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Premiership

Northampton Saints sign All Black Centurion.

Has chosen Saints over Toulon.

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Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Image

Northampton Saints have confirmed that they have signed All Blacks Prop Owen Franks. Franks apparently has turned his back on advances from Toulon and will join the Saints after the World Cup.

Franks has ran out for the All Blacks in 105 tests since making his debut in 2009, it is believed he has agreed a two-year deal to play for the English Premiership club, with there being an option for a third year.

Midi Olympique had reported that the 31-year-old, Franks weighed up whether to join Toulon or Northampton and chose the latter. He becomes part of a growing trend of All Blacks opting not to go to France, with Ardie Savea, Kieran Read, Ryan Crotty and Beauden Barrett all rejecting French advances.

Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ben Smith have both bucked the trend and have signed with Toulon and Pau respectively.

Franks will link up again with his brother Ben who is currently with Northampton and also with former Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd.

Speaking on his move, Franks said;

I’d like to thank Chris Boyd and Northampton Saints for showing faith in me and giving me this opportunity to come and play in the Gallagher Premiership,”

“I’ve always taken a keen interest in northern hemisphere rugby so I’m looking forward to coming to the UK and proving myself, while the prospect of playing at Franklin’s Gardens in front of Northampton’s passionate supporters is hugely exciting for me and my family.”

And, after already securing the signing of All Black centre Matt Proctor from the Hurricanes, Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd is thrilled to welcome another player of Franks’ pedigree next season.

He said:

“Owen is a world-class operator whose record speaks for itself. He not only will improve the quality within our playing squad, but – like his brother – his attitude will set the standard for the entire group.

“His level of professionalism can serve as a fine example for other members of the squad, and he’s a very intelligent footballer – I know several of our young props are already looking forward to picking his brain.”

“The fact that he has played with distinction at the highest level of the game for so long speaks volumes about his ability, so I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Owen here to Northampton next season.”

Premiership

Bristol Looking at Uruguayan Star

Bristol Bears are set to be ready to sign another key player ahead of next season as they look to build a Premiership title challenging side

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears are looking into the possibility of signing Uruguay back-row Manuel Diana according to Americas Rugby News.

The Bears have already been active in the transfer market ahead of the 2020/21 season, securing the signatures of the likes of Semi Radradra and Kyle Sinckler, as well as Saracens’ Ben Earl on loan. 

However, they now appear to be eying up Diana, who is currently playing for Major League Rugby side Toronto Arrows. 

The regular No 8 was part of Uruguay’s Rugby World Cup squad and played in all three of their pool stage matches, including their incredible 30-27 win over Fiji, in which he scored one of his team’s tries. 

With the rugby calendar up in the air due to the coronavirus outbreak it is unknown when exactly players will be able to move from club to club, but in the case of Diana, the remainder of the MLR season has been called off so it would seem ideal for him to be signed up. 

Although, a move to Bristol would mean he would have a fight on his hands for minutes on the pitch with players such as Nathan Hughes, Stephen Luatua and Jordan Crane already on the Bears’ books. 

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Champions Cup

Exeter Ace Signs Contract Extension

Following the news that England star Harry Williams has agreed a new deal with Exeter Chiefs another star player has committed his future to the Premiership giants

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

England prop Ben Moon has put pen to paper on a new deal with Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

The eight-cap England international has agreed a new “long-term” deal that will see him remain at Sandy Park for the foreseeable future and he is delighted to be staying at his hometown club. 

“Obviously, I’m delighted. To be at one club your whole career is pretty rare these days. The fact it’s my hometown club as well, it’s brilliant, and I feel very privileged to be part of the Chiefs. Luckily for me, I’ve been part of a brilliant journey – one which I know has plenty of miles still to go. What we have achieved as a club, as a team, and as individuals, it’s taken a huge amount of work and effort, but everyone has seen the result,” he said to the club’s website. 

Moon has been with the Chiefs since his time in the academy and has managed to pick up an incredible 259 appearances for the club, notching 11 tries in that time. 

He has been part of the team since their time in the English second-tier and has helped them rise up the ranks, culminating in a Premiership crown in 2017. 

It is further good news for the current Premiership league leaders after fellow England international Harry Williams signed a contract extension with the club over the weekend as the Chiefs build toward the future.

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Premiership

Vunipola Sets Out Future Plans

There has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Billy Vunipola since Saracens relegation was confirmed, but now the man himself has set the record straight on his plans for the future

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England ace Billy Vunipola has confirmed that he hopes to remain with Saracens beyond this season despite their relegation to the Championship.

The No 8 is one of the stars of English rugby and the Saracens side that has dominated club rugby in recent seasons. However, there were questions raised about his future with Sarries, when the club were relegated from the Premiership for breaching salary cap rules. 

Although contrary to many reports Vunipola has admitted that he wants to stay with Saracens for the foreseeable future, while speaking to Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass and is even taking positives from the situation. 

“There way I see, it’s part of the journey of the club. Some boys have had to try and further their careers, as they are at the start of their careers. I’m kind of in the middle of it. Boys are in different situations, and I can understand that. They’ve got families and things to look after. From my point of view, I’m just trying to sit still and play it out, see where we end up next year,” he said. 

At 130kgs, Vunipola is one of the most powerful and explosive back-rowers in the game, but has had his fair share of injuries in recent months and years and believes that time in the Championship could actually benefit his body in the long run. 

“I can’t see a negative in it. I’ve haven’t spoken directly to the powers at the top, when it comes to England or at Sarries, as to what will happen in terms of international recognition but if there’s one positive to take out of it, is I hope that my body will take less of a battering. With no disrespect to the Championship, it will give my body a chance to heal. I don’t think they play as many games in the Championship. They don’t have Champions Cup or those big games. You (Jim Hamilton) know what it’s like, they just keep coming. I’m excited for next year. I reckon I’ll play as much as I can, try to help the team as much as possible and hopefully we’ll come straight back up,” he added. 

It remains to be seen how time in the Championship will affect his international career as he mentioned above, but when pushed on his club career he was very clear to state that he will be at Sarries next season. 

“All the reports coming out, the club have looked after me, and not just me, my family. It’s time for me to dig my heels in and scrap with the boys and hopefully come up next year. There lots of examples of clubs going down, like Northampton going down and coming up and doing well, same thing goes for Quins, so, it’s kind of a good point in our journey as a club to reset some of our goals and accelerate. Yes, I’m definitely staying,” he continued. 

It is a major boost for Saracens to know that their key man will remain loyal to their cause despite recent set-backs within the club. However, with the British and Irish Lions tour around the corner next year the hope will be that time in the second-tier doesn’t impact his chances of making the trip to South Africa

Although reports have claimed that the club are trying to set-up high profile sides such as the Springboks themselves in order to allow their test-level players to compete against the best of the best.

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