Wales international James Davies will miss the rest of the season after Scarlets confirmed he is to undergo surgery on a hip injury.

The flanker has not played since he featured for his country in the bronze medal match at the Rugby World Cup in November.

It has now been confirmed Davies, who has not yet returned to full training, will require surgery to fix the ongoing issue.

Davies, who has made eight Test appearances for his country, will subsequently miss the rest of the 2019-20 campaign.

A Scarlets spokesperson said: "Unfortunately, James continues to struggle with a hip injury that has prevented his full return to training.

"A decision for surgical intervention to facilitate his recovery has been made. It is hoped that this will allow James to begin the 2020-21 season fit and healthy."

Amid the outbreak of coronavirus, the Pro14 season was suspended on Thursday until further notice.

Benetton Treviso made the most of their chance to return to Pro14 action as they ran out 37-25 winners against the Dragons.

Last weekend's home game against Ulster was postponed when the Treviso side were prevented from playing in Italy due to concerns over the coronavirus.

For Friday's match in Newport, Benetton provided assurances to competition organisers that no members of their squad or travelling party had shown any COVID-19 symptoms, had knowingly been in contact with any carriers, or had recently spent time in the parts of northern Italy which have been locked down to avoid the spread of the virus.

On a Rodney Parade pitch that cut up badly, Benetton were the superior side and surged 14-0 ahead after just 14 minutes through tries from full-back Luca Sperandio, a dazzling score from a lightning move, and hooker Tomas Baravalle.

Both were converted by Ian Keatley, who was later named man of the match for a 17-point performance, before a pair of Jacob Botica penalties gave the home side a foothold.

A Keatley penalty nudged Benetton 17-6 ahead but a Rhodri Williams try, with Botica adding the extras, came just before the break and gave hope to the Dragons.

Angelo Esposito put Benetton back in charge when dotting down just a minute into the second half, with Keating converting and adding a pair of three-pointers off the tee to put the Italians firmly in control.

Will Talbot-Davies trimmed the deficit, Arwel Robson this time adding the conversion, as the Dragons got back to 30-20 adrift with 10 minutes remaining.

However, Epalahame Faiva went over for Benetton to make sure of the win, with Elliot Dee's late response for the hosts a small consolation.

The match was a rearranged fixture, having been postponed last month due to safety fears as Storm Dennis swept through Wales.

Connacht boosted their Pro14 play-off bid with a 29-19 win over the Southern Kings despite Peter Robb's early red card at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday.

The Irish province were emphatically beaten by Edinburgh last time out, but tries from Colby Fainga'a and Tiernan O'Halloran inside the opening six minutes put them in command in Port Elizabeth.

Bottom of Conference B with just one win to their name, the Kings were given real hope when Robb was dismissed for striking Howard Mnisi with a forearm when seemingly attempted to fend him off soon after replacing the injured Matt Healy.

There was only 16 minutes gone when the centre was given his marching orders, but Connacht were not to be denied victory, Jack Carty claiming a 12-point haul - including a try - as they moved just two points behind the Scarlets.

Erich Cronje's double was not enough to inflict a shock defeat on Connacht, who face the Scarlets in a crunch clash at the Sportsground on Friday.

Gavin Coombes scored two tries in the last nine minutes as Munster made their numerical advantage count in a 29-10 home win over Scarlets in Pro14.

Sam Lousi was sent off in the first half and the Welsh side were down to 13 men by the time Coombes scored his late double after Tevita Ratuva was sent to the sin-bin.

Scarlets were still within a try before forward Coombes ensured Munster opened up an eight-point advantage over their opponents in the Conference B table.

Second-placed Munster are within two of leaders Edinburgh after their fourth straight win across all competitions.

It was a performance that only got going after Lousi saw red six minutes before the interval for aiming two punches at Fineen Wycherley.

Amid difficult conditions at Thomond Park, Jack O'Sullivan scored the game's first try a minute after the dismissal to give his side a 10-3 half-time lead.

Javan Sebastian kept Scarlets in it when he responded to Munster's second try, which was scored by skipper Billy Holland, but Ratuva's exit ended any hopes of a comeback as Coombes crossed twice to earn Munster a bonus point.

