There are some of the stories making the rugby news on the evening of Sunday June 26.
Burrell opens up on racial abuse
Former England center Luther Burrell has opened up on racial abuse he has received throughout his career.
In an unerringly honest interview with the Daily Mail, Burrell discusses his experiences of team-mates using racially-charged words and phrases to disparage him.
After admitting that he wrestled with the idea of going public, Burrell ultimately decided he wanted the truth to emerge in the hope that it instigates change.
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He told The Mail: “I’ve heard things that you wouldn’t expect to hear 20 years ago. We had a hot day at training and I told one of the lads to put on their factor 50. Someone came back and said, “You don’t need it, Luth, put your carrot oil on”.
“Then another lad jumps in and says, ‘No, no, no, he’ll need it for where his shackles were as a slave’.
“Where does that come from? Some players shake their heads and others laugh along with it.
“People greet you as, “What’s up my n*****?” It’s not meant in a bad way but when is it going to change? It’s a very, very raw subject. Over the past few years, it’s happened a lot. That’s the environment.
“It’s normalised because I allowed it to become normalised. I’d laugh it off. I’ve been a coward by not speaking up.”
South Africa to join Six Nations ‘after World Cup’ claim
The Springboks will soon be playing Wales, and the rest of Europe’s elite, on an annual basis in an expanded Six Nations, claims one journalist in South Africa.
Speculation about the world champions coming into rugby’s biggest and most successful annual tournament has been revived ahead of Wayne Pivac’s men playing three Tests against the Springboks in the coming weeks.
Six Nations bosses insisted there were no plans to drop a team, or expand the competition, in the wake of frenzied speculation about South Africa taking Italy’s place earlier in the year. The Azzuri, having endured more than 30 straight defeats, then turned the form book on its head with their stunning March triumph against Wales at the Principality Stadium.
But the issue does not seem to be going away after South African dominance of the Rugby Championship, with their leading teams also playing in next season’s Champions Cup for the first time.
South African journalist Craig Ray claims joining the Six Nations is the next part of the plan, with South Africa having only committed to playing the Rugby Championship for a limited period.
He told the Off The Ball show: “The plan is to be in the Six Nations by I think 2025. Possibly as early as 2024 after the World Cup.
“And it’s certainly part of the discussions that are going on. Getting into the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup was the next step. The only logical step from there is into the Six Nations.
“What that’s going to look like, as far as I know it’s unclear. Maybe they have a better idea but I don’t think it necessarily means Italy are relegated. It can become a 7 Nations tournament. But I think you can almost count on the Springboks being in it by 2025.”
Pivac ready for ‘Box power game
Wales are adamant the Springboks won’t be diverting away from their power game despite a different style of play adopted by their United Rugby Championship teams against the Welsh regions.
South Africa sides’ dominance in this season’s league culminated in the Cape Town-based Stormers being crowned champions after beating the Bulls, from Pretoria. The two teams, along with the Lions and Sharks, produced some exhilarating attacking rugby.
However, Wales boss Wayne Pivac does not think it will mean the Springboks moving away from their traditional power game as the three Tests commence next weekend.
“I think you have got to put it in perspective by looking at what works at club level and what works at Test level,” he said. “When you are the world champions playing the best teams in the world, and being successful in a plan that is working for you, it would be mad to go too far away from that.
“I don’t expect there to be too much change, but obviously we are watching what is coming out of South Africa at club level. It is exciting to watch, to be honest.
“There is a lot of ball movement and a lot of offloading with a lot of great tries being scored. The clubs have been exciting to watch, but that doesn’t normally transfer up.”
Le Roux trains at fly-half
South Africa’s world class full-back Willie le Roux has been training at fly-half and could be used there against Wales, it has been revealed.
Elton Janties is the only recognized fit No.10 in the Springboks squad, meaning the coaches need to consider back–up cover ahead of the first Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Hansie Pollard will arrive in South Africa at the beginning of Test week, but at the time of writing he is still in France after helping to guide Montpellier to the Top14 title on Saturday. Another fly-half, Johan Goossen, is injured.
Wing sensation Cheslin Kolbe is also being considered as a potential fly-half in an emergency, said coach Jacques Nienaber.
He said of Le Roux: “Willie was also the flyhalf insurance policy for Steve Hansen at the Toyota Verblitz in Japan this season.
“Damian Willemse also trained as flyhalf last week and we can also play Cheslin Kolbe there. We have several options at flyhalf.”
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