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Premiership

Newcastle Falcons Sign Welsh Back

Newcastle Falcons have confirmed the capture of an experienced Welsh back from the Premiership

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(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Welsh centre Gareth Owen has decided to leave Leicester Tigers for Newcastle Falcons for next season despite their relegation to the Championship.

The centre, who is also comfortable playing at fly-half and full-back has signed a two-year deal and although he won’t be in the Premiership, he is excited by the challenge ahead.

“I see this as an exciting new challenge, even if things unfortunately didn’t go to plan for the Falcons in terms of remaining in the Premiership. I’m excited about trying to get the boys back up where they belong, and from a family perspective it’s great to be moving to the north east,” he said.

Owen continued on to say that the Falcons are a top-tier side and although he was part of the Leicester team that confirmed their Championship status he is fully committed to the cause.

“People think of Newcastle Falcons as being a Premiership club. We have to work hard next season and take nothing for granted to regain that status, and it’s all set up here to do that. I played for Leicester against them a couple of weeks ago in a game which helped to seal their fate in terms of relegation, but that’s just the way sport goes. Once next season starts I’m a Newcastle player so I’ll be fully committed to the club, and from what I experienced a few weeks ago I know I’m joining a club with great supporters, a nice stadium and a huge amount of ability,” he added.

The versatile back brings a wealth of experience having made 29 appearances for the Tigers as well as over 120 appearances for the Scarlets and Ospreys which included a Pro 12 title in 2017 and he noted he wants to use that experience to help Newcastle.

“I have quite a bit of experience at a high level. I’ve played across the back line and I can offer something to the squad. I’m just looking forward to getting up there for pre-season now and really making the most of this opportunity,” he finished.

The Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards is also looking forward to having the 30-year-olds experience within the squad.

“Gareth brings a lot of top-level experience and will help to get our back-line firing next season. He is a very balanced centre with a great skill set who can help get the most out of our other talented players, and we look forward to working with him when he arrives in the summer,” he said.

Owen will play his final game for Leicester on Saturday when they welcome Bath to Welford Road and will then have to look forward to Championship rugby next season.

Premiership

London Irish Confirm 10th Summer Signing Already

London Irish have announced the arrival of yet another new player

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(Photo credit MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

London Irish have made their 10th signing of the summer already by confirming the arrival of Ruan Botha from the Sharks. 

The South African second-row, who has 64 Super Rugby appearances to his name as well as experience captaining the Sharks, joins on an initial six-month contract in which he will act as cover during the Rugby World Cup.

Once the six-months are up he will link-up with Japanese Top League side Kubota Spears before re-joining the Exiles for pre-season in June 2020 and preparing for the 2020/21 season.

Speaking ahead of the move the 27-year-old talked of how he delighted to be joining the club at a time when they are set to return to the Premiership.

“London Irish is entering an exciting period in its history and I am immensely proud to be joining at such an important time as they return to the Premiership. I look forward to meeting up with my teammates for pre-season,” he said.

Meanwhile, London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney is looking forward to the multiple qualities the massive lock brings with him.

“Ruan being available during the Rugby World Cup period is a major boost to us. He has a lot of top-class rugby experience and will also bring a lot more to the squad in terms of his leadership qualities,” he said.

Botha becomes the latest in a long list of stars to join the English outfit with Allan Dell, Adam Coleman, Sekope Kepu, Paddy Jackson, Sean O’Brien, Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Waisake Naholo and Will Goodrick-Clarke all signed up over the past few weeks. The club will be hoping that their good transfer work works a treat as they look to stay up upon their return to the top-tier.

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Premiership

Leicester Set to Sign Another Big Player

Leicester Tigers summer recruitment looks set to continue with the capture of another southern hemisphere star

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(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Leicester are reportedly set to secure the signing of South African forward Hanro Liebenberg from the Bulls

South African outlet Rapport claim that the 23-year-old former South African U20 captain has already signed the dotted line to move to the Tigers.

The back-rower who can also cover the second-row if needed, suffered a ruptured a small intestine a couple of years ago and it had been feared that it could end his promising career early.

However, after two successful operations he has recover and thankfully rediscovered his fine form from before the injury.

As well as being one of the brightest prospects in South Africa, Liebenberg is piped to be one of the future stars of southern hemisphere rugby and would be a major coup for the English side.

Coming off their poorest season in the professional era where they finished a disappointing 11th following a 32-31 loss to Bath in their final game of the Premiership season, the club has started a massive rebuilding project.

With that in mind they have already signed Jordan Taufua, Tomas Lavanini, Jaco Tuate, Noel Reid and Nephi Leatigaga while also recalling former academy graduates Calum Green and Charlie Clare.

The capture of Liebenberg would add to their push for next season as they hope to stay as far away from the regulation zone of the Premiership table as possible.

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International

Former Scottish International Retires at Just 31

One of Scotland’s most popular players has called time on his playing career

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(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Former Scotland international and current Harlequins winger Tim Visser will close the curtain on his career at the end of the season at just 31. 

Known as “The Flying Dutchman” having been found in his native Netherlands playing sevens rugby, Visser joined Harlequins in 2015 from Edinburgh and has made 66 appearances for the club.

Visser has thanked Harlequins for his chance to play for them but is looking forward to settling down with his family.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Harlequins for the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic club. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I feel now is the time for me to move on to new challenges outside of rugby with my young family. I’m looking forward to trying and proving myself in a completely different career,” he said.

The winger played for Scotland 33 times scoring 14 tries and Harlequins boss Paul Gustard paid tribute to his impressive career.

“Tim has enjoyed an exceptional career and has been a fantastic servant over the past three seasons here at Harlequins. I have thoroughly enjoyed his company and have always respected his commitment, attitude and humour since I joined the club last July. He is an immensely valued and very popular member of the squad whom we will miss. We all wish him and his family the very best as he embarks on a new adventure,” he said.

Visser started his career in the UK with Newcastle Falcons before his move to Edinburgh and then Quins. He also represented Scotland at the 2015 World Cup and scored against the USA in the pool stages and will be remembered fondly among fans of the game.

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