In Saturday's other game, Dragons came back from 10 points down to earn a 13-10 triumph over Cheetahs.

Sam Davies scored the winning penalty five minutes after the allocated 80 were up after Jared Rosser had crossed to give the home side hope.

The visiting Cheetahs earlier raced into a double-figure lead inside 18 minutes after Junior Pokomela's converted try was followed up by a Tian Schoeman penalty.

But Cheetahs were pegged back by Dragons and then took a risk that did not pay off when they kicked for the corner rather than at goal with a penalty as the match was level at 10-10 late on.

Defeat meant the South African side missed the chance to move above Glasgow Warriors into third in Conference A.

Leinster ran in nine tries as they thrashed Glasgow Warriors 55-19 on Friday to stretch their winning Pro14 run to 13 games.

Ryan Baird and Dave Kearney both scored hat-tricks as Leo Cullen's runaway Conference A leaders cut loose at the RDS, putting the Warriors to the sword.

Reigning champions Leinster wrapped up the bonus point by half-time as the repeat of the 2019 final proved to be lopsided, putting the victors 20 points clear of nearest rivals Ulster in the standings.

Glasgow, who grabbed tries through Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn and Alex Allan, remain third.

In Conference B, table-topping Edinburgh won in contrasting fashion, battling their way to a 14-6 triumph over Cardiff Blues.

George Taylor scored the only try of the contest in the first half, charging down a clearance as he created the opportunity for himself.

Simon Hickey kicked the conversion and also slotted over two penalties, with Cardiff's only points coming from the boot of Jason Tovey.

Ireland prop Cian Healy will play no further part in the Six Nations due to a hip injury.

The Leinster stalwart was withdrawn after suffering the blow during a 24-12 defeat to England at Twickenham on Sunday

Healy has been ruled out of the clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on March 7 and will not face leaders France in Paris on the final day of the tournament.

Pro14 champions Leinster will be hoping the 32-year-old is available for a European Champions Cup quarter-final against holders Saracens in Dublin on April 4.

Healy will have to wait to bring up a century of caps, with his appearance against England taking him to 98.

Will Connors, Max Deegan, Chris Farrell, David Kearney, Luke McGrath and Jack O'Donoghue were on Tuesday released from international duty to play for their provinces this weekend.

Defeat to the Rugby World Cup runners-up last weekend ended Ireland's hopes of winning a Grand Slam and leaves them level with England, four points adrift of leaders France.

 

Booth lands Ospreys job

February 25, 2020

Toby Booth will take over as head coach of the Ospreys at the end of the season.

Booth was appointed assistant to Harlequins boss Paul Gustard last November and will remain with the Premiership club until the conclusion of the current campaign.

The former London Irish director of rugby will then start work with Pro14 outfit the Ospreys, who have been without a permanent head coach since Allen Clarke's departure late last year, with Matt Sherratt and Carl Hogg in temporary charge.

Booth said: "When the opportunity was presented to join such an iconic Welsh team, based in an area that has a deep passion for the game, it made it an extremely attractive proposition.

"The Ospreys is a side full of rich talent and international experience. It is an ambitious group and has good potential to improve.  

"Having developed players throughout my career, I look forward to adding value to this squad of players and developing their performances on the pitch.

"This rich rugby region has always produced young talent. The ability to help players reach their potential was a contributing factor in wanting this role.  

"A team that has high numbers of home-grown talent is exciting for coaches and supporters. It helps achieve greater levels of consistency in effort as they are emotionally connected to the team."

Booth will be charged with turning around the fortunes of a side that are bottom of Conference A with just two Pro14 wins this season.

Liam Williams has left Saracens to join the Scarlets with immediate effect and his Wales team-mate Rhys Webb has signed for Bath for the rest of the season.

It was announced in December that British and Irish Lions full-back Williams will return to his homeland for a second spell with the Scarlets at the end of the current campaign.

Williams, who has not played since the Rugby World Cup due to an ankle injury, has been cleared to leave the European and Premiership champions earlier than initially planned, bringing to an end a hugely successful spell in London.

The 28-year-old won two Premiership titles and the European Champions Cup during his two-and-a-half year stay with Sarries, who will play in the Championship next year due to salary-cap breaches.

Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar said: "Liam is a world-class player and man, a huge favourite at Parc y Scarlets and we are thrilled to welcome Liam and Sophie back to the Scarlets.

"To have Liam joining our exciting group of outside backs this season is superb. I’m also thrilled for Liam that his rehab is almost complete. 

"Obviously, his immediate availability for us will depend on how Wayne wants to play it during the Six Nations and we look forward to seeing Liam back at Parc y Scarlets in due course."

Webb will spend the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign with Premiership side Bath ahead of a move to Ospreys.

The scrum-half was granted an early release from his Toulon contract at the end of last year and agreed to rejoin Ospreys on a two-year deal.

Webb, who made his Wales comeback in the Six Nations defeat of Italy this month, could make his debut in the derby against Bristol Bears on March 1.

 

Zebre and Benetton Treviso have each had their Pro14 fixtures for this weekend postponed due to the threat posed by the coronavirus.

Parma-based club Zebre were due to face Ospreys while Treviso were set to host Ulster.

However, both fixtures will now have to be rearranged, with restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, known officially as Covid-19, forcing the games to be called off.

There have been 209 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy, with the death toll officially rising to five on Monday.

A Pro14 statement read: "Both Guinness PRO14 fixtures set to take place in Italy this weekend have been postponed due to the restrictions enforced by national and local authorities dealing with the threat posed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

"The current restrictions are in place until Sunday, March 1, 2020 and PRO14 Rugby will remain in contact with the FIR [Italian Union], Zebre Rugby Club, Benetton Rugby and World Rugby to monitor situation on a daily basis."

Four Serie A football matches were postponed on Sunday, including Inter's clash with Sampdoria.

Saturday's scheduled Serie B match between Ascoli and Cremonese was postponed and up to 88 amateur football games were also called off.

Scarlets turned on the style in the final half hour to avoid an upset against Southern Kings, while Cardiff Blues fought back to defeat Benetton Treviso 34-24 in Pro14 on Sunday.

After being edged out by Edinburgh last time out, Scarlets found themselves trailing 17-12 to a Kings side with just one win to their name this season.

However, Ryan Conbeer converted his own try in the 51st minute and further scores from Uzair Cassiem, Dan Jones and Tom Rogers – on his first Pro14 home start – earned a 36-17 win at Parc y Scarlets.

The Blues were in a perilous position at half-time as tries from Ian Keatley, Irne Herbst and Toa Halafihi helped Treviso into a 19-7 lead – Jason Harries' providing the sole reply from Cardiff.

Garyn Smith and Ryan Edwards tries – the second of which was converted – levelled things up and, although Halafihi's second briefly put Treviso back ahead, Seb Davies and Lewis Jones crossed and Jason Tovey kicked five more points to seal the points for the Blues.

Ulster and Glasgow Warriors both claimed victories on Saturday to keep themselves in pole position for a place in the Pro14 play-off quarter-finals.

Second in Conference A, Ulster bounced back from an away defeat at Ospreys last time out as they ran out 20-10 winners over Cheetahs.

Tries from Tom O'Toole and Robert Baloucoune proved enough for Ulster to claim their eighth win of the season and maintain their unbeaten run at home in all competitions this campaign.

Clayton Blommetjies drove over for Cheetahs with 15 minutes remaining, but the visitors did not have enough to set up a grandstand finish.

Glasgow, meanwhile, moved up to third in Conference A with a 30-19 comeback victory over Dragons, who took the lead through a Rhodri Williams try in the first minute.

The Warriors swiftly hit back via Tim Swinson and Grant Stewart to take a 10-point lead into the break.

Williams got his second for Dragons while Stewart doubled his tally for the home side and Huw Jones secured the bonus point after being dropped by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

Ashton Hewitt's try brought Dragons back into contention but Mesu Dolokoto's late score made sure of a third straight win for Glasgow.

Leinster set a new Pro14 record as they claimed a 12th straight win to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season by beating Ospreys 21-13.

