Here are your rugby morning headlines for Thursday, January 14.
Alun Wyn Jones ‘in good fettle’ on road to recovery
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is “coming along very nicely” in his recovery from a knee injury, according to Ospreys boss Toby Booth.
Jones was hurt during Wales’ Autumn Nations Cup victory over Italy in early December.
Initial forecasts suggested he could be sidelined for two months or more, raising doubts over his availability for Wales’ opening Six Nations games against Ireland and Scotland next month.
Jones is now into week six of his comeback schedule. Wales’ opening Six Nations appointment with Ireland is scheduled for February 7 and he could be on course to make that game.
“He is running around and in really good fettle,” Booth said. “He is coming along very nicely.
“Normally, with all these middle to long-term injuries, what happens is you make a lot of progress and the last 15 per cent is the difficult bit.
“That is where you are getting back to where you are match-fit and able to train fully.
“He thinks he is on the right schedule, we think he is on the right schedule, so we are all joined up.”
Dragons boss Dean Ryan on Sam Davies recovery
Dean Ryan has revealed Dragons fly-half Sam Davies is ready to go after a calf injury but believes a cautious return will benefit the region in the long term.
“Sam’s feeling ready to go and it’s been more us saying it’s not right we can’t afford to risk you,” added Ryan. “I also think Josh Lewis and Tavis [Knoyle] are a good combination.
“There have been times where we have been dependant on Rhodri [Williams] and Sam and I think this has been a time where we needed to grow some people underneath.
“Part of that is around getting some competition for Sam, so I’m not in a rush to get him back on the field.
“I think for one it isn’t in Sam’s interest, but also not doing real justice to where Josh Lewis is at the moment. I’m pretty happy with the half-backs we have.”
Ryan is also adopting a cautious approach with Jordan Williams but hopes the full-back will soon make his return for the region after an ACL injury.
However, with upcoming games against Connacht and Edinburgh on the horizon there is now the chance that the free-running Williams could make his return.
“It’s unrealistic to think that a high-speed athlete like Jordan is going to come back from an ACL and then play 15 games on the bounce,” said Ryan.
“We probably pushed it a little bit in terms of him then injuring a hamstring and this time we might be a bit more cautious.
“We recognise the games that we have got stacking up in February with the potential of how the PRO14 will end. We have got one eye on that for him.”
Scarlets suffer double second row blow
Scarlets second row Tevita Ratuva is set to leave the Welsh region at the end of the season to join French Top 14 side Brive.
The news comes two weeks after it was announced that fellow lock Jake Ball was due to leave Welsh rugby and return to Australia to be with his family at the end of the term.
Ratuva’s impending departure means the Scarlets will surely be looking to make new signings themselves ahead of next season. The Scarlets also have the likes of Sam Lousi and Morgan Jones on their books.
The Fijian international joined the region after the 2019 World Cup and has made 16 appearances.
“Tex has accepted an offer to join Brive in France and we wish him well for the next chapter of his career,” said Scarlets general manager of rugby Jon Daniels.
Premiership Rugby announces 18 positive Covid tests
Premiership Rugby has reported a minor drop in coronavirus cases in the latest round of testing conducted on Monday and Tuesday.
Thirteen players and five members of staff from nine different clubs produced positives for Covid-19, a reduction of one on the previous week’s total of 19.
It is the second successive week that the number of positives has dropped and comes after 997 personnel from the 12 Gallagher Premiership clubs were tested.
England’s clubs are currently completing a two-week break after the final two rounds of Europe’s group stages were postponed because of coronavirus fears.
Women’s Six Nations postponed
The 2021 Women’s Six Nations Championship has been postponed until later this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But tournament organisers say that plans for the men’s tournament, which is due to kick off on February 6, “remain as scheduled”.
France’s government is demanding reassurances on safety from England and Ireland before allowing its national side to visit those countries during the Six Nations next month.
The Under-20s Six Nations tournament will also be delayed.
In a statement, the Six Nations said: “Six Nations Rugby Limited confirmed that the Women’s and U20s 2021 Championships will not take place in the regular Six Nations window of February and March this year.
“The women’s championship will instead be scheduled in revised windows later this spring or early summer.”
The Women’s Six Nations is viewed as more challenging to deliver safely and successfully amid the pandemic, given the need for many players to return to their jobs, some of which are key and front-line positions.
Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel added: “We are fiercely committed to the promotion and development of rugby at all levels, particularly the women’s game, where we see such exciting opportunity for growth.
“This is not a decision that we rushed into, and we are confident that in looking at a new later window, we will be in a far stronger position to deliver two fantastic tournaments, delivering exciting rugby for fans, and ensuring the safest possible environment in which to stage them for our players.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk