Here's the rugby evening headlines for Wednesday, December 18.
Sevens international given four-year doping ban
Romania Sevens international Stephen Hihetah has been banned from all sport for four years for breaching World Rugby's anti-doping regulations.
The 28-year-old winger failed a drugs test in February while playing for Hull RUFC in National League Two North.
Hihetah tested positive for metabolites Stanozolol, Metandienone and Tamoxifen.
At a Rugby Football Union hearing he argued he had ingested the drugs inadvertently, but the panel did not believe his account.
London-born Hihetah, whose mother is Romanian, claimed he ingested the drugs from a pre-workout drink given to him by a friend during gym sessions in London over the Christmas period in 2018, and returned a positive urine sample following training two months later.
His ban is back-dated to 12 June, and he will therefore be suspended until 11 June 2023.
"All rugby players are subject to the anti-doping rules which are in place to protect players and the integrity of our sport," RFU anti-doping and illicit drugs programme manager Stephen Watkins said.
Ross Moriarty a wanted man
Wales star Ross Moriarty is being targeted by a number of English clubs as he faces the prospect of a pay cut if he stays in Wales.
His Dragons contract is up at the end of the season, and the likes of Exeter Chiefs have registered an interest.
A list of the world’s highest-paid rugby players last year had Moriarty in the top 20 on a suggested salary of £450,000 at the Dragons, who were said to have been able to pay him more on the basis that he wasn’t on a national dual contract.
There has been nothing official on Moriarty’s valuation within Welsh rugby’s new pay structure, which sees the leading 38 Welsh players subject to assessments from a panel.
But there are rumours a figure of around £280,000 has been suggested for the blindside or No.8, fitting in with a banding system that sees Lions players paid between £250,000 and £450,000 a year.
His representatives are likely to be less than impressed if their man has to face a pay cut on such a scale, increasing the chances of Moriarty taking flight to either England or France.
You can read the full story here.
South Africa legend makes big US move
World Cup winner Tendai Mtawarira has signed for Old Glory DC, the Washington-based side set to enter America's Major League Rugby competition next season.
He becomes the latest big star to head to the US, following in the footsteps of Matthieu Bastareaud and Ma'a Nonu.
“I’m really excited to come play rugby in Washington DC for Old Glory," he told the Guardian.
The Springbok prop, who won 117 international caps, added: “This conversation started quite a while back, it’s probably been over 10 months, chatting about the possibility of pursuing a career in America.
“Coming to America excited me the most. The league is still young and for me to be part of something that is still brand new and to be a mentor to young rugby players, that really excited me. I want to give back a lot more because I was given a hell of a lot from the game. It changed my life, literally.”
England World Cup winner lauds Alun Wyn Jones for stunning 2019
Former England and Leicester Tigers back-rower Lewis Moody has chosen Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones as one of his highlights of 2019.
The Ospreys lock led Wales to the Six Nations Grand Slam and to a Rugby World Cup semi-final spot where they lost 19-16 to eventual winners South Africa.
And in picking his seven highlights of the year, the player nicknamed 'Mad Dog' who came off the bench to help England lift the 2003 World Cup had no hesitation in naming Jones one of his top dogs.
Moody was asked to pick out his seven special moments of 2019 and under the 'Lifetime achievement award' he said of Jones: "Having played against Alun Wyn for some five seasons and shared the same commercial agent, I know the man well and am in awe of his achievements and conduct."
He went on to say in Planet Rugby: "As I wrote during the Rugby World Cup, the man is utterly relentless. He never stops, first or last minute. He’s the man offering to carry, looking to make the hit, the catch, the tackle.
"The standards he’s set for this Welsh team is at the core of their DNA and it’s fitting that, if all pans out, he will challenge Richie McCaw as the most capped player in the history of the game.
"The guy is a champion and a warrior and he’s been at the forefront of British rugby for some 12 years now, indeed almost a lifetime."
Israel Folau set to resurrect career in United States - reports
Israel Folau is set for a return to rugby league after being linked with a move to a new franchise in the United States.
According to reports, the former Wallaby could be joining All Black Sonny Bill Williams in North America with claims he's in talks with the New York franchise, which will join the British competition.
Rugby Australia and Folau announced an out-of-court settlement earlier this month following months of legal wranglings.
It stemmed from Folau being sacked over his controversial social media posts, which read: "Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves."
The sacked star is determined to remain in the professional sport and is reportedly eyeing up a return to league.
Folau began his career in the 13-man code in 2007 playing for the Melbourne Storm before joining the Brisbane Broncos two years later.
He had a successful four-year career in the game representing Queensland in State of Origin and playing eight tests for Australia before switching to Aussie rules and then rugby.
New York's new rugby league franchise has begun urgent internal discussions to attract Folau to the States, the Sydney Daily Telegraph is reporting.
New York officials told the Telegraph the city would be the "perfect place for Folau to continue his career and rediscover the form that led him to representing the Kangaroos and Wallabies."
Former Scarlets No.8 extends his stay in English Premiership
Gloucester No.8 Ben Morgan has signed a 'long-term' new contract with the Cherry and Whites.
The 30-year-old has been at Kingsholm since arriving from the Scarlets in 2012.
The 31-times capped England international said: "I am delighted to share that I am extending my stay at Gloucester.
"Obviously, it was a pretty easy decision for me with it being my childhood rugby club that I have grown up supporting.
"I'm absolutely over the moon to be able to extend my stay and I am really pleased with the way the club has been developing and I really want to buy into what we are trying to achieve."
David Humphreys, Gloucester director of rugby, said: "Ben has been a revelation for us over the past couple of years.
"He has worked so hard on his fitness and his skills in a bid to contribute as much as he possibly can, and it’s certainly paid off in terms of his performances.
"He has also become a real leader in the group. That’s not just in terms of captaining the side on a matchday, he also helps to drive standards in all areas.
"We’re delighted that he’ll be staying with Gloucester Rugby.”