Josh Adams has been suspended for Wales' Six Nations games against Ireland and Scotland after breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Wayne Pivac's squad were released from their training camp on Saturday and wing Adams attended a gathering the following day, where his immediate family were present.

That breach of the rules came to light when the squad returned for international duty on Tuesday, with Adams missing Wales' first Six Nations game against Ireland at the Principality Stadium on Sunday and the trip to Murrayfield six days later.

Adams said: "I would like to apologise unreservedly. When out of camp, at the weekend, I made an error of judgement. I attended a small gathering of immediate family to celebrate a family milestone.

"It was wrong to do this. I'm aware that everyone needs to follow the rules and being in the public eye I have a responsibility to lead by example and I've fallen short on this occasion.

"I'd like to apologise to my team-mates and to our supporters for my mistake."

Wales head coach Pivac said: "We are extremely disappointed with the breach and have acted robustly and swiftly to take all appropriate measures.

"All players and management have received detailed briefings and education regarding our protocols, and everyone has a responsibility to abide by the rules.

"On this occasion, Josh has made an error of judgement, he made a mistake and he has shown immediate remorse. He was present at a small, immediate family gathering to celebrate a milestone with those close to him but that is against the rules and action had to be taken.

"All members of the national squad have received extensive COVID-19 protocol briefings and education. We will continue with our programme, which has been very effective to date, and remind everyone of their responsibility to not only adhere to the extensive measures in place but also to set an example.

"We will work with Josh in relation to his integration back into camp following a further testing and re-education process."

Dan Lydiate has been recalled to the Wales squad for the Six Nations but there is no place for Rhys Webb.

Back-row Lydiate last played for his country against Australia in 2018, but the 33-year-old is among the 36 players selected by head coach Wayne Pivac.

Scrum-half Webb has been overlooked, with Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams and Kieran Hardy getting the nod.

Scarlets back-row Josh Macleod is the only uncapped player in the squad for a tournament Wales will start with an encounter against Ireland at the Principality Stadium on February 7.

Pivac revealed he was unable to pick Rhys Priestland, despite the fly-half being set to return to his homeland with Cardiff Blues next season, due to the 60-cap rule.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is hopeful of being fit to face Ireland in Dublin as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Ross Moriarty, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams are among the players ruled out due to injury.

Pivac said: "We are hugely looking forward to meeting up as a squad on Monday and to the forthcoming campaign. The Guinness Six Nations is an important tournament and we have selected a squad accordingly.

"As we consistently spoke about, the autumn for us was about opportunity and development, looking ahead to RWC 2023 and it served that purpose for us.

"This campaign is different, it is tournament rugby and we are excited to get going and to play our part. We have picked a squad for this tournament based on form and we are excited to meet up on Monday and to get our preparation underway."

 

Wales squad:

Forwards: Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Rhodri Jones, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Will Rowlands, Cory Hill, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Josh MacLeod, Justin Tipuric.

Backs: Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Kieran Hardy, Dan Biggar, Callum Sheedy, Jarrod Evans, Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, George North, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Louis Rees-Zammit, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams.

French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte says there is "no question" that the Six Nations will be staged this year.

The Telegraph this weekend reported that the tournament was in doubt after the French sports ministry imposed a ban on playing cross-border elite sports with clubs from the United Kingdom due to a new strain of coronavirus.

With the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup reportedly set to be suspended, the French government and Six Nations officials are expected to hold talks on Monday.

Yet Laporte does not believe there is any doubt that the competition, which starts in just four weeks' time, can be staged. 

He told RMC on Sunday: "It's a puzzle, but I think we should not be alarmed for the Six Nations tournament.

"The tournament will be played, with a health protocol dictated by the government, and linked to this mutant virus. Everything went well in the autumn [when the Autumn Nations Cup was staged], so will the upcoming Six Nations tournament, I'm no more worried than that."

The former Les Bleus coach added: "We have a meeting at the beginning of the week with the ministry of sports, a meeting also with the Six Nations Council.

