Here are your rugby evening headlines for Tuesday, November 30.

Lyn Jones steps down as Russia boss

Lyn Jones has stepped down as Russia coach.

57-year-old Jones, who won five caps for Wales in the early 1990s, earned plaudits for taking Russia to a World Cup for just the second time in their history in Japan 2019.

But, with the 2023 qualifying tournament being badly disrupted by COVID-19 postponements, Jones has now decided to call time on his Moscow experience.

Read more: Cardiff rugby players suffer panic attacks in South Africa as Welsh Government blasted for ‘lack of empathy’

Igor Artemyev, chairman of the Russian rugby federation, paid tribute to Jones’ contribution.

“I have great respect for the work done by Lyn Jones, though there were serious problems with Covid and it was difficult for the head coach to travel to Russia,” he said.

“Lyn began to rejuvenate the national team and in the future that can bring good results.”

Jones took over from former Dragons colleague Kingsley Jones three years ago, who has since taken on the role of Canadian national coach.

Jones was joined in the Moscow coaching box by former Ospreys and Dragons fly half Shaun Connor, who was appointed backs coach.

Springbok star Duane Vermeulen tests positive for Covid

South Africa star Duane Vermeulen has tested positive for Covid-19.

The Springbok star was due to link up with Ulster, but the positive result will mean his integration with the squad will now be delayed.

Vermeulen had been unlikely to feature against the Ospreys this weekend, as he was in the Barbarians squad that was due to play Samoa at Twickenham last Saturday, but that game was cancelled after members of their squad tested positive for Covid-19.

Upon arriving at Kingspan Stadium, where he was required to go through the Covid protocols, the World Cup winner returned a positive test and will be required to isolate under government guidelines.

“(Duane) Vermeulen will not train with the team this week. He will continue to be monitored medically and is currently well,” read a statement from Ulster.

“The Public Health Agency has been contacted, and it is expected that he will integrate into the squad over the course of next week.”

Munster suffer nine more positive cases in South Africa

Munster have suffered further disappointment after confirming nine new positive coronavirus cases among their squad.

The club is currently isolating in Cape Town, having travelled to South Africa for two rounds of the United Rugby Championship.

However, a surge in cases of the new ‘Omicron’ Covid-19 variant saw Munster, Cardiff, Scarlets and Zebre rush to depart over the weekend before new quarantine measures came into effect.

Munster and Cardiff were each prevented from leaving on Sunday after returning positive Covid-19 cases, while Scarlets and Zebre have headed back to Europe.

Munster have since announced a further nine cases among their camp, meaning 10 of their 48-strong party are now in strict isolation.

A club statement on Tuesday read: “Munster’s latest round of PCR testing has identified nine positive cases. The group, including staff and players, will move to the designated quarantine hotel in Cape Town joining the first player who tested positive on Sunday.

“The remaining party of 38 have all returned negative results and continue to individually isolate in their rooms where they have been based since Sunday night.

“As outlined by the Irish government on Monday, those that have received negative results have clearance to travel from the South African authorities.”

World Rugby announces sweeping changes to community game

World Rugby has announced sweeping changes to the community game that could see teams reduced from 15 players, matches no longer played over 80 minutes and weight bands introduced in the youth game.

From January 1, 2022, 10 optional law variations aimed at improving participation will be free for World Rugby member unions to use at their own discretion.

The new laws include:

  • reducing teams from 15-a-side to as few as 10-a-side, providing both teams have an equal number of players and have agreed to the changes beforehand
  • reducing the length of the game from 80 minutes to as short as 40 minutes – with the ability to split matches into quarters or thirds
  • reducing scrums to a minimum of five players for 10-a-side games
  • allowing teams to agree not to contest or lift in lineouts
  • allowing teams to agree that penalties and free-kicks can only be kicked to touch from inside a team’s half, or that all conversions are from in front of the posts
  • introducing weight-based banding for matches in age-grade rugby and lower tackle-height
  • allowing matches to be played on surfaces including sand, clay or snow – with 10-a-side matches to be played on half a pitch;
  • permitting the use of smaller balls in certain matches or competitions

You can read the full story on the optional law changes here.

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