Leicester Tigers have today announced the departure of Geordan Murphy from his role as Director of Rugby at the club.
After discussions with Murphy about his current contract, which was due to end at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, it was decided that it would not be renewed and, by mutual consent, it was agreed that Murphy would leave the club with immediate effect.
Murphy joined Tigers as a teenager, making his senior debut in 1997, and went on to make 322 appearances in 16 seasons, including four years as club captain.
After retiring in 2013, having won eight Premiership and two European titles, Murphy moved into coaching and rose through the ranks as skills coach, backs coach, attack coach, head coach and director of rugby.
He is Leicester’s leading try-scorer and appearance holder in European rugby and is 17th on the club’s all-time tryscorers’ chart.
Speaking about his time at the club, the outgoing Director of Rugby said: “First, I want to thank my wife Aneka and my two boys, and our new addition on the way, for everything they have done for me and how they have continued to make me a better player, coach and person.
“As well as my family here in Leicester, and all of our friends, I want to thank my family and friends in Ireland for their support throughout my career at Tigers as a player and coach in the good and bad times.
“I have spent 23 great years at Leicester Tigers and forged great friendships with people throughout that entire period.
“I’m most proud of the respect I earned from my team-mates and colleagues, and I’m grateful to all of them for how they have helped me, supported me and shared in my time at this club.
“Winning has been the easy part. It is when things are not going well, when you are losing and having to get back up every day and put on a brave face, that you know who your friends are and, to all of those who supported me through those times, those are the friends I will have for life.
“I wish the club the very best for the future on and off the pitch, and say thank you to the supporters who have been a part of my life for more than 20 years.”
“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man” Tigers Chairman, Peter Tom
Tigers Chairman Peter Tom thanked Murphy for his contribution to the club, on and off the pitch, since 1997.
“I want to express, on behalf of everybody at Leicester Tigers, my sincere gratitude to Geordan for all that he has done for our club for more than two decades,” said Tom.
“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man.
“I wish Geordan, his wife Aneka and their children all the best for what comes next and I know, when we are able to safely do so, we will afford him the proper send-off he deserves in front of all of our supporters at Welford Road.”
The club will not be recruiting to replace the Director of Rugby role but will now commence a recruitment process to identify candidates for a position in the organisation charged with overseeing the strategic vision and off-field responsibilities at Oval Park.
Tigers Chairman Tom added: “This decision, while difficult, was made to ensure we are as effective and successful an organisation as we can be at Leicester Tigers.
“Steve Borthwick understands the expectations of him, his coaching team and the playing group at Leicester Tigers on the pitch.
“We are determined to see this club back at the top, where supporters expect us to be, competing for trophies and are fully behind the players, coaches and staff on this journey.”
Statement from Leicester Tigers Ends.
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled
Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.
COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.
We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.
When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.
Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.
We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.
An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.
• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:
In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.
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Scotland international heading to Bristol
Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.
The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.
“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.
“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.
“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”
Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.
He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.
“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”