Rugby evening headlines as Dai Young admits ‘nightmare’ has unfolded and Wales star back from broken face

Here’s your rugby evening headlines for Monday, April 25th.

Young faces up to nightmare

Welsh rugby coach Dai Young has laid bare his frustration with Cardiff’s struggles, describing his first full season back in Wales as “a nightmare”.

Young’s team have now lost three Welsh derbies in a row, including Saturday’s home defeat against the Ospreys and a humiliating 49-14 setback against the Scarlets at the Arms Park. They sit 14th in the United Rugby Championship table with only the Dragons and Zebre below them.

Young has cut an increasingly frustrated figure in recent weeks, admitting he is unable to give the squad an overhaul as players had their contracts extended during Covid after taking pay cuts. He returned to the region in January last year, with hopes high they could turn around the side’s fortunes.

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Following defeat to the Ospreys, they said, “People keep saying,‘ Play the youngsters. ’Well, what youngsters are they talking about?

“The youngsters we’ve got are playing. For us, it’s about building. This season has been a nightmare to be quite honest with you and that’s not just about results. The season has been stop-start and it’s been a very difficult season , but it has been a very difficult season for everybody and you have to be careful because people will see that as an excuse.

“For us, we’ve got to get some momentum and some performances. If we get performances then we’ll get wins.”

He continued: “It’s just where we are, isn’t it? Nobody has got a magic wand, this is just where we are. We’ve just got to get better.

“We haven’t got another 10 boys to come in, we haven’t got 10 boys sitting in the stand. These boys realize where we are, they realize that none of us are happy with not winning games but you haven’t got a right to win games. “

Wales international set to return from injury

Welsh international Ioan Lloyd could return to action for Bristol Bears next weekend against Leicester Tigers to hand Pat Lam a timely boost.

Despite beating the play-off chasing in Gloucester on Friday, the fashion at Ashton Gate was dampened slightly with injuries to Luke Morahan and Antoine Frisch.

That adds to the selection of worries there, with Sam Bedlow set to be suspended and Charles Piutau and Semi Radradra also injured. Thankfully, the versatile Lloyd, who has played pretty much all across the backline for the Bears, is set to return.

“Ioan is not far away,” Lam said.

“He is not far away. We are hoping if not next week then the week after. There is a big break for Europe so they will definitely be ready for the Exeter game (on May 20), possibly for next week. “

All Blacks coach missing South African sides in Super Rugby

New Zealand coach Ian Foster has admitted that they’ve missed the presence of physically-imposing South Africans in Super Rugby.

The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers recently joined the United Rugby Championship, leaving the Australian and New Zealand franchises to take on the sides from the Pacific Islands and Fiji in a new-look competition. However, Foster admits they miss the challenge of the South African sides.

“I could say something and it’ll probably give a few headlines, but, at the end of the day, it’s been well-documented why South Africa aren’t in it at the moment,” Foster told The Breakdown.

“The travel would have been impossible in the last two or three years, and before that, a lot of the South African top players were leaving and playing in Europe, which sort of weakened their teams.

“In an ideal world, I loved having South Africa in the competition. They brought a different style, and now we’ve just got to find other ways to grow our experience of playing them.

“It’s changed around a lot, Super Rugby, over many, many years. When rugby went professional and it [Super Rugby] started, everyone thought it’d be the downfall of new zealand rugby because we wouldn’t be able to deal in the professional era.

“But we’ve shown that we’ve got some great franchises there at the moment, all doing a lot of work in terms of development, linking with the provincial unions, and the system.

“Whilst we critique it hard, we talk about its weaknesses, it’s also got a massive degree of strength to it, and it has helped support an All Black team that has consistently been able to perform at the top echelon.

“We just want to keep having a tough, even competition and, where possible, have many games against other countries’ players as well.”

Farrell praised by Sarries boss

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is pleased to have Owen Farrell back in his squad after a comeback win against Exeter at the weekend to knock them out of the top four.

Saracens were trailing only for the England fly-half to lead the fightback in a crucial 38-22 win. That win brings Saracens within four points of the Gallagher Premiership leaders in Leicester.

“Owen’s kicking, passing and offloading were phenomenal. He was outstanding in terms of what he did, but he was also incredible emotionally. He drove the comeback, ”McCall said.

“He hasn’t played many games for us in the Premiership, so it’s great to have him back.

“I don’t think he feels he’s quite on top of his game because he hasn’t played much recently, but he looked OK out there to me. He’s going to get better. ”

Ireland hooker flies home from South Africa

Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher has been flown home from South Africa by Leinster in a precautionary move.

The Leinster second-string side fell short of beating the Sharks in Durban on Saturday. However, the defeat was compiled by injuries.

Their other hooker – James Treacy – picked up a neck niggle during the week and will be judged this week. And Kelleher, who had just returned to action after picking up an injury during the Guinness Six Nations has now been flown home.

A Leinster statement reads: “A 31-player squad is currently on a two-week tour of South Africa during which they play two games, the first of which was a defeat to Cell C Sharks last Saturday evening.

“Ahead of that clash, hooker Rónan Kelleher, named to start initially, was withdrawn as a precaution with a minor shoulder knock. He has returned to Dublin and will be assessed further at the squad’s base in UCD.

“James Tracy picked up a neck injury in training last week and will be further assessed before a final decision is made on his availability for this weekend.

“The same applies to Max Deegan who suffered a shoulder injury during that 28-23 defeat in Durban.”

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