Former Wales centre Jamie Roberts has returned to his homeland to join the Dragons.

The 33-year-old, capped 94 times by his country, is back on home soil after a short spell with South African side the Stormers.

Roberts, who toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and 2013, has not played for a Welsh club since leaving Cardiff Blues to join Racing 92 seven years ago.

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan said: "It's great news that we are bringing someone of Jamie's quality to the region and we know he will make an immediate impact for us.

"He remains an ambitious and driven player and is looking forward to coming into our environment.

"To have his experience on the pitch will be a great addition to us, and he will also be an excellent mentor for the younger players in our squad."

The Dragons are set to resume the Pro14 season against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on August 23 after over five months on the sidelines due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Blues remain in the hunt for the Super Rugby Aotearoa title after claiming a hard-fought 32-21 victory over the Highlanders.

Sunday's bonus-point win at Forsyth-Barr Stadium moved the Blues to 22 points, just two points adrift of Super Rugby leaders the Crusaders with two rounds remaining.

The Blues produced a physically dominant performance to claim the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy for the first time since 2011 – a trophy awarded in memory of former Blues and Highlanders head coach Gordon Hunter who passed away from cancer in 2002.

Finlay Christie was a key contributor, scoring a try in each half to inspire the Blues away to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Blues raced to a 12-0 lead courtesy of tries from Akira Ioane and Christie before the Highlanders responded via Josh Ioane's penalty and an Ash Dixon try to cut the deficit to two points.

The Highlanders moved 13-12 ahead following a controversial review, which saw Blues prop Karl Tu'inukuafe's try overturned, instead penalised for being offside.

But the Highlanders' lead was short-lived as TJ Faiane scored straight after the restart to make it 17-13 in favour of the Blues, who proceeded to claim a 24-16 half-time advantage via Ioane's penalty and Ofa Tuungafasi's try.

Christie added his second try of the match just three minutes into the second half before Beauden Barrett's penalty gave the visiting Blues a 32-16 cushion.

The Highlanders rallied and saw Shannon Frizell cross over with four minutes remaining but that is as good as it got.

Mack Hansen kicked a late, late penalty as the Brumbies maintained their unbeaten Super Rugby AU record with a last-gasp 22-20 win over the Reds.

Substitute Hansen was the home team's hero as he slotted over the game-winning kick on the final play of the game, punishing their opponents following an infringement at the breakdown.

The visiting Reds had looked set for victory after overturning a 14-3 half-time deficit thanks to a blistering 10-minute spell that saw them score 17 points.

Harry Wilson and Angus Scott-Young crossed for tries that were converted by James O'Connor, who also added a 50th-minute penalty to extend his team's advantage.

However, the Brumbies - who saw Folau Fainga'a touch down twice in the first half - closed the gap when Connal McInerney scored out wide in the 75th minute of a see-saw battle.

Hansen missed the conversion but was on target when presented with another opportunity after the final hooter, his long-range three-pointer completing the comeback.

The Crusaders closed on the Super Rugby Aotearoa title with a 32-19 victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

In bouncing back from their 34-32 loss to the Hurricanes last time out, the Crusaders moved seven points clear of the Blues in the table with just two games to go.

Early tries from Tom Sanders and Will Jordan set the 10-time Super Rugby champions on their way and though the boot of Damian McKenzie, who converted four penalties, kept the Chiefs in the hunt, Lachlan Boshier provided their only five-pointer.

Codie Taylor, Sevu Reece and Leicester Fainga'anuku also went over for the Crusaders as Sam Whitelock had extra cause for celebration on his 150th appearance for the franchise.

In contrast, Aaron Cruden's 100th outing for the Chiefs was one to forget as they fell to an eighth straight loss.

A try in Super Time from Isi Naisarani secured a 25-20 win for the Rebels over Western Force in Sydney on Friday.

A closely contested Super Rugby AU encounter was level at 20-20 after 80 minutes, having been deadlocked at 10-10 at the interval.

A Jono Lance penalty put the Force ahead and Fergus Lee-Warner scored the opening try shortly after Naisarani was given a yellow card.

The Rebels responded strongly, Jordan Uelese crossing after fine build-up, and a Reece Hodge penalty levelled the scores before half-time.

They were ahead in the second half through Matt Toomua's penalty after Jeremy Thrush was sin-binned, but Byron Ralston went over after excellent work from Lance and Jack McGregor.

Matt Philip responded with a try and Toomua converted, but a Lance kick ensured the scores would stay level until the whistle.

It was Naisarani who proved the matchwinner in the extra period, driving over after the Rebels had built some pressure when Thrush failed to gather the kick-off.

The Rebels are four points behind the Brumbies at the top of the Australian section, with the Force rooted to the bottom with four defeats from four.

Kobe Steelers have confirmed the signings of former New Zealand duo Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden.

Smith and Cruden are set to ply their trade in Japan whenever the season starts, with no date for a return to action confirmed after the previous campaign was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

World Cup winners Smith and Cruden both returned to their homeland following spells in France.

