Today’s rugby headlines as Faletau stuns England international and Dallaglio demands RFU get Shaun Edwards

These are the latest rugby headlines on Saturday, March 19, before the Super Saturday Six Nations action kicks off.

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Faletau stuns England international

England international Freddie Burns says Taulupe Faletau is “head and shoulders” above any other player on the Wales team.

The number eight has been sensational against England and France since returning from long term injury and will be a key man again against Italy today.

Speaking to RugbyPass, Burns said of the match and Faletau: “It’s a foregone conclusion against Italy. There’s no point even looking at it and analysing it.

“One thing I will say though is how good was Toby Faletau last weekend? He’s a team-mate of mine at Bath so I am well aware of his quality but he has come back, had a couple of games and I thought he was unbelievable. Head and shoulders the best player in that Wales team.

“Dan Biggar controlled the game well but, Jesus, Taulupe is one hell of a player.”

Read more: Josh Adams’ frustrations with ‘stop-start’ Six Nations amid centre verdict

Dewi Lake on key position change

Dewi Lake says he knew it would be “a tough nut to crack” after switching from the back row to hooker just four years ago.

But Lake, one of Welsh rugby’s brightest young prospects, will continue his promising development when he makes a first Wales start on Saturday.

After winning four caps off the bench, 22-year-old Lake has a chance to complete this season’s Six Nations against Italy by leaving another impression on Wales boss Wayne Pivac and his coaching staff.

With the World Cup in France just 18 months away, Ospreys forward Lake is an emerging force, adding considerable competition for Wales’ number two shirt alongside the likes of Ryan Elias, Bradley Roberts, Elliot Dee and Ken Owens, who is currently injured.

When former Wales Under-20 captain Lake arrived at the Ospreys academy as a teenager, back-row was his area of expertise.

“I had always spoken to my father about if there was any opportunity in rugby we would pursue that avenue to do it,” Bridgend-born Lake said.

“From a young age, we always thought hooker eventually would be an outcome with the crop of back-rowers Ospreys had at the time, and Wales have always been strong there.

“I knew that would be a tough nut to crack. I had not grown at the time, and was probably standing about 5ft 6in.

“It has been hard work around set-piece, and there are still struggles there. We are working on that daily, and the improvements are coming slowly.

“It is not an overnight job, and that work I am doing with the coaches is coming. It is nice it has fallen into place.

“I like the physical part of the game, so carries, tackles, getting over the ball, that is what I enjoy and feel that I bring.”

Dallaglio demands England appoint Edwards

Former England international Lawrence Dallaglio has demanded the RFU move to appoint Shaun Edwards. Dallaglio is fed up of seeing the erial trophy-winner inspire England’s opponents to success as he once again stands on the brink of a Grand Slam with France. Dallaglio believes Edwards is a special coach woul should be coaching the country of his birth.

Writing in his Evening Standard column, he said: “I know him from his time at Wasps, and can confidently assert that he is a very special man and coach. He has won trophies wherever he has been, with Wigan in rugby league, and Wasps and Wales in rugby union. I suspect that he is about to add a title with France, too. That is if there’s space in his trophy cabinet. He has won more than 50 titles as a player and coach across the codes. He has given France a hard edge and has an unique way of communicating — a perfect balance of head and heart — with players, who automatically respect and like him for his achievements. At some stage, I would like the RFU to remember that he is in fact English and get him coaching our national team, rather than all their close rivals one by one.”

England ready to ruin it for France

Courtney Lawes insists England are ready to feed off the emotion of a Paris crowd willing France to win the Grand Slam as he heaps pressure on the hosts.

England are aiming to ease the scrutiny of their under-fire head coach Eddie Jones by preventing Antoine Dupont’s favourites from claiming a first Championship title for 12 years.

Defeats by Scotland and Ireland limit their ambitions to finishing third, although if they are toppled at the Stade de France and results elsewhere on ‘Super Saturday’ go against them they will be staring at another disastrous fifth place.

Even without the title in their sights the stakes are high and not least for Jones, who will face renewed questions over his future just 18 months out from the World Cup should they end up in the bottom half of the table again.

But Lawes insists his team are ready to continue fighting for each other knowing they can play without the burden of expectation.

“It’s a very hostile crowd at the Stade de France and you have to be prepared for that,” England’s captain said. It’s part and parcel of playing away from home on the international stage, especially against a team going for the Grand Slam. That’s absolutely fine for us. We can use it for motivation and use it to give us energy.

“You have to change the mentality of the crowd. It was similar at Murrayfield where we were getting booed on the way in. You have got to prove these people wrong and essentially try to make them quiet. France are still playing to win the Championship, so essentially all the pressure is on them. We’ve got a game plan in place that we think is going to be very effective.

“For us, the power of playing for each other is the best motivation you can have as a rugby player. It’s the most consistent motivation, anyway.

“It’s perfect for us to go out there and show what it actually means to be part of this group and be able to play for England with boys like this.”

Wales try to exploit World Rugby law change

Wales will try to exploit World Rugby’s new law on players being able to transfer to a different international team.

Wales Women took the field in a Six Nations warm-up against USA Falcons last weekend where former England international Charlotte ‘Lotte’ Clapp started on wing for Wales’ opponents at Parc y Scarlets.

Asked if Wales were also looking to make use of the law change, Wales Women head coach Ioan Cunningham said: “Yes. I don’t think we’d be doing our jobs if we weren’t exploring all options for players that could be qualified for Wales. We are looking. There’s a lot of names been spoken about but we haven’t done anything else.”

Former Scarlets coach Cunningham has named a 37-player squad for the upcoming Women’s Six Nations opener away to Ireland on Saturday, March 26. It will be the first time Wales Women’s 12 new full-time professionals and 12 part-time semi-pros feature in a competitive game since historic WRU contracts were introduced in January. Talks are ongoing about awarding three more retainer contracts.

From January, international rugby players have been able to apply for a transfer to represent a second national team if they have “a close and credible link to that union via birth right” as long as it comes three years after last playing for their first national team.






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