Today's rugby news as Welsh duo miss out on historic night and new law slammed

The Sharks celebrate beating Gloucester
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

These are your rugby headlines on Saturday, May 25.

Welsh duo on losing side as Sharks make history

Welsh duo Max Llewellyn and Josh Hathaway were unable to help Gloucester stopping the Sharks make history in the Challenge Cup final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The pair started the match on the bench, and could not make a difference as the Durban side became the first South African team to win a European trophy with their 36-22 victory.

Sharks fly-half Siya Masuku kicked 21 points, with Phepsi Buthelezi, Aphelele Fassi and Makazole Mapimpi crossing for their tries.

Gloucester had Albert Tuisue, Santiago Socino and Freddie Clarke for their second-half scores - with the latter two coming in the dying minutes.

Llewellyn came off the bench in the 56th minute, while Hathaway replaced Jonny May - with the England winger turning out for Gloucester for the final time - just four minutes from the end.

Both Llewellyn and Hathaway hope to be named in Wales' summer squad on June 3.

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Springbok takes aim at World Rugby

South Africa prop Ox Nche has taken aim at World Rugby over their new scrum law amendment, claiming rugby fans should "just start watching rugby league" instead.

From July 1, teams will no longer be able to opt for a scrum when they receive a free-kick, a rule which could be exploited by teams with a weaker scrum. With the amendment, those sides could, in theory, deliberately commit an infringement at scrum time to force their opponents to revert to open play.

Critics of the change included legendary referee Nigel Owens - who argued against the move in his latest WalesOnline column - and renowned scrummager Nche agrees that it is a bad idea.

"“For me, [the scrum] is a big part of the game," he said. "That’s why I always say anyone, any shape, any size can play, and the scrum is a big part of the game where the big boys can also take on each other and challenge each other.

“If we don’t want the scrum in rugby then we should just start watching rugby league I guess.”

Scarlets hand out awards

Alex Craig and Ioan Nicholas picked up the main awards at the Scarlets’ end of season awards dinner at Parc y Scarlets.

Second row Craig, a summer arrival from Gloucester, was voted Players’ Player of the Season following an outstanding first campaign in Llanelli. In his first season at Parc y Scarlets, Craig has been one of the leading tacklers in the United Rugby Championship.

Nicholas picked up the Supporters’ Player of the Season after a campaign that saw him play 23 matches in a variety of positions in the backline. Those 23 games - played across centre, wing and full-back - were more than any other squad member managed this season.

Nicholas pulled in 46% of the fans’ vote ahead of the other nominees Alex Craig, Ioan Lloyd, Gareth Davies, Johnny Williams and Ryan Elias.

The Coaches’ Breakthrough Player was won by centre Eddie James after a season that has seen him tipped for a place in Wales' summer squad for the tour of Australia.

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Welsh star thrown lifeline vows to 'repay faith'

Cardiff Rugby back rower Alun Lawrence has vowed to "repay the faith" shown in him by the region after signing a new long-term contract to remain at the Arms Park.

The 25-year-old returned to Cardiff in November following the demise of Jersey Reds, having come through the club's academy and made his regional debut back in 2019. He has since made five more appearances and scored a fine try in last week's victory over the Sharks in Durban.

Having initially returned on a short-term contract, Lawrence has now put pen to paper on a new deal, thanking everyone at the club for throwing him a "lifeline" and vowing to pay them back for it.

"It means a huge amount to me to sign this new deal with Cardiff and I am enormously grateful to Matt Sherratt and the club for the opportunity they have given me," he said. “When Jersey went into administration, it was obviously a really difficult time but they gave me a lifeline and the opportunity to remain in the game I love.

“I am determined to repay the faith they showed in me not only then, but with this new contract to stay at a club, which is very dear to me as my home club and the one I supported as a kid," he added.

"It has been a challenging season but I think everyone can see the direction we are heading and the progress made. We have a young and hungry group and I am excited to see how we can develop and become increasingly competitive during seasons to come.”

Sherratt added: “We’re really pleased to keep Alun at the club and have been impressed by him since his return from Jersey. He is a player who left to get more playing opportunities and won a Championship title, went through some adversity and returned with a real appetite and drive to succeed.

“What you see with Alun on the pitch is what you get all week, he is extremely hard working, diligent and knows his role inside out. He has shown a glimpse of his capabilities in recent weeks with some quality performances and we are delighted to keep him within our back-row resources and look forward to seeing how he continues to develop.”