London Irish can confirm the departure of full-back Tom Parton to Gallagher Premiership Club Saracens upon conclusion of the 2022/23 season.
To date, Parton has made 71 appearances for London Irish and contributed 19 tries, being part of the side that achieved promotion from the Championship in the 2018/19 season.
The 24-year-old made his Club debut aged 18 in the British and Irish Cup against an Ospreys select side in the 2016/17 season, going on to play five more times in the tournament that year.
London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney recognised the contributions of Parton from his time in the Academy to making over half a century of appearances for his boyhood Club.
He said: “Tom has been a magnificent servant to London Irish in recent years and has been integral to helping the Club reach new heights, as well being a fantastic mentor on the training ground at Hazelwood.
“I speak on behalf of the team when I say Tom leaving will be a loss for us, but I look forward to continuing our work with him for the rest of the season and I have every confidence that current members of our squad can step up when he leaves us at the end of the season.”
Tom Parton thanked the members of staff and players at London Irish for his time in west London ahead his departure across the capital.
“It has been an honour and privilege to have represented this historic and traditional rugby club,” said Parton.
“Having been here from the age of 13 London Irish is all I have known, it has helped guide, mould, and shape me into the man that I am today, however the time has come for me to experience a change and embrace a new and exciting opportunity.
“To the coaches, physios, and background staff at the club, thank you for all of your tireless work. Through all the ups and downs that this sport throws at us you have always supported me.
“A massive thanks must also go to my teammates; the brotherhood and family ethos of the club is what makes it so special. Having experienced that for 10 years with a core group of young academy players coming through alongside me has been the best thing about this journey. They say, ‘winning is great, but winning with your best mates is something else’ and it has been a pleasure to have shared so many great memories with you.
“And finally, to the London Irish supporters, without your tireless support, none of this would even be possible. The constant noise and passion that you have brought is something that has blown me away from my first day here, and I know that there is still much more to cheer about on the club’s journey.
“There is plenty of the season left and I look forward to giving my all to help the team achieve everything I know it’s capable of. London Irish will always be a special club to me so thank you all for making a childhood dream of mine come true.
Leicester Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar said: “The group, players and staff were on the go for 23 weeks straight so getting away from the game for a period was really beneficial and we’ve come back in enthused for this challenge this week.
“Ealing are a team full of experience and quality, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the result we want, on a big day for the likes of Hanro and Finn.
“It’s fitting that Hanro leads us on his 100th game. He carried a lot of the leadership burden during the World Cup and continues to be someone the boys can count on to lead with his actions.”
Scott MacLeod is returning to Newcastle Falcons as line-out coach, with the former Scotland lock on board until at least the end of the season.
The Hawick native spent 11 years with the Falcons, making 61 appearances as a player before joining the coaching team in 2016.
Having departed Kingston Park last summer MacLeod will now return to impart his expertise, combining coaching commitments with working for his family’s business in the Scottish Borders.
Newcastle Falcons’ consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “Scott is a well-respected line-out specialist who can help us make some big gains in that area between now and the end of the season.
“He knows and loves the club, he’s very well regarded here and I’m looking forward to getting him back involved.
“We’ve initially said it’s until the end of the season and I know Scott has other business commitments, but if it works well for both parties over the next few months then we’ll be happy to look at extending it beyond that.”
Capped 24 times by Scotland in a playing career which also saw him starring for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Scarlets, Kobelco Steelers and Newcastle, the set-piece specialist is relishing the prospect of reinvigorating the Falcons’ line-out during the remainder of the season.
MacLeod said: “Our line-out has consistently been in the top four of the Premiership over the past few years, so hopefully I can come in and help get us back up there.
“I’ve been watching the games from afar this season because Newcastle Falcons is still a big part of my life, even though I’ve not been personally involved since the summer. I just want to come in and make a positive difference, get us back to where we should be and help the boys.”
Having spent more than a decade at Kingston Park as a player and coach, MacLeod insisted the opportunity to return was just too good to pass up.
“I’ve missed the place a lot,” said the 44-year-old.
“I’m now working for my family’s business, MacLeod Glass, up in Hawick, but I’m sure any sportsperson will tell you they miss being in and around that team environment. It’s certainly very different going from a Premiership rugby club to working in a factory every day, and it’s been a shock to the system.
“I’ll now get to combine both, and I’ve missed being involved with the professional game. I’ve been coaching my son’s S2 side to get my rugby fix, but I’m buzzing to be back with the Falcons. It’s a really special club for me.”
Setting out with one clear aim, the Scot said: “I just want us to get our identity back.
“I’ll come in, assess our strengths and our weaknesses and come up with a plan accordingly. I know some of the players really well and I don’t know others at all, but luckily with us having this big break before our next game it’s absolutely ideal timing for getting things in place.
“One thing you have to bear in mind with Newcastle is how bad the weather is, in terms of how much you can push it in the line-out, but I just want to get the confidence back into the boys.
“It’s about simple things being done well on a consistent basis, and I’m starting this week to help put it in motion.
“I’ve got a few weeks to get to know the guys I’ve not worked with before, see how it all ties in with the lads I already know and then knit it all together into a game plan which works best for the team.
“As I say, I just want us to have that Newcastle Falcons identity again when it comes to the line-out, and I’m really positive about things. We’ll see how it works between now and the end of the season, and if everyone’s happy then we can see where it goes.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Leicester Tigers on Good Friday (March 29), with tickets on sale for the 7.45pm kick-off by clicking here.