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Match Report: London Irish 28, Northampton Saints 26



London Irish returned maximum points for the second successive week in the Premiership Rugby Cup, performing a memorable second-half turnaround to take the game by 28 points to 26 at the Gtech Community Stadium against Northampton Saints.

The Exiles were 19 points down at the interval, Sam Graham opening Northampton’s account with a James Ramm brace adding to the deficit.

Subsitiute Hallam Chapman inspired Irish’s fightback with a duo of tries of his own, taking Irish over the whitewash for the first time in the game before Logan Trotter pounced on an opportunity to bring the hosts within a score.

After excellent defence from Declan Kidney’s side, Saints own rearguard subsided when their opponents pushed to the line, and after persistent offences, referee Dan Jones awarded a penalty try for the west Londoners to bring another classic under the lights in Brentford to an end.

With both sides feeling each other out in the opening 10 minutes and Saints recording the higher penalty count, Irish’s first red zone entry via a Rory Jennings touch finder only resulted in a knock-on in later phases.

Ollie Sleightholme’s linebreak after being found in close quarters by James Grayson was halted by excellent tracking back from Logan Trotter, Luca Morisi fielding a loose pass to alleviate some pressure on Irish.

Courtnall Skosan looked to have taken Saints into the lead after taking in a Grayson kick from hand out wide, but was held up and brought back for an earlier knock-on in play.

Saints then bagged the first try of the contest via Sam Graham, the number eight powering over the try line after running a bustling line close to the whitewash, Grayson converting.

A high tackle from Northampton on Trotter gave Rory Jennings another opportunity to kick Irish further up the park and retain the ball, Hugh O’Sullivan passing off to forwards with one of the last being Tarek Haffar.

The prop’s impressive carrying throughout saw his contribution with the ball be his last, an awkward step capping his time on the field after Ben Atkins’ earlier substitution for Izzy Moore-Aiono.

Initial strong carrying around the fringes progressed Northampton into Irish ground, when the ball was spread a smart touch from Sleightholme via his foot kept them in play before James Ramm’s run into the goal area.

Irish started to find some momentum after a Chunya Munga strip from the maul and subsequent metres made with ball in hand, but hopes of a foothold in the game were put on ice as Saints won a penalty at the breakdown.

Grayson’s 50:22 kick situated his side further forward, a later nudge to Sleightholme with a penalty advantage not locating the winger but Saints instead made it count after referee Dan Jones brought it back to a feed for the travelling team.

Callum Braley found his half-back partner Grayson off the back of a scrum, who then offloaded to Ramm to stretch out and take Northampton three tries to the good.

Sleightholme found his match once more in Trotter after racing away into space in the wide left channel, the new Scotsman taking the Saint into touch with half-time following shortly after.

Replacement Hallam Chapman’s strong carrying and handling in the second half were one of multiple signs of an Irish uptick, alongside quick hands and winning their first scrum penalty.

Boosted by their set-piece form, Irish elected for the put-in in front of the posts and it was Hallam Chapman whose quick thinking from a later penalty saw him hulk his way over for Irish’s first score.

Saints swiftly counteracted Irish’s try with a five-pointer spawning from a rolling maul, Aaron Hinkley with the touchdown and Grayson converting their bonus point try.

Chapman epitomised Irish’s dogged attitude in attack, pushing his way over the line for a quick retort for Irish, Jennings’ extras taking it to a two-score game.

The Exiles held firm and after Saints were penalised for not rolling away, the Exiles had the benefit of another advantage and went for the scrum in front of the uprights once more.

Irish gained two penalties from successive feeds after many more before the decision to go for a scrum, but when the ball was fed back into play a knock-on was conceded and Saints had possession back.

A clearance from Grayson found Michael Dykes on the outskirts of the 22, and a penetrative run from the winger combined with Jacob Atkins innovative pass back infield off a Saint, Trotter then picked up the loose ball and dived into score.

Jennings added the touchline conversion and Irish were close, five points in fact, and a Morisi breakaway threatened but abruptly concluded in an unfortunate spill forward.

