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Kidney: Significance goes beyond Munster result



London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney believes a final pre-season win has given his team more opportunities to grow ahead of next week’s Gallagher Premiership curtain-raiser against Worcester Warriors.

The Exiles won the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy on Friday evening following a 19-14 victory over Graham Rowntree’s Munster Rugby at Musgrave Park.

Irish never surrendered a lead on the night in Cork- backs James Stokes, Matt Williams and Henry Arundell all touching down to sustain the momentum from another away pre-season victory last week, against Jersey Reds.

Upon his return to his home province where he won two Heineken Cups with the Red Army, Kidney maintained there is “plenty to work on” for his current team ahead of the challenge of Warriors at the Gtech Community Stadium.

“It’s always very pleasing to come to a place like Munster and leave with a win,” the Director of Rugby said.  

“But in pre-season, there’s more important things we can take away from the game.

“It showed us some of the things we need to focus and work on, we had a number of opportunities that if we exploit next week we’ll be a better side.

“Defensively, we stood up well but discipline-wise we gave away a few penalties to give them opportunities to score.

“Overall, we’re happy with the night’s work but there’s plenty to work on.”

The welcoming of new faces to the Club saw both Danilo Fischetti and Api Ratuniyarawa make their first appearances in London Irish green, having put pen-to-paper at Hazelwood this past offseason.

Of their performances, Kidney praised both highly, in accompaniment with admiration for the more junior players’ contributions in the closing quarter, which numbered two current Senior Academy players and six Academy graduates.

He continued: “Api [Ratuniyarawa] and Danilo [Fischetti] are guys that we looked to bring in this time last year and they played very well this evening, as did all the younger players.

“Bringing them on in the last 20 minutes up against the other younger players from Munster will be a good experience for them.

“They showed a lot of composure to finish the game off.”

Looking ahead to next week’s proposition against Worcester Warriors, Kidney is wary of the elevation in vigour on the pitch as the Gallagher Premiership season approaches.

“That’s a whole different ball game, the intensity is going to go up two, three-fold.

“We have done our pre-season now, we have the rest of this weekend off so we can come in fully rested in order to have a good week’s work leading into next Saturday.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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