"But we already talked to each other every day, and today there is no question of considering anything, except that we will play the tournament."

France are due to face Italy in the first game of the Six Nations at Stadio Olimpico on February 6.

The British and Irish Lions are to hold talks over the future of the 2021 tour to South Africa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

An eight-match trip is scheduled to begin on July 3 and continue into early August, including three Tests against the Springboks, who are the reigning world champions.

However, the continued complications surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis – in the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa – has led to doubts over whether the tour will go ahead as planned. 

In a statement on the team's official website, Lions managing director Ben Calveley confirmed that all involved are in "constant dialogue" over the ever-changing situation. 

Discussions will continue throughout January and February if needs be knowing a decision is required as soon as possible, particularly for those supporters considering travelling to South Africa.

"As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us," Lions managing director Ben Calveley said in a statement.

"However, given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward; not least so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa next summer, or those thinking of making the trip.

"To date, the Lions Board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue.

"It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data. After further consultation with SA Rugby, we will update on the outcome of these meetings in due course.

"In the meantime, we continue regular discussion with our partners in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including the British High Commission in Pretoria, the Irish Embassy and various government departments, to ascertain as much information as possible on this fast-evolving, complex situation."

Warren Gatland is once again due to be in charge of the tourists; the former Wales coach was at the helm for the 2013 victory over Australia, as well as the drawn series with New Zealand four years later. 

The Lions have toured South Africa 13 times previously, including a 2-1 defeat to the Springboks in 2009 when Ian McGeechan was head coach. 

Wales and Scarlets lock Jake Ball will retire from international rugby at the end of the season to be with his family in Australia.

The 29-year-old's wife, Christie, returned to Australia for the birth of their fourth child earlier this year.

Ball, who has not yet been able to meet baby Max, has decided to end his Test career and a nine-year spell with Pro14 side the Scarlets next July so he can be reunited with his family.

"It has been a difficult decision to make but one I have made for the family," said Ball.

"My wife was expecting our fourth child and with Covid around and players having to be in bubbles and everything, we made the decision that she and the kids should go home to have some family help and support around her.

"Max was born last month; there have been Zoom calls and things, but I haven't seen him yet and it has been difficult. As the season goes on, it would be pretty tough of me to ask Christie to come back here away from her family again.

"It has been a fantastic nine seasons I have been here. I love the Scarlets and playing with Wales has been unbelievable and something I will never forget.

"It has been a massive honour to represent my country, but at the end of the day I made a huge sacrifice in staying behind for a year without my family. I have four kids now and I won't have seen them for close on a year."

Ball joined the Scarlets from Western Force in 2012 and has gone on to win 49 caps for Wales.

Alun Wyn Jones will need at least 10 weeks to recover from his knee injury, Ospreys fear, putting his involvement in Wales' Six Nations opener in doubt.

Wales captain Jones - Test rugby's most capped player - sustained the blow in his side's Autumn Nations Cup win over Italy.

That victory was on December 5, nine weeks out from the start of the 2021 Six Nations, where Wales begin their campaign against Ireland on February 7.

That clash could therefore come too soon for Jones, according to Ospreys coach Toby Booth, although he expects the 35-year-old will work to return ahead of schedule.

"We've spoken to the powers that be in relation to his knee," Booth said, discussing the lock ahead of his team's European Challenge Cup encounter with Worcester Warriors.

"We think he will be double-figure weeks.

"If I said it to Alun, he would say, 'I will be back in eight'. That's the nature of the beast.

"He is probably going to be somewhere around that sort of timeframe, which is disappointing for him and obviously for us.

"If anyone is going to get back early, it will be him."

Jones matched Richie McCaw's total of 148 caps against France in October, claiming the outright record a week later in the defeat to Scotland.

Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France will face New Zealand in the pool phase, while reigning champions South Africa have been paired with Ireland and Scotland. 

France and three-time winners New Zealand are joined in Pool A by Italy, plus qualifiers from the Americas and Africa regions. 

