Here are your rugby morning headlines for Friday, September 18.

Dan Biggar hungry to keep improving

Wales' 83-cap international Dan Biggar has insisted he is eager to continue to develop and add "another dimension" to his game in order to extend his career.

The 30-year-old has often spoken fondly of his move to Northampton in 2018, crediting the Sixfields outfit for broadening his capacity as a playmaker at No.10.

He has sometimes come in for criticism for being a "one-dimensional" fly-half, but Biggar, who this weekend will take on Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup quarter-final, believes those so-called jibes have been the cornerstone of his illustrious career and refuses to accept backhanded compliments as the limit of his powers.

"What I've been good at through my career is what I hope will put me right up there with some of the best in my position," Biggar told PA.

"The other parts are about fine tuning, and that's something I've had to work a little bit harder at. But also it just adds another dimension to me as well.

"Whenever people say 'oh he's pragmatic and relies too much on a kicking game', I always take that as a real compliment. I don't see why people would see that as a negative.

"If I can improve little bits and little areas elsewhere, then that's what I think will make a big difference for me."

While he "would have regretted not experiencing something different" in his career with the Saints move, he admitted had he been on 30 caps at the time of the move it would have been a different decision, with Wales' 60-cap rule for players plying their trade outside Wales.

"I'm obviously one of the fortunate ones to have accumulated enough caps to play outside of Wales, and again that probably made the decision a little bit easier.

"Had I been on 30 caps it would have probably been a different decision at the time. But I feel like that policy has allowed me to come here and flourish."

Wales will host Scotland on October 31 to close their coronavirus-delayed Six Nations campaign, before stepping straight into November's Autumn Nations Cup.

The Lions will tour South Africa next summer, with Biggar clearly in the selection running, having stood up strongly in New Zealand in 2017.

"Hopefully I'll get back in with Wales in the autumn, but at the moment that feels like an eternity away," said Biggar.

"I'd love to be involved there for a few more years and as long as I feel I can still add value then I'll be sticking about.

"But if I'm totally, totally honest, the priority at the minute is making sure we turn the corner a bit here first, because that feeds into everything.

"Warren [Gatland] has given me pretty much all of my 83 caps, so obviously I owe a huge amount to him.

"But I also feel that's quite a big compliment to me as well, because Warren isn't the easiest taskmaster, he's not the easiest to please and you have to make sure you offer a lot to Warren to earn selection. So I suppose that's quite a big tap on the back for me, really."

Georgia in crisis after shooting at Tbilisi HQ

Georgia's Rugby Union vice president Merab Beselia has been arrested by police over the shooting of player Ramaz Kharazishvili at their Tbilisi offices, according to reports.

Former Georgia sevens captain Kharazishvili, 32, was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery after being shot in the shin during an alarming incident at the union's HQ.

Doctors have confirmed the injuries are not life-threatening.

It has been reported that Kharazishvili, who is also the president of rugby club Jankers, has been an outspoken critic of the Georgian Rugby Union and local media claim the shooting took place after a heated dispute.

The country's police have launched an investigation into an illegal purchase, possession and carrying of a firearm and damage to health.

"Kharazishvili received injuries to his leg. His life is not in danger. All employees of the Rugby Union are cooperating with the police", Tornike Gogebashvili, acting president of the Union told 1TV.ge.

Beselia nor any representative of the GRU has commented on the incident except to confirm that it took place.

The huge controversy comes just weeks before Georgia are set to take on Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Georgia have been placed in Group A alongside England, Ireland and, of course, Wales.

They begin their Autumn Nations Cup campaign against Eddie Jones' England on Saturday, November 14.

More rugby matches given pilot test green light for fans

Two more Gallagher Premiership matches and four Betfred Super League fixtures have been selected as test events for the return of fans to sporting venues.

Up to 1,000 spectators will be permitted to attend Tuesday's match at the Rec between Bath and Gloucester, as well as the clash between Bristol and Leicester at Ashton Gate on September 30.

