These are your rugby headlines on Friday, April 12.

Wales great awarded testimonial year

Scarlets, Wales and Lions centre Jonathan 'Fox' Davies has been awarded a testimonial year.

The 36-year-old has played 209 games for the Scarlets since making his debut as a teenager back in 2006, while he has 96 Wales caps to his name having played at two World Cups and won four Six Nations championships, including two Grand Slams. Davies also toured twice with the Lions and was named player of the series on the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

Having won the PRO12 title with his boyhood club in 2017, the Welsh great remains an influential figure at Parc y Scarlets and has now been honoured with a testimonial year, running from June until May 2025. With events planned for Llanelli, Cardiff, London and Dubai, it will support Davies' chosen charity LATCH, who provide support for children and their families who are being treated by the Oncology Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Wales.

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“Never could I have imagined when I was a kid running out onto the field at Stradey Park after the final whistle, trying to get as many player autographs as I could, that I would be lucky enough to become a player myself and play for the Scarlets, let alone more than 200 times,” the centre said as the honour was announced.

“I have made memories that I will never forget whilst wearing the famous Scarlets shirt. From beating London Irish at the Madejski in Europe, where travelling support was immense, to my favourite moment, winning the league in 2016-17 alongside team-mates who were also friends. I am extremely grateful to the Scarlets for all their support over the years and for awarding me this testimonial year.”

Welsh Rugby Union CEO Abi Tierney paid tribute to Davies as "one of Welsh rugby's greatest servants," adding: "At the peak of his powers he was one of the best centres in the world game over a sustained period of time and he is still delighting fans at Parc y Scarlets on a regular basis.

“Certainly, during that successful Lions tour of Australia in 2013, everyone knew he was one of the first names on the team sheet for the Lions coaches and Warren Gatland has regularly, since, named him as one of the best players he has ever coached.

“Jonathan is a credit to his origins, to his family and to the schools and coaches of his youth, always paying them tribute and often back at the clubs and institutions who supported him as a youngster," Tierney continued. "He is a hugely impressive individual, humble about his achievements as one of the finest professional rugby players Wales has produced and he deserves all the accolades and credit that will follow him in his testimonial year with his beloved Scarlets.”

However, there remains uncertainty around Davies' immediate playing future, with the centre out of contract in Llanelli at the end of the season.

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Beard: Crowd will be 'hostile' for Euro quarter-final

Ospreys lock Adam Beard expects a hostile crowd at Kingsholm ahead of tonight's Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester.

It's yet another Anglo-Welsh derby this evening in Gloucestershire and Ospreys are very much flying the flag for Wales. They have been the feel-good story in club rugby in Wales this year and will hope to make more positive memories tonight.

Speaking ahead of the game, the Wales star said: "To get to a quarter-final in Europe is pretty special.

"It's another huge Anglo-Welsh derby and I know they get some good support and I have heard it can be a hostile crowd. Hopefully it will be a packed stadium.

"It is huge for Ospreys and we are targeting getting to that semi-final. We know we don't get any second chances and it is knockout rugby and the boys are bouncing for it.

"We just need to enjoy it and not put too much pressure on ourselves. That has what has been best for us over the last couple of years.

"If you look at Europe for us over the last couple of years we went out to Montpellier and nobody gave us a hope of getting these results.

"We were just a group of players who enjoyed rugby and each other's company and worked hard for each other. That is the vibe we have this week and that's when we play our best rugby."

Clearly Beard and Co want to make memories for the Ospreys fans travelling to Gloucestershire tonight and, importantly, want to keep the buzz swirling around the Swansea-based side.

"I am loving it here," he added. "I feel as if though I have a big role within this club whether it be on or off the field. It is helping we are playing some good rugby and getting some good wins.”

NFL legend warns 'amazing' Rees-Zammit

Former NFL star JJ Watt has sent a warning to Louis Rees-Zammit, telling the new Kansas City Chiefs signing that it's "going to be hard" for him to make it into the side's 53-man roster.

The ex-Wales wing has signed a three-year deal with the reigning Super Bowl champions but now faces a busy summer as he attempts to do enough to make the cut ahead of the new season. He's currently part of the 90-man offseason squad and will need to compete with fellow rookies to get himself on the active roster.

Rees-Zammit, who flew back to Kansas City on Wednesday, has impressed coaches, scouts and pundits in the States since sensationally quitting rugby to join the NFL's International Player Pathway. But while Watt admits that the Welshman "looks amazing", he says he has his work cut out if he is to take his sensational story to the next level, with the NFL "a cut-throat business".

Appearing on SkyBet's Stick to Football podcast, the Houston Texans legend - who became a minority investor in Burnley FC last year - said: "'With Louis Rees-Zammit, the rugby player who has been signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, it's big news. He's strong and looks amazing. They're doing a big reveal on it, which is funny because I saw a meme on it recently that they're doing a reveal for a guy who is going to be fighting for a roster spot.

'The NFL has just changed the kickoff rules, so I think that's part of why they've signed him as he has experience in this. As rugby has a similar style running system where the kickoffs might play, but there is no guarantee he's going to be a slam dunk but he's absolutely going to make it, at least from the little that I know about it."

"The NFL is such a cut-throat business," he added. "So it's going to be hard for him to make it, but we shall see. It's just because there's only 53 spots and you start the roster with 90 players, so that means you're cutting all those guys to get down to 50 and means the teams don't care who they're cutting. At the beginning of training camp, every team starts with 90 players and then by opening day, you have to get to 53.

"For the players who don't make it, a lot of them go home. They get paid for a couple weeks of training camp, but that's it. Most guys think that's the dream, with a lot of people saying that they played in the NFL for a cup of coffee because they came in for their four-week training camp, got cut and they never actually played in a real NFL game."

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Coach wary of global competition plans

Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has shared concerns over plans for a new club world championship, saying they have to be financially viable for the competing sides.

Plans for a World Club Cup have taken a massive step forward, with the first tournament slated to take place in June 2028. It would see sixteen teams - eight from Europe, six from Super Rugby and two from Japan's Rugby League One - compete over four weeks, with the format and venues still to be decided.

However, it's thought likelier that the first edition of the World Club Cup would be held in one country in Europe, rather than clubs playing at their own stadiums.

But with club rugby still recovering financially, in part due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Baxter is wary and cited travel costs as a potentially crippling factor for many of the teams that would take part in the competition.

"If someone says to me that in four years time they've got the finances in place that cover everyone's travel costs and there's a TV deal that means all the clubs involved in it get millions of pounds, and it helps all the clubs be viable, thriving businesses, I would say it's exactly what the game needs," said Baxter.

"[But] if what, as normal happens, is, 'Let's try and give it a go and see if we can make it work and see if we can create some interest,' I would be very hesitant about it because you can very easily create bigger issues in the game trying to solve issues, as we have seen numerous times."

With Exeter travellling to France on Sunday to face Toulouse in this year's Champions Cup quarter-finals, he added: ""We're in a European competition now and the costs for us literally overnight from Sunday knowing the result in France, to trying to find a plane, trying to get over - and we're taking the smallest plane we can - our costs are going to be in the tens and tens of thousands pounds," Baxter said.

"That's just now, and that's within a European competition. Take the reality of that and make it a world competition and go, 'Right, we're going to have a look at this and this is the funding that's in place and this is what might happen' - as much we all might want to do it, you do actually have to be able to afford to do it.

"There's nothing negative about interesting games of rugby, that's what everybody wants," Baxter continued. "But at the same time we have to make sure that everybody else wants to watch it and everybody else wants to be involved in it, not just the players and the coaches."