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Match Report: Munster Rugby 14, London Irish 19



London Irish capped off their pre-season in style with a fine 19-14 win over Munster Rugby to pick up the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy at Musgrave Park, Cork.

On the night of Declan Kidney’s return to his hometown, his side put on a showcase of fine rugby on both sides of the ball from the outset, James Stokes converting a flowing move from the backs in the opening couple of minutes.

Matt Williams bookended the opening half with his own score, building on an impressive showing in Jersey after his positional counterpart Ollie Hassell-Collins’ defensive shift served as a precursor to the second try.

In his first appearance since becoming a capped England player, Henry Arundell picked up where he left off last season with a blistering five-pointer that was sandwiched between two Munster scores courtesy of Mike Haley and Paddy Patterson that proved not enough from the hosts on the evening.

Kidney’s Exiles could not have dreamed of a more perfect start, working their way out to the right wing channel as Paddy Jackson found five eighth partner Benhard van Rensburg, who then charged forward before passing to Ollie Hassell-Collins.

The latter passed onto fellow outside back James Stokes, who, with much to do, navigated an avenue through the red rearguard with sublime acceleration that took the home side by surprise to finish well in the corner.

Jackson’s extras, from the touchline, split the posts at Musgrave Park and Irish were seven points to the good, with Munster frustration continuing with a lineout deemed not straight from referee Chris Busby.

After each side could not get the upper hand from the opening scrums, Munster were penalised for being in at the side from a ruck and Jackson nudged Irish into the opposition 22.

The resultant phases eventually ended in a reversal of ball possession in favour of the province after a knock-on, but van Rensburg recovered well when Simon Zebo threatened on a potential breakaway.

Good groundwork in midfield from Stokes then enabled Irish progression with a penalty, yet an Irish seal off at a threatening maul prevented a chance of a second score.

Quick hands and smart dummy runs characterised Irish’s opening attacking play, meaning the visitors always seemed a step ahead of the Red Army in the opening quarter.

Matt Williams proved his kicking credentials after last weekend once more in successive phases, keeping the ball in play when a foot in touch seemed likely to then retrieve the ball back and grubber a kick through to van Rensburg, who unfortunately knocked on.

Munster’s most likely advance saw a well-positioned scrum following a spill from the Exiles falter, and a decent Jackson clearance meant Irish could relax for the time being.

Up other end of park, a subsequent lineout infringement from those in red preceded smart and bustling carries respectively from Ben White and van Rensburg, but Irish had to bide their time in hopes of an important second score after a penalty was conceded at the breakdown.

One of the first signs of pacy Munster play spawned from a striding Alex Kendellen carry, but a brilliant jackal turnover from Ollie Hassell-Collins soon after stopped the Irish side in their tracks.

Hassell-Collins made himself busy once more on halfway in retrieving the ball away from his opponents, Ben White putting through an awe-inspiring 50:22 box kick and Irish were tucked into the opposing 22 once more.

Van Rensburg, first receiver off the lineout, crashed and clattered through Munster men again, and two phases later, Williams was found in an overlap by Stokes to gain the assist for the Academy product’s try.

Jackson’s conversion was wayward, but Irish were ahead by 12 heading into the break.

Ben White’s soaring box kick into touch meant Irish surrendered the ball for mere moments after a Munster throw-in wasn’t straight, Irish then working down the blindside of the scrum in what was the last significant action from the Exiles in a brilliant first-half showing.

Turnovers were seemingly the order of the day for Irish, Matt Cornish making his mark over the ball after Diarmud Barron’s charge off the back of a lineout after resumption.

Munster did however benefit from much more of the ball in the second-half’s opening ten minutes, and made their ball in hand count with a well worked try involving Malakai Fekitoa and Paddy Patterson who passed to a galloping Mike Haley to finish.

Replacement front-row forwards Danilo Fischetti, Isaac Miller and Lovejoy Chawatama set the standard with a charging set-piece in midfield that they followed up at another dominant put-in.

