Bath Rugby can today confirm that Girvan Dempsey will leave at the end of the 2020/21 season when his contract finishes.
Dempsey has been a big part of the club both on and off the field playing an integral role in developing young players on the cusp of the international game since his arrival in 2018.
He joined Bath Rugby after having been a key part of the success at Leinster, including in Europe winning the Champions Cup.
Among some of his success stories in the south west, the former 82-capped Irish international is credited with the successful transitions of both Ruaridh McConnochie and Will Muir from Sevens to XVs.
McConnochie’s development under the supportive watch of Dempsey resulted in the winger being named in Eddie Jones’s 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, just one year after joining the Blue, Black and White.
Tom de Glanville and newly internationally capped Cameron Redpath are two further players to benefit from Girvan’s experience, the young backs have gone from strength to strength under his guidance.
Speaking of Girvan, Director of Rugby, Stuart Hooper said: “He is an outstanding person inside and out. I want to thank him for everything he has given to the club in his three seasons with us.
“He, like all of us, is judged on the 80 but it is his attention to detail in the 10,000 minutes that is a true reflection of his character. Girvan will be missed by everyone and we all wish him the success he deserves in his next venture.”
Girvan shared his heartfelt thanks to the players and staff at the club and the loyal blue, black and white supporters: “Bath is a very special place and I’ve really enjoyed my time at Bath Rugby. I’d like to thank Stuart, all the players and staff for the warm welcome they afforded me and my family. I also want to thank our brilliant supporters, who we have sadly missed down at the Rec.
“I leave having forged many great friendships and with a lot of happy memories. I’m really looking forward to a new chapter and I wish everyone at Bath Rugby every success for the future.”
The news of Girvan’s departure paves the way for David Williams, who will re-join the Blue, Black and White as Attack and Backs Coach following the conclusion of the 2020/21 campaign.
Williams, who was formerly Academy Coach at Bath Rugby from 2012-2014, has returned to England following a successful eight-year period of coaching attack within Super Rugby, Pro 14 and Top League.
An innovative attack coach, Williams has a deep knowledge of the game and a real excitement for playing with intent and using possession to pressurise teams. He joins Bath Rugby, after two-and-a-half-years as Attack Coach with one of the most exciting attacking teams in Super Rugby – The Sharks. Before that he held the Attack Coach position for fourteen months with the Free State Cheetahs taking the side to the Pro 14 play-offs during his tenure.
Further to that he developed his coaching capability with the Southern Kings during the 2017 Super Rugby season, which saw the side cause several upsets, and the Kobelco Steelers in Japan’s Top League where he learned from ex-All Black coach Wayne Smith and current Australia Head Coach Dave Rennie.
Hooper continued: “We want to accelerate the growth of our attacking game. We need to make a shift in terms of being clinical in attack, developing our play with ball in hand, playing into space and really challenging the opposition. It is an exciting shift and one that David will add to. I am incredibly pleased to be able to welcome David who we believe will contribute enormously to our environment and to the evolution of our game.
“David is well regarded in his field for his coaching ability and his work with The Sharks attack is clear to see.
“David has a fascination with the detail of a game and a training week, this, alongside his tactical nous and his ability to engage players really set him apart during the interview process.
“David also has strong and trusting relationships with myself, Neal Hatley and many of our senior players following the two years we spent working together, on the back of these relationships we can challenge each other to deliver high quality training weeks that allow our players to achieve their ambitions together and allow our supporters to love watching us play.”
Commenting on his appointment, Williams said: “Having strong family links to the south west of England and having previously been part of Bath Rugby, it feels incredibly special to return to the club, especially after an exciting eight-year rugby journey. I have worked with so many incredible people who have all helped to shape me as both a person and rugby coach.
“The club’s vision, of signing world class talent aligned with its strong commitment to developing players and coaches from within the region makes this opportunity an exciting prospect indeed and it’s a vision I hope to play a role in continuing to grow.
“From my time in 2012-14 to now, a number of players who were then playing on the fields of Dorset and Wilts and Somerset, have now progressed to the Blue Black and White to become the core of the senior squad, this is massive credit to the playing pathways in the region and having followed a number of these player progressions from afar, am excited to reacquaint myself with this group alongside meeting up with the squad and staff at Farleigh House and the Rec.”
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled
Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.
COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.
We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.
When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.
Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.
We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.
An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.
• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:
In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.
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Scotland international heading to Bristol
Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.
The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.
“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.
“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.
“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”
Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.
He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.
“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”