Peni Ravai sent Bordeaux-Begles to the Top 14 summit as his late try secured a 20-15 victory over La Rochelle on Sunday.

A club-record crowd of 38,503 saw the match at Matmut Atlantique hang in the balance at 15-15 going into the final 10 minutes.

However, Fijian prop Ravai was driven over in the 72nd minute as Bordeaux pushed for the victory that at one stage had looked a formality.

They led 12-0 after half an hour behind four penalties from Matthieu Jalibert, only for Jules Plisson to hit back with four successful kicks of his own to tie the match.

Jalibert nudged Bordeaux ahead again in the 55th minute but Plisson soon replied again, setting up the close finish from which Ravai emerged as the hero.

Bordeaux head coach Christophe Urios, quoted on the team's Twitter page, said: "We can say it was a perfect afternoon, even if we complicated the task.

"I'm going to have a very, very good Christmas. Now what is important is [the December 29 match against] Pau."

Bordeaux nudged ahead of Lyon, who were beaten on Saturday at Castres and fall to second place.

Pau had debutant Ben Smith sent off as they suffered a 21-18 defeat away to Stade Francais.

The All Blacks great was dismissed after 50 minutes for leading with his elbow when challenging opposition hooker Lucas Da Silva, landing a blow around the neck area.

In the late game, Toulon nudged up to third place after winning 41-19 at home against Clermont Auvergne.

Bath halted a five-match losing run in style with a crushing 38-10 win against London Irish in the Premiership.

Tries from Beno Obano, Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni, a penalty try and Will Chudley put Bath 31-3 ahead at half-time.

Tom Homer soon extended the lead with the sixth five-pointer when he made an 80-yard sprint to the line.

Irish were playing for pride and mustered momentary relief when Adam Coleman drove over, but it was not their day, as Bath jumped above them and Worcester to go seventh in the table.

Powerhouse prop Obano surged over in the fourth minute for an opening try, and Watson charged through for the second moments later.

Wing Rokoduguni dashed through at the corner for a third Bath try after 22 minutes, and a penalty try against London Irish then compounded the hosts' misery.

A fifth Bath try arrived before the half-hour mark when Chudley applied the finishing touch to a fast break.

The next came after 50 minutes when full-back and man of the match Homer intercepted a loose kick from Stephen Myler inside his own 22 and let his legs do the rest.

Bath boss Stuart Hooper was getting the response he wanted after the team's back-to-back Champions Cup thumpings by Clermont Auvergne, with the men in blue, yellow and white rampant at the Madejski Stadium.

Coleman poached a reply for Irish but by then it was a forlorn cause.

Cardiff Blues star Tomos Williams tied the Ospreys in knots after watching his brother tie the knot on a Saturday he could not have scripted any better.

The Wales scrum-half was an usher at the wedding ceremony before performing his playmaking duties in a 19-16 Pro14 derby victory at the Liberty Stadium, where he laid on a try for Jarrod Evans.

Williams then headed from the ground back to the evening reception for a double celebration.

Blues head coach John Mulvihill said: "That's what rugby means to him."

He added: "Tom wasn't at the pre-match meeting and he wasn't on the bus travelling down.

"He arrived here [at the Liberty Stadium] at six o'clock. He was an usher at his brother's wedding in the afternoon, came and played his game and went straight back there.

"He didn't want to miss this game or the wedding.

"It was a fantastic effort. That's what this club means to him. He is a real competitor who wants to play every minute in every match, and he's played some good ones for us here."

Glasgow Warriors edged out Pro14 rivals Edinburgh 20-16 in the opening match of the 1872 Cup thanks to a late try from George Turner.

A full-blooded encounter at Scotstoun – in which five yellows were shown – was settled when Turner went over with five minutes remaining.

Turner's try capped off a frantic flurry of action, with Ali Price having gone in under the sticks before Blair Kinghorn put Edinburgh 16-13 up.

But having already been reduced to 14 men for the third time when Nic Groom was sent to the sin-bin prior to Turner's try, Edinburgh could not mount a late comeback.

Elsewhere, Munster retained top spot in Conference B thanks to a 19-14 win over second-place Connacht.

JJ Hanrahan was the key man for Munster, kicking 14 points, with Jack O'Donoghue scoring what proved to be the decisive try.

There was late drama as the Ospreys hosted Cardiff Blues, as Jason Tovey's penalty secured a 19-16 win for the visitors, who had three players sent to the sin-bin.

