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Premiership

Key Harlequins Coaches sign permanent deals

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(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

Harlequins Coaches Nick Evans, Adam Jones and Jerry Flannery have signed new and permanent deals with the Club

Harlequins is delighted to announce that coaches Adam Jones (Scrum Coach), Jerry Flannery (Lineout and Defence Coach) and Nick Evans (Attack and Backs Coach) have put pen to paper on new deals at The Stoop as the Double English champions continue to build for long term, sustained success following their 2020/21 Premiership triumph.

A Harlequins legend as both a player and coach, Evans is arguably one of the best overseas signings in the Gallagher Premiership’s history, guiding Quins to its first-ever Premiership title in 2012 after arriving from New Zealand in 2008. In 2017 Evans made the switch from player to coach after notching up over 200 appearances and 2249 points over a nine-year playing career at The Stoop. A member of Quins’ title-winning coaching set-up last season, Evans recommits to the Club to extend a 14-year career in London.

A famed 100-Test cap Wales and British and Irish Lions international, Jones extends a seven-year stay with the London side having arrived in 2015 as a player. A year later, Jones’ role changed as he took up a joint playing and coaching position, going on to coach with the Club full-time after retiring from playing at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Former Ireland international Flannery signs a new deal with the Club having arrived ahead of the 2020/21 season to assume the role of Lineout Coach, taking on his current title of Lineout and Defence Coach during Quins’ spectacular Gallagher Premiership-winning run last year.

Senior Coach Tabai Matson said: “The coaching group did an amazing job last year with a fantastic team. It’s always interesting to come from the outside and join a cohesive group – and that’s exactly what they were. They are a high functioning team.

“One thing I’ve really enjoyed is that they’re all completely different. They have different energies, they’re all fantastic within their portfolios and they all compliment each other really well. For me, joining a team like that was exciting. It’s fantastic that they’ve all re-signed as a group.

“What Nick brings to the table is an analytical view. He’s got all that experience from his playing days but now he’s leading and driving the likes of Marcus and Danny. We’re blessed to have him in the mix.

“He’s completely different to Jerry, who brings this real intensity to the way he leads the lineouts and the defence. He’s fantastic practitioner and I’m not sure if it’s just his accent but he’s a wonderful storyteller and he drives a lot of the energy in the week.

“And of course, Bomb [Adam Jones], our Welshman. It’s really an eclectic group of nations, which is one of the things we love about the game, isn’t it?

“Our scrum has often been the thing that’s kept us in games, so with his experience and the way he drives the scrummaging, he’s been a key part of the success here so far.”

Commenting, Harlequins CEO Laurie Dalrymple said: “We are all delighted to have three such highly regarded individuals sign new contracts with the Club. Alongside Billy Millard [Director of Rugby Performance] and Charlie Mulchrone [Skills and Kicking Coach], Nick, Adam and Jerry guided this team to one of the most incredible stories in the Premiership’s history. Overseeing a return to Harlequins’ DNA of old as the team has tapped into the Club’s historic and famous style of play, we have seen huge engagement and interaction not only from our supporters but the wider sporting world.

“Alongside the 17 recent key player contract renewals, we are all thrilled to have Nick, Adam and Jerry commit their futures with us. By signing new and permanent deals within our coaching team working alongside Billy, Charlie and Tabai, we have built a brilliant team to help our squad grow, develop and to achieve our ambitious goals.”

Source – Harlequins Rugby

6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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Premiership

Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled

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Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.

COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.

We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.

When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.

Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.

We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.

An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.

• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:

In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.

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Premiership

Scotland international heading to Bristol

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.

The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.

“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.

“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.

“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”

Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.

He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.

“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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