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Gatland makes 14 changes for Georgia clash

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DAN Lydiate will captain Wales for a third time as he leads his country in their first outing against Georgia at Principality Stadium on Saturday November 18, KO 2.30pm.

Lydiate is one of 14 personnel changes from the clash against Australia last weekend with Liam Williams the sole representative from the opening Under Armour Series encounter. Williams switches to full-back in a new-look back three alongside Alex Cuthbert and Hallam Amos.

In the midfield Owen Watkin who made his debut last Saturday, partners Scott Williams with Rhys Webb alongside Rhys Priestland at half-back.

In the pack Leon Brown who made his international bow against Australia lines up alongside Nicky Smith and Kristian Dacey in the front-row.  Cory Hill and Adam Beard make-up the second row with Lydiate packing down in a backrow alongside Sam Cross at openside and Seb Davies at No.8.

“We felt this week was really important to give a number of the squad as much exposure as possible to test match rugby,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“It is an exciting opportunity for some of the younger guys to take the field and show us what they are capable of.  We have got a fair amount of experience to throw into the mix too, both with players who have got  a decent number of cap numbers but also players who have been around this environment for a good while too.”

“Georgia are coming to Cardiff on the back of a good victory last weekend and they will be looking to show what they can do on this stage and we have to be ready for that.”

On the bench uncapped Dragons hooker Elliot Dee features in Wales’ match-day squad for the first time with Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis the other front-row replacements.  Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faleatu complete the forward contingent.  Aled Davies, Dan Biggar and Owen Williams provide the back-line cover.

Wales will also be wearing their new away kit for the Georgia clash, being sported by Taulupe Faletau.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY GEORGIA (Saturday November 18, KO 2.30pm)

  1. Liam Williams (Saracens) (44 Caps)
  2. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues) (46 Caps)
  3. Scott Williams (Scarlets) (48 Caps)
  4. Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (1 Cap)
  5. Hallam Amos (Dragons) (12 Caps)
  6. Rhys Priestland (Bath) (48 Caps)
  7. Rhys Webb (Ospreys) (28 Caps)
  8. Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (15 Caps)
  9. Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues) (5 Caps)
  10. Leon Brown (Dragons) (1 Cap)
  11. Adam Beard (Ospreys) (1 Cap)
  12. Cory Hill (Dragons) (7 Caps)
  13. Dan Lydiate (CAPT) (Ospreys) (60 Caps)
  14. Sam Cross (Ospreys) (1 Cap)
  15. Seb Davies (Blues) (2 Caps)

REPLACEMENTS:

  1. Elliot Dee (Dragons) (*UNCAPPED)
  2. Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (2 Caps)
  3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (24 Caps)
  4. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (4 Caps)
  5. Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (67 Caps)
  6. Aled Davies (Scarlets) (3 Caps)
  7. Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (57 Caps)
  8. Owen Williams (Gloucester) (2 Caps)

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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