Rugby news: URC final ref named, Ireland duo to miss tests, hammer Wales injury blow, Super Rugby mourns 25y/o

A selection of the biggest rugby stories on Tuesday evening:

Piardi takes charge of URC final

Andrea Piardi has been appointed referee for this Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship Grand Final between the Vodacom Bulls and Glasgow Warriors in Pretoria. It’s the second season in a row the Italian will take charge of the URC’s showpiece finale. Piardi was also the man in the middle for Glasgow’s semi-final against Munster in Limerick last Saturday. Piardi’s assistants for the final at Loftus Versfeld will be Frank Murphy (IRFU) and Craig Evans (WRU). Matteo Liperini (FIR) will serve as Television Match Official.

Super Rugby player Garden-Bachop dies aged 25

Super Rugby player Connor Garden-Bachop has died at the age of 25, New Zealand Rugby has confirmed. The son of former All Black and Samoa outside-half Stephen and nephew of ex-All Black scrum-half Graeme, the winger had just ended a five-year spell with the Highlanders. He also played for the Maori All Blacks. In a statement, New Zealand Rugby said he died “following a medical event” in Christchurch on Monday.

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Connor Garden-Bachop has died at the age of 25.Connor Garden-Bachop has died at the age of 25.
Connor Garden-Bachop has died at the age of 25. | Getty Images

Four Scots in men’s GB Sevens squad for Olympic qualifier

Four Scots have been named in the men’s GB Rugby Sevens squad for this Olympic repechage event in Monaco this week. It’s their last chance to qualify for the summer Games in Paris and the 12-man squad will be captained by Scotland’s Robbie Fergusson and includes his compatriots Kaleem Barreto, Ross McCann and Max McFarland. The qualifier starts on Friday and runs through until Sunday. The GB team will face China, Uganda and Canada in the group phase.

England name Smith at fly-half to face Japan

Marcus Smith has won his individual duel with Fin Smith for the right to direct England in Saturday’s clash with Japan in Tokyo. Steve Borthwick has taken the bold step of naming his team two days early – the first time he has done so in 22 Tests since becoming head coach – as he prepares to lock horns with his former England boss Eddie Jones for the first time. Harlequins’ Marcus Smith will start at 10 ahead of Fin Smith, the chief playmaker in Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title triumph.

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Wales blow as flanker Morgan ruled out of summer Tests  

Wales have been dealt an injury blow with flanker Jac Morgan ruled out of Saturday’s Test match against South Africa  at Twickenham and the summer tour to Australia. Morgan, who was Wales’ World Cup co-captain with Dewi Lake last year, missed this season’s Six Nations because of a knee injury. But he now has a hamstring problem that he suffered during Ospreys’ United Rugby Championship quarter-final defeat against Munster. Wing Edwill van der Merwe and fly-half Jordan Hendrikse will make their South Africa Test debuts against Wales.

Gibson-Park and Conan to miss Ireland Tests against South Africa

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and back-rower Jack Conan will miss Ireland’s two-Test series against world champions South Africa. First-choice number nine Gibson-Park is ruled out by a hamstring injury, while Leinster team-mate Conan is unavailable due to personal reasons. Andy Farrell has handed a first senior call up to Ulster lock Cormac Izuchukwu and included uncapped Leinster pair Jamie Osborne and Sam Prendergast in a 35-man squad captained by Peter O’Mahony. Ireland take on the Springboks on Saturday, July 6 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria and seven days later at Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium in Durban.

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