Tonight's rugby news as star banned from Wales game after 'horrible' incident

Jasper Wiese has been banned for six matches
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency)


These are your evening rugby headlines on Thursday, May 23.

Star banned for Wales clash

South Africa number eight Jasper Wiese will miss his side's clash with Wales next month after being slapped with a hefty ban.

The 28-year-old was shown a red card in Leicester Tigers' victory over Exeter on Saturday after driving Ross Vintcent into the ground head first at a ruck. Wiese is set to leave English rugby for Japan at the end of the season, with his sending off described as a "horrible final act" and a "moment of madness" by pundits and commentators.

At a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, he admitted the charge of “lifting another player off the ground and dropping or driving that player so that their head and/or upper body makes contact with the ground”.

The RFU had deemed the offence to warrant a mid-range entry point - which would have resulted in a 10-week ban - but the disciplinary panel did not agree with that assessment, stating that the player's actions were at a low-end entry point, although his previous disciplinary record meant he received no further mitigation.

As a result, Wiese has been hit with a six-week ban, which means he will miss the match against Wales at Twickenham on June 22, as well as the Springboks' two-Test series with Ireland, a friendly against Portugal and a Rugby Championship double-header against Australia.

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Rees-Zammit's coach shocked

Louis Rees-Zammit's former coach George Skivington has admitted he was stunned by the Welshman's decision to quit rugby for the NFL, despite him making his feelings clear months earlier.

The Gloucester boss said that while he was given "a couple of hours more notice" than Warren Gatland - who found out moments before announcing his Six Nations squad - he was "equally shocked" as the now-Kansas City Chiefs star walked away from the sport to join the NFL's International Player Pathway programme.

“Zam mentioned to me in the summer the only reason he’d leave Gloucester would be for the NFL,” Skivington told Planet Rugby ahead of his side's Challenge Cup final against the Sharks. “I took it with a pinch of salt.

“Then that happened out of the blue. It was a bizarre 24 hours, very much crash, bang, see you later. I probably had a couple of hours more notice than Warren but I think we were equally shocked.”

Gloucester number eight Zach Mercer added that Rees-Zammit "could have been a legend" at the club had he stayed and he was a "massive loss", but praised his former teammate for testing himself in the United States.

"He could have stayed here at Gloucester and been a legend and been comfortable where he was,” he said. “But he wanted to get out of his comfort zone. I think it is brilliant to see a guy at such a young age grab it by the horns and go ‘do you know what, I’m going to go experience something different, go test myself and see how I get on’.

“Obviously we’d love for him to be there [at the final], he’s a massive loss for us, but we can’t wait for him to rip it open. All he needs is one opportunity and I’m sure he’ll take it.”

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Feyi-Waboso wins breakthrough award

Exeter Chiefs star Immanuel Feyi-Waboso has been crowned the Premiership's Breakthrough Player of the Season.

The 21-year-old finished the season as the league's joint-second highest try-scorer, with 10 tries to his name. After opting to represent England over the country of his birth, Wales, at this year's Six Nations, he also made his international debut and crossed to score his first Test try against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup.

After being given the award, Feyi-Waboso admitted he had defied his own expectations during this campaign, explaining: "My aim this year was to break into the Exeter University BUCS team, so this is amazing.

"Getting into the Exeter Chiefs first team seemed a bit in the distance but I have just been excited to take on each new step and tried to do what got me there. I've just tried to keep doing what I'm doing and listened to the advice from the coaches telling me what I need to do to get better."

The England international had been named on a shortlist alongside Harlequins pair Fin Baxter and Chandler Cunningham-South as well as new Bath signing Guy Pepper.

Scotland star forced to retire

Scotland international Scott Steele has announced his retirement after "battling with injuries".

The 30-year-old scrum-half won four caps for his country, winning his first against Wales in the delayed 2020 Six Nations match in Llanelli. Formerly of Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Harlequins, Steele joined Edinburgh at the start of the season but has now hung up his boots without playing a competitive match for the club.

He has been blighted by persistent hip problems and has undergone three operations, but has now decided to call time on his career as he recovers from surgery.

“After three years battling with injuries and while currently recovering from my third hip operation, I’ve decided to retire from professional rugby at the end of the season,” he said.

“My career has way exceeded any expectations I had when it all started at my local rugby club Dumfries Saints. To go on and represent such prestigious clubs as Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Leicester Tigers and London Irish and to get capped for Scotland four times is something I’m extremely proud of.”