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Five changes for Saints ahead of European opener

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Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes five changes to his starting line-up as Northampton Saints prepare to head to Stade Rochelais this weekend, with Robbie Smith, David Ribbans, Aaron Hinkley, Tom James and Matt Proctor all coming into the side.The men in Black, Green and Gold kick-off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign on the road, making a first-ever trip to the Stade Marcel-Deflandre for the Round 1 clash on Saturday (10 December, kick-off: 6.30pm local time). After lifting the Heineken Champions Cup last term, Saints’ hosts sit in fourth place in the Top 14 having won seven of their 12 outings so far this season – with five of those wins coming on home soil. Smith is one of four Northampton players set to make their Heineken Champions Cup debuts as he starts at hooker, with Alex Waller and Paul Hill packing down either side of the 24-year-old in the front row.Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – also set for his European debut – makes his sixth consecutive start as he joins Ribbans in Saints’ engine room for only the second time this season.Captain Lewis Ludlam shifts to No. 8 this weekend to lead the side out in La Rochelle, accompanying incoming Hinkley and England international Alex Coles in the back row.James makes his third start of the season at scrum-half as he partners another Champions Cup debutant Fin Smith in the half-back berths, with Fraser Dingwall and Proctor lining up outside them in the centres. James Ramm makes his first European appearance as he mans Saints’ wings with Tommy Freeman for the second week running, while George Furbank completes the back three at fullback. Amongst the replacements, there is a return from injury for Courtney Lawes – while the likes of Emmanuel Iyogun, Angus Scott-Young, Alex Mitchell and Rory Hutchinson are set to make an impact from the bench.STADE ROCHELAIS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTSHeineken Champions Cup, Round 1Saturday 10 December 2022Stade Marcel-DeflandreKick-off: 6.30pm (local time)15 George Furbank14 James Ramm13 Matt Proctor12 Fraser Dingwall11 Tommy Freeman10 Fin Smith9 Tom James1 Alex Waller2 Robbie Smith 3 Paul Hill4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto5 David Ribbans6 Alex Coles7 Aaron Hinkley8 Lewis Ludlam (c)Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi17 Emmanuel Iyogun18 Ehren Painter19 Courtney Lawes20 Angus Scott-Young21 Juarno Augustus22 Alex Mitchell23 Rory HutchinsonNot considered for selection:Matthew Arden, James Fish, Sam Graham, James Grayson, Mike Haywood, Geordie Irvine, Tom Lockett and Ollie Sleightholme.Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland) and Oisin Quinn (Ireland)TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson makes five changes to his starting line-up as Northampton Saints prepare to head to Stade Rochelais this weekend, with Robbie Smith, David Ribbans, Aaron Hinkley, Tom James and Matt Proctor all coming into the side.

The men in Black, Green and Gold kick-off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign on the road, making a first-ever trip to the Stade Marcel-Deflandre for the Round 1 clash on Saturday (10 December, kick-off: 6.30pm local time). 

After lifting the Heineken Champions Cup last term, Saints’ hosts sit in fourth place in the Top 14 having won seven of their 12 outings so far this season – with five of those wins coming on home soil. 

Smith is one of four Northampton players set to make their Heineken Champions Cup debuts as he starts at hooker, with Alex Waller and Paul Hill packing down either side of the 24-year-old in the front row.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – also set for his European debut – makes his sixth consecutive start as he joins Ribbans in Saints’ engine room for only the second time this season.

Captain Lewis Ludlam shifts to No. 8 this weekend to lead the side out in La Rochelle, accompanying incoming Hinkley and England international Alex Coles in the back row.

James makes his third start of the season at scrum-half as he partners another Champions Cup debutant Fin Smith in the half-back berths, with Fraser Dingwall and Proctor lining up outside them in the centres. 

James Ramm makes his first European appearance as he mans Saints’ wings with Tommy Freeman for the second week running, while George Furbank completes the back three at fullback. 

Amongst the replacements, there is a return from injury for Courtney Lawes – while the likes of Emmanuel Iyogun, Angus Scott-Young, Alex Mitchell and Rory Hutchinson are set to make an impact from the bench.

STADE ROCHELAIS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Heineken Champions Cup, Round 1
Saturday 10 December 2022
Stade Marcel-Deflandre
Kick-off: 6.30pm (local time)

15 George Furbank
14 James Ramm
13 Matt Proctor
12 Fraser Dingwall
11 Tommy Freeman
10 Fin Smith
9 Tom James

1 Alex Waller
2 Robbie Smith 
3 Paul Hill
4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5 David Ribbans
6 Alex Coles
7 Aaron Hinkley
8 Lewis Ludlam (c)

Replacements: 
16 Sam Matavesi
17 Emmanuel Iyogun
18 Ehren Painter
19 Courtney Lawes
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Juarno Augustus
22 Alex Mitchell
23 Rory Hutchinson

Not considered for selection:
Matthew Arden, James Fish, Sam Graham, James Grayson, Mike Haywood, Geordie Irvine, Tom Lockett and Ollie Sleightholme.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Martin (Ireland) and Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Content & Images from – Northampton Saints Rugby


Premiership

Club announcement: Leicester Tigers Coaching Team

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Leicester Tigers Interim Head Coach Richard Wigglesworth and Head of Physical Performance Aled Walters will depart the club at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season. 

Wigglesworth and Walters will join England Rugby senior men’s coaching team. 