As Irish were penalised on halfway, Grayson lined up a place kick that fell just short, and as Saints played to find touch with the clock in the red, a stray ball was knocked down from a Northampton player.

The ball was gleefully collected by Cooke, Saints then penalised for approaching the ruck at the side and Irish pushed up the park.

The visitors conceded another penalty at a maul, and another in open field play and Irish were purring, and after bringing down Irish’s dominant rolling maul, Saints conceded a penalty try and the Exiles executed a comeback for the ages – again!


Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 0-19, 5-19, 7-19, 7-24, 7-26, 12-26, 14-26, 19-26, 21-26

London Irish: Tries: Chapman (51) (59), Trotter (75), Penalty Try (80); Conversions: Jennings (52) (60) (76); Penalties .

Northampton Saints: Tries: Graham (18), Ramm (24) (37), Hinkley (55); Conversions: Grayson (18) (25) (56); Penalties .


London Irish:

15 Logan Trotter, 14 Ben Loader (Harmes 52), 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Tom Hitchcock (Atkins 52), 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan (Allan 74); 1 Tarek Haffar (Jack 22), 2 Patrick Harrison (Vajner 40), 3 Ciaran Parker (Summerfield 52), 4 Ed Scragg (Chapman 40), 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Jack Cooke (c), 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 8 Ben Atkins (Moore-Aiono 17).


16 Joseph Vajner, 17 Jamie Jack, 18 Mikey Summerfield, 19 Hallam Chapman, 20 Izzy Moore-Aiono, 21 Ollie Allan, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Alex Harmes.

Northampton Saints:

15 James Ramm (Hendy 60), 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Tom Litchfield, 12 Joel Matavesi, 11 Ollie Sleightholme (Thame 40), 10 James Grayson, 9 Callum Braley (c) (McParland 74); 1 Marty Mulhall (Heffernan 48), 2 Robbie Smith, 3 Ehren Painter (Patten 62), 4 Brandon Nansen, 5 David Ribbans (Lockett 40), 6 Kayde Sylvester, 7 Aaron Hinkley, 8 Sam Graham.


16 Aston Gradwick-Light, 17 George Patten, 18 Oisín Heffernan, 19 Tom Lockett, 20 Henry Pollock, 21 Archie McParland, 22 Toby Thame, 23 George Hendy.


Referee: Mr Dan Jones

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


RFU Statement on London Irish



The RFU Club Financial Viability Group has agreed to give London Irish a one-week extended deadline to meet the original conditions as set out below and pay the remaining May payroll to staff and players.

1) a takeover of the club has been completed and approved by the RFU, with the buyers undertaking to provide all required working capital to meet the club’s obligations as they fall due for at least season 2023/24; or

2) the club evidences that it will continue to be funded to operate throughout the 2023/24 season. If the club fails to meet these conditions it will be suspended from participating in the Premiership (and other competitions) in season 2023/24 to avoid a scenario where the club enters insolvency mid-season, with the corresponding and substantial impact that has on players, staff, and fans, as well as on the remainder of the league.

The extension, until Tuesday 6 June, has been given following consultation with staff and players who asked for the deadline to be extended to allow them to be paid 50% of their salaries.

Paula Carter, RFU Board Member and Chair of the Club Financial Viability Working Group said; “It is deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been multiple missed deadlines. 

“We are extremely disappointed that the club has so far only funded 50% of the staff and player wages, however, we have to respect the wishes of those most affected.

“The 4pm deadline on 6 June is final and we have added the stipulation that the club must also fulfil its contractual obligations to its employees by paying the May salaries in full.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby

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Coenie Oosthuizen to leave Sale Sharks



Springbok Coenie swapping Sharks for Sharks

Prop Coenie Oosthuizen leaving Sale Sharks to join South African side Cell C Sharks

Sale Sharks can confirm that prop Coenie Oosthuizen will leave the club to return to South African side Cell C Sharks.

