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Wales to face Springboks in US capital

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WALES will face South Africa in Washington DC to kick off their 2018 summer tour it has been announced.

Warren Gatland’s side will face the Springboks in the US capital on the evening of Saturday, June 2, with the fixture taking place at Washington’s RFK Stadium.

First Minister of Wales, Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, and the South African Ambassador to the United States, Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu made the announcement on Monday (Feb 26) which will see the first contest between top-tier national teams to be held in the capital.

USA Rugby’s commercial arm, Rugby International Marketing (RIM), is promoting the match and tickets will go on sale from Tuesday, March 13.

Welsh Rugby Union Group CEO, Martyn Phillips said: “This is an exciting fixture for the WRU and for the national squad. It enables us to add a third fixture into the squad’s schedule as they continue with their preparations for the 2019 RWC and for the Union it is a great opportunity to showcase Wales and our game in the capital of the United States.

“The opportunity to expand the already great Welsh support base and Welsh brand is very exciting for us as especially in such a large demographic and audience as the U.S.

“We have long standing links with the U.S. with our partner Under Armour and it is great we are able to stage a match just down the road from their main facility in Baltimore.”

“We would like to thank RIM for staging and promoting the fixture and we are looking forward to kicking off the summer tour in Washington D.C”

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: “It was fantastic to be with the South African Ambassador to the US, Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, to announce this exciting fixture between our two great countries.

“Wales and the Springboks have a huge global fan base and I am confident this clash of titans at Washington’s world famous RFK stadium will help raise the profile of rugby in America. I, for one, can’t wait until June 2.”

RIM CEO David Sternberg said: “We are very pleased to be hosting this signature event in the nation’s capital in June. Not only are we bringing two established rugby nations together for an amazing match, we are also activating a large and passionate regional rugby community and accelerating the growth of the sport’s popularity in America as we head into the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July.”

It will be Wales’ fifth test on U.S soil, the previous four outings all against the USA and Gatland is pleased to have added to the summer tour schedule. “We are really pleased to add a third fixture to our summer tour schedule and we hope it will be another great test match between ourselves and the Springboks,” said the Wales head coach.

“This summer is a vital period for us as we continue the countdown to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and another fixture helps us along the way in our preparation and enables us to test ourselves further.  It will be a great way to start the summer tour before we head further south to Argentina later in the month.”

The fixture will be the first of three summer tour tests in the Americas.  Following the game against the Springboks the squad will travel south to Argentina for two tests against the Pumas.  Those fixtures, as previously announced, will take place in San Juan (Saturday June 9) and Santa Fe (Saturday June 16).

Wales Summer Tour Fixtures 2018:

WALES v SOUTH AFRICA, RFK Stadium, Washington DC, Saturday, June 2

ARGENTINA v WALES (1st Test) Estadio San Juan Del Bicentenario, San Juan, Saturday, June 9

ARGENTINA v WALES (2nd Test) Estadio Brigadier Lopez, Santa Fe, Saturday, June 16

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Three summer tests announced for Wales

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WALES will play three summer tests in Cardiff this July as revised international fixtures have been announced.

Wayne Pivac’s side will face Canada (July 3) and back-to-back games against Argentina (July 10 & 17) at Principality Stadium.

These tests replace the scheduled summer tour to Argentina which has had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around travel restrictions.

The Pumas will now travel to Cardiff for two tests against the Six Nations Champions.

Wales will kick off their summer campaign on July 3 at home to Canada. The Canucks who are coached by former Wales captains Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley will visit Cardiff for the first time since 2008.

“We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents, and we are delighted to have three tests confirmed,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“It is disappointing not to have the opportunity to tour Argentina, especially on the back of our 2020 tour to New Zealand being cancelled, but in the current climate it is completely understandable.

“What is important is we have games and as we have said all along, this summer is a huge opportunity for us.   We are delighted and proud to have 10 players selected for the British & Irish Lions, it is reward for all their hard work and we wish them all the best this summer.

“With those players away we always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.

“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby.  It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “It is a huge credit to World Rugby that a full schedule of summer international rugby has been achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

“Whilst it is obviously disappointing not to tour, we are delighted in Wales to be hosting Canada and to be able to honour the 2017 San Francisco agreement by hosting the Pumas for back-to-back matches, which will be hugely important to our international player development.

“Wayne has been adamant that his squad needs matches this summer and World Rugby have certainly delivered on that front.

“We are, of course, acutely aware of current restrictions and the ongoing and complex global COVID-19 picture. We will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any potential spectator access, but will remain entirely compliant and vigilant of all restrictions.

“In the current circumstances we are simply delighted to be able to play international rugby and any advance on that will be a bonus.”