First five-eighth Cruden, 31, rejoined the Chiefs for the Super Rugby Aotearoa season after leaving Montpellier and will be on the move again.

The playmaker, who will making his 100th Chiefs appearance against the Crusaders on Saturday, had been expected to join the Steelers after his short stint with Warren Gatland's side.

He will be joined by versatile back Smith, who ended his stay with Pau after the Top 14 season was halted.

The 34-year-old ruled out rejoining the Highlanders following his return to New Zealand and will head overseas again.

Brodie Retallick is another All Black who linked up with the Steelers last year and the great Dan Carter also played for the club.

Australia lock Rob Simmons will leave the Waratahs at the end of the Super Rugby AU season and is set to join London Irish.

Simmons has won 100 caps for the Wallabies, but it remains to be seen if he has played his last Test after sealing a move to England.

The loss of the 31-year-old captain is a big blow for the Waratahs, where he arrived in 2018 following nine seasons with the Reds.

Simmons will join compatriots Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Adam Coleman at ambitious Premiership club the Exiles.

He said: "It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas.

"Timing with situations like this can't always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.

"I've loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it's a wonderful organisation and it's been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.

"My team-mates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there's a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar."

The Six Nations will be completed in October and the Rugby Championship will run from November into December, World Rugby has announced.

The coronavirus pandemic saw the Six Nations men's and women's tournaments suspended in March – with four and six matches respectively still to be played.

England lead the men's table on 13 points, ahead of France, with each side in the competition having one game left to play apart from Ireland and Italy, who will face each other on October 24.

The final round of fixtures will take place on October 31, with Wales due to host Scotland, England set to travel to Italy and Ireland facing France.

The autumn internationals are expected to be replaced by an eight-team tournament, with Japan and Fiji reportedly joining the Six Nations sides.

In the southern hemisphere, the Rugby Championship – contested between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina – will be played from November 7 to December 12.

The four-team tournament is set to be staged in New Zealand.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in its impact on society and sport and throughout this process, all parties have sought to deliver the best-possible outcome to support the interests of international and club rugby and the players.

"These matches will be greatly anticipated by all, and I would like to thank unions, the international and club competitions and players for their input and the fans for their patience as we have sought to get international rugby back up and running."

Seven Highlanders players will be sanctioned by the club for antisocial behaviour during a party at an apartment in Queenstown over the weekend. 

Members of the Highlanders squad took advantage of a Super Rugby Aotearoa bye week by booking a weekend at the Glebe Apartments. 

There were multiple complaints about the noise coming from the property, where a small group of people who the players had met earlier on Friday evening were also present. 

Police were called and a man was arrested before being charged with wilful damage and disorderly behaviour. 

The Highlanders on Monday released a statement confirming no players are facing police action, while the club has apologised to the general manager of Glebe Apartments. 

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said: "From our investigation, we can confirm that no damage at the apartments was caused by any Highlanders player. We can also confirm that no Highlanders player is facing any action from the police. 

"Having said that, we're extremely disappointed that some of our players' antisocial behaviour forced guests to endure a disturbed night. As a club we apologise unreservedly to those guests involved. 

"For the Glebe management and police to be called demonstrates a clear lack of respect for others and this is well below the standards we expect from our players whether assembled as a team or enjoying downtime together. 

"Our messaging to the players is very clear: you are always a Highlander and as such we expect good behaviour at all times. 

"Now that the matter has been investigated the players involved will be sanctioned by the club and the entire team will be reminded of their responsibilities around behaviour." 

 

Former New Zealand wing Julian Savea has rejoined the Hurricanes for their Super Rugby Aotearoa run-in. 

Savea has returned to his homeland after two years with Top 14 heavyweights Toulon. 

The 2015 Rugby World Cup winner spoke of his desire to play for the Hurricanes again following his spell in France, though also revealed a code switch to the NRL was a possibility. 

Savea has got his wish for a reunion, though, with the Hurricanes confirming the signing of the 29-year-old on Monday. 

The arrival of Savea comes after Ben Lam left the Wellington franchise to join Bordeaux-Begles on a two-year contract. 

Savea, who scored 46 tries in 54 games for the All Blacks, spent seven years with the Hurricanes before moving to Toulon after a Super Rugby semi-final defeat to the Crusaders in 2018. 

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland thinks a clash with the Chiefs on August 8 may come too soon for his new recruit. 

Holland said: "He's been working pretty hard by the sounds of it. He's played 100 games for the Hurricanes and he's a big part of what’s happened here in the past. 

"We are looking forward to the experience he can bring in for two weeks. He'll help the boys along and compete in that outside back spot." 

The Blues kept their Super Rugby Aotearoa title hopes alive after repelling the struggling Chiefs for a much-needed 21-17 victory on Sunday.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett impressed in his first start at five-eighth as the Blues withstood a Chiefs challenge to emerge triumphant in Auckland.

Following back-to-back defeats, the Blues returned to winning ways in front of more than 33,000 fans at Eden Park – the Auckland team now only two points adrift of leaders the Crusaders after six games.

