NIK SIMON’S GAIN LINE: RFU cancel their Christmas party over Omicron concerns… and fears emerge over South Africa potentially joining the Six Nations
- The RFU have called off their Christmas party due to the Omicron variant
- Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski is set to commit his long-term future to the club
- South Africa edge closer to holding talks over potentially joining the Six Nations
From Christmas parties being cancelled to a major club struggling to put a team together as the Omicron variant wreaks havoc, it has been another busy week for rugby.
Nik Simon brings us up-to-date with all the latest news in the sport both on and off the pitch.
England head coach Eddie Jones will not be having Christmas drinks with the media this year
Six Nations concern over Springbok link
Concerns are growing in rugby governance circles that investors CVC are preparing a move to add South Africa into the Six Nations. The Gain Line understands the world champions are close to agreeing an ‘exclusive period of negotiation’ with the private equity group, who own a 14.3 per cent stake in the tournament.
Bringing South Africa into the Six Nations could result in an uplift in broadcast cash, but the move would be unpopular with traditionalists and could be blocked by the home unions.
CVC are reportedly planning to open an office in the United Arab Emirates — amid fears that one exit strategy could be to sell off their rugby investments to the Middle East. CVC were not available for comment.
The RFU cancelled their Christmas party out of concern over the Omicron variant. The knees-up could be rescheduled next year. Eddie Jones’s festive drinks with the media was also cancelled. Jones pulled out of other events this week, including a Leeds Tykes lunch. Martin Johnson was his replacement.
The Scarlets are scrambling to loan in players for next week’s Euro game against Bristol. They have only 14 available – seven of whom are seniors – after their 32-man squad was hit by lockdown in South Africa. They are now in quarantine in a Belfast hotel.
Alex Lozowski, on loan with Montpellier, is on the verge of signing a three-year contract at Saracens — much to the disappointment of his suitors around Europe.
Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski looks set to sign a new long-term contract with the club
Leicester Tigers had earmarked the 28-year-old England playmaker as a potential replacement for George Ford, while Sale will be in the market for a centre if Rohan Janse van Rensburg returns home to South Africa. Montpellier wanted to keep Lozowski in France following his loan period, but he is set to stay put.
The Dragons and Cardiff are leading the race for the signature of newly-capped Wales hooker Bradley Roberts. Roberts’s Ulster contract expires at the end of the season and the WRU’s 60-cap selection policy means the 25-year-old will have to join a Welsh club to continue his international career.
Leading players’ agent Ryan Shahin has left the YMU agency in a move that is thought to be related to the ongoing fee dispute with the clubs. Shahin has represented some of the game’s biggest players, including Dylan Hartley, Ugo Monye, Billy Vunipola and George Ford.
Ryan Shahin represents Saracens and England star Billy Vunipola (above) among others