The rumours that have been circulating in recent weeks about a possible move by Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona to Premiership club London Irish have been confirmed on Friday morning.
The Waratahs duo will make the move after both signed contracts with the Premiership club.
“It was a really tough decision to make the move away from New South Wales”, said Phipps, who has been with the Waratahs since 2013 after starting his professional playing career with the Australian Sevens team and then playing Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels.
loved my time in the sky blue jersey and I’ve got so much pride for the teams
I’ve been lucky enough to represent, from schoolboys to club as well as for the
State and the Wallabies,” he added.
“I wouldn’t be in this position without the people that I’ve met and that have helped me along the way. All the volunteers, the coaches, the administrators, they have all supported me and I couldn’t be more thankful.
“It’s a really big year ahead with the NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies though, so I’m solely focused on throwing everything I’ve got into this Super Rugby season.
“I’ll take some amazing memories with me but I felt that the time was right for my family and I to make the move overseas to try a different playing style and immerse ourselves into a different culture.
who has been with the Waratahs for two seasons, said that he was excited about
the upcoming season and wanted to further improve his game.
focus at the moment is to further improve my game and help our team achieve
success in Super Rugby this year. I am excited about the season ahead because I
know what we are capable of. I cannot wait for our first competition game and
see a full house at Brookvale Oval.
“I have made many friendships through this awesome game and gained a lot of
experience working with some of the best coaches and playing with the best in
“I feel I am a better player from when I first started, I have learnt a lot but
I am at a stage of my career where I have been offered the opportunity to take
my young family to a new environment. I would like to thank everyone in the NSW
Rugby community for their support during my time here.”
Both Phipps and Rona will remain with the Waratahs until the conclusion of the team’s Super Rugby campaign.
Leicester Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar said: “The group, players and staff were on the go for 23 weeks straight so getting away from the game for a period was really beneficial and we’ve come back in enthused for this challenge this week.
“Ealing are a team full of experience and quality, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the result we want, on a big day for the likes of Hanro and Finn.
“It’s fitting that Hanro leads us on his 100th game. He carried a lot of the leadership burden during the World Cup and continues to be someone the boys can count on to lead with his actions.”
Scott MacLeod is returning to Newcastle Falcons as line-out coach, with the former Scotland lock on board until at least the end of the season.
The Hawick native spent 11 years with the Falcons, making 61 appearances as a player before joining the coaching team in 2016.
Having departed Kingston Park last summer MacLeod will now return to impart his expertise, combining coaching commitments with working for his family’s business in the Scottish Borders.
Newcastle Falcons’ consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “Scott is a well-respected line-out specialist who can help us make some big gains in that area between now and the end of the season.
“He knows and loves the club, he’s very well regarded here and I’m looking forward to getting him back involved.
“We’ve initially said it’s until the end of the season and I know Scott has other business commitments, but if it works well for both parties over the next few months then we’ll be happy to look at extending it beyond that.”
Capped 24 times by Scotland in a playing career which also saw him starring for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Scarlets, Kobelco Steelers and Newcastle, the set-piece specialist is relishing the prospect of reinvigorating the Falcons’ line-out during the remainder of the season.
MacLeod said: “Our line-out has consistently been in the top four of the Premiership over the past few years, so hopefully I can come in and help get us back up there.
“I’ve been watching the games from afar this season because Newcastle Falcons is still a big part of my life, even though I’ve not been personally involved since the summer. I just want to come in and make a positive difference, get us back to where we should be and help the boys.”
Having spent more than a decade at Kingston Park as a player and coach, MacLeod insisted the opportunity to return was just too good to pass up.
“I’ve missed the place a lot,” said the 44-year-old.
“I’m now working for my family’s business, MacLeod Glass, up in Hawick, but I’m sure any sportsperson will tell you they miss being in and around that team environment. It’s certainly very different going from a Premiership rugby club to working in a factory every day, and it’s been a shock to the system.
“I’ll now get to combine both, and I’ve missed being involved with the professional game. I’ve been coaching my son’s S2 side to get my rugby fix, but I’m buzzing to be back with the Falcons. It’s a really special club for me.”
Setting out with one clear aim, the Scot said: “I just want us to get our identity back.
“I’ll come in, assess our strengths and our weaknesses and come up with a plan accordingly. I know some of the players really well and I don’t know others at all, but luckily with us having this big break before our next game it’s absolutely ideal timing for getting things in place.
“One thing you have to bear in mind with Newcastle is how bad the weather is, in terms of how much you can push it in the line-out, but I just want to get the confidence back into the boys.
“It’s about simple things being done well on a consistent basis, and I’m starting this week to help put it in motion.
“I’ve got a few weeks to get to know the guys I’ve not worked with before, see how it all ties in with the lads I already know and then knit it all together into a game plan which works best for the team.
“As I say, I just want us to have that Newcastle Falcons identity again when it comes to the line-out, and I’m really positive about things. We’ll see how it works between now and the end of the season, and if everyone’s happy then we can see where it goes.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Leicester Tigers on Good Friday (March 29), with tickets on sale for the 7.45pm kick-off by clicking here.