Wigglesworth joined Tigers as a player ahead of the 2020/21 season and made 43 appearances for the club, including starting in the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership Final win, before retiring midway through the current campaign when he was appointed to the Interim Head Coach role.

Walters joined the club in the summer of 2020, during the COVID-19 suspended 2019/20 season, from the World Cup winning South African coaching team after previous roles with Munster, ACT Brumbies and Scarlets.

Speaking about Wigglesworth and Walters, Leicester Tigers Chief Executive Officer Andrea Pinchen said: “Richard and Aled have been key figures at the club in recent seasons in very different ways and, while disappointed to be saying farewell to them at season’s end, thank them for their efforts on and off the field at Leicester Tigers.”

“It has been a great privilege to have had both represent and be a part of Leicester Tigers.

“Their professionalism and leadership shone through when we were forced into changes to our coaching team halfway through a season and they took on more responsibilities, which we are grateful to both for and look forward to continuing to have as part of Leicester Tigers for the remainder of this campaign.

“In the same way that we want to see our players be as successful as possible and achieve accolades at all levels the game, we want our coaches and staff to achieve this as well. The appointment of Leicester Tigers coaches to senior international roles is not only a testament to their hard work and ability, but a great badge of honour for this club.

“We wish both of them all the best for the next chapter in their career and, as they have throughout their tenures at Tigers, know that they are fully committed to finishing their time with the club successfully.”

Leicester Tigers has identified a shortlist of replacements and is nearing the conclusion of the interview stage with candidates.

Speaking about the recruitment process, Pinchen said: “As we have stated before now, we began the process of identifying candidates for the Leicester Tigers Head Coach role at the beginning of the current campaign when we felt there was a chance Steve Borthwick would be targeted by the national side.

“That process has been ongoing for a number of months, from which we narrowed down to a shortlist and are nearing the end of the interview process with those candidates. We will be taking the time we feel necessary to get the best possible people in to lead Leicester Tigers from next season into the future.

“Leicester Tigers is not a club that is interested in having a transition period and are firmly focused on ensuring that this club has the very best coaching available to our players to deliver success on the pitch for our supporters, partners and community.”

The club will make no further comment on the process at this time.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby


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Premiership

Cokanasiga confirms future

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Bath Rugby can confirm England international Joe Cokanasiga has committed his future to the club.

The 25-year-old has been in fine form this season, scoring four tries in nine Gallagher Premiership matches to date, and joins Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Cameron Redpath and Ben Spencer in extending his time at The Rec. 

“Joe has been excellent for us this season and we’re delighted he will be staying with us,” Head of Rugby Johann van Graan said.

“He has great physical attributes which he uses to great effect, and his offloading ability in contact has provided us with fantastic attacking opportunities.

“He is an exciting player for us and we have no doubt he will continue to be an integral member of our squad.”



Cokanasiga has flourished under van Graan and has had a notable influence in games due to his power and pace. 

Since arriving in the West Country, the bulldozing wing has featured over 50 times for the Blue, Black and White whilst also making a significant impact on the international stage.

Debuting in 2018 against Japan, Cokanasiga has scored 12 tries in 14 Test matches, adding to his 21 in Bath colours. 

“There are goals I still want to accomplish here,” he said. 

“I really want to mark my time at the club by winning trophies; that’s a big ambition of mine. 

“A lot of change has taken place over the past few years, but this season I’ve found consistency in my performances. I feel I’ve positively contributed to the club’s progression and I’m excited by what’s to come in the next chapter.”


 

JOIN JOE AT THE REC FOR OUR REMAINING HOME GAMES!

Bath Rugby return to action on Saturday 18 February against London Irish before hosting Bristol Bears on Friday 24 February.

Exeter Chiefs head to The Rec on Sunday 26 March in our penultimate home outing.

Whatever takes your fancy, get your tickets!

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!


 

 

Content & Images from – Bath Rugby


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Premiership

Chiefs fullback agrees new deal

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Exeter Chiefs

By Mark Stevens
31/1/23

Josh Hodge says he’s ‘over the moon’ to have agreed a new long-term deal with the Exeter Chiefs.

The gifted full-back has pledged his future to the Devon club and believes an exciting period lies ahead for him and everyone at Sandy Park.

Signed in the summer of 2020 from Gallagher Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons, the 22-year-old has to date made 37 first-team appearances, scoring 39 points in all competitions.

He is seen by many, including Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, as one of the crown jewels in Exeter’s exciting vision for the future and news that he is staying put for the foreseeable future will be welcomed by everyone connected with the Chiefs.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a hard decision to sign a new contract with this fantastic club,” said Hodge. “Personally, I’m over the moon and I’m looking forward to my future here in the sunny county of Devon.

“There has been a lot of effort, good business decisions and hard work, both in training and on the pitch, to achieve the results the club has achieved in recent years.”

Alongside Hodge, the Chiefs are investing heavily in bringing through their next crop of young talent, such as Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Marcus Street, Richard Capstick, Sam Maunder, Will Becconsall and Greg Fisilau to name but a few.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to help the club attain its rightful position towards the top of all the competitions we take part in and justify the efforts of past players and trainers,” added Hodge.

“All the building blocks have been put in place by the board, backroom staff and coaches and it’s up to the team to work tirelessly to put the cherry on the cake and deliver the results the Chiefs and our fans deserve.”

Others within the current Chiefs ranks are expected to confirm they are also extending their stays with the club in the coming days and weeks.

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


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