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Premiership

Ben Te’o among 8 players leaving Worcester.

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Worcester Warriors have announced that eight players will be leaving the club at the end of the current season.

England centre Ben Te’o, former Samoa back-row forward Alafoti Faosiliva, flankers Carl Kirwan and Zac Xiourouppa, loosehad prop Jack Cosgrove and two members of the Three Pears Warriors Academy, Mason Tonks and Nick Rigby, will all be moving on. In addition former South Africa flanker Dewald Potgieter has announced his retirement from professional rugby.

All will leave Sixways with the best wishes of the club and with thanks for their contributions to Warriors.

“We would like to thank all who are leaving for their contribution to the club and wish them the very best for the future,” said Warriors’ Director of Rugby Alan Solomons.

Te’o, 32, joined Warriors from Leinster three years ago and has won 20 international caps, two for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand two years ago, during his time at Sixways.

He has made 33 first team appearances for Warriors, the most recent in last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership win over Sale Sharks at Sixways, and has scored eight tries including one in the away win at Bristol Bears last month.

Samoa international Faosiliva joined from Bath in 2016 and has played 45 times for Warriors with his last appearance coming against Pau in December when he scored the opening try.

Kirwan joined Warriors from London Welsh four years ago and has made 28 appearances for the club, most recently in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Harlequins.

Academy product Xiourouppa had a spell on loan at Greene King IPA Championship club Cornish Pirates earlier in the season and made

the last of his three first team appearances in the Premiership Rugby Cup match against Saracens in November.

Cosgrove, another Warriors Academy graduate, returned to Sixways in December from Bristol Bears on a short-term contract and made his made his third senior appearance for the club as a replacement in the European Challenge Cup match in Pau.

Potgieter arrived at Sixways in 2016 and made ten first team appearances before suffering a serious knee injury.

“After being sidelined the last two years following an unfortunate and unrecoverable knee injury, I’m retiring from pro rugby at the end of this Premiership season,” Potgieter said.

“During what was an extremely frustrating period, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude towards the Warriors for affording me the time to transition to a post-sport milieu.

“I wish the club all the best in their future endeavours, and in particular all the people who made the experience an incredible final pitstop, concluding a supremely rewarding career.”

Tonks, an England Sevens international, signed an Academy contract in October having impressed for the Cavaliers in the early-season Premiership Rugby Shield matches.

Rigby joined the Senior Academy two years ago and made his first team debut as a replacement in the Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Sale Sharks in November 2017.

“We would like to thank Mason and Nick for everything they have done during their time with the Academy and we wish them well for their future ventures,” said Chim Gale, Manager of the Three Pears Warriors Academy.

Premiership

Worcester Coach on the Move

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan could be set to leave the club very soon according to reports

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(Photo by Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan has been given permission to speak to other clubs according to reports in the Worcester News. 

The news outlet claim that they have been informed by the club that they do not see Duncan as a part of their future plans.

“The club has put in place a strategic plan for the future of Warriors. We do not envisage Rory Duncan being part of those plans and, therefore, we have given Rory permission to seek opportunities elsewhere,” a club spokesperson said

Duncan has impressed with stints at the Cheetahs and the Warriors, and a return to the Cheetahs looked to be on the cards until the club announced Hawies Fourie as their new coach.

However, the Southern Kings are currently looking for a new head coach and Duncan is among a four-man list of coaches being considered for the position, with Steve Jackson, Corniel van Zyl and Pieter de Villiers being the others.

Duncan has experience with the Kings having played two Currie Cup seasons with them before his retirement from playing.

Both the Warriors and the Kings open up their respective campaigns for the 2019/20 season in September and one would imagine they will want a quick resolution if he is to depart for South Africa once again.

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Premiership

Scottish Star Signs for the Bulls

One of Scotland’s key back-rowers has left his contract a year early to join the Bulls

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland back-rower Josh Strauss will leave his contract with Sale Sharks a year early on order to join the Bulls

The 32-year-old has been at the English club for two-years since joining from Glasgow Warriors, with Sale agreeing to let him leave early having signed Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez and Mark Wilson this summer.

He had been in talks with the Warriors about a return, as well as receiving a lot of attention from French Top 14 sides, but chose the Bulls.

By signing for the Bulls, Strauss will return to his country of birth, but is far more associated with Scotland having qualified for their national side in 2015.

He made his debut for the Scots in the 2015 World Cup and has gone on to gain 22-caps for them since.

Strauss is included in Scotland’s 44-man World Cup training squad by head coach Gregor Townsend and played in all five of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

However, there is no guarantee that he will make the tournament in Japan as he faces huge competition for a place on the plane with Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Skinner and Blade Thomson are all vying for places.

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Premiership

Harlequins Head Coach Steps Down

Mark Mapletoft has left his role as Harlequins head coach for a new role with the club

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(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

Harlequins head coach Mark Mapletoft will step away from his position with the senior team and take over as academy coach the club have confirmed.

In his new role he will help with coach mentoring and will continue to support sections of the professional rugby environment.

After nine years with the senior team Mapletoft admitted he wanted a change to continue his development as a coach.

“I’m passionate about the whole coaching spectrum and this is a great opportunity for me to develop my skills and knowledge in another area. Player development is central to that and this presents the opportunity for me to continue developing our Harlequins academy as well as our elite performance pathway. The impact this area has on our sustainable success is massive and I’m really looking forward to working with the academy team to ensure the production line remains strong. Paul has done a fantastic job in his first season and I know we have the ability and mindset to challenge for honours this year,” he said.

Mapletoft brings plenty of experience to the academy set-up having served as backs coach, attack coach and head coach with the senior team.

Harlequins general manager Billy Millard is delighted at Mapletoft’s move and is looking forward to seeing what he can do with the younger players.

“Mark is an experienced and talented coach and a great Harlequins man. Those on the player pathway and associated staff members will benefit greatly from his rugby eye and mentorship in all aspects of professional rugby. He has a passion for this area, and I look forward to watching the positive impact he and this academy group have on the club going forwards,” he said.

Mapletoft will come into the role immediately and will look to emulate the success he had with the senior team in the academy.

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