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Premiership

Chiefs to loan Super Rugby Lock

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Aussie lock Ryan McCauley has joined the Exeter Chiefs on a short-term deal from Super Rugby outfit, Western Force, and will help bolster the Devon club’s tight five options ahead of the new season

Aussie newcomer Ryan McCauley says he cannot wait to get stuck into life in the Gallagher Premiership after today joining the Exeter Chiefs on a short-term deal.

The imposing 6ft 8in, 18 stone, second-row forward joins the Chiefs from Aussie Super Rugby side, Western Force, and will provide a quality option up front for Exeter Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, ahead of the new 2021/22 season.

McCauley arrived in Devon on Thursday following a lengthy flight from Perth and was quickly shown around Sandy Park, where he not only got to watch his new team-mates train, but also caught up with Baxter, who admitted he had sought the opinion of former Chief Greg Holmes on his new recruit.

It will be the 24-year-old’s first taste of competitive rugby outside his homeland, but it’s a challenge he says he is clearly relishing.

“I’m really looking forward to ripping in,” said the Sydney-born lock. “I’ve just watched the boys train and now I’m excited to get amongst it all and get involved with training and then the games.

“It’ll be my first experience of rugby over in these parts, but I’ve watched games of the Chiefs and I know it’s a very good and high standard over here. As I said, I’m looking forward to learning from the other tight forwards here because there is a great calibre of players here. Also, I just can’t wait to add to my skill-set around line-out, maul and scrum, especially as it used a lot more over here.”

McCauley played NRC with New South Wales regional side Country Eagles, before he was snapped up by the Waratahs. He would spent four years with them before moving to Western Australia and joining the Force, where he featured 14 times last season.

An Australian Schoolboys and Under-20s player, McCauley confirmed he also sought the views of Holmes before embarking on his move to the Chiefs.

“Greg pointed me in the right direction and told me a fair bit about the place and the club itself,” he added. “He spoke very highly of everything and of his time here. When I found out there was a chance of me coming over, I went straight to him and picked his brain. He was excited for me and now I’m here, I can see why he was so positive about the place.”

McCauley joins a Chiefs outfit who are currently in pre-season building up for the new campaign, which gets underway with a pre-season friendly against Munster on September 11, before the Premiership itself begins with a testing trip to Leicester Tigers a week later.

“Pre-season you have to do,” said McCauley. “It’s a necessary evil, but it is when you all get stuck into things as a group and it gives you that confidence to go into the new season. It builds camaraderie amongst the boys, simply because you share the same common hurt, but that’s what helps you when the season starts.”

Whilst his new team-mates endured the latest day of slog on the training field, McCauley was taking in his new surroundings at Sandy Park.

“I’ve heard lots about the Exeter fans and how passionate they are,” he said. “The stadiums over here are a lot more compact and the fans are right on you, but that’s something I like. Right now, I just want to get up to speed, amongst the boys, and then hopefully get amongst the action.

“The Premiership, I know, is a tough division. The perception of it has perhaps changed a fair bit over the last two or three years back home. It’s a lot more expansive these days and you only had to look at the games towards the end of last season, there were a lot of tight finishes and a lot of points scored.

“You can see it’s a lot more attacking and I can’t wait to be part of it all.”

Source – Exeter Chiefs Rugby – By Mark Stevens
13/8/21

6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

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.”

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Premiership

Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled

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Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

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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Premiership

Scotland international heading to Bristol

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

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.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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