The 34-year-old Springbok, who can play on either side of the scrum, arrived in Manchester in May 2019 from the Durban-based Super Rugby side.

He’s gone on to make 94 appearances for Sale, including 16 this season as Alex Sanderson’s men reached their first Premiership final in 17 years.

Coenie made his debut for the Springboks in 2012 and has since won 30 international caps.

Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Since he arrived in Manchester, Coenie has been a massive part of this team and this club and everyone is going to miss him.

“On the field he’s a fantastic player but off it, he’s been a real leader for us in what is a young squad.”

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Coenie 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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Leicester Tigers 23/24 Coaching Team



Leicester Tigers can confirm the club’s senior coaching team ahead of the 2023/24 season.

Dan McKellar, who was announced as the club’s new Head Coach in February, will oversee the rugby programme and lead on the line out and forwards coaching.

Brett Deacon will lead on the breakdown and contact area, while also assisting McKellar with the forwards.

Deacon made 135 first-team appearances in two spells as a player with Tigers before joining the coaching staff upon retiring in 2015. After working with the club’s academy for two seasons, he joined the senior coaching team ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

Matt Everard, who joined the club midway the 22/23 season as Senior Academy Coach before taking on a permanent senior role in December 2022, is the Defence Coach.

After representing Tigers, Wasps and Nottingham as a player, Everard moved into coaching with The Archers before returning to Wasps as Academy Coach and moved into the senior coaching team ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

Alan Dickens, Dan Palmer and Ollie Richardson are the additions to the club ahead of the new season.

Dickens will take charge of the Attack & Backs, Palmer is the Scrum Coach and Richardson joins as Head of Physical Performance.

Read more on the appointments of the trio here:

Matt Smith will be the Skills Coach for the senior squad and take on the newly-created Lead Academy Coach role which sees him responsible for the Senior Academy Squad and transition of players from junior to senior rugby.

Smith made 228 appearances for Tigers before coaching the club’s academy side after retiring from playing in 2019, and joined the senior coaching team ahead of the 20/21 season.

Speaking about his coaching team, incoming Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar said: “I am excited by the group we have put together, which has a great balance of continuity and new voices who will bring fresh ideas.”

“It was important to me that there was a mix of people who not only understand the Premiership, but vital that they understand Leicester Tigers and we have got that in Brett Deacon, Matt Everard and Matt Smith, as well as the majority of our performance staff who remain with the club.

“In addition, to have Alan Dickens and Ollie Richardson’s knowledge of the English game, players and competitions we compete in is of great value, and Dan Palmer’s expertise is very exciting for the club moving forward.

“What is most pleasing for me is that this coaching team are excited by the squad we have to work with from next season at Leicester Tigers, because of where they are at currently and work they have done but, importantly, how it can evolve.”

Leicester Tigers 23/24 Coaching Team

  • Dan McKellar, Head Coach
  • Brett Deacon, Assistant Coach
  • Alan Dickens, Attack & Backs Coach
  • Matt Everard, Defence Coach
  • Dan Palmer, Scrum Coach
  • Ollie Richardson, Head of Physical Performance
  • Matt Smith, Skills Coach & Lead Academy Coach

The club can also confirm that Richard Wilks has been appointed General Manager.

Wilks joined Tigers during the 20/21 campaign as a consultant before being appointed Head of Performance Recruitment in November 2021.

Discussing the appointments, Leicester Tigers CEO Andrea Pinchen said: “I believe we have put together a world class coaching team, headed up by Dan McKellar, to lead Leicester Tigers from next season into this exciting new chapter of the club’s history”

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to bring this impressive group who all offer their own unique skills, experience and knowledge from diverse backgrounds in the game.

“Most pleasing for me in this group is a shared desire to see this club continue to be successful but, even more so, strive to reach new heights together.

“After a turbulent year for all involved with Leicester Tigers, to be able to confirm our senior coaching team now is a great pleasure for me and I hope our supporters are as excited as I am about them leading this club into the future.”

The Leicester Tigers squad will commence pre-season training in July ahead of the 23/24 campaign.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

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