Ireland and Scotland faced each other in the 2019 tournament in Japan and will lock horns again as rivals in Pool B, which also contains the current holders in the Springboks. 

Pool C has a sense of familiarity to it, Wales, Australia and Fiji once again grouped together, as was also the case last year. 

And in Pool D, England coach Eddie Jones will face his former team in Japan plus Argentina, who beat New Zealand for the first time in their history last month.

Twelve teams have so far qualified for the tournament, with eight more to be determined by November 2022.

Tournament organisers will announce fixtures and venues in February 2021.


Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, Americas qualifier, Africa qualifier

Pool B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia/Pacific qualifier, Europe qualifier

Pool C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe qualifier, final qualifier winner

Pool D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania qualifier, Americas qualifier

Ireland's strong second-half showing saw off Scotland as Andy Farrell's side claimed a 31-16 win and third spot in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Scotland were the better side for much of the opening 40 minutes in Dublin but fell behind to Keith Earls' try just before the interval.

Earls touched down again after the break, with Cian Healy getting in on the act to cement Ireland's lead.

Duhan van der Merwe hit back for Scotland but Ross Byrne kicked two late penalties to keep the visitors at bay.

Wales took fifth place with a 38-18 victory over Italy at Parc y Scarlets.

The hosts had surrendered a 14-0 lead to trail 18-17 in the second half before Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau combined brilliantly to set Gareth Davies away for a pivotal try.

Italy did not have a second fightback in them and Wales put the game to bed with two further scores from George North and  Tipuric.

Elsewhere, Nemani Nadolo scored a hat-trick for Fiji in their 38-24 win over Georgia, securing seventh spot for the Pacific islanders after a six-try haul.

Gareth Bale scored his 200th career goal on Thursday after he netted for Tottenham in their Europa League clash with LASK.

Wales international Bale had been stuck on 199 goals for club and country since he scored for Spurs in their 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton at the start of November.

He went close to reaching the milestone during Tottenham's 4-0 win over Ludogorets in the Europa League on November 26, but hit his 200th goal in Spurs' next European outing.

Bale's landmark strike – his first away goal for Spurs in Europe since he scored a hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter in 2010 – came from the penalty spot, Bale restoring parity after Peter Michorl had put LASK ahead.

The 31-year-old scored the first of 167 club goals for Southampton against Derby County in August 2006, while his maiden strike for Wales came in October of the same year against Slovakia.

Bale rejoined Spurs on a season-long loan deal from LaLiga side Real Madrid in September having played for the club between 2007 and 2013.

England saw off Wales 24-13 in a scrappy Llanelli battle as Eddie Jones' men clinched top spot in Group A of the Autumn Nations Cup. 

Tries from Henry Slade and Mako Vunipola plus 14 points from the boot of captain Owen Farrell - who became the sixth man to kick 200 penalties in Test rugby - did the job for the visitors. 

There was little running rugby on view at Parc y Scarlets, where Wales showed dogged resistance at times, an improved showing for coach Wayne Pivac whose team halted a six-game losing streak with a shaky victory over Georgia in their previous outing. 

But England rode out the shock of conceding an early try against the run of play and were comfortable enough winners in the end.

Johnny Williams nudged Wales ahead on 10 minutes, with Dan Biggar kicking a loose ball through and Williams showing good football skills himself before grounding for the first points of the game. Leigh Halfpenny added the conversion. 

Slade got England on the board in the 15th minute, an easy run to the line in the left corner after the visitors moved the ball sharply through hands, but Farrell pulled his kick wide. 

Halfpenny then sent a 45-metre penalty a foot wide of the right post, missing out on points Wales could ill afford to let slip away. 

Farrell booted England into the lead for the first time after Wales flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes was punished for not releasing the ball. 

And England were kicking at almost every opportunity when in possession, but a combination of their erratic work and pressure from the Welsh was keeping it tight. Farrell added a second penalty to edge England into an 11-7 interval lead. 

