Weekly Round Up

Weekly Round Up

Graham Rowntree to join Lions tour staff

Former England coach Graham Rowntree is set to join the British and Irish Lions staff for the tour of New Zealand.

The 45-year-old former prop toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2005 and spent eight years as England's forwards and scrum coach before leaving in 2015.

He was forwards coach for the 2-1 Test series victory over Australia in 2013, and will join Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell and Rob Howley in Warren Gatland's set-up this summer.

Joe Thomas signs first pro deal

Ospreys Rugby have announced that centre, Joe Thomas, has signed his first professional contract with his home region.

The 21-year old former Morriston RFC youngster, who has featured regularly in the Premiership with Aberavon, has been rewarded for his development over the last year.

"It’s great for Joe as a local boy, another one coming through the system to sign a professional contract” said Head Coach, Tandy.


“We’ve been really pleased by his progress this year, from out in Belgium with the senior group last summer and through the Anglo Welsh and B&I campaigns."

The latest youngster from the regional development pathway to sign a professional deal, Thomas represented the Ospreys and Wales at age-grade level, going to two U20 World Championships as well as playing in all five games during their Grand Slam success in 2016.

Kurtley Beale signs with the Waratahs

Kurtley Beale has signed with Australian Rugby, committing on a two-year deal with the ARU and Waratahs until the end of 2019.

The 28-year old has returned to Australia following a season with Wasps in England, to re-unite with his Waratahs and Wallabies teammates. 

“It's great to be heading back to Australian Rugby," said Beale. "I'm really looking forward to getting back home to the Waratahs but also hopefully pull on the gold jersey later this year as well." 

Michael Leitch cited for dangerous tackle

Michael Leitch faces a potential suspension after being cited after the Chiefs' 26-18 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton.

The Chiefs No 8 was sin-binned by referee in the 78th minute for a high shot on Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli. 

Leitch is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4(e), which is dangerous tackling of an opponent, and the citing commissioner deemed the challenge worthy of a red card upon further review

The Case is to be considered by the SANZAAR Foul Play Review Committee on Sunday 12 March.

Chiefs vs Hurricanes Round Up

The rain came pouring down as this New Zealand derby kicked off in Waikato. The Canes went into an early lead thanks to the boot of Beauden Barrett, a but yellow card to Ardie Sevea for collapsing the Chiefs maul allowed the home side to take the lead through a Brodie Retallick try. The Canes went down to 13 men when Michael Fatialofa was sent to the sin bin for a reckless tackle. Toni Pulu scored on the stroke of halftime to put the Chiefs 17-6 ahead at half time. A late Julien Savea try put the Hurricanes back in the game but they gave away a penalty with no time left on clock which allowed the Chiefs to adds, meaning the Canes did not get a losing bonus point.


Brumbies vs Western Force Round Up

The Brumbies headed into the match looking for their first victory of the season. The home side where put under pressure early on by a fired up Western Force side, but it was the home side that got on the score board first, through a Henry Speight try. The Brumbies extended their lead through fly-half Wharenui Hawera following a dominant Brumbies scrum. Heath Tessmann went over at the back of the maul for his sides first try of the match . The Force worked hard for their 2nd try as they set up a driving maul early on in the 2nd half  and went past 12 phases before a Dane Haylett-Petty pass put Peni over in the corner. Hawera and Lance traded penalties before Ross Haylett-Petty was yellow carded for a late tackle on Joe Powell. The Brumbies made the most of their advantage as former Western Force centre Kyle Godwin stepped his way over the try-line, which was followed by a 79th minure Robbie Abel try, sealing the game for the home side.


Peter Lydon joins Ealing Trailfinders

Peter Lydon is set to join Ealing Trailfinders for the start of the 2017-18 season from London Scottish.

Lydon has played for the Exiles for the past three seasons after joining from French club Stade Francais before the 2014-15 season.

The 24-year-old can play either fly-half or fullback, though he has played predominantly in the number 15 jersey. He also possesses a powerful left boot, which has contributed most to the 642 points he has scored in 74 appearances for Scottish so far.

"I'm delighted to be joining Ealing Trailfinders,” Lydon said.

"Their progression over the last year has been impressive and I'm excited by the ambition for the future. The facilities are fantastic and I'm looking forward to making my contribution to team next season.  

Jason Eaton re-signs with La Rochelle

New Zealand second-rower, Jason Eaton, has signed a new one-year contract extension Top 14 leaders La Rochelle.

The 15 test cap All black has made 67 appearances since joining the French side in 2014 and has played a key role in their rise to the top of the table this season.

La Rouchelle next play Racing 92 in the Top 14 on Saturday. 

See the line-ups, follow the match and more here

England side to face Scotland for Round 4

Eddie Jones has made three changes to the England starting XV that beat Italy in the third round of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations to maintain England’s unbeaten start to the Championship.

