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Premiership

Leicester Tigers confirm new-look squad leadership

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ellis Genge has been appointed Leicester Tigers club captain ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The front-rower has made 89 appearances for Tigers since his debut in 2016.

Genge moved to Leicester from Bristol, initially on loan, in the final months of the 2015/16 campaign.

In his first full season at the club, he received the Young Player and Best Newcomer awards as well as being named Premiership Rugby Discovery of the Season and earned a nomination for RPA Young Player of the Year.

Capped on 30 occasions by England, the 26-year-old has been a regular in the national squad since his Test debut in May 2016, shortly after breaking through with Leicester Tigers.

Speaking about the appointment of Genge, Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick said: “Ellis epitomises what we, Leicester Tigers are about; hard work, toughness and a desire to continue to improve. 

“He has set the example in everything that he does, on and off the pitch, since I arrived at Tigers and possesses a great ability to bring people together.

“It gave me great pleasure to appoint Ellis as club captain, but even more pleasure to see the reaction from his team-mates to the news of his appointment.”

Joining Genge in a new-look Tigers leadership pairing is Hanro Liebenberg, who has been appointed vice-captain.

The 26-year-old is entering his third season with Tigers after arriving from South Africa ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

Liebenberg has made 36 appearances for Leicester since September 2019 and was voted Supporters’ Player of the Year at the conclusion of last season. 

Speaking about Liebenberg’s appointment, Borthwick said: “Everyone can see the quality that Hanro brings as a player in each and every game we play. 

“Every day he brings that quality to our training, setting the standard for others to follow. 

“He thinks deeply about the game and his experience of playing in South Africa, France and England adds to the great depth of understanding he brings.”

Discussing the appointments, Borthwick added: “Ellis and Hanro together are a great combination to lead this Leicester Tigers playing group.

“We are also fortunate to have a strong group of senior players at Leicester Tigers who will be a great support to Ellis and Hanro in what they bring to the leadership roles.”

Genge follows fellow front-rower Tom Youngs as Leicester Tigers club captain.

The 34-year-old has made 215 appearances for Tigers since December 2006 and first led the club during the 2014/15 season.

The 62nd club captain in Tigers’ 141-year history, he has made 98 appearances as captain to sit in 14th place on the all-time list of matches as skipper.

Looking at Youngs’ contribution to the club as captain, Borthwick said: “Tom Youngs has been an exceptional leader for Leicester Tigers for several seasons and, while not as captain, he will continue to be a senior player in our group.

“His time as club captain has been during one of the toughest periods in the club’s history and Tom has been integral to building the foundations to help turn Tigers around, which he is committed to being a part of in a different way this season.

“He is as passionate a clubman as I have come across and, in every way, thinks of the team and his team-mates before himself, including his decision to stand down from the role ahead of this season.

“Tom is owed a great amount of praise for having done the job of club captain at Leicester Tigers to the level he has and in the manner he has since 2015.”

Premiership

Northampton confirm coaching shake up

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Dowson and Vesty to step up at Saints as Boyd moves to advisory role

Northampton Saints coaches Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty will move into senior management roles at the end of the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season following confirmation that Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd, will return to New Zealand and take up a new advisory role with the Club.

Dowson, who enjoyed a six-year playing career at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens prior to his transition into coaching, will be appointed Director of Rugby having coached Saints’ forwards since the 2018/19 season.

Meanwhile Vesty, who joined at the start of Boyd’s tenure to run Saints’ attack, will become the Club’s Head Coach.

The change forms part of a long-term succession plan set up when Boyd first arrived in Northampton, which aimed to develop a coaching team capable of assuming overall responsibility of the Club’s playing department.

In his new advisory role, Boyd will work remotely from New Zealand but will also visit Northampton during the season, aiming to provide strategic counsel to a coaching group which will be led by Dowson.

Ian Vass and Matt Ferguson will continue in their coaching roles, responsible for Saints’ defence and scrum respectively. Meanwhile former lock James Craig – who made 73 appearances in Black, Green and Gold prior to his retirement from playing in 2019 – also transitions from the Club’s Academy programme into a new first-team coaching position, initially focused on looking after Saints’ line-out.

“I have absolutely loved my time in Northampton, but it’s time to return home,” said Boyd.

“Since our arrival in 2018, Linda and I have fallen in love with the Club, the supporters and the county – Saints will always have a special place in our hearts.”

Chris Boyd

“But the pull of family is too great to stay in Northampton beyond the end of this season. And while the thought of being closer to our children and grandchildren is hugely exciting, it is with heavy hearts that we leave the Club.  

“Phil and Sam are very talented coaches and thoroughly deserve their forthcoming appointments. Over the last three years, they have proved they have what it takes to lead a successful rugby club at this level; I have no doubt they are ready to make the step up.

“They will be well supported by Ian, Matt and James, who all have bright futures ahead of them as coaches, and I will obviously still be contributing in my new role too.

“Although I’ll be sad to leave, my job this season is far from finished. I can promise our supporters that we are all more determined than ever to help the Club achieve its potential for the remainder of the season.”

Boyd joined Saints from Super Rugby’s Hurricanes ahead of the 2018/19 season. The Kiwi coach won the Premiership Rugby Cup – Northampton’s first silverware for five years – and finished fourth in the Gallagher Premiership in his first season, but Saints were defeated in their semi-final clash.

The men in Black, Green and Gold then reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup under Boyd the following season, going down to eventual champions Exeter Chiefs, before ending the 2020/21 Premiership campaign one place outside of the play-offs in fifth.

Boyd’s tenure at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens has also seen a new generation of Saints make the transition from the Club’s Academy to senior rugby. An impressive 25 Academy players have made their debuts under Boyd, with Northampton’s senior squad now boasting an average age of just 24 with 67% (39/58) of players home-grown.

