Tonight's rugby news as Wales and Lions international dies and Springboks face selection crisis

Cheslin Kolbe could line up at fly-half against Wales
Cheslin Kolbe could line up at fly-half against Wales -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency

These are your evening rugby headlines on Wednesday, April 24.

Former Wales international dies

Former Wales and British & Irish Lions prop John O'Shea has died at the age of 83.

O'Shea, who also captained Cardiff, passed away in Australia following a lengthy illness. He won five caps for Wales during the 1960s, having made his international debut against Scotland in February 1967.

The following year, he was selected for the 1968 Lions tour to South Africa, playing eight games and making history on two occasions. He became the first Lion to be sent off for foul play in a game after punching an opponent during a clash with Eastern Transvaal, while he was caught up in a melee as he left the pitch having been struck by a spectator.

During that tour, he also became the first Lions prop to score two tries in a single game as he bagged a brace against Rhodesia.

O'Shea made 213 appearances for Cardiff between 1963 and 1970, scoring 19 tries and captaining the side in his final season at the club.

After his death was announced, the club paid tribute, describing him as a "great character". Cardiff added: "John was a very popular and respected member of the club where he made many life-long friends, and he will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all who knew him."

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Springboks face selection crisis for Wales clash

South Africa star Cheslin Kolbe has been tipped to play a surprise role in his side's clash with Wales this summer amid a Springbok selection crisis.

The two-time World Cup winner's regular position is on the wing, while he has also played at full-back, but a likely shortage of players at Rassie Erasmus' disposal means he may have to line up at fly-half against Warren Gatland's side on June 22. He has donned the 10 jersey just twice in his career, both times for former club Toulouse, while he has also provided cover at scrum-half internationally.

According to reports in South Africa, Erasmus could be without more than a dozen important players for the clash with Wales at Twickenham, with the fixture falling outside of the Test window. This means that players based in the UK, Ireland and France will be unavailable for selection, while the Stormers and Bulls also among the sides fighting for a place in the URC playoffs, the final of which is the same day as the Wales match.

All of this means that Stormers fly-half Manie Libbok and Leicester Tigers 10 Handre Pollard are unlikely to be available for selection for South Africa's first summer Test. Also likely to be missing are props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, locks RG Snyman and Jean Kleyn, back rowers Marco van Staden, Jasper Wiese and Siya Kolisi and backs Cobus Reinach, Canan Moodie, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux.

However, Japan-based players - including Tokyo Sungoliath star Kolbe - will be available to be picked and with specialist fly-halves Libbok and Pollard absent, he has been tipped to fill in for them. However, while Erasmus is not known to shy away from a brave call, he could also call up Lions fly-half Sanele Nohamba or opt for scrum-half Faf de Klerk to fill in at 10 amongst other options.

May to leave Gloucester

England wing Jonny May has confirmed he is set to leave Gloucester at the end of the season, with a move overseas likely.

The 34-year-old's contract at Kingsholm expires at the end of the current campaign and despite intending to stay on at the Premiership club, negotiations with the club have broken down. He is now set to depart Gloucester for the second time, having moved back for a second spell with the Cherry & Whites in 2020 after leaving Leicester Tigers.

But while he had been linked with a move to league rivals Saracens next season, May says he intends to move overseas having spent 15 years in the Premiership. It has been suggested that Japan or the French Top 14 are his most likely destinations.

Appearing on The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast, the England star said: “My update for next season is that I am unlikely to be at Gloucester. That is just one of those things. But I am fully committed to giving everything I have got for these remaining games and it is amazing to be in this European competition and hopefully, I get to play in the semi-final in a week’s time.

Quizzed on his next move, he added: “I’d imagine it will be overseas, just because I wouldn't really want to go to another Premiership club I don’t think. I sound ancient now. I think I’ve done 15 seasons in the Premiership and my intention after the World Cup was to stay at Gloucester and do one more season and I really wanted to do that, and that hasn’t worked out and that’s nobody’s fault.

“Gloucester’s been a great club for me, amazing club, it’s my home and I really did want to stay. It hasn’t quite worked out but that doesn’t change I feel towards the end of the season. With my little baby, maybe I will play abroad for a season or two. There is nothing concrete for me, hopefully something comes up but I’m fully focused on the Gloucester stuff until the end of the season.”

O'Gara open to coaching France

Ireland legend Ronan O'Gara says he is open to becoming France boss as he shared his ambition of winning a Rugby World Cup as a coach.

The former fly-half has spent nearly all of his coaching career in France, joining Racing 92 in 2013 before becoming head coach of La Rochelle in 2021. Appearing on French radio station RMC's Super Moscato Show, he said he dreams of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup either with Ireland or his adopted country.

“I’d like to win a World Cup. I dream of winning things, whether it’s with Ireland or France – I like it," he said

However, O'Gara's ambitions could be halted by attitudes in France towards hiring a foreign head coach for the national team. Back in 2019, when the likes of Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt were touted as potential replacements for Jacques Brunel, a referendum among French amateur clubs saw 59 per cent of those participating reject the idea.

“I’m not French," said O'Gara when that point was put to him. "I’m trying to prove myself and put my name into the debate. It’s possible that, for Ireland, the next coach will be from New Zealand, South Africa, or Australia – that’s just the way it is."

If he does become involved in the French national set-up, however, the Irishman has made it clear that he wants to be in charge rather than in the back room team.

“Be a member of the staff?," he asked. "I don’t think so. When you’ve had a taste of the number one position, of those responsibilities, it’s difficult [to not be in charge].”