Sunday rugby news as Wales left ’embarrassed’ from Italy inquest and determined to right the wrongs versus Springboks

These are your rugby headlines on the morning of Sunday, June 26

Pivac: We were embarrassed

Wayne Pivac admits his players and staff were embarrassed by defeat to Italy in the final game of the Six Nations and are desperate to right some wrongs in South Africa.

Wales went down 22-21 after a late Italian score in Cardiff and have had to wait over three months to have another crack in the Test arena. It was a dismal result that brought the curtain down on an underwhelming campaign, with pressure being piled on the Wales boss.

READ MORE: Gwyn Jones – My confidence in Pivac’s ‘rudderless’ Wales has run out

They now face the daunting task of taking on the world champions across three Test matches in their own backyard – starting in Pretoria this Saturday.

“I hope we’re going to be a lot better than our last game! I say that with a smile on our face but, look, we were embarrassed by that last performance, there’s no hiding from that.

“The players have spoken about it, the management have spoken about it. We’re a better team than that, we know that. So we need to go out and show that now in the first Test and then back it up in the second and third.

“We’re looking at the positives that came out of the last tournament. There are obviously areas of the game that we have to tidy up and make sure we don’t make similar mistakes, particularly in the Italy match – and be a lot better than the opening match against Ireland.”

He added: “Nobody likes finishing on a sour note or a poor performance. It’s a long time between drinks, as they say. History says that we haven’t done well there, clearly. In some camps you’d say you’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose.

“But from our point of view, we got the last one wrong. We’re doing everything to make sure we get this one right. We’ll be going out there, not with a careless attitude, we’ll be doing what we think we need to do in order to win the first Test. That will then set ourselves up for a great series.”

The vast majority of Wales’ 34-man squad have not played since the end of the United Rugby Championship regular season in May. It means six weeks will have gone by when they trot out at Loftus Versfeld. Pivac’s side have been notoriously slow starters in campaigns but in an effort to avoid that this time around they have been ramping up the intensity of their in-house training, culminating in a no-holds barred, bone-on-bone 40 minutes last Friday before they departed.

Wales training has been ‘tasty’ – Beard

Wales lock Adam Beard says training sessions over the past few weeks have been “tasty” and players are champing at the bit to get going against South Africa.

The players touched down in Springbok territory this week and Beard insists that those ‘tasty’ sessions are vital.

He said: “We’ve had a good hard couple of weeks, and on Friday we had a bit of a hit-out with a referee coming in. We had two teams of 15 pretty much going at it live, in all our different game scenarios and stuff.

“We haven’t played for a couple of weeks, so it is important that we’ve had those training sessions where it needs to get a bit tasty, a bit lively, so when we get out to South Africa we are ready for that confrontation.”

Ireland ready to stun All Blacks

Ireland are planning to rock the rugby world by coming home victorious from their grueling five-match summer tour to New Zealand.

Andy Farrell’s side play three Tests against the All Blacks, plus two versus the Maori All Blacks, but they head down under in optimistic mood. Ireland have won three of their last five matches against the three time world champions but have never beaten them on their own New Zealand patch

“It’s unbelievably tough to come over here and be successful,” said Farrell. “Challenges are there to make us better, make us stronger and we’ve got to be ready to meet those head on.

“We want to see ourselves under extreme pressure and how we deal with that. It doesn’t get any more challenging but it’s where we want to be at a stage where a year or so out from a World Cup you want to find out more about ourselves. This is the perfect place to do it.”

Scotland A hammer Chile

Gregor Townsend took “a lot of positives” from Scotland A’s comfortable 45-5 victory over Chile in Santiago.

The Scots cruised into a 28-0 half-time lead before the hosts improved after the break and gave the visitors more of a test. Townsend was pleased with the way things panned out the first match of his side’s South American tour.

“We got a really tough workout,” said the head coach. “We had to fight in that second half to keep Chile out and they did eventually score a try. We’ve got some areas of our game we know we’ll have to work on more next week but there were a lot of positives. The way we played in the first half, the way some young players integrated into the team, and the way we took our opportunities was great to see. Our strong finish was also pleasing.”

Edinburgh wing Damien Hoyland scored three of the Scots’ seven tries. “I thought he played really well,” Townsend said of the hat-trick ace. “He worked hard. He got on the ball a few times and he finished really well. It was a great finish to reach out and score his third try.”

The Scots – who arrived in Chile last Monday – are now heading to Argentina to prepare for what will be a far more challenging three-Test series against the Pumas.


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