

19. Cory Hill (29 Caps)

20. James Botham (4 Caps)

21. Gareth Davies (59 Caps)

22. Callum Sheedy (6 Caps)

23. Uilisi Halaholo (1 Cap)

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Wales looking for third win in a row against England

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WALES have won their first two games in the Six Nations Championship and on Saturday, February 27, they put that record on the line against great rivals England.

Having already beaten Ireland and Scotland, the Triple Crown will be on the line for Wales, a feat they last achieved in 2019 when they won the Grand Slam.

That will be incentive enough for Wayne Pivac’s men but to do it against England will make it that little bit sweeter.

With France’s game against Scotland on Sunday in doubt, it will also give the home side a great chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Wales do not have any fresh injury concerns going into the England game and it will likely provide a selection headache for Pivac.

George North could be set to make his 100th appearance for Wales if he plays against England, and is currently second in the list of all-time try scorers for his home country.

England lost their opening game of the tournament against Scotland but got back to winning ways with a resounding 41-18 win over Italy.

The 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Cup Champions will be eager to rediscover their winning form which brought them that success but they will not find it easy against Wales.

What happened the last time England visited the Principality Stadium?
Wales last welcomed England to the Principality on February 23, 2019, and it was a game which saw Wales earn a 21-13 victory.

Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries in that match while Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe added the rest of the points from the boot.

Tom Curry scored England’s only try in that match while Farrell had a 100% success rate with his kicks.

What happened when the sides met in 2020?

It was an absolute classic last year with England triumphing by 33 points to 30 at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi got the tries for England on that day while Owen Farrell had again had a 100% record with the boot.

Justin Tipuric bagged two tries for Wales while Dan Biggar scored their other as the men in red came up short on this occasion.

Of course, the last two meetings between the two sides were played in front of capacity crowds but that will not be a factor this time around, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Could that be a factor in the game or will both sides treat us to an excellent display of rugby?

After the England game, Wales travel to Italy on Saturday, March 13, while England will host France on the same day.

A win for either side this weekend will be crucial; a win for Wales and it sets them up for the Grand Slam while a win for England will reignite their hopes of retaining the Six Nations Championship.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 16:45 and can be seen on S4C as well as the BBC.

ENGLAND
Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, George Martin, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Max Malins.

WALES
Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Botham, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Uilisi Halaholo.

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Six Nations: Wales looking for third win in a row against England

Published

on

WALES have won their first two games in the Six Nations Championship and on Saturday, February 27, they put that record on the line against great rivals England.

Having already beaten Ireland and Scotland, the Triple Crown will be on the line for Wales, a feat they last achieved in 2019 when they won the Grand Slam.

That will be incentive enough for Wayne Pivac’s men but to do it against England will make it that little bit sweeter.

With France’s game against Scotland on Sunday in doubt, it will also give the home side a great chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Wales do not have any fresh injury concerns going into the England game and it will likely provide a selection headache for Pivac.

George North could be set to make his 100th appearance for Wales if he plays against England, and is currently second in the list of all-time try scorers for his home country.

England lost their opening game of the tournament against Scotland but got back to winning ways with a resounding 41-18 win over Italy.

The 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Cup Champions will be eager to rediscover their winning form which brought them that success but they will not find it easy against Wales.

What happened the last time England visited the Principality Stadium?

Wales last welcomed England to the Principality on February 23, 2019, and it was a game which saw Wales earn a 21-13 victory.

Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries in that match while Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe added the rest of the points from the boot.

Tom Curry scored England’s only try in that match while Farrell had a 100% success rate with his kicks.

What happened when the sides met in 2020?

It was an absolute classic last year with England triumphing by 33 points to 30 at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi got the tries for England on that day while Owen Farrell had again had a 100% record with the boot.

Justin Tipuric bagged two tries for Wales while Dan Biggar scored their other as the men in red came up short on this occasion.

Of course, the last two meetings between the two sides were played in front of capacity crowds but that will not be a factor this time around, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Could that be a factor in the game or will both sides treat us to an excellent display of rugby?

After the England game, Wales travel to Italy on Saturday, March 13, while England will host France on the same day.

A win for either side this weekend will be crucial; a win for Wales and it sets them up for the Grand Slam while a win for England will reignite their hopes of retaining the Six Nations Championship.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 16:45 and can be seen on S4C as well as the BBC.

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