The same, too, will apply for Super League matches on September 30 between Wigan and St Helens, Castleford and Hull, Huddersfield and Hull KR, and Leeds and Catalans Dragons.

It is thought the Welsh Government are monitoring the success of such pilot events in England before making any decision on allowing fans to return in Wales.

Regions to get £20m loan

The Welsh Rugby Union's interim chief has announced a £20m loan will go towards helping fund the regions.

The hefty loan will be divided between Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Dragons and Ospreys, all of whom will have to repay the sum over five years.

"I am delighted the loan has now come through," Phillips told the BBC.

"It has been a long road, probably longer than I thought, but the point is we have got there."

Due to the financial impact of coronavirus, the money earmarked for the Welsh regions dropped from a projected £26m to just £4m, meaning the Union sought a large business interruption loan scheme with NatWest bank.

"We are now credit-approved by NatWest so the loan is now being delivered subject to documentation which I reckon is going to take 10-14 days," Phillips added.

"That is now in the hands of our lawyers and NatWest who we must thank.

"In all fairness to NatWest and others, it's a big ask on top of our existing facilities. They recognise where we are, I think they trust us, they would not lend us £20m if they didn't.

"The rates are dictated by NatWest and or government and we have ended up with a sensible rate. So we have ended up in a place I am pleased with."

Rob Baxter questions Saints' 'mind games' over emergency prop loan

The two Gallagher Premiership teams will face off at Sandy Park this Sunday in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup.

In the build-up to the clash, Saints had feared being forced into uncontested scrums given they have four senior props out injured, leaving 19-year-old Manny Iyogun as the only fit loosehead.

They sought an emergency loan and European Professional Club Rugby on Thursday allowed them to recruit Alex Seville from Gloucester, despite the player registration deadline having already passed.

And Baxter, who also said he was happy to see the issue resolved, believed there may have been an element of mind games used by the Saints in the build-up to EPCR making their decision.

"I think outside of what has been seen in the media, club-wise we have known about this ongoing scenario and the need for EPCR to make a rule change for quite a while," the Exeter boss said.

"We certainly made it clear to Northampton when they contacted us, that if the EPCR asked for any kind of rule which would allow them to register an extra player, we would agree with that and support it which we have done.

"It is interesting listening to some of the comments coming out of Northampton because just a couple of weeks ago, we played against them in a Premiership fixture and had a tighthead (Alfie Petch) on the bench, who came on and played.

"He had not played a minute of Premiership Rugby, was 20 years old and I can't remember anything being in the press about there being any issues about a guy playing his first minute of Premiership Rugby and the same two sides were involved.

"I think some of it is a little bit mind games if I am honest and a scenario that potentially isn't really there when you look at what clubs have been doing in the games anyway."

Pontypool RFC rallies to send Matt Silva for treatment

Pontypool RFC have started an online crowdfunding campaign to enable Welsh rugby coach Matt Silva to receive specialist treatment for alcoholism.

Former Bridgend and RGC coach Silva publicly revealed his ongoing struggles in an interview with WalesOnline on Wednesday. You can read the brutally honest interview here.

The Welsh rugby world has rallied around Silva, with his former club now setting up a GoFundMe page with a bid to raise £10,000 for Silva to receive specialist care at the Priory Hospital in Bristol.

"Like many across both rugby codes, we read Matt Silva's WalesOnline interview with Simon Thomas about his current battle with alcoholism and were moved by his bravery and candour in discussing his fight against this cruel disease," read the description for the GoFundMe page, which can be found here.

"Now, as Matt faces his toughest challenge to date, we would like to try and raise the money needed so Matt can receive specialist treatment at the Priory Hospital in Bristol.

"The Priory Group has an established reputation as one of the leading rehabilitation centres in the country and would provide world class care for Matt.

"We are aware that times are tough for many, with the Covid-19 pandemic creating many additional challenges, but any donation, of any size, would be greatly appreciated. If you are able to donate, please remember to add gift aid.

"Our goal is to raise at least £10,000, but if we can surpass this amount, this would be hugely appreciated."

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