The Welsh defence was impressing but they were bereft of an attacking threat and at times it looked like a damage-limitation exercise, with Vunipola plunging over from close range near to the posts for the second Red Rose try in the 51st minute. 

Farrell could hardly miss and duly stretched England's lead to 18-7, before a spell of Welsh pressure saw the hosts earn a pair of penalties that Biggar seized on to claim six easy points. 

A third Farrell penalty saw England to an eight-point cushion, after Wales knocked on, and he slotted a fourth in the 72nd minute to make sure. 

George Ford will start at fly-half when England face Wales in their final Autumn Nations Cup Group A match on Saturday.

Ford made his return from an Achilles injury off the bench in the 18-7 victory over Ireland at Twickenham last weekend, but will take the number 10 shirt at Parc y Scarlets.

Captain Owen Farrell shifts to inside centre, partnering Henry Slade after Ollie Lawrence was omitted from the squad due to a hip injury.

The England side is otherwise unchanged as Eddie Jones' men look to make it three wins out of three and seal top spot.

Luke Cowan-Dickie and Anthony Watson have been named on the bench after recovering injuries, while Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jonny Hill, Dan Robson, Will Stuart and Jack Willis are the other replacements.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones returns to the Wales starting line-up in Llanelli following the win over Georgia.

Under-fire head coach Wayne Pivac has made eight changes to his side, with Leigh Halfpenny replacing Liam Williams at full-back, Josh Adams starting on the wing and Lloyd Williams and Dan Biggar getting the nod as the half-back pairing.

 

England team: Elliot Daly, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Jack Willis, Dan Robson, Anthony Watson.

Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Lloyd Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Aaron Wainwright, Rhys Webb, Callum Sheedy, Owen Watkin.

Ollie Lawrence will miss England's final Autumn Nations Cup Group A match against Wales due to a hip injury.

Lawrence started in the victories over Georgia and Ireland, but will play no part at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

England defence coach John Mitchell said: "Ollie has a little niggle around his abductor and hip area, nothing major but it is a niggle that is concerning him.

"Ollie has huge potential as a centre. He is very talented in terms of running onto the ball and he has got exceptional ability to line break."

Jonathan Joseph or captain Owen Farrell could move into midfield in the absence of Lawrence as the Six Nations champions look to seal top spot.

Jack Willis has been retained by Eddie Jones in a 25-man squad, while Anthony Watson and Joe Marler will be hoping to make their Test returns.

 

England squad:

Backs: Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (captain), George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Max Malins, Jonny May, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Jack Willis.

Wales back-row Ross Moriarty will miss the remainder of the Autumn Nations Cup due to an ankle injury.

The British and Irish Lion did the damage in training ahead of struggling Wales' encounter with Group A leaders England at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Moriarty has also been ruled out of Wales' last match of the tournament the following weekend, when Wayne Pivac's side will face yet to be decided opponents from Group B.

Under pressure head coach Pivac will be hoping Justin Tipuric is given the green light to face the Six Nations champions.

Loose forward Tipuric was struck in the face by Beka Saginadze's swinging arm in Wales' 18-0 win over Georgia last weekend and is undergoing concussion protocols.

England are top of the group, five points clear of Wales and Ireland, with Georgia bottom.

Anthony Watson and Luke Cowan-Dickie have returned to the England squad for the Autumn Nations Cup clash with Wales on Saturday after recovering from injury. 

Bath back Watson sustained an ankle injury in the Six Nations win over Italy last month, while Exeter Chiefs hooker Cowan-Dickie is back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery. 

Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga and Northampton full-back George Furbank, meanwhile, have withdrawn from the 35-man squad due to injury.

Eddie Jones' side beat Ireland 18-7 on Sunday and another victory in Llanelli on Saturday will see them compete against the winners of Group B on December 6 to decide who lifts the trophy.

 

England squad:

Backs: Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (captain), George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Jonny May, Alex Mitchell, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Ollie Thorley, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Beno Obano, David Ribbans, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Jack Willis.

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