Connect with us


Chiefs sign lock from rivals



By Mark Stevens

Rob Baxter has wasted little time in bolstering his Exeter Chiefs squad following Ruben van Heerden’s departure back to South Africa last week.

Today, the Chiefs Director of Rugby has welcomed experienced forward Mike Williams to the Devon club from Gallagher Premiership rivals, Bath Rugby.

The 31-year-old has agreed a deal until the end of the current campaign, but Baxter has said the option could be there to extend that stay further should the Zimbabwean-born star impress between now and then.

With over 100 Premiership appearances to his name, the 6ft 5in, 18 stone forward is well versed in the English game, having previously enjoyed spells with Worcester Warriors, Leicester Tigers and, more recently, Bath.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in,” said Williams. “I’ve obviously come up against the Chiefs a lot in the past, so I know a few of the guys well and what the team are capable of. They are a top side, packed full of high-profile individuals and a team who like to win.

“For me, it’s an honour to be here. With Ruben moving on, the opportunity came up for me to head down here and I’m looking forward to making the most of it. Already the guys have welcomed me with open arms. You can see the boys are a tight group, not just off the field, but also on the field as well.”

Williams knows he is joining the Chiefs at an exciting stage of the season, particularly with the club pushing for the top four in the Premiership, a last 16 spot in the Heineken Champions Cup, as well as a semi-final place in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

“It’s an amazing time to join,” he added. “Playing against the Chiefs you always know what they are capable of and that you’re in a game against them. Sandy Park is one of the toughest places to come and play as an opposing team, so it’s pretty cool that I’m here now and on the other side of things.”

Baxter himself is delighted to welcome Williams – who started his career in South Africa with the Sharks and then a short stint at the Bulls – into his selection mix moving forward.

“Having agreed to release Ruben last week, it did leave us a little light in the second row,” explained Baxter. “At the same time, Mike became available for various reasons at Bath, it’s a little complex and I won’t go into that now, but the opportunity for him to play at Bath were going to be limited. They were prepared because of that instance to release him; he’s fully fit, he’s in full training and ready to go, so for us we’re delighted to bring in a guy who, most people if they watch the Premiership regularly, will know is a proven performer.

“He’s also got that level of experience to come in and slot in straight away, so it’s a great fit for us in many ways. A lot of the guys know him already and I think he will be a great addition to our squad.”

Equally at home at lock or in the back-row, Baxter feels his new addition is the ‘perfect fit’. He added: “Coming here he’s got something to prove, contracts to earn, this is what you want at the club. I think he will come in and do a really good job for us. Obviously, we have got to get a bit of training into him and get him up to speed with how we play, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised seeing him involved in the next few weeks.

“He’s here initially on a short-term deal, but the opportunity is there for Mike to try and earn himself a longer contract. We want guys to come here with a point to prove, a chip on the shoulder, however you want to talk about it, and get out on the pitch and see what they can do. He can run around, he can scrum and maul, if you run into him he will knock you over, but the important thing is to get him embedded as quickly as we can and see where it takes us.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


RFU Statement on London Irish



The RFU Club Financial Viability Group has agreed to give London Irish a one-week extended deadline to meet the original conditions as set out below and pay the remaining May payroll to staff and players.

1) a takeover of the club has been completed and approved by the RFU, with the buyers undertaking to provide all required working capital to meet the club’s obligations as they fall due for at least season 2023/24; or

2) the club evidences that it will continue to be funded to operate throughout the 2023/24 season. If the club fails to meet these conditions it will be suspended from participating in the Premiership (and other competitions) in season 2023/24 to avoid a scenario where the club enters insolvency mid-season, with the corresponding and substantial impact that has on players, staff, and fans, as well as on the remainder of the league.

The extension, until Tuesday 6 June, has been given following consultation with staff and players who asked for the deadline to be extended to allow them to be paid 50% of their salaries.

Paula Carter, RFU Board Member and Chair of the Club Financial Viability Working Group said; “It is deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been multiple missed deadlines. 

“We are extremely disappointed that the club has so far only funded 50% of the staff and player wages, however, we have to respect the wishes of those most affected.

