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Declan Kidney’s comments post-Stormers



Speaking after London Irish’s defeat to DHL Stormers, London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney affirms that there will be much to digest from their campaign in the Heineken Champions Cup so far.

The Exiles have now faced three defeats in their first outing in the tournament in a decade, with the Irishman emphasising the need to learn fast going forward in such elevated levels of competition.

Stormers took a second successive victory over Irish in as many rounds in Europe, winning 28-14, with the Exiles operating with a reduced complement for the last three quarters of the matchup at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Red cards to Ben Loader and Ciaran Parker, as well as Juan Martín González’s sin binning, increased the size of the task for his side but Kidney spoke of his contentment in the performance of the team overall.

“I’m proud of how the 13 played out the second half,” Irish’s Director of Rugby said.

“With 13 men against the champions of the United Rugby Championship, from our point of view the scoreboard was 14-7 in those last 37 minutes so they stuck at it well.

“From their point of view, they managed the game well from then on out however, and we couldn’t get the result.”

Kidney explains how operating with less than 15 men on the field affects Irish’s output, particularly against the calibre of sides in the Champions Cup.

“It’s difficult as a half back, being down men means that your attack options are a bit more limited and everyone else has to work even harder.

“Stormers played really well and didn’t overcommit to the ruck, and they kept their numbers in midfield so it was hard for us to find gaps.

“We managed to find two scores in the second half and came close to a third, which would have given us a point – every point in Europe is vital.

“They are the fine margins that as a group we must understand that they have a huge part of any progression in this competition.”

The Exiles now face Montpellier Hérault in the fourth and final round of the pool stages, a team that also won at Brentford to open the tournament but are yet to win in Europe since that meeting.

Having attained one point in this year’s competition, the west Londoners will require a win and other results to go their way should they wish to continue in European competition this season.

The challenge for Irish remains taking as many learnings from recent experiences on the continent, as well as competing at the highest level of knockout rugby.

“In Europe, you want to be winning your home matches at the very least, and it is a challenge to try and do that with less than 15 men on the pitch.

“Coming in as one of the lower seeds of the competition, you draw the likes of the URC winners and the French champions and you need to be on the money to beat sides like that.

“That’s why in one respect, there will be massive frustration and disappointment but there will also be encouragement for how the lads on the pitch conducted themselves.

“If we can go about what we did with 13 men, then we know we can do even better with 15.

“It will be a learning curve for the whole Club, there is more scrutiny in this competition but that’s what makes it such a great competition.

“We have to learn to go into it, the Club hasn’t been in the tournament for nigh-on 10 years and we can take many things from experiences like these, and the sooner we learn these things the better.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus 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

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