Irish looked strong going towards the whitewash for the first time in the second stanza, Stokes in particular not knowing when he is beaten in contact but a spill forward brought a promising attack to a conclusion.

The new Irish pack, bolstered by wholesale changes 58 minutes gone, turned over the ball for a Munster scrum in an unheralded yet welcome showing of dominance at the scrum from Irish.

New changes in the backs too worked in Irish’s favour, Luca Morisi drawing in the Munster players before feeding speedster Alexander Harmes to pass to former Academy and England under-20s teammate Henry Arundell- you know the rest.

A splendid score was rounded off with two more points from Jacob Atkins, whose race looked to be run with a head injury assessment with Jackson returning to the field in his homeland.Munster pressed on in search of a redeeming score, but despite strong defence from the likes of Will Joseph in the build-up, Paddy Patterson feigned his way through opposing tackles to score next to the posts and give an easy conversion and bring his side back within five.

An overcooked lineout from Munster when they were posing questions most in the second half handed Irish some relief, but grafting defence on halfway, with a special mention to Caolan Englefield on former All Black Fekitoa, meant Irish earned their possession reversal with Fischetti reclaiming the ball for his new side.

His compatriot Morisi too demonstrated his skillset on the ground to win back possession for Irish with Munster advancing, winning the penalty and in turn the game as London Irish took home the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy.



Score sequence (London Irish second): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 5-12, 7-12, 7-17, 7-19, 12-19, 14-19

Munster Rugby: Tries: Haley (46) Patterson (72); Conversions: Crowley (47) (73).

London Irish: Tries: Stokes (2), Williams (37), Arundell (62); Conversions: Jackson (3), Atkins (63).


Munster Rugby:

15 Simon Zebo, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Neil Cronin; 1 Josh Wycherley, 2 Scott Buckley, 3 Keynan Knox, 4 Jean Kleyn, 5 Eoin O’Connor, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 7 Jack O’Donoghue (C), 8 Alex Kendellen.



Diarmuid Barron, Chris Moore, Roman Salanoa, Liam O’Connor, Edwin Edogbo, Thomas Ahern, Cian Hurley, Daniel Okeke, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Liam Coombes, Malakai Fekitoa, Antoine Frisch, Tony Butler, Mike Haley.


London Irish first-half team:

15 James Stokes, 14 Matt Williams (Harmes 53), 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson (c), 9 Ben White (Englefield 49); 1 Facundo Gigena (Fischetti 48), 2 Matt Cornish (Miller 48), 3 Oliver Hoskins (Chawatama 41), 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Josh Basham.


London Irish second-half team:

15 Henry Arundell, 14 Will Joseph, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Tom Hitchcock, 11 Alex Harmes, 10 Jacob Atkins (Jackson 66), 9 Caolan Englefield; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Josh Caulfield, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 6 Jack Cooke, 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.


Referee: Mr Chris Busby

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


Cokanasiga confirms future



Bath Rugby can confirm England international Joe Cokanasiga has committed his future to the club.

The 25-year-old has been in fine form this season, scoring four tries in nine Gallagher Premiership matches to date, and joins Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Cameron Redpath and Ben Spencer in extending his time at The Rec. 

“Joe has been excellent for us this season and we’re delighted he will be staying with us,” Head of Rugby Johann van Graan said.

“He has great physical attributes which he uses to great effect, and his offloading ability in contact has provided us with fantastic attacking opportunities.

“He is an exciting player for us and we have no doubt he will continue to be an integral member of our squad.”

Cokanasiga has flourished under van Graan and has had a notable influence in games due to his power and pace. 

Since arriving in the West Country, the bulldozing wing has featured over 50 times for the Blue, Black and White whilst also making a significant impact on the international stage.

Debuting in 2018 against Japan, Cokanasiga has scored 12 tries in 14 Test matches, adding to his 21 in Bath colours. 

