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Premiership

Exeter sign highly rated Irish centre

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Exeter Chiefs have added their second new recruit ahead of the 2021/22 season with the signing of Sean O’Brien from Connacht.

The highly-rated centre arrived in the city earlier this week and is already settling into life with the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions.

The 23-year-old’s arrival comes hot on the heels of Kiwi prop Josh Iosefa-Scott also joining the Chiefs ahead of next season – and both will use the remainder of this season to get up-to-speed and acquainted with their new team-mates.

“It’s a great new challenge for me,” said O’Brien, who has spent the past three years with the Pro14 League side. “I’ve had a great spell there, but now is the time for me to go and test myself in the Premiership.

“Exeter are a club who have been winning trophies, they play a great brand of rugby and the culture here looks great, who wouldn’t want to join them?”

Already O’Brien is settling in to his new surroundings and says the chance to get valuable input into the workings of the club ahead of pre-season will be invaluable to him.

“It’s good to get to know the place, the people, the calls, that way I can hit the ground running in pre-season,” added O’Brien, who has played for Ireland at U18s and U20s level. “Coming over here is obviously going to be a different challenge, the league looks a lot more physical and faster, plus there are more international players playing each week, but I’m looking forward to it.”

O’Brien also cites the impact new team-mate Ian Whitten has had in the growth of the Chiefs since he moved to Sandy Park in 2012.

“He’s a legend over in these parts,” he said. “He took a chance coming over here and Exeter took a chance on him, but he’s been part of this side for a long time and won trophies with the club. Hopefully, I can do the same.”

One man delighted to see the arrival of O’Brien is Chiefs’ Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, who is relishing working with the player.

“Obviously, we are always on the look out for talented, young players and recruitment is an ongoing process. Looking at our squad going forward – and the positions where you could potentially need cover – you could see potential around that midfield area for us to get a bit light.

“That said, I think Sean is one of those players who can push for a place straight away. We’ve seen quite a lot of him when he broke into the Connacht first team and he looks to me – when I code out the games – a player who has a lot of the characteristics that we look for in our players

“He’s a very good defender, deceptively quick, strong on the ball and when you break his game down, it’s actually very pleasing. He’s also in that right age range, early 20s, so he is one of those recruitment positions that kind of work all ways round for us.

“The last guy we brought from Ireland similarly was Ian Whitten and you look at how good he has been for us, the amount of games he’s played, and what an important figure he has been at the club, so there were a lot of reasons we went for a guy like Sean. He ticks a lot of boxes and I’m just really glad we can get him here early, bedded in, and starting that process of becoming an Exeter Chief.”

Source – Exeter Chiefs Rugby By Mark Stevens
3/6/21

Premiership

Pat Lam commits long-term future to Bristol Bears

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Bristol Bears

Pat Lam has committed his long-term future to Bristol Bears.

The Director of Rugby agrees a new five-year contract, following the completion of his existing deal, until the end of the 2027/2028 campaign.

The most successful Bristol coach since the game turned professional, Lam achieved an immediate promotion back to the top-flight in his first season at the helm. In 2019, he led Bears to ninth position – the highest points tally for a newly promoted club in twelve years.

A year later, Bristol clinched a third placed finish in the Gallagher Premiership and secured their first major silverware since 1983 with a European Challenge Cup Final victory over Toulon.

“He has embraced the rebrand and our vision of ‘Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success’. From the Academy to our Women’s team, Pat lives and breathes our mission every day. He has given the city a rugby club we can be proud of.”

Owner Steve Lansdown

Then, last season, Bristol recorded their highest ever regular season position, topping the table and making the Champions Cup knockout stages, while Lam was awarded Global Reach Director of Rugby of the Year.

Owner Steve Lansdown said: “What Pat and his team have achieved in a short space of time at Bristol Bears is excellent, but it’s not just the way that the team have performed on the field, it’s the culture and standards he has set to continually drive the organisation forward.

“Bristol Bears are on an exciting journey, and we are delighted to have Pat at the forefront of that. He has embraced the rebrand and our vision of ‘Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success’. From the Academy to our Women’s team, Pat lives and breathes our mission every day. He has given the city a rugby club we can be proud of.”

Chairman Chris Booy said: “We’re delighted to have secured Pat’s signature on a long-term contract. It’s no surprise he would have the interest of every top club in the world, so it’s testament to the ambition of the Bears that Pat was eager to stay.

“We are absolutely aligned on the direction of the club. Bristol Bears will continue to grow and we will achieve sustainable success at the top of the domestic and European game.

“Pat has built a squad of humble young men who not only represent our community superbly, they play an innovative brand of rugby that has everybody taking notice.”

Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “It’s an absolute honour to continue as Director of Rugby at Bristol Bears. To have the opportunity to work with a great group of people, and to represent our community with pride and love is very special.

“I am grateful to have the continued support of Steve, Jon and Chris and I’m thankful that they have entrusted me to keep leading the Bristol Bears along our journey of Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success.

“While we have come a long way in the last four years, I am really excited by what is still to come as we challenge all of us individually and collectively to raise the bar every day.

“I genuinely believe that now we have all our Men, Women and Academy aligned as one club, we are poised to bring a lot of inspiration and success, on and off the field, for many years ahead and I feel very humbled to be a part of it.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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Premiership

Harlequins squad for 2021/22 campaign

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(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

Harlequins’ coaching team have announced the Club’s squad to tackle the 2021/22 campaign

Director of Rugby Performance Billy Millard and Senior Coach Tabai Matson have named a 61-man squad for the season ahead, consisting of 37 senior squad members and 24 Harlequins Academy players.

Second row Stephan Lewies will continue to lead the Club having led the men in the Famous Quarters to a Gallagher Premiership trophy in just his first season as Club Captain last year, with the Springbok lock ready to lead his side as they look to defend their title.

“I’m honoured to be able to continue leading Harlequins alongside a strong senior group,” said Lewies. “This is a special group and a special place. We’ll look to keep serving this team to the best of our ability.

“We know the challenge we face this season. It will be different to those we faced last season. We’re excited by the challenge and looking to continuously grow as a team.

“We are determined to not stand still; to keep improving as the season goes on and peak at the right time.

“We want to stay true to our DNA playing the Quins way with smiles on our faces.”

Eager to kick-off his first competitive game with Quins this weekend, Matson said: “We’re delighted with how the squad has shaped up over the summer. We’ve had two great pre-season games to prep, and the team are so focused on starting the season playing the Harlequins Way this season again.

“There’s a heap of hugely talented individuals here that went all the way last year, but, equally, we’ve had some stellar players and people join us over the off season who will help Quins continue that development.

“What’s really impressed me has been how determined everyone in the group is to continue evolving the rugby this year. Staying true to that Harlequins style but improving on any weaknesses. It’s an exciting playing and coaching group to be a part of and we can’t wait to get started on Sunday.”

Forwards
:
Alex Dombrandt
Archie White
Christian Scotland-Williamson
Craig Trenier
David Ofori Manteaw*
Dino Lamb
Fin Baxter*
George Hammond*
George Head*
Hugh Tizard*
Jack Kenningham*
Jack Musk*
Jack Walker
James Chisholm
Joe Gray
Joe Marler
Jordan Els
Luke Wallace
Mak Wilson*
Makeen Alikhan*
Matas Jurevicius*
Matt Symons
Nathan Jibulu*
Sam Riley*
Santiago Garcia Botta
Simon Kerrod
Stephan Lewies – Captain
Tom Lawday
Viliami Taulani
Wilco Louw
Will Collier
Will Evans
Will Hobson*
Will Trenholm*

Backs
Aaron Morris
Andre Esterhuizen
Bryn Bradley*
Cadan Murley
Cassius Cleaves*
Connor Slevin*
Conor Oresanya*
Danny Care
Hayden Hyde*
Huw Jones
Jack Stafford
Jake Murray*
Jamie Benson*
Joe Marchant
Kitan Ojo*
Lennox Anyanwu*
Lewis Gjaltema
Louis Lynagh*
Luke Northmore
Marcus Smith
Nick David
Oscar Beard*
Paul Lasike
Ross Chisholm
Scott Steele
Tommy Allan
Tyrone Green
Will Edwards

*Harlequins Academy

Source – Harlequins Rugby

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Premiership

Team news: Bristol Bears vs Saracens – GP R1

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears welcome newly promoted Saracens to Ashton Gate Stadium in a mouthwatering Gallagher Premiership opener on Friday (7.45pm KO).

A bumper crowd is expected in BS3 as Pat Lam’s men return to action under the lights in the competition curtain raiser.

Steven Luatua will skipper the side from the back row, while Bears include eight internationals in the starting line-up.

Harry Randall returns from England duty to take his place in the 23-man squad among the replacements.

Bristol Bears team to face Saracens at Ashton Gate Stadium on Friday, September 17th (7.45pm KO):

15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Alapati Leiua, 11. Ioan Lloyd; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nathan Hughes.

System players: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Jake Armstrong, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Niyi Adeolokun.

Unavailable: Bryan Byrne, John Afoa, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Joyce, Tom Whiteley, Tiff Eden, Semi Radradra, Henry Purdy, Siva Naulago.

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby  – Tom Tainton 

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