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Match Report: Northampton Saints 38, London Irish 22



London Irish succumbed to a 38-22 defeat at the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton Saints walking away with all five points available in Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership.

Northampton took a 10-0 lead into the break after Juarno Augustus’ converted try and a James Grayson penalty, Irish losing personnel with three yellow cards late on into the first half.

Irish indeed scored the first points of the second half with a Paddy Jackson place kick, but Saints backs Ollie Sleightholme and Alex Mitchell rounding off the third quarter with a flurry from the men in Black, Green and Gold.

The visitors posed a question with a Will Joseph score and penalty try, but their opponents pulled away with George Furbank’s try securing the try bonus and Ollie Hassell-Collins five-pointer proving merely a consolation.

Saints threatened early with a catch and drive move after an Irish infringement from kick-off, but solid maul work from the Exiles forced a turnover in possession.

A Henry Arundell kick from hand into space saw the hosts pushed back into their own 22, and from the recovering phase, a knock-on was forced by Irish with the healthy territorial gain maintained.

Irish was penalised for not releasing in a mount towards the whitewash, and Northampton were first to get their names on the scoresheet 10 minutes in.

Alex Mitchell’s smart chip into the backfield and collection of the ball released the scrum-half into a large portion of the park beyond the Irish backline, then finding Juarno Augustus on the wing to touch down and James Grayson to convert.

Benhard van Rensburg’s brilliant tackle on Mitchell after resumption forced Saints in their tracks, the returning Matt Rogerson employing excellent groundwork before the Midlanders double movement to hand Irish back the ball.

Intent from Declan Kidney’s men was evident, but resolute Saints defence at the breakdown and then into the scrum after previous dominance for Irish meant the Exiles were muted in the opening quarter.

An early push at a lineout maul saw Irish work with the advantage, and after another set-piece move and several phases later, Adam Coleman looked to have stretch over the try line but was held up.

Play was stopped 12 minutes from half-time when Facundo Gigena took a heavy blow to the head in contact, with new signing Danilo Fischetti taking his place for the game’s remainder.

Adam Coleman’s race was run in the final 10 minutes of the half after an awkward step, former resident of Franklin’s Gardens Api Ratuniyarawa elected to take his place in the engine room.

In Irish’s time of need, van Rensburg’s recovery defence saw the centre take George Furbank to the floor and then field a nudge through to the line as Saints threatened.

A potential leveller was brought back by Pearce after a sensational breakway into the broken field from Curtis Rona which was eventually finished off by Henry Arundell, the score being chalked off due to a side entry in the build-up.

Grayson slotted the resulting penalty to extend his side’s lead to double figures before the interval.

Irish was reduced from their full complement even further, firstly after Arundell’s touch out of play deemed deliberate by referee Luke Pearce, and then a deliberate knock-on from Rob Simmons meant the Exiles would enter the second stanza down to 12 men.

Their blushes were spared as the clock went into the red and Saints attacked from a lineout, a spill from Sam Matavesi preventing a further punishment for the west Londoners as time went up.

Irish were the first to register points in the second forty, a knock-on from Saints and then illegal scrum handing Jackson a chance to split the posts left of centre from the 22, which the stand-off converted.

The Exiles had the rub off the green off the ball as Northampton closed the gap at the throw-in, but there was nothing lucky about Ollie Hassell-Collins and Danilo Fischetti’s defence on the left flank with the Italian pilfering back the ball.

Just as Pearson was reintroduced, Irish’s defensive output matched that of 15 men and more as Northampton found no way through, eventually forcing another Saints drop of the ball.

Northampton did get their second try despite Irish’s efforts, exposing a numerical advantage on the right channel to dot down via Ollie Sleightholme, but the try was unconverted to leave Irish 12 points adrift.

Mitchell’s smart snipe made up for the temporary points loss as the quick move took Saints further into comfort, Grayson making no mistake in front of the uprights.

The ascent of Phil Dowson’s side continued as Grayson kicked a second field goal as Irish didn’t roll away.

Irish made their imprint on the affair with an attacking try expected of the meeting of the sides, Hassell-Collins’ linebreak setting the tone before a feed to Arundell brought Irish closer.

The youngster’s smart step infield prevented the ball being take into touch and Arundell passed to fellow England international and replacement Will Joseph, collecting the offload well to touch down in a swift move involving all outside backs.

The Boys in Green had the taste for it- Curtis Rona making inroads through midfield after tracking his midfield partner van Rensburg, but his pass was deliberately blocked by Grayson and the fly-half saw yellow, Irish being awarded a penalty try as Donnell was in the clear.

Grayson edged Saints beyond 10 points from the tee after an Irish offside infringement, and the game was all but wrapped up as captain for the day George Furbank touched down from short range and Grayson converted.

Furbank took three points of his own late one, but the Exiles would have the last say with a flowing move that wasn’t Irish’s first of the day.

Hassell-Collins came with the touchdown with the clock in the red after linking up with Arundell, replacement Caolan Englefield skilfully putting away the extras swiftly from out wide to conclude 38-22 in favour of Northampton Saints.


Score sequence (London Irish second): 5-0, 7-0, 10-0, 10-3, 15-3, 20-3, 22-3, 25-3, 25-8, 25-15, 28-15, 33-15, 35-15, 38-15

Northampton Saints: Tries: Augustus (10), Sleightholme (52), Mitchell (56), Furbank (72); Conversions: Grayson (11) (57) (73); Penalties: Grayson (38) (61), Furbank (77).

London Irish: Tries: Joseph (64), Penatly Try (67); Penalties: Jackson (42).


Northampton Saints:

15 George Furbank (c), 14 Ollie Sleightholme, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson (Litchfield 63), 11 Tom Collins (Skosan 75), 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell (Braley 73); 1 Alex Waller (Iyogun 38), 2 Sam Matavesi (Heywood 59), 3 Paul Hill (Petch 51), 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Nansen 73), 5 Alex Moon, 6 Alex Coles, 7 Aaron Hinkley (Scott-Young 53), 8 Juarno Augustus.


16 Mike Haywood, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Tom Litchfield, 23 Courtnall Skosan.


London Irish:

15 Henry Arundell, 14 Ben Loader (Joseph 58), 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg (Morisi 73), 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White (Englefield 55); 1 Facundo Gigena (Fischetti 28), 2 Matt Cornish (Miller 70), 3 Lovejoy Chawatama (Parker 58), 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman (c) (Ratuniyarawa 33), 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Matt Rogerson (Cunningham-South 67).


16 Isaac Miller, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Will Joseph.


Referee: Mr Luke Pearce

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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