“There are goals I still want to accomplish here,” he said. 

“I really want to mark my time at the club by winning trophies; that’s a big ambition of mine. 

“A lot of change has taken place over the past few years, but this season I’ve found consistency in my performances. I feel I’ve positively contributed to the club’s progression and I’m excited by what’s to come in the next chapter.”



Bath Rugby return to action on Saturday 18 February against London Irish before hosting Bristol Bears on Friday 24 February.

Exeter Chiefs head to The Rec on Sunday 26 March in our penultimate home outing.

Whatever takes your fancy, get your tickets!




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Chiefs fullback agrees new deal



Exeter Chiefs

By Mark Stevens

Josh Hodge says he’s ‘over the moon’ to have agreed a new long-term deal with the Exeter Chiefs.

The gifted full-back has pledged his future to the Devon club and believes an exciting period lies ahead for him and everyone at Sandy Park.

Signed in the summer of 2020 from Gallagher Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons, the 22-year-old has to date made 37 first-team appearances, scoring 39 points in all competitions.

He is seen by many, including Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, as one of the crown jewels in Exeter’s exciting vision for the future and news that he is staying put for the foreseeable future will be welcomed by everyone connected with the Chiefs.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a hard decision to sign a new contract with this fantastic club,” said Hodge. “Personally, I’m over the moon and I’m looking forward to my future here in the sunny county of Devon.

“There has been a lot of effort, good business decisions and hard work, both in training and on the pitch, to achieve the results the club has achieved in recent years.”

Alongside Hodge, the Chiefs are investing heavily in bringing through their next crop of young talent, such as Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Marcus Street, Richard Capstick, Sam Maunder, Will Becconsall and Greg Fisilau to name but a few.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to help the club attain its rightful position towards the top of all the competitions we take part in and justify the efforts of past players and trainers,” added Hodge.

“All the building blocks have been put in place by the board, backroom staff and coaches and it’s up to the team to work tirelessly to put the cherry on the cake and deliver the results the Chiefs and our fans deserve.”

Others within the current Chiefs ranks are expected to confirm they are also extending their stays with the club in the coming days and weeks.

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby

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Tigers sign Brown on short-term contract



Leicester Tigers can confirm the signing of Mike Brown on a short-term contract.

The outside-back joins Tigers after previously representing Harlequins, where he won two Premiership titles, and Newcastle Falcons.

Brown has made 72 Test appearances for England and featured in three Six Nations winning campaigns for the national side.

Speaking about the addition of Brown, Leicester Tigers Head Coach Richard Wigglesworth said: “Mike is an experienced Premiership player, who has represented his country and won trophies at club and Test level.

“His experience and his knowledge is vital during this Six Nations period where we have a number of players away.

“Mike is hungry to prove himself out on the pitch and impressed us with not only what he’s saying and doing off the pitch, but his efforts on the field and willingness to help those guys around him.

“Above all, Mike is a competitor and wants to be successful. We want those attributes in our players and he offers that.”

Discussing the move to Leicester Tigers, Brown said: “To join a club like this with all of its history and players who have been here before, it is amazing.”

“When Leicester Tigers offer you the chance to go into the environment, it is a hard one to turn down.”

Brown joins after a trial period at the club, about which he added: “To get the chance to come into the environment has been great so far and a really positive experience for me.”

“It has just had a great impression on me, led by enthusiastic coaches – one of which in Wiggy I have played a lot of rugby with – and then equally, all of the players have welcomed me in.

“I have felt sharp and it has been really good out on the field with this group of Tigers players.”

Brown recently featured for The Barbarians and, looking ahead to a potential return to professional rugby, said: “I still believe I have a part to play in the game. I didn’t believe it was my time to stop because I felt good and I still feel good.”

“I have been staying fit, wanting to be ready and not just hanging on to hope but being best prepared if it did.”

Brown joins the club effective immediately.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

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