A last-gasp drop goal from Sam Davies gave Dragons a slender 22-20 victory over Scarlets, while Benetton defeated fellow Italian side Zebre 13-8.

Bordeaux Begles will have the chance to move into first place in Top 14 after leaders Lyon slipped up at Castres, while Handre Pollard had a difficult debut for Montpellier.

Lyon suffered their second successive league defeat as they went down 29-12 on Saturday, meaning Bordeaux will be top should they overcome La Rochelle on Sunday.

Depleted to 14 men twice in the first half, Lyon were 12-3 down by the interval, with Castres – who had two men sent to the sin-bin themselves after the break – scoring tries from Geoffrey Palis and Thomas Combezou before running in another two in the second half, Rory Kockott and Jody Jenneker touching down, to wrap up the points.

Montpellier failed to close the gap on the top two, as they were edged out 29-25 by Racing 92.

It was a frustrating day for debutant Pollard, who played a pivotal role in South Africa's Rugby World Cup triumph but has been sidelined with a facial injury, as the fly-half missed two penalties and a conversion.

Toulouse took advantage of Montpellier's defeat by beating struggling Agen 13-8 to move into third place with what was a third straight win.

Elsewhere, Brive and Bayonne shared the points in a 6-6 draw in Saturday's other fixture.

Saracens made it five Premiership victories on the bounce as they shrugged off conceding an early try to defeat Bristol Bears 47-13.

The defending champions – who still sit bottom thanks to their 35-point deduction for breaching salary cap rules – fell behind to Luke Morahan's ninth-minute try on Saturday.

But Saracens responded quickly through Mako Vunipola and swiftly wrested control thanks to Max Malins' try.

Malins helped himself to another after the restart, with Nick Tompkins also at the double as the home side went over five times in the second half.

However, Sarries are still 17 points behind Leicester Tigers, whose second-half capitulation at Welford Road enabled Exeter Chiefs to go top.

Exeter were 22-14 down at half-time, yet rallied after the interval to score 17 unanswered points and capitalise on Northampton Saints' 22-10 defeat at Sale Sharks.

Chris Ashton, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Akker van der Merwe went over for Sale as the Sharks moved into the top four.

Meanwhile, Wasps suffered a third successive Premiership loss as they went down 28-22 at home to Harlequins, who held on for a bonus-point win despite having Joe Marler sin-binned late on.

Wasps took the lead at the Ricoh Arena, though Harlequins dominated for 40 minutes up to the hour mark, running in four tries without reply.

Thomas Young's effort eventually pulled the hosts back into contention, but the TMO denied them a late try and they were left with a losing bonus point as consolation.

Liam Williams has seemingly confirmed reports he has agreed to leave Saracens and rejoin Scarlets at the end of the season.

Wales full-back Williams – who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the Rugby World Cup – joined Saracens in 2017.

The 28-year-old's contract is due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 campaign and reports on Friday claimed he was set to move back to Scarlets.

Though the impending switch has not been officially confirmed, Williams replied to a tweet questioning why he had opted to rejoin his former side and leave the reigning Premiership and European champions.

He wrote: "Because home is home."

Williams would be the first high-profile departure from Saracens since they were fined £5.36million and deducted 35 points for breaching salary cap rules.

Wales centre Owen Watkin is set to miss part of the Six Nations at least after undergoing surgery on a torn knee cartilage.

Watkin, who featured in six of his country's seven games at the recent Rugby World Cup, was hurt in the Ospreys' home Champions Cup defeat to Racing 92 on December 7.

In a statement on Saturday, his club confirmed he is set to be out of action for up to eight weeks.

As such, he is on course to miss Wales' opening Six Nations fixtures against Italy and Ireland, on February 1 and 8 respectively, while he may also struggle to be ready for the clash with France on February 22.

The Ospreys also provided an update on Gareth Anscombe, who missed the World Cup after suffering a serious knee injury in a warm-up match against England in August.

"Gareth has undergone a second procedure to his right knee this week," read a statement.

"As a result of Gareth's progress plateauing in the last month, and in conjunction with Gareth and his specialist, it was decided that a secondary minor procedure would be in his best interest, with the aim to allow him to progress and accelerate his rehabilitation in the new year.

"Surgery went well and at this stage we're ruling nothing out with regard to a possible return towards the end of the season.

