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Owens nets Champions Cup semi-final gig after idle quarter-finals weekend

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Nigel Owens is back in business on the European stage, the veteran referee from Wales appointed to take charge of next Saturday’s Racing versus Saracens Champions Cup semi-final in Paris. 

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Eyebrows were raised when Owens was omitted from duties at any of last weekend’s eight fixtures across the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-finals.   

He took to Twitter on September 8 to explain what he would be doing with his unexpected free time, posting: “With no appointments to referee for next few weeks at least life on the farm is keeping one very busy and active.”

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JP Doyle guested on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

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JP Doyle guested on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

However, the 2015 World Cup final referee is now back on deck, ready to take charge of the big showdown in Paris, an unexpected semi-final fixture as the consensus prior to last weekend was that Leinster would be hosting Clermont in Dublin only for both clubs to lose their home quarter-finals.  

IRFU referee Andrew Brace, who was in charge of the recent Guinness PRO14 final featuring Leinster vs Ulster, will take charge of Saturday’s other Heineken Cup semi-final, the Sandy Park meeting of Exeter and Toulouse. 

Ireland’s Frank Murphy and Scotland’s Mike Adamson have been appointed to the respective Challenge Cup semi-finals, starting with Bristol vs Bordeaux on Friday followed by Toulon against Leicester the following night.  

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP SEMI-FINALS
(Kick-offs local time)

RACING 92 v SARACENS
Saturday – Paris La Défense Arena 14.00
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

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EXETER CHIEFS v TOULOUSE
Saturday – Sandy Park 15.30
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINALS
(Kick-offs local time)

BRISTOL BEARS v BORDEAUX-BEGLES
Friday – Ashton Gate Stadium 19.45
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

RC TOULON v LEICESTER TIGERS
Saturday – Stade Félix Mayol 21.00
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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