Today’s rugby headlines as Jamie Roberts to face Warren Gatland and coach dies suddenly

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Tuesday, April 19.

Jamie Roberts to face Warren Gatland

Jamie Roberts is set to come up against his former Wales boss Warren Gatland this week when Australian side Waratahs, who Roberts joined earlier this year as he relocated Down Under, face Gatland’s Chiefs on Friday.

Gatland was head coach of the New Zealand Super Rugby side but took up a director of rugby role after his sabbatical with the British and Irish Lions.

The Waratahs – who have won five games in eight this year are fifth in the table, one point ahead of Gatland’s team – play the Gallagher Chiefs on Friday in the first of six games in the Melbourne Super Round and they believe they will be more competitive than they were last year, especially given the Chiefs are missing All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, centre Anton Lienert-Brown and first five-eighths Josh Ioane, while half-back Brad Weber is also touch and go.

Coach Darren Coleman told the Sydney Morning Herald: “If we can build our team on defence and toughness, you are in there with a fighting chance.”

Former prop turned coach dies suddenly

Former Otago prop turned respected coach Steve “Cumby” Cumberland has died suddenly aged 57 in Japan at the weekend, where he had coached for more than a decade after spells as an assistant with the Highlanders and Otago in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald reports that former Otago team-mate and fellow Japan-based coach Greg Cooper said of the Kobe Steelers forwards coach: “He was an intelligent, caring and fiercely loyal man. I will miss him. His family was his life, but his friends were a part of his extended family.”

Cumberland’s senior provincial career started with Manawatu — he played 25 games from 1985 to 1987 — before he headed south. He played 81 games for a popular and entertaining Otago team from 1988 to 1993, an era capped by a breakthrough national championship title in 1991.

English boss doesn’t want 20-minute red card

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick believes a red card should be a permanent exclusion from the field in the face of World Rugby trialling a law amendment which allows sent-off players to be replaced after 20 minutes.

The Tigers have had a player sent off in their last two games against French giants Clermont Auvergne – Guy Porter and Ollie Chessum – but have managed to progress through the last-16 of the Champions Cup.

Borthwick said, via the Daily Mail : “My view is a red card is a red card. That’s the way I was always brought up. I watched football and if someone was given a red card, they were off the pitch and didn’t return. That’s been my stance. Generally, now, with the ability of the TMO to review the footage, there shouldn’t be too many things missed or too many mistakes made. There are clear protocols set out, therefore if somebody does something that warrants a red card, a sending off, then that should be for the game.’

Ex-Wales boss: ‘Progress better late than never’

Former Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips has revealed he requested professional contracts for his players at least three years ago before WRU performance director Nigel Walker finally introduced them this year.

Phillips, who is returning to rugby as Merthyr RFC’s new head coach – replacing Dale McIntosh – after a two-year hiatus, officially left the Welsh Rugby Union in March 2020 but had been absent from his position since 2019.

“Professional rugby was something we campaigned for back then, so it’s better late than never,” Phillips told the BBC. “That was definitely the way forward and Nigel Walker has taken that and listened to people. He has taken that ambition and done something about it.

“It has been fantastic and is starting to bring them in line with the professional teams by giving them the best opportunity to prepare. “The gulf is huge between amateur and professional sides. “There is now a lot of pressure on these girls with people talking about them being fully professional, but it has only really been since January.”

Phillips’ daughter, former Wales captain Carys, is one of 12 players to be awarded full-time professional contracts, while a dozen more have signed part-time deals.

The former Wales international will now take charge of the Welsh Premiership Ironmen next season, saying of Sir Stan Thomas’ approach: “I was surprised initially but happy to take up the opportunity. Merthyr have been a force in the Premiership in recent years and I am expecting to take on a strong team and hope to continue with the success that has already been built.”

Springboks star set to turn back on South Africa return

Sale Sharks lock Lood de Jager has reportedly turned his back on a return to South African rugby. It was confirmed earlier this month that the giant second row was leaving Sale alongside fellow Springboks teammate Faf de Klerk.

The second-row had been linked with a return to the Vodacom Bulls, while the DHL Stormers were also interested.

However, according to Rapport , De Jager will be instead heading to an as-yet-unnamed club in Japan. De Klerk is also understood to be heading to Japan, where he’ll likely become one of the highest earners.

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