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Ashton’s New Club Confirmed Already

Following his departure from Sale Sharks this week Chris Ashton has already found a new club

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Harlequins have announced the arrival of England winger Chris Ashton following his departure from Sale Sharks earlier this week.

The 32-year-old joins the Premiership side with immediate effect and links up with several familiar faces. Speaking on his move he admitted that he is excited by the direction in which the club is heading and believes he can achieve his own personal goals there too. 

“I can’t wait to get started at Quins. It is a Club filled with incredibly experienced and talented players. When I spoke to Gussy and heard more about the direction the Club is going in, and what it means to be a Harlequin, I knew that this was the right move for me. I know lots of the lads at Quins, like Danny, through our England careers and years of friendship. I like the look of what Quins are doing, they are growing a strong squad and the foundations for future success are in place. I know that I have still got a lot to give on the pitch and I am confident that being at Quins will enable me to continue scoring tries and help me with my aspirations of reaching 100 Premiership tries, beating the current record,” he said. 

The back-liner has racked up 44 international caps for England to date, scoring 20 tries in the process, but has not been included in the national side since the beginning of last year. 

Quins’ director of Rugby Paul Gustard is delighted to have a player of Ashton’s quality join the team and thinks that he can really add to the current crop of players. 

“We are delighted that ‘Ashy’ has decided to commit his future to Harlequins. I have known Chris for around eight years now and he is without doubt one of the most competitive, professional and dedicated athletes I have encountered. His drive to succeed and win is exceptional, allied to his desire to improve and be the best version of himself he can be has always been clear. We were very interested in Chris when he was looking to move back to the UK, but unfortunately we were not in a position to compete 28 months ago. However, circumstances change and timings can sometimes work in mysterious ways, meaning we were able to get our man. We have four of our senior back three players currently unavailable with injury and therefore to bring Chris to the Club is a big boost to the squad,” he said. 

It is a huge boost for the club with the former Saracens, Northampton and Toulon winger choosing to join them. He currently sits third in the Premiership’s all-time leading try-scorers list with 86 and will hope to reach the 100 mark during his time at Quins. 

First up for Ashton could be a game against the Bristol Bears this weekend if he can hit the ground running during the remainder of the week. 

Premiership

Murphy leaves Leicester Tigers

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Leicester Tigers have today announced the departure of Geordan Murphy from his role as Director of Rugby at the club.

After discussions with Murphy about his current contract, which was due to end at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, it was decided that it would not be renewed and, by mutual consent, it was agreed that Murphy would leave the club with immediate effect. 

Murphy joined Tigers as a teenager, making his senior debut in 1997, and went on to make 322 appearances in 16 seasons, including four years as club captain.

After retiring in 2013, having won eight Premiership and two European titles, Murphy moved into coaching and rose through the ranks as skills coach, backs coach, attack coach, head coach and director of rugby.

He is Leicester’s leading try-scorer and appearance holder in European rugby and is 17th on the club’s all-time tryscorers’ chart.

Speaking about his time at the club, the outgoing Director of Rugby said: “First, I want to thank my wife Aneka and my two boys, and our new addition on the way, for everything they have done for me and how they have continued to make me a better player, coach and person.

“As well as my family here in Leicester, and all of our friends, I want to thank my family and friends in Ireland for their support throughout my career at Tigers as a player and coach in the good and bad times.

“I have spent 23 great years at Leicester Tigers and forged great friendships with people throughout that entire period.

“I’m most proud of the respect I earned from my team-mates and colleagues, and I’m grateful to all of them for how they have helped me, supported me and shared in my time at this club.

“Winning has been the easy part. It is when things are not going well, when you are losing and having to get back up every day and put on a brave face, that you know who your friends are and, to all of those who supported me through those times, those are the friends I will have for life.

“I wish the club the very best for the future on and off the pitch, and say thank you to the supporters who have been a part of my life for more than 20 years.”

“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man” Tigers Chairman, Peter Tom

Tigers Chairman Peter Tom thanked Murphy for his contribution to the club, on and off the pitch, since 1997.

“I want to express, on behalf of everybody at Leicester Tigers, my sincere gratitude to Geordan for all that he has done for our club for more than two decades,” said Tom.

“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man. 

“I wish Geordan, his wife Aneka and their children all the best for what comes next and I know, when we are able to safely do so, we will afford him the proper send-off he deserves in front of all of our supporters at Welford Road.”

The club will not be recruiting to replace the Director of Rugby role but will now commence a recruitment process to identify candidates for a position in the organisation charged with overseeing the strategic vision and off-field responsibilities at Oval Park.

Tigers Chairman Tom added: “This decision, while difficult, was made to ensure we are as effective and successful an organisation as we can be at Leicester Tigers.

“Steve Borthwick understands the expectations of him, his coaching team and the playing group at Leicester Tigers on the pitch.

“We are determined to see this club back at the top, where supporters expect us to be, competing for trophies and are fully behind the players, coaches and staff on this journey.”

Statement from Leicester Tigers Ends.

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Premiership

Bristol trio sign permanent deals

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Kessell and Peter McCabe have signed one-year contracts with the Bears.

The trio, who joined on a short-term deals at the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign, extend their stay at Ashton Gate ahead of the new season.

Scrum half Kessell (two appearances) and wing Adeolokun (four appearances) both featured in the Challenge Cup final, while prop McCabe made three appearances in the Gallagher Premiership, scoring his maiden try for the club against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “All three of these guys have settled into the Bears culture well and made some positive contributions on the field, so we’re pleased to have them on board for the 2020/21 campaign.

“With another busy schedule ahead of us, and players set to be away on international duty or undergoing rehabilitation at the beginning of the new season, it’s important to ensure we have plenty of depth and cover in key positions.”

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Premiership

Leicester Tigers halt all training due to COVID outbreak.

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Statement from Tigers.

Leicester Tigers have taken the decision to stop all team training and close the club’s Oval Park training ground facility following a COVID-19 outbreak within the camp.

The club returned several positive tests for COVID-19 earlier this week following the latest round of Premiership Rugby’s COVID-19 screening programme, including members of the playing group and support staff.

As well as those players and staff who have returned positive tests being isolated at home, several members of the squad and support staff were also instructed to isolate after being identified as close contacts.

The club is working closely with Public Health England and Premiership Rugby to ensure the protocols in place are being followed across all departments to reduce the risk of any further incidents.

Leicester Tigers takes its responsibility to maintain high standards extremely seriously at this time and is confident in the measures in place.

Additional testing will take place tomorrow (Friday, November 6) for all players and staff ahead of Monday’s weekly testing in line with Premiership Rugby guidelines.

All players will now continue their pre-season programme alone in their household bubbles while the Oval Park facility remains closed.

Health, wellbeing and safety are paramount and all players and staff are being monitored by Tigers medical staff, in addition to their families being offered support where necessary.

Tigers have made the decision to pause all training commitments and close the training ground in a bid to maintain the integrity of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season, which commences for the club on Saturday, November 21, as well as honouring our responsibilities to the Leicestershire community.

Statement ends.

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