Cardiff blues have revealed that they will not be appealing against Ritchie Rees ban. Rees was banned for 12 weeks by an European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing in Dublin on 6 January.

The Cardiff Blues man was found guilty of making contact with Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley’s eye during their 23-19 Heineken Cup loss on 19 December.

Rees pleaded not guilty on the basis that any contact had been accidental.


Cardiff Blues have named Leigh Halfpenny on the bench for their next game. The Wales wing has been out with an ankle injury since October, but back-row Xavier Rush (neck) is out despite completing a one-week suspension.

Centre Jamie Roberts makes his first start since surgery on a long-term wrist injury, replacing Tom Shanklin.

The Ospreys promote Andrew Bishop, Jamie Nutbrown, Paul James and Ian Gough to the starting line-up.

All four started on the bench in Monday’s 60-17 win over the Scarlets but get their turn to start at the Blues, with Nikki Walker, Mike Phillips and Ryan Jones dropping to the replacements.


An impressiveWales Sevens team lost to South Africa in the plate semifinals. On Friday, Wales beat Scotland, France and Australia to top Pool A.

But a late Simaika Mikaele try saw the powerful Samoans beat Wales 19-14 in Saturday’s Cup quarter-final.

Tom Isaacs and Ifan Evans had touched down but two tries from Samoa’s Alafoti Fa’osiliva before Mikaele’s winner, as Wales’ Evans was sin-binned, won it.


Welsh captain Matthew Rees has asked the team to avoid any silly mistakes in the future. Wales were beaten by Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, while they were also held to a dismal draw by Fiji.

But Rees insists they have been competitive in all of the games. “We know at this level the difference is error and until we cut them out in our game, that’s going to be difficult to get results,” Rees said.

“We have played the three top teams in the world and from our point of view we have been able to match them up front physically and we have kept them in the game for long periods of time.”

Wales began their November Tests with a 25-16 defeat to Australia, which was followed up by a 29-25 loss at the hands of world champions South Africa.

Last weekend, they were held to a 16-16 draw by Fiji which drew much criticism and saw Ryan Jones replaced by Scarlets hooker Rees as captain after the match.


Scarlets beat Aironi comfortably in the Welsh Rugby Union thanks to a hat-trick from Jonathan Davies. Andy Fenby started the rout on the half-hour before George North added a second before the break.

Aironi lost Jaco Erasmus to a yellow card after the restart and Davies twice capitalised. Replacement Martin Roberts took the lead to 42-3, then Davies completed an emphatic night for the Scarlets before Nick Williams replied late on.

The win takes the Scarlets to second in the Magners League overnight with Aironi remaining bottom and still searching for a first win.


Benetton Treviso defeated Scarlets 34-28 in a thrilling contest. The Scarlets led 22-9 at the break, but the home side stormed back to register a historic win.

Wing Tommaso Benvenuti scored the winning try four minutes from the end while scrum-half Tobias Botes played a starring role.

Scarlets debutant George North, 18, touched down twice.

But North’s night and that of his team-mates came to a dire end as the hosts signalled their intentions for the season by making the visitors’ suffer.

The Scarlets rested experienced internationals Stephen Jones, Sean Lamont and new skipper Matthew Rees were rested while rising stars Ken Owens, Tavis Knoyle and Jonathan Davies were on the bench – decisions that look questionable with hindsight


Ospreys star James Hook has been handed a second piece of good news in four days after he received a surprise call to play for Wales. Having previosuly watched from the Wales Rugby Hospitality Tickets, Hook has taken on a starring role!

Hook helped the Ospreys to Magners League glory on Saturday night, playing a key part in the 17-12 triumph over Leinster at the RDS,

That historic win was expected to be Hook’s last appearance of the summer as the 24-year-old prepared for shoulder surgery.

The Welsh Rugby Union had previously announced that Hook would miss next Saturday’s Test against South Africa, as well as the impending tour of New Zealand.

But Wales coach Warren Gatland has performed a dramatic u-turn by naming the British & Irish Lions tourist in his starting XV for the Cardiff clash with the Springboks.

“James is desperate to play and it just shows how much it means to him to put that red jersey on,” said Gatland.

“We are obviously delighted to have him and would particularly like to thank Scott Johnson and Andrew Hore at the Ospreys who have helped to make it possible.

Rowley Hails Welsh Rugby

Wales have been granted automatic qualification for the 2013 World Cup, which will be hosted by the Rugby Football League in the United Kingdom.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said Wales league boss Mark Rowley.

“This is momentous,” said Wales Rugby League executive chairman Rowley after receiving the news at the RLIF two-day meeting in Melbourne. “We achieved autonomous status in 2006 which was our first major step up the international rugby league ladder.

“It’s more exciting than ever to be part of rugby league in Wales right now. We have two professional sides for the first time in almost 100 years in Crusaders and South Wales Scorpions, with the Scorpions fielding 99% Welsh-born players.

“Our Conference season in the south kicks off this Sunday in Nelson with a Nines tournament and 13 teams will be taking to the field this season. We are soon launching a local league in north Wales for the very first time, while we now have over 150 school teams in Wales.

“Internationally, we are European champions in rugby league at both senior level and under-18 level. We are the Home Nations champions at A international and student level, while our students reached the semi-finals of their last World Cup.

“We are now heading towards the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in full confidence, but our next aim is to qualify for the 2011 Four Nations and we take on Ireland, Scotland and France for that right this autumn.”

Wales get Automatic Place

Wales have been granted automatic qualification for the 2013 World Cup, which will be hosted by the Rugby Football League in the United Kingdom.

The Welsh, who reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1995 and 2000, were notable absentees from the last tournament in Australia two years ago after losing to Scotland in the qualifying tournament.

But they will be one of 12 teams granted automatic entry after becoming full members of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) at their meeting in Melbourne.

The RLIF announced in February that the competition would be expanded from 10 teams to 14, with two of them to come from qualifying tournaments which are likely to be the Pacific Cup and the European Cup.

The other automatic place is likely to go to either Cook Islands, who lost in the final of the 2009 Pacific Cup to Papua New Guinea, or Lebanon, who narrowly missed out on qualification for 2008.

Wales will join the 10 teams who took part last time – holders New Zealand, Australia, England, Papua New Guinea, France, Ireland, Scotland, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga – and will almost certainly host matches in 2013.