These are some of the rugby headlines on Sunday May 15
More rave reviews for Welsh qualified teen sensation
Dazzling full-back Henry Arundell is being compared to New Zealand legend Christian Cullen, headlines that appear more likely to take him out of Wales’ clutches.
Wayne Pivac is said to want the hugely talented London Irish youngster, who has Welsh ancestry, to line up in the red of Wales. Arundell, the outstanding teen who lit up the recent under-20s Six Nations for England, also qualifies for Scotland.
READ MORE: The man who could have changed Welsh rugby
However, with the Celtic interest hovering, it is thought England boss Eddie Jones is ready to fast-track the teen sensation into his senior Red Rose fold. That scenario appears even more likely after former England full-back Mike Brown likened 19-year-old Arundell to the great Cullen, one of the finest players in New Zealand rugby history.
Brown delivered his assessment after being bowled over by a wonder solo score by Arundell against Toulon, which is being dubbed try of the season. Read about that here ..
He wrote in a column for the Mail: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There’s so much natural ability there. What’s so impressive is the way Arundell swerved at top speed, threw in some footwork, dropped his speed to almost a standstill and then went again.
“His deceleration and quick acceleration back to top speed is really impressive. You see a lot of unbelievably quick athletes who struggle to beat defenders at top speed. That body movement at pace is what set Cullen apart from the rest. There aren’t many players in the world who move like that. He’s quick but he’s also strong, 96kg, with big legs. “
Brown went on: “You always see one bolter at the World Cup, pushing their way into the starting team and having a real impact. People question whether there’s still a place in the international game for running threats. Yes, there’s less time and space in the Test game, but there are still opportunities for moments of magic.
“No one has really made England’s winger positions their own, so it’s up for grabs for someone like Arundell. If you need a try at the end of the match, when the bodies are tired, he could be lethal.
“I could see him starting out as one of Jones’s ‘finishers’, and there’s no reason why he can’t push his way into the starting team over the next 12 months if he takes any opportunities he gets. He could be England’s most exciting runner since Jason Robinson. “
Full-back Arundell made a big impression for England in the junior Six Nations, scoring two tries against Wales and one apiece against the Scots and France, with the touchdown in Edinburgh described as a “moment of sheer magic” as the youngster ran 80 meters to score.
His possible problem if he throws in his lot with England is that they have another young No. 15 of outstanding potential in 21-year-old Freddie Steward. Wales have a proven and stellar last line of defense in Liam Williams, but he’s 31 and Leigh Halfpenny is 34 this year. So young Arundell could actually find greater opportunities to shine at Test level by throwing in his lot di lui with Wales.
But with the kind of headlines Arundell has just received from Brown, it seems Pivac’s prospects of landing the young ace are even slimmer.
English club swoop for record-breaking Welsh youngster
English Championship club Ampthill are trying to sign Ospreys youngster and Wales under-20s record-breaker Morgan Strong, according to reports.
The Rugby Paper reckon Paul Turner, the former Wales fly-half in charge of the Bedfordshire side, is keen on the ball carrying No. 8.
Strong, 21, has yet to break into the Ospreys first team. But he is viewed as a talent, powerful with ball in hand, a hard worker and someone who puts in lots of tackles.
In fact, Strong set a record for most tackles in a single under-20s game when he and Ben Carter each hit the 29 mark against Italy two years ago. Stats experts Opta had never previously recorded a bigger figure for any individual at that level.
Carter, of course, has since gone on to break into Wayne Pivac’s Wales set-up at lock.
Leinster will get even better
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen acknowledged there is still scope for growth within his side despite their convincing 40-17 Heineken Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium.
Antoine Dupont’s breakaway try edged Toulouse in front during the early stages of the heavyweight clash, but tries from James Lowe (two), Josh van der Flier and Hugo Keenan propelled Leinster into their first European final since 2019.
After watching his charges close out an impressive victory in which captain Johnny Sexton kicked 15 points, Cullen said: “I thought it was a good performance overall. There’s still room for growth as always, but to deliver a big performance in a semi-final , it’s pleasing. “
Leinster will meet the winners of the Racing 92 versus La Rochelle semi-final on Sunday and whoever it is will be familiar foe.
Racing 92 provided the opposition when Cullen’s men last tasted European success in 2018, while La Rochelle defeated them at the semi-final stage last season.
Farrell frustration as English Euro interest ends
Owen Farrell was frustrated with the performance of his Saracens side after they were dumped out of the European Challenge Cup by Toulon.
The former English champions put themselves in a strong position to win but were outmuscled before going down 25-16 at the Stade Felix Mayol. As a result there will be a French final in two weeks’ time when Toulon take on Lyon in Marseille.
English representation in this season’s Challenge Cup is at end following Wasps’ defeat to Lyon earlier in the day. English interest in the Champions Cup had already ended.
Saracens captain Farrell insists his side should have done a lot better. “We are obviously disappointed with the result but probably more with the performance, especially in that first half,” he said.
“I feel like we could have given a better account of ourselves, especially in some areas we pride ourselves on. We will have to look inwards now, and we need to make sure it spurs us on for the rest of the season.
“We couldn’t string too much together. Massive credit to Toulon in the way they defended, and how they slowed down our breakdown in particular.
“It was hard to play against. We need to make sure we figure out why, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”