"However, we'll be in a better position to clarify a realistic prognosis in the new year when he goes back to see the specialist."

Gloucester accelerated away from Worcester Warriors in a dominant final 20 minutes to end their losing run in the Premiership with a 36-3 success.

Hosts Gloucester had been beaten in each of their prior three league matches, winning just once in seven in all competitions coming into Friday's clash.

And this encounter was tense for an hour, with a penalty apiece from Danny Cipriani and Duncan Weir the only scores.

But Gloucester's pressure finally told as Ruan Ackermann crossed, kickstarting a stunning spell.

The home side ended with five tries, as Chris Harris' crucial second was followed by a Louis Rees-Zammit brace that sandwiched Ben Morgan's score.

Leinster crossed eight times, with Max Deegan and Scott Penny each grabbing a pair of tries, to rout provincial rivals Ulster 54-42 on Friday.

The top two in Pro14's Conference A went head-to-head, but it was scarcely a contest as the leaders eased to an eighth win in eight despite accommodating a late Ulster flurry.

There were five Leinster tries before half-time, with Deegan opening the scoring inside three minutes following a TMO check.

Angus Kernohan hit back, but Penny had two scores in quick succession - either side of Matt Faddes' yellow card - as the hosts pulled clear, soon going over once more through Robbie Henshaw to swiftly clinch the bonus point.

Although Faddes boosted Ulster hopes, a 10-minute spell either side of the interval settled the contest, with Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney and the jet-heeled Cian Kelleher each marking the scoresheet.

It was largely one-way traffic from that point, with Ulster belatedly allowed to take control, although Deegan's 63rd-minute try ensured there was ample breathing space for Leinster.

A score from Craig Gilroy, two by Greg Jones and another courtesy of Jonny Stewart, along with Josh Murphy's departure to the sin bin, at least saved some face for the beaten visitors.

Leeds Rhinos great Rob Burrow said he was inspired by former rugby union star Doddie Weir to raise awareness for motor neurone disease (MND).

Burrow, who won the Super League eight times with Leeds, announced on Thursday he had been diagnosed with MND.

Ex-Scotland union international Weir confirmed his own diagnosis in June 2017 and has since sought to raise awareness for the disease.

Weir received BBC Sport's Helen Rollason Award "for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity" last week, and he has already made contact with Burrow.

"I saw Doddie get the award on Sunday night and watched his documentary on Monday - it was inspiring before even meeting him," Burrow said.

"In fact, if I hadn't have met him, I was still inspired enough to kick on.

"Me talking to Doddie was amazing, so if I could do that in a year's time for somebody that's just started, that's great. Awareness is massive - in 10 years' time, they might heal somebody and find a cure, so I'm keen to help."

He added on Weir: "His mindset is unbelievable. He said the best medicine or medication is positive thinking."

Weir wrote on Twitter: "I met with @Rob7Burrow last night and offered him whatever help and support he might need at what is a difficult time for him.

"Meeting another sportsman suffering from MND has strengthened my resolve to help find a solution to this condition."

Premiership Rugby could overhaul its salary cap rules after launching a "comprehensive review" in the wake of English champions Saracens committing a costly breach.

Saracens, who are also holders of the European Champions Cup, were handed a 35-point deduction and a £5.36million fine by league chiefs at the start of November.

It was deemed they had failed to disclose payments and exceeded the limit for salaries to players in each of the previous three seasons.

Premiership Rugby said on Thursday it was talking to Saracens about "additional measures" to allow the club to comply with its rules this season.

The investigation that resulted in the club's heavy punishment was launched after it was revealed high-profile Saracens players had entered into investment or property partnerships with owner Nigel Wray, who denied willingly breaching regulations.

Determined to avoid any further similar instance, Premiership Rugby said former Government minister Lord Myners would head up a review "to ensure a continued level playing field for all clubs in the future".

The credibility of Saracens' recent titles has been called into question by rival clubs after their breach came to light, but they have not been stripped of any honours.

Announcing its review, Premiership Rugby said in a statement it wanted its salary cap to be "a world-leading system with extensive investigatory powers and appropriately robust sanctions", saying all Premiership clubs and stakeholders in the game will be able to have a say.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs said: "The success of Premiership Rugby is based on a group of fiercely competitive clubs who agree to play by the same set of rules on and off the pitch.