In the back line Jonathan Joseph is reinstated at outside-centre, Jack Nowell is named on the right-wing and Ben Youngs starts at scrum-half.

Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola return to an England match-day 23 for the first time in this year’s Championship having both recovered from injury.

Scotland team to face England

Head Coach Vern Cotter has made one change to the starting Scotland side to face England at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday in the RBS 6 Nations.

Edinburgh Rugby back-row Hamish Watson returns to the front-line having started the opening two rounds of the Championship. He takes the place of the injured John Hardie (knee), whom he replaced in the 25th minute of the last round’s win over Wales.

Uncapped clubmate Cornell Du Preez takes Watson’s vacated place on the bench and will make his debut should he be called in.

France name side to face Italy

Guy Noves has made four changes to the side that was defeated by Ireland on the previous round.

Brice Dulin will be in the back, just like Fabien Sanconnie in the third row, Julien Le Devedec in the second row and Virimi Vakatawa back on a wing.

Fabien Sanconnie and Antoine Dupont are set to make their first appearance for the national side.

John Afoa given one-week ban

John Afoa of Gloucester Rugby was cited for dangerously tackling Tim Sweil of Harlequins in the first half of the Premiership match between Gloucester and Harlequins on Saturday 4 March.

The RFU disciplinary panel said: "The panel accepted the evidence from Harlequins that there was no contact to the head of their player and as such the panel was not mandated to find this a mid-range offence. Given this was a reckless tackle causing no injury, the panel was satisfied that a low-end entry point was appropriate.”

The prop pleaded guilty and was given a one-week suspension.  He is free to play again on Monday 27 March.

Ulster sign Schalk van der Merwe

Ulster have confirmed that South African front rower Schalk van der Merwe will join the Province a two-year deal.

The 26-year-old will make the move from the Southern Kings following the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby season.

He earned 25 Super Rugby caps for the Lions in 2014 and 2015, before moving to France to play for Montpellier.

Commenting on the arrival of van der Merwe, Director of Rugby Les Kiss said:

"Schalk is a talented player who I've been really impressed by - he was the cornerstone of the Lions scrum that dominated for a couple of Super Rugby seasons.

"In addition to his excellent scrummaging, he will give us some much-needed physicality in the loose, and this will be a major plus for us in the seasons ahead. He has a hard edge and he's determined to work hard to nail down a starting place here at Ulster.

Josh Poullet signs two-year deal with Nottingham

Nottingham Rugby have announced that back rower Josh Poullet has signed a two-year contract with the club.


The 23-year-old loose forward has signed first, full time, professional contract.  

The Nottingham-born youngster has been on the clubs books since the 2013/14 season, whilst studying for a Sports Science degree at NTU. 

Head Coach Costello said:

"Josh is a really exciting talent, one of the most promising players in the league, so to secure his services for two years is a fantastic statement by the club moving forward. It's particularly pleasing to sign a player who's come through the club, a local boy, who has always wanted to play for Nottingham."



Dragons sign Springbok star Zane Kirchner

Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed the signing of Springbok Zane Kirchner.

“I am delighted to welcome Zane to the Dragons," commented Dragons Head Coach Kingsley Jones.

"His experience both on and off the field will be invaluable for this young squad.

“In addition to his experience, he understands how to win having played a major part in Super Rugby, International Rugby and through helping Leinster secure the PRO12 title in 2014.

Kirchner has over 30 Springbok test caps having played fullback, wing and centre at the highest level. He previously has played for the Bulls in Super Rugby and the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. During his five years with the Blue Bulls, Kirchner made 64 Currie Cup appearances whilst scoring 64 points.

He will join up with the Men of Gwent in the Summer following four seasons at fellow PRO12 club Leinster Rugby.

Lelia Masaga returns to Chiefs

The Chiefs have confirmed that Lelia Masaga has returned. The 30 year-old winger left the franchise to play in Japan 2013 having made 91 Super Rugby appearances.

Dave Rennie admitted the finisher is a decent back-up to have in the squad this season.

"Lelia's a good man so he could well feature (later in the campaign) if we get some injuries,"

Duncan Taylor ruled out of England clash

The Scottish Rugby Union announced that Saracens centre Duncan Taylor has been ruled out of Scotland's Six Nations clash with England this weekend, with a hamstring injury.

The 27-year-old has not featured for Scotland since last summer's tour of Japan after sustaining an ankle injury but was hoping to earn a recall in time for Saturday's Twickenham showdown.

The SRU said: "Scotland and Saracens centre Duncan Taylor will remain in the care of his club's medical team for further assessment after he sustained a hamstring injury against Newcastle Falcons in the English Premiership on Sunday."

Scotland have already lost the services of captain Greig Laidlaw and back-rowers Josh Strauss and John Hardie to injury so far.

Stormers Injury Update

DHL Stormers outside back Cheslin Kolbe will miss thid weekend's Super Rugby clash with the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth with an ankle injury.

