TAULUPE Faletau will lead Wales for the first time as he returns to the starting line-up as captain for Sunday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash against Italy in Cardiff (KO 15:00).
The 70-times capped No. 8 returns from injury to take the captain’s armband and will line-up in a new look back row for Wales with fellow British & Irish Lion Justin Tipuric wearing six with Scarlets flanker James Davies making his international debut at openside.
Experienced Bradley Davies, who has featured in all three opening Six Nations encounters for Wales from the bench, starts alongside Cory Hill in the second-row for the match that is part of a double-header with Wales Women (who kick off at 11:45).
Nicky Smith and Tomas Francis join Elliot Dee in the front-row, the Dragons hooker making his first start for his country.
Gareth Davies partners Gareth Anscombe at half-back with Owen Watkin coming in for his first Six Nations start to partner Hadleigh Parkes in the midfield.
Liam Williams moves to full-back as George North comes into the starting XV to form a back-three alongside Steff Evans.
“It is a great opportunity for Taulupe, he is a world class player, hugely experienced and this will be great for his development and we are looking forward to seeing those leadership qualities come through,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.
“We have made some changes, but we are bringing in a lot of quality and a lot of experience with the likes of Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, George North and Taulupe.
“Add into that James Davies who gets his first cap, Elliot Dee who gets his first start – this is a great opportunity for them to play tournament rugby.
“It is challenging making changes, but we have picked a really exciting team and Sunday is their chance.”
Scarlets trio Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee provide the front-row cover with Cardiff Blues duo Seb Davies and Ellis Jenkins completing the forward contingent on the bench. Scarlets’ Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell and Leigh Halfpenny provide the back-line cover.
Wales Team to Play Italy:
Liam Williams (Saracens) (46 Caps)
George North (Northampton Saints) (71 Caps)
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (3 Caps)
Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (4 Caps)
Steff Evans (Scarlets) (8 Caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (14 Caps)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (30 Caps)
Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (16 Caps)
Elliot Dee (Dragons) (5 Caps)
Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (29 Caps)
Cory Hill (Dragons) (13 Caps)
Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (60 Caps)
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (55 Caps)
James Davies (Scarlets) (*Uncapped)
Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (70 Caps) (CAPT)
Ken Owens (Scarlets) (55 Caps)
Rob Evans (Scarlets) (23 Caps)
Samson Lee (Scarlets) (37 Caps)
Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (3 Caps)
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) (5 Caps)
Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Rhys Patchell (Scarlets) (7 Caps)
Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (76 Caps)
Success for Ceredigion school rugby teams at Principality Stadium
RECENTLY some Ceredigion school rugby teams have been competing at a national level at the Road to Principality event held at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
There was a great celebration at Ysgol Bro Teifi on Monday, 25 April following the success of their under-14 girls’ rugby team at a. Following victories in a series of games at regional and national level in recent months, the team had the opportunity to play in the national final at the Principality Stadium against Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Denbighshire.
In front of a crowd of some 150 fans who had travelled to Cardiff to see the game, Bro Teifi managed to win 34 points to 19 in a competitive and fast game.
Acting Headteacher, Mr Gareth Evans, “At the start of a new term, it was great to be able to celebrate the success of the girls on the rugby field following a run of games where the team was seen subduing Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Plas Mawr, Bishopston and the Rhymney Valley among others. I would like to congratulate the girls on their huge success and thank the training team of Llyr James, Gemma Potter and Stephanie Gough for their work.”
Omicron: Sporting events to be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day
SPORTING events in Wales will be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day in a bid to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Welsh government said the new measures apply to both indoor and outdoor sporting events, with economy minister Vaughan Gething confirming a £3m “Spectator Sports Fund” will support clubs and venues affected.
The decision comes after a number of postponements affecting Welsh sides in the Football League.
Cardiff City have called off their Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several Covid cases among their players and staff, while Newport County will no longer face League Two leaders Forest Green.
In the United Rugby Championship, Cardiff Blues are scheduled to play Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day, although Ospreys vs Dragons at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea has been called off due to Covid.
“Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year,” Gething said.
“Unfortunately, the new Omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.
“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
Latest figures show Omicron cases are rising in all parts of Wales, while the overall rate of coronavirus infections is at just under 550 cases per 100,000 people.
Cardiff City have called off their Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several Covid cases among their players and staff; Ospreys vs Dragons also off in United Rugby Championship; Welsh economy minister says clubs and venues would be supported through a £3m fund.
An EFL spokesperson said: “The EFL notes the disappointing news that fans of Welsh clubs competing in the EFL will be unable to watch their team play live at home over the festive period, but we appreciate there are many factors influencing each administration’s decision.
“Looking forward, the League will continue to work with our broadcast partners and other relevant stakeholders throughout this difficult period as we consider how we can appropriately support our Welsh clubs and their supporters so they can watch their team while matches are played behind closed doors.
“In addition, we will engage with the authorities in Wales to determine what type and or level of financial support they can provide our clubs in Wales whilst they are unable to welcome supporters through the turnstiles.”
Have your say on how Ceredigion becomes a more physically active county
A CONSULTATION is currently underway on how Ceredigion is becoming a more physically active County.
There is a plan to follow the “Sport & Recreational Activity Strategy 2014-2020” which is being developed, with an opportunity for Ceredigion residents to have their say.
Your feedback will be essential in supporting Ceredigion County Council’s production of a new development plan and in helping determine its priorities from 2022 to 2027. This will ensure that Ceredigion residents have access to quality opportunities to become more active, benefiting their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The new plan will identify how becoming a more active county can contribute to the Council’s Corporate Strategies and the Local Wellbeing Plan.
To ensure that the plan meets the needs of all its residents, the Council would like as many people and organisations as possible to complete the survey. Residents have until 17 October to complete the survey: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/your-council/consultations/physical-activity-development-plan/
Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Porth Gofal, Early Intervention, Wellbeing Hubs and Culture said: “The physical and mental health and well-being of Ceredigion’s residents is very important. This is a chance for residents to have their say on how they want to receive sport and physical activities for the years to come. We recognise the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on sport and physical activity in the county and this is an opportunity to let us know how we can build back stronger.”
For further information or if you would like the survey in an alternative format, contact our Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570881 or email@example.com.
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