Today’s rugby news as Louis Rees-Zammit wins top award and Scotland plan raid for fly-half

Here’s your round-up of all the latest rugby headlines for Wednesday, June 8.

Rees-Zammit wins Prem award

Louis Rees-Zammit has been awarded the Gallagher Premiership try of the season of award for his stunning score against Newcastle Falcons.

The Welsh wing wizard was nominated for two tries at the end-of-year awards ceremony, but his wicked, slaloming run against the Tyneside outfit was voted the best of the season by supporters.

In round 14 of the Premiership campaign, the 21-year-old caught the ball on the edge of his own 22 before breaking through the line, stepping one of the opposition and turning on the afterburners to zip past the clutches of former England full- back Mike Brown.

Watch the try below

Saracens flanker Ben Earl was crowned the Premiership’s player of the season and Leicester Tigers’ Steve Borthwick was given the director of rugby of the season accolade. London Irish’s Henry Arundell was named the Land Rover discovery of the season.

George Ford won the Golden Boot award, while Max Malins scooped the top try-scoring gong.

Read more: Meet new Wales call-up Sam Wainwright

Scotland plan England fly-half raid

Scotland are hopeful of convincing England youth international Fin Smith to switch allegiances for senior honors ahead of their summer tour of South America, according to The Telegraph.

Smith, of Worcester Warriors, is considered to be one of the brighter young prospects in English rugby, however the report claims he has had minimal contact from the RFU or the England coaching staff. They add that Smith is “50-50” over whether he will accept the call-up to Gregor Townsend’s squad.

England boss Eddie Jones selected Charlie Atkinson over Smith for his most recent training camp and it is thought that decision has put the Scotland top brass on red alert to convince him to represent the country north of the border.

Townsend is set to name his own training squad on Wednesday in preparation for their three-Test series against Australia and it will certainly be interested to see if Smith’s name is on the list. Smith’s grandfather, Tom Elliot, earned 14 caps for Scotland in the 1950s and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 1955.

Top referee given coaching role

Top referee Romain Poite has been named as a coach for Toulon after hanging up his whistle for the final time.

The 46-year-old will become Toulon’s contact skills and discipline coach, a role which the Top 14 club say “will bring his skills to improve the discipline of the XV Rouge et Noir by working in particular on the attitude of the players to comply with the rules”.

It comes after Alex Ruiz last year transitioned from refereeing to become defense coach at Montpellier, so it is seemingly becoming a popular career move for officials after they have blown their final whistle.

Poite, who retired in November 2021 after refereeing 72 Tests (behind only Nigel Owens and Wayne Barnes for Tests refereed), said: “I am very honored to join this great RCT staff from next season. I was delighted with my meeting with the chairman , Bernard Lemaitre, with whom we joined in the vision and reflection concerning my position.

“It is also a great opportunity for me to complete this magnificent staff endowed with many excellences and expertise, but also an opportunity to pursue my rugby passion in a new approach. This will allow me to complete my already plethoric expertise with a lot of humility and motivation.”

Contepomi sings praises of URC

Leinster attack coach insists the United Rugby Championship trumps France’s Top 14 for “attractive rugby” and says the addition of South African teams has further improved the standard of the competition.

He told the42.ie: “I personally think the URC is a great competition and for coaches it’s unbelievable because you play against different styles week in, week out; different types of rugby and within your style and your philosophy, how you adapt to different styles is great.

“But also for spectators and everything, I think it’s a great tournament to be involved in. And if you see in terms of attraction I can say that I watch a lot of rugby, I watch Top 14, and URC is much more attractive rugby. There’s much better rugby than in many games in the Top 14. I think it’s a great competition.”

Speaking specifically about the addition of teams from South Africa, he added: “I definitely strongly believed that the South Africans would add a bit of quality in the tournament, and the quality comes as well because it’s such a different style of rugby, and for me as a coach that’s the beauty of the URC.

“You play Scottish teams, Welsh teams, Italian teams and now South African teams, Irish teams, all different styles of rugby but still you have your philosophy, your own style of rugby that you need to prevail against different styles.

“That gives you a lot of learning as well as a coach and as a team, it’s a challenge because if you go and watch the Top 14 or the Premiership, there are one or two styles but most of the teams play in a certain way , or there are trends within the competitions.

“Here, you can see the Bulls being a very South African team and it’s great for us. It’s great because we will play against a power-based, territory-based team with high speed on the edges and very powerful on the centers and upfront.”

Benetton set to appoint Exeter coach

Exeter Chiefs defense coach Julian Salvi is reportedly set for a new role at Italian side Benetton.

Salvi, 36, left the Premiership side in April as part of a shake-up in the coaching team, after Exeter missed out on the Premiership play-offs for the first time since 2014/15

Exeter confirmed earlier this week that former Bristol Bears coach Omar Mouneimne will replace Salvi at Sandy Park ahead of the 2022/23 season.

Salvi first joined Exeter’s coaching staff in the summer of 2018 after three years as a Chiefs player, having previously represented Leicester Tigers and Bath. He will replace former Harlequins and England coach Paul Gustard at the Italian side according to The Rugby Paper, taking charge of the club’s defence.

All Blacks apologise T e Kura Ngata-Aerengamate

New Zealand Rugby has apologised to Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate after the hooker claimed she suffered a mental breakdown under coach Glenn Moore.

Moore has denied the, but nevertheless stepped down in April after Ngata-Aerengamate’s comments sparked a damning cultural review of New Zealand Rugby (NZR), who are gearing up to host the next Women’s World Cup.

NZR said it had “take responsibility for systematic failings”.

It added: “NZR has formally apologised directly to Te Kura and her whanau [family] for the experiences that led to a decline in hauora [well-being] for her.”

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