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Sport Rugby morning headlines as Wales face anxious wait over injured duo and French club lash out after being kicked out of Europe

13:20  20 september  2020
13:20  20 september  2020 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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Your rugby morning headlines for Sunday, September 20.

Castres lash out at EPCR after being booted out of Europe

French club Castres have let their feelings be known after they were kicked out of Europe 24 hours before their Challenge Cup quarter-final with Leicester.

The club confirmed there were four positive tests for coronavirus within their ranks before the match - three players and a member of the backroom team.

Tournament organisers EPCR said the threshold for allowing a game to go ahead was three and handed the victory to Leicester, who progress to a semi-final against Toulon.

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Castres, outraged by the decision, took a swipe at tournament chiefs in a statement.

“No specific rules, including on a maximum number of cases, appear in the EPCR rules, which seems to be amateurism unworthy of a European competition,” it read.

“The decision to disqualify Castres, even before the results of the new tests are known, leaves players, staff and the public confused and frustrated at not being able to play this long-awaited quarterfinal.”

A forfeit of this nature is a first for professional rugby.

With a tight European schedule being crammed into September - semi-finals are being played next weekend - it left little time for a rescheduled match to take place.

England stars 'treated like kids' under Stuart Lancaster

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Former England international James Haskell has lifted the lid on life under ex-head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Now an assistant at Leinster, Lancaster was at the helm of English rugby when they were unceremoniously dumped out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

But according to Haskell, cracks had began appearing long before.

The Telegraph are serialising Haskell's upcoming book - What A Flanker - and in their latest instalment, he discusses where things went wrong during that period.

"On the 2012 tour of South Africa, we were treated like kids. It may or may not have had something to do with the fact that Stuart was an ex-teacher.

"I knew that after 2011 he had to completely remould how the England team was perceived, by the public and the media, and make sure the players understood the importance of what playing for England meant. But we were still adults, and some of the stuff - after one midweek game in Kimberley not only were we not allowed to go out, we weren’t even allowed to have a beer - was overkill in my mind.

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"Even after we beat New Zealand in 2012, we all had to go back to the hotel and watch staff, their family, their friends, friends of friends and seemingly anyone they knew who fancied a few beers get stuck into the bar for free, while we couldn’t really drink. In the end I cracked, ordered two whiskies and got billed for them the next day.

"Being treated like kids on a school trip bred resentment. It’s not like we wanted to go on the smash all the time, but you should be allowed to let your hair down occasionally, especially after beating the All Blacks."

Wales injury concerns over Halfpenny and McNicholl

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will be anxiously awaiting an injury update on both Leigh Halfpenny and Johnny McNicholl following the Scarlets' gritty 11-6 defeat in Toulon on Saturday night.

Halfpenny, who produced another fine display at full-back, was taken off for a head injury assessment in the 67th minute and didn't return to the field of play.

Amid an attempted tackle on Toulon's juggernaut winger Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Halfpenny copped an elbow to the head and appeared shaken up before he was taken off for further assessment.

Later, winger Johnny McNicholl appeared to be in significant pain as after a Toulon player bundled into his lower leg in the process of making a tackle.

McNicholl fell awkwardly and was helped from the field by Scarlets medical staff.

Both players would have been likely picks in Pivac's Wales squad this autumn but it will now remain to be seen if they are ready to take part when Wales travel to face France on October 24.

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