Tonight's rugby news as Gatland says players 'need a kick up the arse' after poor test results

-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)

These are your rugby headlines on the evening of Monday, June 3

Players need 'kick up the arse'

Warren Gatland has revealed certain players named in his squad "need a kick up the arse" after poor performances and recent testing results.

The Wales coach revealed recent fitness testing results were not good enough from a few of his stars, who now need to improve. Players throughout the Welsh regions were recently put through a brutal 'bronco' fitness test, with some not at the levels required for international rugby.

Nevertheless, Gatland has picked some of those in his squad, but will be speaking to them about the issue.

He said: "We are conscious there are a few holes in terms of depth in certain positions and we’ve got to increase the depth and competition for places.

"South Africa will be missing a few players as well, but whatever team they put out we know they won’t be small – they’ll be big and physical. There's some young players in here that we're going to give some time to and there's probably a few players who were selected in the squad who need a kick up the arse as well, in terms of some of their performances and some of their testing results that weren’t good enough or what we expect from a national perspective.

"So, we are where we are at the moment. But like I said, I do see light at the end of the tunnel and we've just got to make sure that we get back to the expectations and we work incredibly hard to improve those performances and results."

Cardiff announce award winners

Cardiff Rugby held their end-of-season awards on Sunday evening.

Fly-half Tinus de Beer was the big winner on the night, walking away with the fans' player of the season award and the players' player of the season award.

Liam Belcher was given the prestigious Peter Thomas Player of the Season Award, as voted for by his coaches.

De Beer said: "Just to be here and be backed by the team and the staff, that was my main thing coming into the season. My first season coming to Cardiff, obviously. It's just good to receive the awards, I want to congratulate the team and the staff for an amazing season. Happy to be here and thank you for the awards, there were so many good nominees and I am happy to have them."

Full list of winners

Club Recognition Award - Jo Eveleigh, Barry RFC

The School Recognition Award - Rosie Jones, Fitzalan High School

Outstanding Contribution to Community Rugby Award - Owen Smith

The Women’s U18 Player of the Season Award - Seren Lockwood

Gwalia Player of the Year Award from the Cardiff Region - Rhodd Parry

Try of the Season Award - Thomas Young vs Harlequins

The Academy Player of the Season Award - Cameron Tyler-Grocott

The Breakthrough of the Season Award - Alex Mann

The Fans' Player of the Season Award - Tinus de Beer

The Players' Player of the Season Award - Tinus de Beer

Peter Thomas Player of the Season Award - Liam Belcher

Saints have title belief

By Duncan Bech, PA

Fraser Dingwall insists Northampton have taken the crucial step of believing they are ready to clinch the Gallagher Premiership title.

Saints secured their place in Saturday’s Twickenham final against Bath after edging past champions Saracens in a full blooded play-off that saw their defence and set-piece make up for a subdued night in attack.

They were crushed by Saracens at the same stage in 2023 but have kicked on since, winning the regular league season and growing from the adversity faced against heavyweight European opponents Munster and Leinster.

“Last year we had the exact same tools but I just don’t think we had the belief,” England centre Dingwall said.

“This year we have faced so many challenges and so many big occasions that we have got belief in this group about what we are capable of, if we trust it.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself. This season we have overcome so many big challenges like Munster away and Exeter away when we were down by 26 points and we came back.

“Against Leinster at Croke Park, I know we didn’t get the result but we took so many big learnings from that. We faced so many big challenges that there is now the belief in the group.

“Against Leinster it took us too long to realise that we were capable of beating them. We probably turned up thinking ‘this is Leinster, pretty much a full Ireland team’ and just sat back to see what they did rather than going at them from the off.”

Northampton have emerged as the Premiership’s standout team of 2023-24, in the process thrilling audiences with an emphasis on attack overseen by Fin Smith and George Furbank.

Smith and Furbank are among a host of players developed by the club’s academy, many of whom were present at Twickenham as teenagers when Saints last reached the final in 2014.

“This group is pretty much built on the academy. I was at that final watching as a fan and there were so many boys in this squad watching that game as fans and it sticks in our memory,” Dingwall said.

“All we have ever wanted to do is recreate that. This final will be special for everyone, for boys playing their last game and boys for whom it is their boyhood club.”