Ten Academy graduates have received their first international call-ups with Boyd at the helm, with Lewis LudlamGeorge FurbankAlex Mitchell and Rory Hutchinson all making their debuts at Test level.

“We completely understand Chris’ reasons for deciding to go back to New Zealand – family must always come first,” said Mark Darbon, Chief Executive at Northampton Saints.

“However, we always knew this time would come and have planned and rehearsed accordingly. For instance, earlier this summer when Chris took an extended break in New Zealand, Phil and Sam took sole charge of pre-season.

“From the moment we first spoke to Chris about joining Northampton Saints, we worked with him to build a high-potential group of coaches. Over the past three years, that group have developed and grown, and we are excited for what they can achieve together.”

Mark Darbon, Northampton Saints Chief Executive

“While we will miss having Chris around the Gardens, we are very pleased that he will maintain a relationship with the Club in an advisory role, supporting the further development of our coaching group and helping us monitor the global player market.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Chris and Linda for everything they have done for Saints so far. It has been a pleasure working with Chris in his current role, and I have no doubt that the Club will continue to benefit from his contributions moving forwards.”

Saints Chairman John White added: “It’s been fantastic to work with Chris over the past four years; he transitions into his new role with the Club in great shape for the future, and I am very grateful for his efforts to date. We look forward to what will hopefully be a successful second half of this season, before Phil and Sam step into their new roles to take the Club forward.”

Phil Dowson made 186 appearances in Black, Green and Gold as a player in just six seasons at the Club, helping Saints claim the Premiership and European Challenge Cup titles in 2014, the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2010, and reach the Heineken Champions Cup final in 2011. He returned to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens as an assistant coach in 2017, before becoming forwards coach a year later upon Boyd’s arrival at the Club.

His 262 appearances in the Premiership is the third-highest tally in the competition’s history, and more than any active player, while Dowson was also capped seven times by England.

The 40-year-old said: “I am extremely proud and humbled to be stepping into the Director of Rugby role at Northampton Saints, a Club I have loved from the moment I first ran onto the pitch at Franklin’s Gardens 12 years ago.

“There is still plenty of growth left in this group of players and, alongside Sam and the entire coaching department, we will work tirelessly to deliver silverware for the Club and our supporters – whose passion and commitment to the team is second to none.

“On a personal note, I would like to thank Chris for everything he has done for me as a coach; I have learnt an enormous amount from him, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities he has given me. It is of course sad to see him return to New Zealand, but I’m delighted we will be able to continue to work together within this new coaching structure.”

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Premiership

Dombrandt recommits to Quins

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Image Credit: Harlequins Rugby

Harlequins is thrilled to announce that England number eight and fan favourite Alex Dombrandt has signed a new long-term deal with the Club

First arriving at the Club from Cardiff Met University ahead of the 2018/19 season, Dombrandt has gone on to flourish as a senior player during his time in the Famous Quarters, regularly stepping in as the acting matchday captain and lifting the Gallagher Premiership trophy alongside Club Captain Stephan Lewies as Quins secured their second Premiership title last June.

Capped four times by England, the Croydon-born 24-year-old has taken the rugby world by storm since making his senior debut against Agen in the European Challenge Cup in 2018, making 87 appearances and racking up over 200 points to date.

Scoring an impressive 11 tries in his debut season in South West London, the marauding number eight instantly displayed a natural style of play that mirrored Quins’ renowned, attacking DNA.

Alex Dombrandt contract
Most well-known for intelligent running lines that often see the number eight pierce through the heart of opposition defences, Dombrandt has already scored ten tries in eleven appearances so far this season, standing out as one of the prime leaders of playing the Harlequins Way.

Commenting on his new deal, Dombrandt said: “I’m very excited to have re-signed. I love the Club, I love what we’re trying to do at the moment. I’m really excited for what’s to come in the future.

“Coming from university and into the professional environment I feel like I’ve grown on and off the pitch. I guess for me it’s just about being able to continue that growth, get better each day and go from there.

“This is a club that I’ve supported growing up. I used to come and watch Quins as a kid, so to stay at the club that is close to my heart, I’m very happy to do that.

“We’re trying to create something really special at this Club and obviously winning the Premiership last season was amazing, but we don’t want to sit on what we did last year. I think we’re in a really good spot at the moment.”

Commenting, Director of Rugby Performance Billy Millard said: “We’re delighted that Alex has re-signed with the Club. Dommers has grown and developed since joining us from Cardiff Met a few years ago. Almost as much as his rugby he’s developed really well as a leader, and gone on to earn his international recognition off the back of his form with us.

“We’re thrilled that Dommers has recommitted his future with Quins and look forward to seeing him continue to thrive in the Quarters.”

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Source – Harlequins Rugby

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Premiership

Creevy pens new deal

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm that Agustin Creevy has today put pen to paper to extend his time with the Exiles.

Creevy has been in scintillating form this season and currently tops the league’s try scoring charts with an impressive nine tries.

Since arriving at the Club in August 2020, the hooker has made 38 appearances and scored 16 tries.

“I am delighted to be staying at London Irish because this Club has become a second home for me and my family,” said Creevy.

“Since the first day I walked into the training ground, everyone has made me feel a part of the London Irish family.

“The supporters always give me a brilliant reception at matches, and I can’t thank them enough for it.

“The Club is going in the right direction, and I will do my best to help that continue.”

Speaking on Creevy’s new deal, Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby, said: “We are excited to have Agustin staying with us here at Hazelwood.

“Agustin is a popular member of the squad and provides valuable experience to our team, both on and off the pitch.

“We look forward to seeing more of Agustin in the London Irish jersey.”

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Source – London Irish Rugby

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