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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.

Premiership

Wasps sign Bath lock Elliott Stooke

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(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Wasps are delighted to announce the signing of England second-row Elliott Stooke, who will join the Club at the end of the season from Bath Rugby.

The 27-year-old, who has made 142 Premiership appearances has impressed in a Bath shirt for a number of years now.

Stooke began his career at Gloucester Rugby, before moving to West Country rivals Bath in 2016.

The Worcester born lock was the fastest player to reach 100 appearances in Bath’s history.

The six-foot six-inch forward was called up to England’s Six Nations Squad in March 2019, whilst he also featured in England’s summer fixture against the Barbarians in both 2018 and 2019.

Earlier in his career Stooke appeared for England Saxons, as well as being part of England Under 20s Junior World Championship winning side of 2013.

Wasps Men’s Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “We are extremely happy to be able to bring an experienced Premiership lock like Elliot on board for next season.

“Elliott is someone we’ve watched for years, and we are excited to work with him. He is well known within our squad, and we feel his ability, experience and character will add to us on the field as well as off the field.”

Stooke added: “I am delighted to have signed for Wasps; it is such a big club with great history. I am looking forward to progressing my career at the club and getting started with my Wasps teammates.”

Source – Wasps Rugby

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Premiership

Phipps pens Exiles contract extension

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Picture Credit - London Irish

Nick Phipps has put pen to paper on a contract extension with London Irish.

The Australian scrum-half – who joined the Club ahead of the 2019/20 season – has agreed a new deal to extend his stay with the Exiles.

The 32 year-old, who has over 70 caps for the Wallabies to his name, has made 39 appearances for the Exiles to date – and he’s excited about what the future holds for London Irish over the coming years.

“I’m chuffed to bits to agree a new deal” he said. 

“This is a really special Club and as a family we’re really enjoying our time in London, so there’s nowhere I’d rather be, it was a no-brainer to extend my stay.

“I want to make special memories here. We’ve got a great bunch of boys, who love playing for this Club; the coaching staff are great to work with on a daily basis – and we really feel we’re on an upward trajectory.

“There’s good things going to be happening here, I’m convinced of that – and I can’t wait to continue to be part of this exciting journey we’re on.”

Exiles Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, believes Phipps’ decision to extend his stay at Irish is a clear signal of the Club’s intent, commenting: “Nick is an outstanding professional, the kind of player every coach dreams of having in their squad.

“His desire to continue to improve as a player, irrespective of what he’s achieved in a stellar career so far, speaks volumes of him.

“The fact he sees his long-term future here tells you we’re moving in the right direction, so we couldn’t be more delighted he’s committed his future to the Club.”

Tickets for the Exeter game are now available. Please click here to secure your seat!

Source – London Irish Rugby

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Premiership

‘In-form Gloucester a dangerous prospect’ – Lam

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Ashton Gate is set to welcome supporters back for the first time in 14 months, with 3,138 expected in BS3 – and Lam says the return of fans will provide a huge boost for his players, who sealed their play-off place with four rounds remaining by beating Bath at The Rec in round 18.

‘Exciting times’

“It’s exciting times. There is a focus on every game, so playing Gloucester heightens everything again, and the crowd coming in, albeit the beginning of a process to build the crowd back up, it’s exciting times.

“We understand it’s another derby with Gloucester and they will be dangerous. They had a great win, and they are improving every time under George (Skivington) and their new coaching regime.

“However, for us, I think the biggest focus is that every game is important, because when we took top spot in the table in round six, for us still to be there in round 19 is a huge effort, because we put an emphasis on us and on our journey, and we said the only reason we’ll get overtake is if we drop our standards.

“So, it would be a shame, with the position we are in with four games to go and an eight-point lead, to not get to the end as the team at the top, before we go into the semis.”

‘Extremely pleasing’

Lam praised his side’s mentality after they fought back from 15 points down to complete a second successive league double over Bath – and the Bears boss believes the experience will stand them in good stead come the business end of the season.

“The outcome is extremely pleasing. To get a record score down at The Rec was massive and a real testament to the work done by everybody – and the way we did it.

“We knew what we needed to do, and we knew the opportunities were there. We gifted them two soft tries, but the calmness of the guys to work their way through it and keep at it, and it’s great when guys are saying ‘keep going and we’ll get there.’

“For it turn out that way was pleasing and will hold us in good stead for what’s to come.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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