The Chiefs fell to a franchise record seventh consecutive loss after almost snatching a last-gasp victory away to the Blues, who prevailed thanks to some desperate defending and a relieving penalty.

It was a bruising encounter after tries from Matt Duffie and captain Patrick Tuipulotu helped the Blues to a 14-0 lead inside 15 minutes.

The Chiefs responded by dominating the remainder of the first half, but they only had Lachlan Boshier's try and seven points to show for it by the interval.

An early seven-pointer from Solomon Alaimalo levelled the game in the second half, and a Damian McKenzie penalty put the Chiefs ahead shortly after.

But the Blues regained the lead a quarter of an hour in when Finlay Christie crossed over as the hosts held on for their fourth win of the campaign.

Two early tries set Super Rugby AU leaders the Brumbies on their way to a 24-0 victory over the Western Force on Saturday.

The Force's hopes of claiming a first victory on their return to the competition looked slim when Tom Wright and man of the match Irae Simone crossed for brilliant length-of-the-field scores inside four minutes at Leichhardt Oval.

Will Miller finished superbly to give the Brumbies a third try early in the second half and Connal McInerney ploughed over from the back of a driving maul 14 minutes from time.

Bayley Kuenzle was successful with two conversion attempts as Dan McKellar's side made it three wins out of three to lead the Reds by four points.

The Force are bottom with just one point from their first three matches.

A superb Hurricanes display saw them end the Crusaders' 36-match unbeaten home run in a thrilling Super Rugby Aotearoa clash on Saturday.

Nineteen points from Jordie Barrett helped the visitors to a 34-32 triumph in Christchurch that keeps the competition well and truly alive in New Zealand.

The Crusaders had not lost at home since 2016 but found themselves 21-17 down at the break, despite Richie Mo'unga having put them 10-3 ahead early on.

Two Wes Goosen tries and pinpoint accuracy from the boot of Barrett gave the Hurricanes their half-time lead, but a Mo'unga penalty reduced the deficit to a point early in the second period.

Another Barrett penalty and a fine individual try from Peter Umaga-Jensen, combined with resolute defending, saw the Wellington outfit edge closer to a stunning victory over the 10-time Super Rugby champions.

Quinten Strange scrambled over the line but another Barrett penalty restored the seven-point lead in a dramatic finale in which Mo'unga set up Sevu Reece to cross the line and close the Crusaders to within two points.

However, the fly-half missed his conversion, allowing the Hurricanes to move second in the table thanks to a deserved victory that marked Ben Lam's 50th and final appearance for the side.

Matt Toomua booted 19 points as the Melbourne Rebels inflicted a painful 29-10 defeat on a struggling Waratahs side in Super Rugby AU.

For the Rebels, it was a record margin of victory over the Waratahs, surpassing the 24-10 win they achieved in February of this year.

Ryan Louwrens and Marika Koroibete scored the tries for the Rebels, Louwrens driving over in the 37th minute and Koroibete dashing in three minutes from the end of the game at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Waratahs had been keeping pace early on, thanks to a converted try from wing Alex Newsome, but they repeatedly gave away penalties and it cost them dearly.

Waratahs coach Rob Penney afterwards claimed his team, "weren't where we needed to be emotionally and the Rebels taught us a lesson".

"I think we were out-muscled and I think we were out-passioned today," he added.

Compounding the misery was a broken rib injury sustained by Rob Simmons, the Waratahs captain.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels, quoted on the Super Rugby website, praised his pack, saying: "I'm very proud, in particular, of our young forwards. There's a lot of young backs going around the comp that are getting a lot of praise, but I'm proud of the forwards that are developing."

Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea said the prospect of a Pacific Islands team in Super Rugby Aotearoa gets his "heart pumping".

Last Friday, New Zealand Rugby released the Aratipu Report - a review into the competition's future - that supported the idea of a Pasifika team being added.

Chief executive Mark Robinson said: "There is a huge desire to have a Pasifika team involved which we think will be massive for the competition, popular with fans and is a priority for us.

"As we know, our Pacific nations and Pasifika players in New Zealand have added so much to the rich history of rugby in Oceania and our game here in New Zealand. To have a team that would provide an additional pathway for Pasifika players to perform on the world stage would be hugely exciting."

Savea, who is of Samoan descent, thinks it would be "awesome" to see a Pacific Island side involved given the rugby heritage in the region.

"Man, that's something that gets my heart pumping," he told reporters on Thursday.

"I feel like we haven't done enough for the Pacific Islands and to hear they're considering putting a Pacific Island team in this new competition is amazing.

"It gets me up because you see so many Super Rugby teams, the All Blacks, all across the world it's Pasifika dominated and it's awesome to see that we're giving back.

"Hopefully it gets through and something happens. It'd be awesome."

The Hurricanes face the Crusaders on Saturday, with Savea excited to be involved despite admitting his body is "in bits".

The All Black missed the broader competition before it was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, having had knee surgery following the Rugby World Cup last year.

"I'm battling. My body is in bits at the moment," he said.

"I'm feeling it. I'm sore, but excited for this week."

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