Our April Rugby Roundup

Dwayne Peel’s side are now, at time of print, the only Welsh side left standing in European competition, after the Ospreys, the Dragons and Cardiff were all knocked out in April.

The Scarlets overcame French club Clermont Auvergne, 32-30, in Llanelli to make it through to the last four of the European Challenge Cup.

It was a hard-earned win for the Scarlets who trailed for much of the night, despite the fact that Clermont played with only 14 men from the 24th minute onwards following the red card shown to Irae Simone for a dangerous tackle on Leigh Halfpenny.

It was a late conversion from young fly-half Sam Costelow that saw the Scarlets through as Dwayne Peel’s side proved they are the form region in Wales with 11 wins in their last 13 matches.

Should they reach their first European final, they’ll take on either Toulon or Benetton on May 19 in Dublin.

Far more forgettable was the 73-33 defeat suffered by the Dragons against Glasgow in their round of 16 match as the Scottish side ran in 11 tries, including a record five for hooker Johnny Matthews.

Cardiff also made the last eight following an emotional night when they not only came from behind to beat Sale Sharks, 28-27, but also paid heartfelt tributes to their former chairman, Peter Thomas, who died recently at the age of 79.

The club also announced they have renamed their main stand, The Peter Thomas Stand, in honour of their renowned benefactor.

There were rousing acknowledgements to the influence of Thomas on the Arms Park pitch prior to the match, before Wales wing Josh Adams ran in two tries to cap a memorable evening.

Cardiff had hoped to join the Scarlets in the last four, but they lost their Challenge Cup quarter-final, 27-23 to Benetton in rainy Treviso.

It was a disappointing exit for Cardiff who were outscored by three tries to two in a tight contest and just could not find a way through a determined Italian defence late on.

It means there will be no repeat trip to the final for Cardiff, who won Europe’s second tier tournament in 2010 and 2018.

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young said:

“We were in that game right until the last minute. I’m proud of the players and we definitely have a lot to build on.”

The Ospreys have found themselves within striking distance of Cardiff, and Toby Booth’s side will be confident they can strike a decisive blow come Judgement Day.

However, Wales and Ospreys stalwart Alun Wyn Jones may have played his last European tie for the Ospreys after they lost their Heineken Champions Cup last 16 tie away to Saracens on Sunday, going down 35-20.

The 37-year-old former Wales captain has issued no statements yet on his future, but it has been suggested in some circles that his time as an elite player will come to a close after the World Cup in France in September.

When it was put to Ospreys head coach Toby Booth that the legendary forward had played his last match in front of fans in Swansea, he said: “If that ends up being his last game, he certainly has signed off at the Swansea.com Stadium in style because he was outstanding,”

That would mean the great man has now played his last home game before Ospreys fans as well as his final European match after the Ospreys succumbed to Sarries.

In the Women’s game; Sisilia Tuipulotu is fast becoming one of the stars of the sport in Wales and she underlined her huge talent again with two tries and a second successive player of the match award in the 34-22 victory against Scotland in Edinburgh.

The teenager helped Wales make it two wins from their opening two games, with fellow prop Gwenllian Pyrs also crossing twice.

Tuipulotu – cousin of Wales men’s star Taulupe Faletau – is making rapid strides at the age of 19 and Wales coach Ioan Cunningham said:

“She’s been awesome in the first two games and given us front-foot ball and an opportunity to go forward and play through teams.”