The Conference A leaders and defending champions were made to work for their win, with Cian Kelleher's 75th-minute try eventually settling the contest.

Tommy O'Brien gave Leinster the lead 18 minutes in, yet Ospreys fought back through Luke Price's kicking and Luke Morgan's try.

But after Price had managed to claw the hosts back to within touching distance following Josh Murphy's try for Leinster, Sam Parry's yellow card handed the visitors the initiative, with Kelleher duly wrapping up the win.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh retained their place at the top of Conference B as they claimed a comfortable bonus-point win over Connacht.

Having been 20 points behind by the 33rd minute, visiting Connacht reduced the deficit when Tiernan O'Halloran went over either side of half-time.

Yet Edinburgh rallied – Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe putting them in control before a penalty try handed them a bonus point.

The victory keeps them three points clear of Munster, who hammered 14-man Zebre 28-0 in Italy.

Luke Price booted the Ospreys to a stunning 26-24 victory over Ulster and Leinster maintained their 100 per cent Pro14 record by defeating the Cheetahs on Saturday.

The Ospreys had only one Pro14 victory to their name in the competition against Benetton Treviso back in October, but doubled their tally with a shock success as Storm Dennis battered Swansea.

Ulster, second in Conference A behind Leinster, came from 23-10 down to take a one-point lead courtesy of tries from Matt Faddes and Stuart McCloskey, Bill Johnston converting both scores in the space of nine minutes.

Scott Otten had scored a try in each half for the home side after Owen Watkin's five-pointer, but they looked set for more agony until Price split the posts with his third penalty of the match five minutes from time to lift the gloom.

The Leinster juggernaut rolled on at the RDS Arena, where Will Connors grabbed a double and there were also tries for Michael Bent, Ronan Kelleher and Rhys Ruddock in a commanding 36-12 victory.

Luan de Bruin and Aidon Davis crossed for the Cheetahs, third in Conference A, but they were soundly beaten by the defending champions.

Edinburgh completed a double over the Scarlets with a 14-9 win in Llanelli to return to the summit of Conference B, Duhan van der Merwe and Matt Scott scoring the only tries.

Connacht thumped Cardiff Blues 29-0, while the encounter between the Dragons and Treviso, due to be played at Rodney Parade, was called off due to the extreme weather conditions. 

Arno Botha scored a hat-trick as Munster recorded their biggest Pro14 win with a 68-3 hammering of sorry Southern Kings on Friday.

The Irish province crossed for a team-record 10 tries against the South African side, powerhouse forward Botha touching down twice in the first half either side of a Calvin Nash score at Thomond Park.

Jack O'Donoghue also dotted down before half-time and John Hodnett registered a debut try shortly after the restart, while Neil Cronin, Shane Daly and Dan Goggin all went over.

Arno had his hat-trick with five minutes remaining and Daly scored a second as Munster moved top of Conference B.

Glasgow Warriors were also emphatic as they battered Zebre 56-24 in a high-scoring affair at Scotstoun.

George Horne and Mesu Dolokoto each scored twice as the Warriors ran in seven tries.

The Scarlets have announced Glenn Delaney will take over from the departing Brad Mooar as head coach.

Delaney already works for the Pro14 club, serving as defence coach since his arrival from Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders last May.

However, the New Zealander – who previously had a spell in charge at London Irish - will be promoted to the top job once the 2019-20 season has come to a conclusion.

Mooar only joined last year to replace current Wales boss Wayne Pivac at Parc y Scarlets but is leaving the region to take up a role on the All Blacks' coaching staff.

"Since the news was confirmed that Brad was linking up with the All Blacks we have had a huge amount of interest in the post from all over the world," Jon Daniels, general manager of rugby, said.

"The head coach at the Scarlets is a sought-after position, with Brad and previously Wayne (Pivac) having progressed to the international stage.

"We have built a strong reputation based on the stability of our environment and the quality of players we have here.

"We have done our due diligence on all the candidates and it was Glenn who came through as the man to continue this journey we have started with Brad."

The Scarlets sit second in Conference B after 10 rounds of the Pro14 campaign, while they have also qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

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