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Hughes hit with three week ban

Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

Wasps' Nathan Hughes has been hit with a three-week ban after being found guilty of striking Wales winger George North in an Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints.

North was forced off on a stretcher after the collision for which Hughes was sent off - although both player and team denied the charge.

The RFU have now confirmed Hughes will miss three weeks following a hearing yesterday evening.

Nathan Hughes (Wasps Rugby) appeared before an RFU Disciplinary panel this evening, charged with striking with the knee and/or shin, contrary to Law 10.4(a), during Northampton Saints v Wasps RFC on Friday March 27 in the Aviva Premiership.

Hughes was found guilty of the charge and given a three-week ban starting today (March 31). He is free to play again on April 28.

– RFU Statement

This was a three week ban on the basis that no intention was found. However, there was recklessness meaning that, notwithstanding the harm, it was a low entry point of four weeks with mitigation of one week to reflect his previous clean playing record.

– Sir James Dingemans

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Police investigate alleged homophobic tweet to ref Owens

South Wales Police says an alleged homophobic tweet sent to Welsh referee Nigel Owens is being investigated.

Owens, 43, took charge of the final game of the Six Nations yesterday afternoon, between England and France at Twickenham.

England won 55-35, but came up short in their bid to win the tournament on points difference.

Nigel Owens is the first openly gay man to referee at the highest level. Credit: PA

The Twitter account where the alleged homophobic comment came from has now been deleted - but South Wales Police tweeted to thank other users for reporting it, and said "the matter is being investigated."

Owens tweeted this morning to describe his pleasure at refereeing the match.

Last year, two fans were banned from Twickenham after an investigation into homophobic abuse aimed at Nigel Owens.

Gatland: Wales have 'no fear' over tough World Cup pool

Warren Gatland says Wales have "no fear" heading into the World Cup, after they missed out on the Six Nations title on points difference.

Despite scoring a remarkable 47 points in the second half as they claimed a record win against Italy, Wales were pipped by Ireland, who claimed their second championship in a row.

England also overtook Wales on points difference on a dramatic final day of the tournament.

Warren Gatland says he was 'proud' of his side's performance on the final day of the Six Nations. Credit: PA

Attention now turns to the World Cup in the autumn, where Wales face England and Australia in an extremely tough pool.

Gatland is set to announce a World Cup training squad in early June, then an intense build-up will feature training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland, plus warm-up Tests against RBS 6 Nations champions Ireland and Italy.

We won't be going into the World Cup with any fears of not qualifying from our group. There is no fear about playing England at Twickenham or Australia as well, because we know we will be in good shape as long as everyone stays fit and clear of injuries. We can go there with some real confidence and belief that we can get out of our group.

– Warren Gatland

Wales' women finish Six Nations with defeat in Italy

Wales' women finished their Six Nations campaign with a 22-5 defeat to Italy in Padova.

The result leaves Rachel Taylor's side fifth in the table, having started with wins over England and Scotland, but then lost to France and Ireland.

Sioned Harries scored Wales' try in the first half, but, despite being on top for much of the time, they could not add any more points, and Italy were clinical.

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Wales lose out on Six Nations title after Ireland beat Scotland

Wales have missed out on claiming the 2015 Six Nations title after Ireland beat Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield.

Credit: PA Images

It was all to play for after Wales managed an impressive 61-20 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

Wales' triumph meant the Irish needed at least a 21-point win to keep hold of their crown and captain Paul O'Connell wasted little time, bulldozing over for a fourth-minute try.

Sean O'Brien touched down either side of half time, and Jared Payne also scored, with Finn Russell replying for Scotland.

England must now beat France by 26 points at Twickenham to deny Ireland successive Six Nations titles.

At it stands: Wales set England & Ireland tough targets

After Wales thrashed Italy in Rome, all attention now turns to Murrayfield - where Ireland face Scotland, and then to Twickenham - where England face France, on the final day of the Six Nations.

Here's how it stands:

  • Wales - points difference +53
  • England - points difference +37
  • Ireland - points difference +33

So, what Wales' rivals need to do to deny Warren Gatland's side:

  • England - beat France by more than 16 points
  • Ireland - beat Scotland by more than 20 points

Full time: Italy 20 - 61 Wales

Wales scored eight tries against Italy to put themselves in a strong position to claim another Six Nations title, after a simply sublime second half display.

Leading by just one point at half-time, after only Jamie Roberts' try in a poor start in Rome, a devastating period after the break saw Liam Williams touch down and George North score a hat-trick.

George North scored three tries for Wales in a stunning start to the second half. Credit: PA

In the final 20 minutes, after Italy had a player sent to the sin bin for the second time, Rhys Webb bundled over in the corner after a driving maul.

Two minutes later, captain Sam Warburton raced clear to touch down, after Wales put together several passes out of the tackle.

Sam Warburton ran in another trilling try for Wales. Credit: PA

After 72 minutes, Wales got perhaps the best try of the lot, breaking from their own try line, through Jonathan Davies, Gareth Davies and then Scott Williams to score. Biggar kicked yet another tricky conversion to make it 61-13.

There was one final twist, in the final minute, as Italian winger Leonardo Sarto raced away to score in the corner, and dent Wales' hopes slightly.

60mins: Italy 13 - 42 Wales

Wales scored four tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half against Italy, to raise the prospect that they could rack up the points difference needed to win the Six Nations.

The visitors broke through after 47 minutes, when scrum half Rhys Webb took a penalty quickly, and fed Liam Williams to cut through the defence and touch down under the posts. Dan Biggar added the extras to move Wales 21-13 ahead.

Just two minutes later, Williams claimed a kick through and fed George North to race home. Biggar again kicked the conversion to put Wales 15 points ahead.

George North scored a quickfire hat-trick for Wales in the second half. Credit: PA

Alun Wyn Jones then claimed an Italian lineout in the hosts' 22, and Wales fed it wide left, to North, who finished in the corner. Biggar again kicked a difficult conversion

On 59 minutes, North broke weak Italian tackles to touch down under the posts. Biggar kicked an easy conversion.

As it stands, with 20 minutes to play in Rome, Wales' points difference for the tournament is +41, narrowly ahead of both Ireland and England.

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