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Aber fail to break down ten-man Flint

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ABERYSTWYTH Town and Flint Town United played out a goalless draw on Saturday (May 8).

It could have been much different for Aber, though, as they played against a Flint side who had Ben Amiss sent off in the first half, but they failed to make their advantage count.

With Wales experiencing some unseasonal weather, the Deeside coast was battered by mother-nature in the build-up to the game and full credit must go to the volunteers at the Silkmen for producing an excellent playing surface.

Aber started the game brightly and carved out two great openings in the first five minutes.  Firstly, Louis Bradford volleyed over the bar from close range before some brilliant work down the left from Harry Franklin teed up a cross for Jonathan Evans who’s goal bound header looked to have given the Seasiders the initiative.

However, home stopper Jon Rushton had other ideas, pulling off a sumptuous save down low, pawing the ball away to safety.

After the two quick chances for Aber, Flint settled into the contest and began creating chances of their own.

The home side saw strikes from Alex Jones and Callum Brately fall narrowly wide of the post before creating their best opportunity of the half with 23 minutes having elapsed.

Great play down the right flank saw the ball land to Ross Weaver. His strike, via a deflection from Black and Green defender Ian Kearney forced Connor Roberts into a great stop.

Franklin was causing problems for the Silkmen and Aber’s most likely route towards victory looked to be coming down his wing. He had a glorious opportunity to give Aber the lead but couldn’t keep his effort under the crossbar. He did have the ball in the back of the net but an early flag from the linesman denied him his fourth of the season.

The game’s flashpoint came with just seconds to go until the break. A heavy tackle in midfield from Ben Amiss on Jamie Veale, sparking a 19-man melee in midfield and saw referee Bryn Markham Jones reach for his red card for the Flint Town United striker.

With Aber having a numerical advantage, they enjoyed more of the ball in the second stanza but could only create sporadic chances against a well drilled and organised back line. Mathew Jones saw a strike fall narrowly over the bar whilst Kearney’s header from a corner landed on the roof of the home net.

To their credit, Flint did look to gain a winner of their own and had spells of pressure but like their opponents, they couldn’t break down an organised Seasiders’ defence. The lively Jones for the hosts came closest with his header going wide of the far post.

Gavin Allen introduced Owain Jones and Marc Williams as well as Jamie Reed late on in search of the go ahead goal but despite the addition of additional fire power, there was to be no late drama.

Jon Owen saw a shot well stopped by Rushton whilst Jenkins tried to connect with a Jack Rimmer cross in the final minute but could only make connection with the home keeper, earning himself a yellow card in the process.

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Scarlets convincingly beat Ospreys

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Rainbow Cup • Scarlets 22 – Ospreys 6

SCARLETS delivered a dominant derby performance to claim their first victory of the Rainbow Cup campaign, beating the Ospreys 22-6, at a rain-soaked Parc y Scarlets.

Prop Alex Jeffries scored the only try of the match, with full-back Leigh Halfpenny delivering a typically dead-eyed goal-kicking display in atrocious conditions.

The platform was laid by the Scarlets pack, with skipper Ken Owens, Blade Thomson and Aaron Shingler to the fore; the man of the match Kieran Hardy mixed up his game intelligently, while a much-improved defensive display saw the visitors restricted to just two kicks at goal from fly-half Luke Price.

It was the Ospreys who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Price on two minutes, but the Scarlets responded strongly with Halfpenny levelling on 17 after the visitors were caught offside.

The outstanding Jonathan Davies looked like he made it over the whitewash after bursting through a couple of tackles, but the television match official adjudged the Wales centre had lost the ball as he slid over the whitewash and the score was chalked off.

Nevertheless, the Scarlets continued to boss proceedings.

With the Ospreys falling foul of Scottish referee Ben Blain, Halfpenny added a couple more penalties and an impressive half for the home side was capped when Jeffries crossed two minutes before the interval

A well-worked line-out move saw Davies burst onto a pass from Owens, breaking through a couple of tackles before feeding the tight-head prop on his inside.

Jeffries still had plenty to do but showed a superb turn of pace to race clear 20 metres to the whitewash to touch down against his former side.

That made it 16-3 at half-time with the Scarlets seemingly in firm control.

The visitors, looking for their first PRO14 win at Parc y Scarlets since 2015, did enjoy more of the game in the second period.

Price reduced the arrears with a penalty and it needed some superb defence to keep the Ospreys line-out maul at bay.

Another Halfpenny penalty five minutes from time extended the lead to 22-6 to ensure a comfortable victory and a seasonal double over the Scarlets’ arch-rivals.

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