Wales rugby player Tom Williams set for surprise return just three weeks after alleged tunnel assault


Tom Williams is set to reappear on a rugby field just three weeks after suffering broken facial bones in an alleged assault at the sevens World Cup in San Francisco.

The talented Ospreys youngster, injured while on duty with Wales at the tournament in America, is being lined up to feature in his region’s opening pre-season friendly against Northampton Saints at the Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon.

It will complete a rapid recovery for the 6ft 3in, 15st 10lb centre or wing, who was at the centre of the alleged incident that attracted worldwide attention.

Samoan player Gordon Langkilde has denied assaulting three members of the Welsh team at the tournament.

Samoa’s Gordon Langkilde (left) and Tom Williams

Prosecutors allege Langkilde punched the Welsh players from behind as they walked down the tunnel following the match on July 21. He has pleaded not guilty to three charges of battery and one of assault that could see him jailed for up to four years if convicted.

Williams sustained a broken nose and a fractured cheekbone and was reportedly left bleeding heavily, with Luke Morgan and Ben Roach also injured. Langkilde is next due in court on August 15.

But Williams appears to have mended well and is ready to complete a prompt return to action, subject to his passing return-to-play protocols.

The cheekbone fracture was a small one and the youngster didn’t require surgery, enabling him to return to training last week.

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Welsh rugby news

The Ospreys will be pleased to see him back so quickly.

Head coach Allen Clarke texted the Coleg Llandrillo product in the hours after he was hurt in America and has pledged there will be opportunities for the Wales Under-20s cap this term.

“Tom is not a household name, but players like him and Luke Morgan are going to get time in an Ospreys shirt in the season ahead,” said Clarke.

“They are both good sevens players.

“But I want them to be playing 15s because they can beat men one on one and have gas to take opportunities.”

There are no plans for Williams to wear any kind of mask to protect his face in the game with Northampton.

Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke

Meantime, the Ospreys have pushed back the pre-season start dates of George North, Scott Williams and Alun Wyn Jones.

Initially, the Wales trio were due to begin training with the region this week, but a rethink means they will instead link with the squad for the first time this summer when the Ospreys stage a training camp in Portugal next week.

The former league champions are looking for a significant improvement in the season ahead after failing to qualify for top-tier European rugby for only the second time in their history. They picked up fewer Guinness PRO14 points than all but Zebre, the Dragons and Southern Kings during a turbulent 2017-18 campaign which saw them part company with head coach Steve Tandy.

They will crank up their preparations for the new term with a clash against Saracens at the Honourable Artillery Company venue on City Road on August 23.



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