Sport: Today's rugby news as Wales bounce back from disaster and Springbok claims URC move will help team in Rugby Championship

English rugby favourite Ed Slater diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 33 as he ends playing career

  English rugby favourite Ed Slater diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 33 as he ends playing career Gloucester forward Ed Slater has retired from professional rugby with immediate effect . News of his condition has resulted in an outpouring of support, with the Scarlets, Leinster, Saracens, Harlequins, Munster and Ulster among the clubs to send their best wishes to him, while many people have expressed their shock and sadness. A statement from Gloucester, who the back-five forward has been with for the last five years, reads: “Gloucester Rugby is deeply pained to announce that Ed Slater has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Saturday, July 30.

Chris Smith of Team Wales breaks away from Brian Mbalwe of Team Zambia © Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Chris Smith of Team Wales breaks away from Brian Mbalwe of Team Zambia

Wales bounce back at Commonwealth Games

Wales Sevens bounced back from a 31-0 loss to Canada in their opening game of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to beat Zambia 38-5 on day one of Birmingham Games.

Wales now face Olympic champions Fiji on Saturday afternoon in their final pool fixture in a game they must win to progress to the last-eight, while hoping Canada do not overcome Zambia.

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Elsewhere, Scotland's men have qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to victories over Tonga and Malaysia in Coventry, and face a pool decider against South Africa.

Tonga claim Rugby World Cup spot to face two of the world's top three sides in daunting group

  Tonga claim Rugby World Cup spot to face two of the world's top three sides in daunting group Tonga have beat Hong Kong to secure a place at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in FranceThe Tongans romped to a 44-22 win in the Asia/Pacific play-off on Saturday at Australia's Sunshine Coast Stadium to claim their spot in France's showpiece tournament next year, marking their ninth appearance at a World Cup.

Uganda almost caused the upset of the day before having to settle with a 12-12 draw with Australia.

However, England's men and women's teams have their work cut out to qualify for the medal matches.

There are eight women's teams and 16 men's teams competing, with 24 games having been played over two sessions on the opening day. Semi-finals are being held on Saturday evening, with the men's and women's medals will be decided on Sunday.

Springboks lock: 'URC switch will help South Africa in Rugby Championship'

South Africa lock Marvin Orie believes the move from Super Rugby to the United Rugby Championship will put the Springboks in good stead heading into the Rugby Championship next weekend.

South Africa's top teams now compete against sides from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy in the URC instead of facing the best from New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in Super Rugby.

New Zealand's Akira Ioane and Justin Marshall make contact after late-night confrontation goes viral

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Orie, who plays for inaugural URC title winners Stormers, believes the move has added more strings to the Boks’ bow.

“The switch from playing Super Rugby to the United Rugby Championship was challenging at first, as the styles of rugby between the Southern and Northern Hemisphere are different,” Orie explained.

“But I believe it was advantageous for us and that we can apply those learnings to the national team. We know the Rugby Championship will be a different challenge, but we have been simulating our training sessions according to what we can expect in the tournament.”

The 'Boks head into back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks in August following New Zealand’s poor showing in a 2-1 series defeat to Ireland.

Wales fly-half relishing first contract

Wales Women outside-half Robyn Wilkins is relishing taking up a part-time WRU contract just months out from the Rugby World Cup, admitting it's a relief not to have to squeeze in rugby sessions before and after work.

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Up until recently, the fly-half/full-back/centre was a science teacher at Bassaleg School in Newport but has made the move to Disability Sport Wales, where she now works as a part-time senior officer - freeing up time to train with Ioan Cunningham's Wales squad, which now boasts 29 full-time and two part-time players plus non-contracted players who are involved in the set-up.

“I’d like to think this is going to push me on as a player,” said Wilkins, who made her international debut aged 18 in 2014 before going on to earn 59 caps. “There’ll be a lot more pressure, and there’s not any excuses you can use like being tired, or needing to juggle it around work. That’s something we have to grasp with two hands.

“The pressure will make it more enjoyable when we achieve success. Contracts have definitely made a difference. We had professional contracts during the Six Nations but those of us who weren’t on those contracts were coming in in the evening so we couldn’t take all the benefits whereas now we’ve got a full squad able to train altogether. You can go through a lot more drills, a lot more skills but also in the day you are a lot fresher, and more recovered to go again.”

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Before her switch to Disability Sport Wales, Wilkins would be rising at dawn to try and fit in rugby around her teaching schedule. “I’d be getting up at 6am trying to get a session in before school, and then getting a session in after school whereas now training in the day makes such a difference. You feel a lot fresher and ready to go."

Wilkins is preparing to launch a week-long para-sport festival in Swansea from August 1-7 that includes free, take-part opportunities from athletics to triathlon and wheelchair rugby and spectator events such as deaf rugby Sevens and wheelchair rugby.

“In terms of my role with Disability Sport Wales I’ve always wanted to be involved in sport so this is the perfect combination,” she said. “It’s a week-long event, there’ll be different events on each week. It starts on Monday and runs all the way through to the Sunday.

“The Monday will be a come and try event. We have 20 sporting activities on offer for disabled and non-disabled participants from wheelchair rugby to athletics and on Tuesday there will be target shooting along with running, cycling and swimming. We are really encouraging everyone to get down to Swansea and have a go."

Go to parasportfestival.co.uk to sign up for free Take Part or Spectate events.

Rugby stadium railings collapse as fans plunge onto concrete below .
The events had chilling echoes of an incident in Wales many years previousMercifully, it didn’t.

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