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Wales prop Tomas Francis set for two weeks on the sidelines

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Wales prop Tomas Francis has been banned for two weeks after admitting a charge of kicking. The 24-year-old Wales Exeter player was ruled to have committed a "low-end offence" in kicking Danny Care and making contact with the Harlequins player's head in Exeter's 36-25 win on Saturday.

The Rugby Football Union announced the punishment for Francis, who was sent off by referee Matthew Carley for the offence which occurred late in the Aviva Premiership match.He will miss matches against Bristol and Northampton.

The panel found this a low-end offence due to the fact that it was a glancing reckless contact between Francis' shin and the back of Danny Care's head which caused no injury.

– Gareth Graham, RFU Disciplinary panel chairman

Matt Sherratt to join Wales' coaching staff for Autumn series

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Cardiff Blues attack and backs coach Matt Sherratt is to work with Wales during their four-Test autumn series in November. The Welsh Rugby Union announced that 40-year-old Sherratt will work as Wales backs coach, combining that role with his job at the Blues.

Wales face Australia in Cardiff on November 5, followed by successive home appointments at the Principality Stadium with Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

Sherratt joined the Blues from Aviva Premiership club Bristol ahead of this season. He previously worked at Worcester.Sherratt will join a Wales coaching group headed by Rob Howley for this season, with Howley stepping up due to Warren Gatland being on British and Irish Lions business ahead of next summer's New Zealand tour.

I am delighted to bring Matt on board to the coaching team. We have a very experienced international coaching team, and I believe Matt will complement what we have in place really well.

He is young in age, but an experienced coach, and has earned the respect of players and coaches wherever he has been. He will be a big asset to us.

It is great that we are able to bring a regional coach on board for this period, and I would like to thank Cardiff Blues and (Blues head coach) Danny Wilson for their support and for allowing Matt to work with us.

– Rob Howley, Wales Head Coach


Lee Byrne switches codes to League

Lee Byrne retired last year. Credit: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back Lee Byrne is switching codes after being appointed director of rugby at South Wales Ironmen RL.

Officials say Byrne's appointment will signal the dawn of a new era for the Kingstone Press League 1 club who will change their name after competing for the past decade as South Wales Scorpions and relocate to Wern Sports Park, home of Merthyr RFC.

Bridgend-born Byrne was capped 46 times by his country, playing his best rugby as Wales claimed the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2008, and was also first-choice full-back for the Lions in South Africa in 2009.

Paul Turner to identify Welsh talent outside Wales

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The WRU has appointed former Newport Gwent Dragons and Sale Sharks head coach and former Wales outside half Paul Turner to help identify and recruit Welsh qualified players currently playing outside Wales.

He will work on a part-time basis with WRU Exiles programme manager Gareth Davies to unearth Welsh qualified talent across the UK and abroad, potentially making players available to the Welsh regions and the National Team.

I’m delighted to accept this role with the Welsh Rugby Union. It’s an area I’m very passionate about, having lived and worked outside of Wales for many years, and I’ll be looking for Welsh qualified players around the world who have the potential to play at the top level.

They may or may not be available to Welsh regions at the moment so I will continue to monitor their progress and their situation, in conjunction with the potential needs of the Welsh regions and Wales.”

– Paul Turner, Head Coach Newport Gwent Dragons

Assistant coaches sign new contracts with WRU

Wales attack coach Rob Howley. Credit: PA Images

Wales assistant coaches Rob Howley and Robin McBryde have signed new deals with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Their new contract will include the 2019 World Cup tournament in Japan.

Attack coach Howley and forwards specialist McBryde will remain part of Wales boss Warren Gatland's support staff.

Wales will finish their tour of New Zealand against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Wales Forwards Coach Robin McBryde.

Our current focus is of course, as always, on the next game, but we have a long-term objective and strategy, too. I think we all feel we have some unfinished business at the Rugby World Cup, and as Martyn Phillips has identified, a successful trip to Japan is the key over-reaching target for us all.

– Robin McBryde

We have a fantastic group of players in Wales, not just those on tour with us in New Zealand at the moment, but at home with the Under-20s and coming through in the regions, and I am really looking forward to building towards Japan.

– Rob Howley


Jonathan Davies relishing test against New Zealand

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Wales centre Jonathan Davies was delighted to see the back of the New Zealand centre pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith at the end of the 2015 World Cup.

But Davies believes that whoever takes their place in the New Zealand midfield this month will be just as good, even though Nonu and Smith played 61 Tests together and appeared in two World Cup finals.

They were part of the retiring class after the World Cup triumph over Australia at Twickenham, leaving the Welsh duo of Davies and Jamie Roberts to take over their mantle as the most experienced midfield pair in the world game.

I played against Nonu a few weeks ago in France. He and Conrad Smith were a great partnership, probably the best I've seen in my time, and what they achieved was pretty special.

But we know that whoever steps into their jerseys now will be just as good.

I grew up watching Nonu and Smith play together and I tried to see why they were so good and then to emulate them when I got to that level.

– Jonathan Davies, Wales Centre

Jarvis called up for New Zealand tour

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Wales have called up Ospreys prop Aaron Jarvis as cover for Paul James for the tour of New Zealand.

James is struggling with a calf injury and looks set to miss both this weekend's first Test in Auckland against the All Blacks and Tuesday's clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton.

You always want a fully fit squad and Paul has been grafting hard to be fully fit particularly for the game on Tuesday. Unfortunately it doesn't look as though that is going to happen and we have brought Aaron out as cover.

– Shaun Edwards, Wales Assistant Coach

Dan Lydiate thanks fans for support after surgery

Wales international Dan Lydiate has thanked fans for their support after he underwent surgery on his shoulder yesterday.

The Wales flanker, who led the team against England at Twickenham last month has been ruled out of their tour to New Zealand due to his injury.

He is now looking at three months on the sideline after sustaining a significant injury at the top of his shoulder.

Uncapped Cardiff Blues player and former Wales U20 captain Ellis Jenkins has been called up to take his place on the summer tour.

Scott Williams: Wales need to think positively for New Zealand tour

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Scott Williams says Wales will need to do everything "on the money" when they tackle world rugby's toughest assignment.

Wales centre Williams and company headed to New Zealand on Monday, where the world champion All Blacks await across a three-Test series in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

They have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 26 successive Tests, while their away record in the fixture shows seven defeats from seven starts, conceding an average 40 points per game.

There is no point in us going to New Zealand with negative thoughts, otherwise it's going to be a long couple of weeks. We've got to take the positives and a couple of work-ons into the next two weeks.

I think everyone is going to have to play one of their best games to be able to beat New Zealand. That's what it is going to take, and that's what we have been training for in the last couple of weeks.

It's trying to lift the standards up. Every pass, everything you do is on the money, because when we play New Zealand, it's going to have to be.

– Scott Williams, Wales centre
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