Here are the latest rugby evening headlines on Monday, May 9.
Romain Ntamack reveals apology
France and Toulouse superstar Romain Ntamack has revealed he apologized to Munster players after his premature shootout celebration amid the drama of the place-kicking competition at the weekend.
Ntamack, Antoine Dupont and Thomas Ramos stepped up and beat Munster 4-2 in the shootout format after an absorbing match had ended 24-24 after full and extra-time. It meant Toulouse progressed to the semi-final of the European Champions Cup as they bid to defend their title.
But, Ntamack has spoken about the moment where, amid solid tension at the ground, he thought his kick which was Toulouse’s third had won the game. After the kick went over the bar, he raised both arms into the air.
He later told Rugbyrama: “I knew each side had three kicks along the 22, but I thought [the shootout] would only continue from 40 meters, at that stage, if the scores were level. When I raised my arms, I saw no-one was moving. It was a little uncomfortable, especially with regard to Munster. I thought the game was over, and I apologized to the Munster players at the end. Well, it’s a good anecdote now.”
Wales set for hostile South Africa trip
Wayne Pivac’s Wales are set for a hostile three-Test series in South Africa this summer as Springbok bosses lobby the government to allow full-capacity crowds into the matches.
The world champions played all of their home Tests in a Covid bubble in 2021 but want as many fans back cheering them on as possible. SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has said: “We are lobbying to get 100% fans in the stadiums because it is important for us.”
Springboks and Toulon lock Eben Etzebeth told RugbyPass : “The fans are desperate to see us. They haven’t seen us play live since we lifted the World Cup. I think the tickets for the Wales Tests have already sold out.”
‘Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has held a number of camps ahead of the international fixtures against Wales on July 2, 9 and 16.
“We are satisfied with the alignment camps and believe these sessions will be beneficial to ensure a smooth return to the training field before the three Tests against Wales,” Nienaber said, via South African outlet Business Live.
“The first alignment camp in Durban touched on the team’s program this season and in the lead-up to the World Cup in France, as well as a broad overview of what worked last season and what we can improve on. I’m very happy with the players’ enthusiasm and their desire to keep learning and fine-tuning the areas of their game that could make a big difference in the quality of our rugby.”
The coaching team will select a squad over the coming weeks before a training camp in Pretoria begins on June 6. “These three back-to-back Tests in turn will lay an important foundation for our Rugby Championship campaign, so it is vital that we get the minor details right from the outset,” Nienaber added.
Grieving family of Kelly Meafua break silence
The grieving family of Kelly Meafua, who died after jumping from a bridge into a river in France while celebrating his team’s victory, have broken their silence and paid tribute to him. The 31-year-old former Samoan World Sevens flanker had been celebrating Montauban 48-40 victory over Narbonne in their final home Pro D2 game of the season.
Now, his family is preparing to bring his body back to Australia. According to the DailyMailolder brother Sapati Peniata took to social media on Monday to say: “It is with the utmost heartache and sorrow that we confirm the loss of our beloved baby brother the youngest of us siblings Kelly Peniata Meafua, who tragically passed away in an accident in France. We will inform everyone once we confirm everything, but first things first is organizing for our brother to return back to Australia. Thank you all again for the pillar of love and support we all appreciate it.”
English teams ‘can’t compete’ with French
Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson believes the reduction in the Gallagher Premiership salary cap by £1.4million to £5m at the start of this season is making it harder for English teams to compete in Europe against French sides, who have a salary cap of £8.5m in the Top 14.
There will be no English representation in the Champions Cup semi-finals after Sale were defeated 41-22 by Racing 92, meaning no Premiership side has made the last-four in the past two seasons. French teams make up three of the four semi-finalists.
“You don’t have the money to sign the quality needed,” said Sanderson, via the BBC. “There’s been a difference in the salary cap forever between the French and English clubs. Toulon used to have a £20m salary cap and the English clubs were on £5-6m – and yet they managed to win.
“You can make up the gap in the salary cap through really good coaching, decent infrastructure, and culture as well. You can bridge the gap through talent, through cohesion and decent coaching.”