Today's rugby news as players in emotional goodbye to Wales star after Ospreys fail to 'swing the bat'

The dejected Ospreys after defeat
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency)

Here are your rugby morning headlines for Saturday, June 8.

Emotional scenes for Wales star's goodbye

There were emotional scenes in the Ospreys dressing room in Limerick on Friday night as the players said goodbye to Wales international Nicky Smith after URC quarter-final defeat to Munster.

The Welsh region's 23-7 loss marked the end of Smith's distinguished Ospreys career, with the loosehead prop joining Leicester Tigers next season. He has made nearly 200 appearances for them and been the most influential prop in Welsh rugby this season.

Booth revealed: "The disappointment of the day is it it is the end of Nicky Smith. We spoke about that in the changing room and it was a very emotional moment for the group. This is a tight group and we are sad to see him go."

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The coach pointed to the likes of Smith as defining what being an Osprey is about, adding: "I want people here who represent this region in the way it should be represented, like Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Adam Beard - people that understand what it is to be an Osprey. That's the standard and identity.

"The exciting thing is the younger players coming through all represent that. That is the big success story."

Ospreys needed to 'swing the bat' more in playoff defeat

Former Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin believes the Welsh side didn't 'swing the bat' during their United Rugby Championship playoff defeat to Munster.

Toby Booth's side fell to 23-7 defeat against the defending champions in Thomond Park, with the home side being the more streetwise of the two teams.

After having spoken about needing to 'suffer' and hang in there this week, Booth's team were kept off the scoreboard after Keelan Giles' early score as Munster ground them down.

"They've got some really good rugby players," said Baldwin on Premier Sports. "They just looked, like, afraid is probably the wrong word.

"But (it's) playing with a bit of freedom. It seems very structured, rather than having a framework where they can play within it and make decisions on the pitch as they see it.

"I don't know whether that was a tactic tonight. I know I spoke pre-game about being pragmatic but when you're 23-7 down, you probably have to swing the bat, as they spoke about in the week, a little bit more.

"As the boys were saying, defensively it's good. But unless you're getting scores on the back of your defence on the other side of the ball, you're not going to win these big games where you have parity in terms of scrum and lineouts.

"But, again, they'll reflect as a coaching group. There's a lot built on from last season, but they'll also probably be frustrated that they didn't give it all from an attacking point of view tonight. I felt Munster were there for the taking just after half-time."

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Despite the defeat, the Ospreys can take pride in a season that has defied expectations - having reached the quarter-finals of both the URC and the Challenge Cup.

Speaking afterwards, Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric said: "We're disappointed. We though we could have got something just before half-time and then it would have been a different game.

"But Munster are a top side and just ground us down. We gave everything but perhaps the discipline let us down in the second half.

"We don't like to lose but we've reached two quarter-finals this season so hopefully we're heading in the right direction to get this club back to where it belongs."

Overlooked England star considering return to France

Gloucester star Zach Mercer is reportedly considering a return to France after failing to break into the England team.

MailOnline report that the No. 8 has being given a tour of the Toulon training centre this week, after being left out of Steve Borthwick's squad for the summer tour of Japan and New Zealand.

The 26-year-old joined Gloucester last year to make himself eligible for England selection again. But with that not materialising, he could return to France - having been named player of the year in the Top 14 during his time at Montpellier.

The report adds that Mercer is committed to spending next season at Kingsholm, but could make the move next summer.

Wales scrum-half joins Gloucester

Wales scrum-half Sian Jones has joined Gloucester-Hartpury from fellow Premiership Women’s Rugby side Sale Sharks.

The 20-year-old made her senior Wales debut against Scotland earlier this year.

“Sian is a really promising young talent with a big future ahead of her,” said Gloucester-Hartpury head coach Sean Lynn.

“I was impressed with how she performed for Wales in the Six Nations and everyone at the club is excited to welcome her to the team.”