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Premiership

Launchbury to Sale?

Is the Wasps exodus set to continue?

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Written by Photo by Eshlin Vedan
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Strong rumours had been circulating that Joe Launchbury appeared to be nearing a switch from Wasps to Sale. The lock was reportedly unhappy following the departures of Nathan Hughes and Willie Le Roux. Hughes has joined Bristol Bears while the South African Le Roux is set to leave the club at the end of the season.

The future of Elliot Daily is also currently the subject of speculation. Launchbury currently earns in the region of £270,000 per year. RugbyPass have suggested that Sale were willing to almost double the player’s wages and offer him a contract worth £500,000 per annum.

Wasps and Lauchbury however issued a strong statement via the club website and Twitter.

“Wasps are aware of recent rumours linking Club Captain Joe Launchbury with a move away from the Club.”

“These rumours are completely unfounded, and Wasps can confirm Launchbury will be at the Club next season.”

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “Joe is Club Captain and has been a key part of Wasps for a long time. He is an asset to the squad.

“Joe is clearly a quality player who most clubs would want in their ranks, but he is contracted to Wasps and committed to the Club and the journey we are on.

Launchbury was quoted saying

“Wasps are obviously a Club that have been great to me over the years and are extremely close to my heart. I’m fully committed to the Club and going nowhere.”

Launchbury is a product of Wasps academy and has since made 135 appearances for them. He has been captaining the side since 2016 and also boasts 54 England caps.

This clear statement of denial from Wasps perhaps strengthens the rumours surrounding Elliot Daly move to Saracens. These rumours have been around for much longer , gather a lot of momentum and Wasps have remained silent.

In brighter news for Wasps, scrum half Ben Vellacott is set to leave Gloucester and join them at the end of the season. The 23-year-old who is a potential candidate to England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad as agreed to a move as reported by Gloucestershire Live.

This will be déjà vu for Gloucester fans. They also saw exciting scrum-half Dan Robson leave them in order to join Wasps four years ago.

At the time, Robson left in order to get more regular game-time. Vellacott is presently in a similar situation with club captain Willi Heinz ahead in the pecking order.

Velacott has so far managed 12 tries from 45 appearances in Cherry and Whites colours. However, he has been mainly used as an impact player and not started as many games as he would have liked to.

Premiership

Exeter Sign Sharks Ace

Exeter Chiefs have confirmed the arrival of a second South African star ahead of the opening weekend of the season

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(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Exeter Chiefs have announced the signing of Jacques Vermeulen from Super Rugby side the Sharks ahead of the 2019/20 season.

The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Premiership side and is very excited about the prospect of lining-out in Sandy Park. 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to come to a world-class club like Exeter Chiefs. Today, I feel like a little boy again, very excited about the challenge and just being part of the team. I’ve watched a lot of games on TV and I saw Sandy Park is always full on match-days. The team itself play very good rugby and I can’t wait to be part of the vibe of the team, learning about the culture and doing my best for the club,” he said. 

His move to the England comes after a number of South African players to head to the Premiership, one of which will become his new teammate in Jannes Kirsten. 

It is the first time the flanker has left South Africa to play rugby having only previously represented Western Province in his career before his move to the Sharks, but he believes that switching to the Premiership will only make him a better player. 

“I think whatever competition you play in, it brings a different dimension to your rugby. I’m sure I will learn heaps of stuff because it will be so different to Super Rugby. The Chiefs you can see have a great culture, a winning culture. Already I’ve met a few of the guys and the vibe around the place is great. Everyone was so welcoming and I can’t wait to get started,” he added. 

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter is delighted with his new signing and believes that Kirsten will help Vermeulen settle in quickly. 

“I think having Jannes here will definitely help me settle quickly. Hopefully it won’t take me too long to buy into the culture and after that I just want to give it 100 per cent,” he said. 

Exeter will be looking to go one step further in the Premiership this year having fallen just short in the final last season against Saracens and the addition of Vermeulen is huge boost for that dream. 

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Premiership

England Star to Call Time on Career

One of the most coveted players in Premiership history has confirmed that he will call time on his career at the end of the season

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England international Jordan Crane has announced that he will step away from his playing career at the end of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season. 

The 33-year-old is currently playing with Bristol Bears, where he has been since 2016 and will join the backroom staff as an academy transition coach in a dual role with immediate effect and is delighted with what he has achieved so far.

“When I reflect back on the last 16 years, I’ve been so fortunate to meet many great friends and share the field with some of the most talented players to play the game. The chance to represent my country and achieve domestic success with Leicester are obvious highlights and I’ve loved the past two seasons working with Pat Lam where I have played some of the best rugby of my career,” he said.

Having began his career with Leeds Tykes before moving to Leicester Tigers, where he was part of an unstoppable team between 2006 and 2016 before his move to the Bears. However, despite his long time with the Tigers he is excited for the future in Bristol.

“I’m fully committed to Bristol Bears and excited about the future ahead. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue here and begin my coaching journey in a world-class coaching set up. My family love living in the area and we feel very settled. My focus is on a huge Premiership season with the Bears first and foremost – it would be fantastic to end my playing career on a high by helping Bristol earn a top six finish,” he added.

Bristol’s director of rugby Pat Lam believes that Crane will be able to help the youth teams understand what is like to be a Bear.

“When you are wanting our young players to understand our Bears game, culture and leadership and what is required at the next level I couldn’t think of a perfect fit to help guide them than Jordan. He is an outstanding leader who is respected by the coaches and players and he understands the importance of standards, commitment and consistency in everything we do. As a club and a culture, we want to promote from within whenever we can and support players and coaches to grow, develop and reach their dreams. Jordan has all the ingredients to be a world class English coach and we are excited about the value he will add to our under-18s and academy programme,” he said.

Crane will hope to retire on a high, having won four Premiership titles in the past, but will be looking to lead the Bristol Bears to a Champions Cup spot at the end of his last season.

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Premiership

Northampton Unveil New Club Captain

Northampton Saints have announced who will take over the captaincy from Dylan Hartley

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Northampton Saints have revealed that Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison will lead the side for the 2019/20 season.

The duo will co-captain the side following long-term captain Dylan Hartley’s decision to step aside from the role.

Both led the team at points during last season while Hartley was absent and Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd admits it was an easy decision to hand them the role.

“Teimana leads by example within our group and is respected by absolutely everybody throughout the club. He skippered the side superbly when called upon last season and I’m delighted to see him embrace this new role; he’s relishing the opportunity and understands the significance of representing this proud rugby community as co-captain of Northampton Saints. Alex and Teimana have now played in the same side for eight seasons and I’m sure their relationship will grow even further as they lead the squad together,” he said.

Despite Hartley’s injury woes over recent seasons which has seen him miss a number of games and lose his place in the England squad Boyd has confirmed that the hooker will continue to play a key role at the club.

“After pretty much 10 years in a leadership capacity, Dylan Hartley decided to step away from the captain’s role this year – but he will continue to be a significant and influential member of our group. Dylan was responsible for Teimana coming over from New Zealand and pulling on a Northampton jersey in the first place, so I know he is seriously proud to now hand over this responsibility to him and to help him adapt to the job at hand,” he added.

The side are looking to build on a successful campaign last year where they finished fourth in the Premiership, won the Premiership Rugby Cup and made it to the knock-out stages of the Challenge Cup.

They finish up their pre-season tomorrow when they host Leinster at Franklin’s Gardens as they hope to end on a high.

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