Here are your headlines from Monday 11 April rugby night.
Brown reveals Itoje prank sparked fight that ended his England career
A prank by Maro Itoje sparked an altercation between Mike Brown and Ben Te’o which cost the English pair their places at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Former England full-back Brown has often spoken of the infamous fight during a headline-grabbing squad bonding session that ultimately cost him and Te’o their place in the squad, but he has now revealed it was a prank by Saracens star Itoje that ultimately kicked things off.
“Brown [Itoje] I decided it would be funny to hit people up, in a fun, jolly way, but he’s a big guy and he’s been drinking,” Brown said. Jim Hamilton of RugbyPass in the documentary Rugby Roots.
“He hit me really hard there [points at chest]. Hard enough to leave a massive handprint. And I’m sitting there chatting, relaxing for the first time in a few weeks and he came up behind me and hit me.
“He did it to a few people, but I didn’t really enjoy it. So I left it for a few minutes because I was smoking. I was so angry.
“I left him for a few minutes, calmed down, then took him aside and said, ‘Look, I know we’re having a good time and that, but I don’t really appreciate that. . I think it’s disrespectful, don’t do it again. And that was good, me and Maro were fine.
“Ben being the liquidator that he is, he kind of figured that out and then decided for the rest of the time that he would try to liquidate me. And he had had a few too. He likes his drink.
” He continued [motions a pushing gesture with hands], ‘You ain’t gonna do nothing, you ain’t gonna do nothing. A tough guy on the pitch,” just messing around.
“There was a case where he [Te’o] was trying to do it and he kind of fell on that table and knocked over a bunch of glasses. Joe Marchant and Alex Dombrandt, who were new to the environment at the time, just stood up and said ‘Ben, what are you doing? Leave him alone. We’re just trying to relax.
“I don’t think he liked it because they were two young guys and it hurt him a bit. He left and I think he was a little annoyed because he was stopped by two young guys.”
Later that night, the pair came to blows – ultimately costing them both a place in the tournament in Japan. However, Brown believes that was not the reason for his exclusion, adding that he challenged the England manager on that front.
“That wasn’t the reason I didn’t go to the World Cup,” he added. “I think it was just easier for Eddie to put it on that, because I had kind of been kicked out of the team as that season had gone by. Then, a few days later, when he calls people up to say they’re not involved, he kind of puts it on that. I said to him ‘Look, I get that selection is what it is, but don’t put it on that- above [the fight]. You didn’t even ask me what happened.
“With all due respect, I really didn’t do anything. I don’t feel like it was my fault, I hadn’t had a lot to drink, two drinks or anything. There were people in worse shape than me and I was just trying to mind my own business.
“So he [Eddie Jones] just lit and lit on me, scary and blinding. It wasn’t nice. Just be a man and say what’s the reason I’m not chosen. Don’t try to put it on there, because that’s not it. It’s pretty clear and obvious that it’s not that.
“I asked him to tell me what he thought happened and he said, ‘My security people were there, they told me what happened. I said, let me see what they said, because he said he wrote reports. He wouldn’t give me that. He said, ‘Who do you think you are for?’ because I was coming back to him and he doesn’t like it.”
Kolbe could cover flyhalf ahead of Wales Tests
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has expressed concern over the depth of fly-half available to him, adding that Cheslin Kolbe could replace the Springboks there.
Floating-footed Kolbe has emerged as one of world rugby’s most dangerous players in the back three but, with a test series against Wales to come this summer, it looks like he could also be considered to cover the shirt 10.
“It was a shock, at one point I thought if we were to play a test match now our two regular fly-halfs would be injured,” Nienaber said. “Handre is fit again and Elton has had surgery again and will actually be at the roster camp because he and Malcolm Marx are doing their rehab.
“Elton is doing very well, he will see a specialist in a week or two. If he gets the green light, he will return to Japan and join his club, who are in a promotion-relegation battle, so he wants to add to that. value. Hopefully he gets a few games in Japan, but first we want to make sure he can be signed by the specialist who operated on him….
“That’s why last year we thought we had an experienced leader in the team like Morne Steyn. Remember, we have Frans Steyn who can play there, Gaza [Damian Willemse]Cheslin put in some great performances for Toulouse last year before heading to Toulon, where he played for Toulouse at the opener.
Dragons captain confident of finding long-awaited victory
Dragons captain Harri Keddie called for his side to bounce back from another defeat and secure some much-needed wins in the final weeks of the season. The Gwent side have only won once this year, in October, in what is shaping up to be their worst season. However, Keddie, who shone in the loss to Gloucester, is confident the long-awaited victory will come.
“Everyone has to stick together at the minute,” he said. “It’s tough with the series of results we have, but we keep our heads down, everyone is looking to do their job for the team and believe we’ll get there.
“We now face the Scarlets who have just had some good wins but rugby derby is completely different and the form of the previous week may be hard to match. We have to raise our heads now. We can’t think too long.
“We will tighten things up from Monday and then look forward to the double header. When there are six games in a row, you can’t spend too much time looking back. We’ll get through it Monday morning and then, starting this afternoon, we’ll head forward and look forward to the next challenge.
Official appointments announced for European Rugby Weekend
England’s Luke Pearce will be in charge when Leinster Rugby and Connacht Rugby renew their Heineken Champions Cup rivalry at Aviva Stadium on Friday, and Ireland’s Frank Murphy will be in the middle for Round 2 of the contest between Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks at Ashton Gate on the same night with both matches live on BT Sport.
Saturday’s clash of Harlequins and Montpellier Hérault Rugby at Twickenham Stoop, again live on BT Sport with additional free coverage on Channel 4 and Virgin Media in the UK and Ireland, will be refereed by Scotsman Mike Adamson , while on the same day, Frenchman Mathieu Raynal and England’s Wayne Barnes were named for the Munster Rugby match against Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park and the second leg of Stade Rochelais and Union Bordeaux-Bègles at Stade Marcel respectively. Deflander.
Also on Saturday, Irishman Andrew Brace will be in charge at Mattioli Woods Welford Road when Leicester Tigers and ASM Clermont Auvergne meet again, and England’s Matthew Carley will referee the second leg clash between Ulster Rugby and Stade Toulouse at the Kingpan Stadium.
The Champions Cup Round of 16 will end on Sunday when Georgia’s Nika Amashukeli takes charge of the second leg of Racing 92 and Stade Français Paris at Paris La Défense Arena.
The Challenge Cup Round of 16 kicks off Friday night with four winner-takes-all matches. The Italian Andrea Piardi has been appointed for the meeting between the London Irish and Castres Olympique at the Brentford Community Stadium, while Biarritz Olympique against Wasps at the Parc des Sports Aguiléra will be refereed by the Irishman Chris Busby.
Frenchman Tual Trainini will be in the middle when Newcastle Falcons and Glasgow Warriors face off at Kingston Park, and Italian Gianluca Gnecchi will be in charge when No.1-ranked Lyon take on Worcester Warriors at Matmut Stadium in Gerland.
Saturday’s meeting between Edinburgh Rugby and Bath Rugby at the DAM Health Stadium will be refereed by Frenchman Ludovic Cayre, England’s Karl Dickson has been named for RC Toulon against Benetton Rugby at the Stade Félix Mayol, and Scotsman Sam Grove-White will take charge of the all-Gallagher Premiership contest between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm.
Sunday’s Saracens v Cardiff Rugby clash at the StoneX Stadium, live on BT Sport and S4C, will be refereed by Frenchman Pierre Brousset.