"The salary cap has been fundamental to promoting competition since its introduction and, while we continue to apply the existing regulations robustly, this review is designed to ensure that we have a world-leading framework in place for the future."

The league authority intends to have recommendations in place by midway through 2020 and for the new rules to be established in time for the start of the 2020-21 Premiership season.

Record-breaking former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has ended his international career at the age of 34.

Laidlaw has skippered Scotland more times than any other player, leading his country out in 39 of his 76 appearances.

The Clermont Auvergne fly-half is also the second-highest all-time points scorer for Scotland with a tally of 714.

Laidlaw on Thursday announced that a defeat to hosts Japan in the Rugby World Cup in October will be his last Test.

"Emotionally, this decision was incredibly tough. However, when I reflected on what I have learned from playing Test-level rugby and where Scotland is as a national team, it makes sense," Laidlaw.

"Captaining your country to victory is the stuff of childhood dreams. To say I will never again stand in the tunnel, filled with nerves, alongside my rugby family and lead my team-mates out on to the pitch at Murrayfield, is incredibly hard.

"While my body and heart could continue playing, my head tells me that it's time to let the team rebuild. In terms of where Scotland is now, they are in a position to spring forward and I cannot wait to give them my full support from the stands.

"To the Scotland coaches and backroom staff over the years who dedicate hours behind the scenes to prepare the team collectively and as individuals, I thank you.

"To the people who have helped me achieve my dreams: my team-mates, my parents, sister, family, close friends and my incredible wife, Rachel, and our sons, I will be forever thankful for all the support you have shown me over the years; you have stuck by me through thick and thin.

"I'd also like to thank Scottish Rugby and the staff behind the scenes who have both supported me as captain and a player and enabled the team to perform in front of capacity crowds.

"And finally, a massive thanks to the Scotland supporters both in Scotland and abroad for sharing the rollercoaster ride of international rugby with me.

"Your support was always appreciated, from messages on social media to being at the stadium, or just stopping to chat on the street. I look forward to supporting the team alongside you all at Murrayfield soon."

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has added Hurricanes boss John Plumtree and former All Black Greg Feek to his coaching team.

Hurricanes head coach Plumtree, who will work with the forwards, and ex-Ireland scrum coach Feek have signed two-year deals in a new era for the three-time world champions.

Scott McLeod will stay on as defence coach, with Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar expected to complete the coaching team.

Grant Fox will remain a selector for the 2020 season along with Foster and Plumtree.

"I'm delighted to confirm three of the four other coaches who'll make up our coaching team," said Foster, who was promoted to replace Steve Hansen this month.

"They're all outstanding coaches in their own right, and we'll have new voices and fresh ideas in the All Blacks, which will be really stimulating for everyone, and help us grow as we enter a new era."

Incoming New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said: "When Ian was appointed to the head coach job, we were all impressed by the collective strength of the team that he'd assembled.

"It's a combination of youth and experience, with both international and New Zealand experience, and they'll bring new ideas to the playing group, which is exciting for the future."

Rugby World Cup winner Tendai Mtawarira has joined Old Glory DC after ending his South Africa career.

The 34-year-old prop, nicknamed 'the Beast', retired from international rugby after the Springboks' triumph in Japan last month.

Mtawarira, whose tally of 117 caps is a record for a South African forward, has spent his entire club career with the Sharks but will play in Major League Rugby (MLR) next year.

"I really want to thank the whole Old Glory organisation for making this happen," said Mtawarira. 

"I can't wait to make an impact on and off the field and help to contribute to making Old Glory the best team in this league."

United States head coach Gary Gold said: "The news today that Tendai 'the Beast' Mtawariri has signed to play his rugby at Old Glory in Washington is an incredibly strong message that the MLR competition is now a league that top players are starting to take seriously.

"To have a player of Tendai's ability, and in his current form, as we saw in the recent RWC final, is a testament to the work that has been put in over recent years to form a sustainable competitive competition in the USA, that can attract players of the quality of Tendai.

"I know Beastie well and I know what incredible value he will bring to the Old Glory team and the MLR."

Old Glory owner Paul Sheehy says the acquisition of Mtawarira is a major fillip for the league.

"Tendai recently won the Rugby World Cup and has represented South Africa 117 times," he said.

"To have a player of his stature decide to play for Old Glory in the nation's capital is validation of all we have been working on. We are honoured to have him join our team. This is a game-changer for Major League Rugby."

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