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Premiership

Harlequins Head Coach Steps Down

Mark Mapletoft has left his role as Harlequins head coach for a new role with the club

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(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

Harlequins head coach Mark Mapletoft will step away from his position with the senior team and take over as academy coach the club have confirmed.

In his new role he will help with coach mentoring and will continue to support sections of the professional rugby environment.

After nine years with the senior team Mapletoft admitted he wanted a change to continue his development as a coach.

“I’m passionate about the whole coaching spectrum and this is a great opportunity for me to develop my skills and knowledge in another area. Player development is central to that and this presents the opportunity for me to continue developing our Harlequins academy as well as our elite performance pathway. The impact this area has on our sustainable success is massive and I’m really looking forward to working with the academy team to ensure the production line remains strong. Paul has done a fantastic job in his first season and I know we have the ability and mindset to challenge for honours this year,” he said.

Mapletoft brings plenty of experience to the academy set-up having served as backs coach, attack coach and head coach with the senior team.

Harlequins general manager Billy Millard is delighted at Mapletoft’s move and is looking forward to seeing what he can do with the younger players.

“Mark is an experienced and talented coach and a great Harlequins man. Those on the player pathway and associated staff members will benefit greatly from his rugby eye and mentorship in all aspects of professional rugby. He has a passion for this area, and I look forward to watching the positive impact he and this academy group have on the club going forwards,” he said.

Mapletoft will come into the role immediately and will look to emulate the success he had with the senior team in the academy.

Major League Rugby

Saracens Lock Latest to Join MLR

Another player has decided to make a move over to the US for a taste of Major League Rugby action

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(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Saracens lock Dominic Day has left the Premiership side to join San Diego Legion in the Major League Rugby on a two-year deal.

The 33-year-old has been at Allianz Park for two years, making 32 appearances and has been influential in helping the club’s young talent.

The former Scarlets and Bath lock is thankful for the chances he has been given at Sarries.

“It’s been an amazing two years. I’ve met a lot of really good people and have been a part of a team which has won four trophies since I’ve been here. It’s been more than I could ever have asked for. Saracens are a massive club and pride themselves on being up there and winning things; being part of that has been amazing,” he said.

As well as his efforts on the pitch and with the youth development he has also set up fourfive CBD with fellow lock George Kruis which is a brand that helps athletes maintain an active lifestyle.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall thanked Day for his time at the club and wished him luck in the US.

“Dom has been a brilliant person to have at the club over the last two seasons. In particular, he has played a key role in mentoring some of our younger players both on and off the field. We wish him and Nadia well as they embark on this exciting new challenge and will always be grateful to him for the huge contribution he has made at our club,” he said.

Day will now link-up with former England international Steffon Armitage, who joined San Diego Legion last week.

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Premiership

Worcester Coach on the Move

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan could be set to leave the club very soon according to reports

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(Photo by Ashley Crowden - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan has been given permission to speak to other clubs according to reports in the Worcester News. 

The news outlet claim that they have been informed by the club that they do not see Duncan as a part of their future plans.

“The club has put in place a strategic plan for the future of Warriors. We do not envisage Rory Duncan being part of those plans and, therefore, we have given Rory permission to seek opportunities elsewhere,” a club spokesperson said

Duncan has impressed with stints at the Cheetahs and the Warriors, and a return to the Cheetahs looked to be on the cards until the club announced Hawies Fourie as their new coach.

However, the Southern Kings are currently looking for a new head coach and Duncan is among a four-man list of coaches being considered for the position, with Steve Jackson, Corniel van Zyl and Pieter de Villiers being the others.

Duncan has experience with the Kings having played two Currie Cup seasons with them before his retirement from playing.

Both the Warriors and the Kings open up their respective campaigns for the 2019/20 season in September and one would imagine they will want a quick resolution if he is to depart for South Africa once again.

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Premiership

Scottish Star Signs for the Bulls

One of Scotland’s key back-rowers has left his contract a year early to join the Bulls

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland back-rower Josh Strauss will leave his contract with Sale Sharks a year early on order to join the Bulls

The 32-year-old has been at the English club for two-years since joining from Glasgow Warriors, with Sale agreeing to let him leave early having signed Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez and Mark Wilson this summer.

He had been in talks with the Warriors about a return, as well as receiving a lot of attention from French Top 14 sides, but chose the Bulls.

By signing for the Bulls, Strauss will return to his country of birth, but is far more associated with Scotland having qualified for their national side in 2015.

He made his debut for the Scots in the 2015 World Cup and has gone on to gain 22-caps for them since.

Strauss is included in Scotland’s 44-man World Cup training squad by head coach Gregor Townsend and played in all five of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

However, there is no guarantee that he will make the tournament in Japan as he faces huge competition for a place on the plane with Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Skinner and Blade Thomson are all vying for places.

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