“The 4pm deadline on 6 June is final and we have added the stipulation that the club must also fulfil its contractual obligations to its employees by paying the May salaries in full.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby

Continue Reading


Coenie Oosthuizen to leave Sale Sharks



Springbok Coenie swapping Sharks for Sharks

Prop Coenie Oosthuizen leaving Sale Sharks to join South African side Cell C Sharks

Sale Sharks can confirm that prop Coenie Oosthuizen will leave the club to return to South African side Cell C Sharks.

The 34-year-old Springbok, who can play on either side of the scrum, arrived in Manchester in May 2019 from the Durban-based Super Rugby side.

He’s gone on to make 94 appearances for Sale, including 16 this season as Alex Sanderson’s men reached their first Premiership final in 17 years.

Coenie made his debut for the Springboks in 2012 and has since won 30 international caps.

Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Since he arrived in Manchester, Coenie has been a massive part of this team and this club and everyone is going to miss him.

“On the field he’s a fantastic player but off it, he’s been a real leader for us in what is a young squad.”

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Coenie for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

Continue Reading


Leicester Tigers 23/24 Coaching Team



Leicester Tigers can confirm the club’s senior coaching team ahead of the 2023/24 season.

Dan McKellar, who was announced as the club’s new Head Coach in February, will oversee the rugby programme and lead on the line out and forwards coaching.

Brett Deacon will lead on the breakdown and contact area, while also assisting McKellar with the forwards.

Deacon made 135 first-team appearances in two spells as a player with Tigers before joining the coaching staff upon retiring in 2015. After working with the club’s academy for two seasons, he joined the senior coaching team ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

Matt Everard, who joined the club midway the 22/23 season as Senior Academy Coach before taking on a permanent senior role in December 2022, is the Defence Coach.

After representing Tigers, Wasps and Nottingham as a player, Everard moved into coaching with The Archers before returning to Wasps as Academy Coach and moved into the senior coaching team ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

Alan Dickens, Dan Palmer and Ollie Richardson are the additions to the club ahead of the new season.

Dickens will take charge of the Attack & Backs, Palmer is the Scrum Coach and Richardson joins as Head of Physical Performance.

Read more on the appointments of the trio here:

Matt Smith will be the Skills Coach for the senior squad and take on the newly-created Lead Academy Coach role which sees him responsible for the Senior Academy Squad and transition of players from junior to senior rugby.

Smith made 228 appearances for Tigers before coaching the club’s academy side after retiring from playing in 2019, and joined the senior coaching team ahead of the 20/21 season.

Speaking about his coaching team, incoming Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar said: “I am excited by the group we have put together, which has a great balance of continuity and new voices who will bring fresh ideas.”

“It was important to me that there was a mix of people who not only understand the Premiership, but vital that they understand Leicester Tigers and we have got that in Brett Deacon, Matt Everard and Matt Smith, as well as the majority of our performance staff who remain with the club.

“In addition, to have Alan Dickens and Ollie Richardson’s knowledge of the English game, players and competitions we compete in is of great value, and Dan Palmer’s expertise is very exciting for the club moving forward.

“What is most pleasing for me is that this coaching team are excited by the squad we have to work with from next season at Leicester Tigers, because of where they are at currently and work they have done but, importantly, how it can evolve.”

Leicester Tigers 23/24 Coaching Team

  • Dan McKellar, Head Coach
  • Brett Deacon, Assistant Coach
  • Alan Dickens, Attack & Backs Coach
  • Matt Everard, Defence Coach
  • Dan Palmer, Scrum Coach
  • Ollie Richardson, Head of Physical Performance
  • Matt Smith, Skills Coach & Lead Academy Coach

The club can also confirm that Richard Wilks has been appointed General Manager.

Wilks joined Tigers during the 20/21 campaign as a consultant before being appointed Head of Performance Recruitment in November 2021.

Discussing the appointments, Leicester Tigers CEO Andrea Pinchen said: “I believe we have put together a world class coaching team, headed up by Dan McKellar, to lead Leicester Tigers from next season into this exciting new chapter of the club’s history”

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to bring this impressive group who all offer their own unique skills, experience and knowledge from diverse backgrounds in the game.

“Most pleasing for me in this group is a shared desire to see this club continue to be successful but, even more so, strive to reach new heights together.

“After a turbulent year for all involved with Leicester Tigers, to be able to confirm our senior coaching team now is a great pleasure for me and I hope our supporters are as excited as I am about them leading this club into the future.”

The Leicester Tigers squad will commence pre-season training in July ahead of the 23/24 campaign.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

Continue Reading