Kolbe sustained the lateral ankle ligament injury in the 32-25 victory against the Jaguares in Round Two last week.

Dan Kriel suffered a lateral knee sprain and will be rested this week as a precaution along with flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis who has a minor groin strain.

Wilhelm van der Sluys joins Southern Kings on loan

The giant lock, Wilhelm van der Sluys, joined Worcester Warriors as a realist in November and made his Cup debut against Wasps.

He has since been out on loan at Rotherham Titans and London Scottish and now moves back to his native South Africa to gain experience in Super Rugby.

Van der Sluys is a former Western Province Under 19, 21 and a South Africa Under 20.

He will link up with the Southern Kings during this season Super Rugby.

Crusaders call up Bryn Gatland

Bryn Gatland, who played a starring role for North Harbour last year, has been signed by the Crusaders as temporary injury cover for Richie Mo’unga, who has been ruled out for eight weeks with a broken hand.

Son of British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, Bryn helped North Harbour win the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title with a late drop goal against Otago in Dunedin.

Jason Emery out of Super Rugby 2017

The Highlanders medical staff have confirmed that centre Jason Emery will miss the remainder of Super Rugby after rupturing his Achilles.

Emery becomes the second Highlanders player to be ruled out for the season following Hayden Parker's injury. 

“I really feel for Jason, he has looked very sharp through preseason and was looking to make it a big year. I know he is a positive guy and he will work hard to come back from this and get back to fitness for 2018.” said Head Coach Tony Brown.

The Highlanders have a long injury list now that includes Ben Smith, Hayden Parker, Ash Dixon, Dan Pryor, Shane Christie, Luke Whitelock and Marty Banks.

Head Coach Laurie Fisher leaves Gloucester Rugby

Gloucester Rugby can confirm that Head Coach Laurie Fisher has left the club with immediate effect.

Fisher met with club officials over the past 48 hours and it was mutually agreed that he would leave his position.

Former Brumbies coach Fisher joined the Cherry and Whites in 2014.

Gloucester are ninth in the Premiership table, but have qualified for the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals this season after topping their group with five wins from six.

James Lowe Signs For Leinster Rugby

Leinster Rugby have confirmed the signing of 24 year-old winger James Lowe from Super Rugby side the Chiefs.

The six foot two Maori All Blacks player has made 39 appearances for the Chiefs scoring 18 tries, has also represented the Maori All Blacks on five occasions scoring six tries.

Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen confirmed the signing and said:

 "James is a quality and still relatively young outside back that we have been tracking for some time, so we are delighted that he has agreed to join us.

Lowe will link up with his new teammates following the conclusion of Super Rugby 2017 and the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.


Mike McCarthy signs for Narbonne

Narbonne have confirmed the signing of Irish international lock Mike McCarthy.

The 35 year-old joins from Leinster, he has also represented English sides London Wasps and Newcastle Falcons and Irish side Connacht.

McCarthy has signed a two-year deal with the club.

Bristol Rugby confirm Ian Madigan 3-year deal

Bristol Rugby have today confirmed the signing of Ireland international Ian Madigan on a three-year deal for the summer of 2017.

Arriving from Bordeaux Begles, the fly-half has made thirty-one appearances for his country, including appearing for Ireland in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

“Ian is a player we have been looking at for a while," commented Head Coach Mark Tainton.

"It’s been no secret that we were seeking a world-class fly half and – with his age profile and experience - Ian fits the bill perfectly...”

"Ian has chosen to commit for three years and we’re delighted to have secured his services with a number of high-profile clubs interested in him."

The 27 year-old made over 140 appearances for Leinster, helping his hometown club to a Heineken Cup title and domestic honours during his time at the province.

Callum Sheedy agrees contract extension at Bristol Rugby

Bristol Rugby have confirmed Callum Sheedy has committed his future to the Club.

The Academy prospect has made seventeen appearances for the first team since his arrival from Millfield School in 2014.

“Callum is a fiercely ambitious young man with a promising career ahead of him. At 21 years old, there’s plenty for him still to learn, but he is developing all the time at Bristol Rugby,” Head Coach Mark Tainton commented on the re-signing.

McConnell and Veenendaal  sign one-year deals with Nottingham Rugby


Nottingham Rugby have confirmed that scrum halves Murray McConnell and Darryl Veenendaal have signed new one-year deals , keeping them at The Bay until the end of the 2017/18 season.

The duo, who have both been battling for the starting position for the last two years, will continue to fight it out for at least another season of Championship and Cup rugby.

McConnell (24) signed from Glasgow Warriors back in May 2015, making 24 appearances in his first season, before he made his mark as the club’s top try-scorer so far this campaign, with 8 tries in 20 matches.

South African-born Veenendaal (26) joined from Bedford Blues in the summer of 2015 and has gone on to feature in 27 matches in his first campaign at The Bay. He has scored 4 tries in 16 appearances so far this season. 

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