Tonight's rugby news as captain 'very upset' by Wales star's comments and chief reveals what will decide Ospreys' choice

-Credit: (Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images)


These are your evening rugby headlines on Friday, May 24.

Captain 'very upset' at Wales star's comments

Italian rugby chief Marzio Innocenti says national team captain Michele Lamaro was left 'very upset' over comments made by Wales skipper Dafydd Jenkins during the Six Nations.

Italy capped their best ever tournament campaign with a 24-21 win over Wales in Cardiff on Super Saturday, having already beaten Scotland and drawn with France earlier in the championship. Those results meant they avoided the Wooden Spoon for the first time since 2015, while Wales finished rock bottom as they suffered a first tournament whitewash since 2003.

Following the game, Jenkins couldn't hide his frustration at how the match and tournament as a whole had played out, as he admitted it was "severely disappointing" and that his side "want to beat those teams".

"It's a feeling of complete disappointment," he said. "No disrespect to Italy but as a playing group we want to win those games and beat those teams. It's just severely disappointing."

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However, the Italians appear to have taken Jenkins' remarks to heart, with Innocenti telling Mail Sport that Lamaro was upset at how the Azzurri were viewed by rival teams.

"We hope in the future it’s seen as a normality that Italy can win," he said. "After we beat Wales in Cardiff this year, their captain Dafydd Jenkins said it was embarrassing for him they had lost the match.

"Michele Lamaro, our captain, was very upset by this but I said to him there has been a long history of teams expecting to beat Italy. But if we continue to win, everybody will change their opinion. One day, I hope to win something."

Ospreys boss reveals what will decide stadium move

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth says where the region will choose for its new home ultimately comes down to the "pounds, shillings and pence" after they narrowed their search.

The club have confirmed that their new stadium will be based either at St Helen's in Swansea or at Bridgend's Brewery Field. Chief executive Lance Bradley announced in January that the region would be leaving the 20,000-capacity Swansea.com Stadium for a smaller venue, with Neath RFC revealing last week that its home at The Gnoll would not become the new ground.

Ospreys insiders have stressed that there is no preferred option at this stage, but Booth has supported the move, saying their current ground is "just too big" to be sustainable.

"We’ve got great support there, [the fans] come out and we love that, but it’s just too big in relation to that consistency in atmosphere," he told the BBC. "In my tenure we’ve played one game at St Helen's and that was a great atmosphere because that was more enclosed and obviously we’ve had some good times with Bridgend this year and previously.

"So I think wherever we go we’ll definitely be able to get that. It’s just a question of what cost and marrying up the performance side and the numbers. Whichever way it goes, one is going to be disappointed so that’s unfortunate but that’s the nature of the professionalism side of it."

Asked what would decide the move, Booth said: "It’s the pounds, shillings and pence, really. That is really what it comes down to about what you can do, if we are reducing budget size or whatever.

"If you look throughout rugby and the world, really, if we’re not in recession we’re close to recession, so being sustainable and making sure that you can live within your means is really, really important. The ability to move somewhere with less debt obviously promotes a good conversation."

Wallabies legend retires

Australia legend Sekope Kepu has announced he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

The 38-year-old prop has won 110 caps for the Wallabies since making his debut in 2008, playing in three World Cups. He also played for the Waratahs for 11 years before enjoying a spell in Europe with Bordeaux-Begles and London Irish and returning home to join Moana Pasifika.

However, Kepu has now decided it's time to call it a day and spend more time with his wife and four children, joking that he will now become their 'taxi driver' in retirement.

"In the last couple of weeks it’s sort of dawned on me that this is the right time," he said. "Everybody that retires says you know when it’s time. All I dreamt of was to play rugby professionally and I have been very blessed to do that. While I will miss it, I’m looking forward to being there for my kids.

“My wife (Anna) and kids (Faith-Rose, Israel, Isaiah and Steven-Judah) have had to sacrifice a lot for me to be able to play for this long. I’m forever grateful for their love and support over the years. I’ve been very fortunate that my kids have been able to watch Dad play. Now it’s time for Dad to be their taxi driver to their sports games on the weekends.”

Kepu added: “I just want to thank the fans because without them we don’t have a game. My parents as well, the old man used to come to my training and games every weekend and that planted the seed.”

Genge ruled out of tour

Ellis Genge will miss England's summer tour to Japan and New Zealand after being ruled out for 10 weeks with a calf injury.

The loosehead prop was forced off before half-time during Bristol Bears' win over Harlequins on the final day of the regular Premiership season and was seen wearing a protective boot following the game. He has since undergone two consultations with specialists but confirmed on Friday that he would spend the summer on the sidelines.

A Bristol Bears statement read: "Ellis Genge sustained a calf injury during the first half of the Gallagher Premiership round 18 clash against Harlequins at The Stoop. Following a scan and a consultation with a specialist, the England prop has been ruled out of the tour to Japan and New Zealand this summer."

Genge then took to social media to confirm the frustrating news, as he wrote: "Every cloud... obviously gutted to be ruled out of summer tour but get a chance to spend some proper quality time with the family. Thanks for the well wishes."

In the 30-year-old's absence, England coach Steve Borthwick is expected to turn to Harlequins star Fin Baxter to replace him, having this week been named in the Premiership Team of the Season.