Here are the latest rugby news headlines from Wales, the UK and the wider world on Saturday, January 2.
Lions tour on the brink
The British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa this year is in growing danger of being postponed, according to reports.
MailOnline report the grim situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic looks increasingly likely to deny Warren Gatland the chance to pit his team against the world champions this year.
A decision on the tour was expected to be made in March, but the worsening situation, exacerbated by new mutant strains of the virus in the UK and South Africa, will see critical and decisive talks held this month. With little prospect of a full vaccination programme being rolled out in South Africa by summer, hopes for the tour appear to be fading and contingency plans are being drawn up.
That could see the Lions head to South Africa in 2022 instead, with the general view the tour cannot take place without travelling supporters. This option could also potentially see the 2021 Six Nations move to the vacated summer slot, according to the Times – a switch that would increase the chances of fans being able to attend.
A year delay presents huge logistical issues, though, not least for Gatland who is currently on a year-long sabbatical from the Chiefs in New Zealand and is expected to return for 2022. South Africa are also reportedly due to be playing a Test series against Wales in the summer of 2022, while moving the Lions a year closer to the 2023 World Cup is far from ideal in rugby’s calendar.
The only other option would be to scrap the tour completely and lose one of the great sporting spectacles and the huge financial windfall it brings.
Basham breaks arm
Wales hopeful Taine Basham will be out for a prolonged period after breaking his arm in the New Year’s Day derby against the Scarlets.
Basham is believed to have fractured his left forearm and now joins the likes of Ross Moriarty and Ollie Griffiths on the region’s growing injury list.
“Taine was getting back to top form,” coach Dean Ryan told the South Wales Argus. “It shows the level of our back row that even with Ollie Griffiths out, Ross Moriarty out, Taine out, we’ve still got a pretty decent back row.
“You should be writing headlines about Harrison Keddie at the moment because he is a standout player for us week in, week out.”
The Dragons have endured a miserable festive period, losing to Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets without scoring a try in either game. It comes on the back of huge bad luck with injuries and Covid-19 disruptions, the latest of which saw Jamie Roberts miss the Scarlets clash due to self isolation.
“It is really easy to just live your life off wins and losses. Sometimes that hides good things that are going on,” insisted Ryan, who also lost Wales player Jonah Holmes to a first-half concussion in Llanelli.
“We looked pretty solid, we knew what we were doing and were very physical. We had moments when we could have got into the game and that’s where we can grow.
“We are now pretty competitive most weeks irrespective on who is on the field, because the disruption over the last two or three weeks has been phenomenal.
“I said in the changing room afterwards that it was one of those weeks where I am really proud to be involved with them.”
“I can’t allow our lives to just go on win/loss because we don’t have the resources of the Scarlets, and if the Dragons are disrupted with resources then we are probably more exposed than anybody else.”
Blues coach fumes with team
Cardiff Blues coach John Mulvihill was an unhappy man after his team lost 17-3 at home to the Ospreys on Friday night.
The Blues’ discipline was shambolic as they gave themselves an impossible mountain to climb by having three men sin binned during the game.
The hosts spent virtually the whole of the second-half with at least one man off the field as referee Ben Whitehouse brandished three yellow cards to home forwards – doing little for their hopes of a third consecutive victory over the Ospreys for the first time since 2003.
“When you go into these games you need to play well enough to deserve to win, and we certainly didn’t play well enough tonight and that’s what we got,” said Mulvihill.
“You can’t give away 19 penalties, three yellow cards, piggy-back a team up the pitch and think you’ll come out on the right side of the result.
“I’m really disappointed with our discipline this week.
“Their first try came from back-to-back penalties, as did the next yellow card and the penalty try as well.
“We need to clean up a lot of that. We gave away six penalties in the first half, which I thought was bad enough, but we then gave away 13 in the second half.“We were lucky to get away with it a little bit against Dragons last week, but if you give the opposition that much ball and chance to hurt you, in the end they will.
“We need to be better with the ball, and we don’t need to push the pass. We built a number of nice phases in the first half in the 22 but then threw simple offloads that weren’t on.
“Therefore you don’t mount pressure on the opposition with back-to-back pressure and that’s something that we need to be better at.”