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Premiership Rugby Player banned following second illicit drugs violation

6 Month ban.

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Jake Pope, registered as a player for Sale Sharks, has received a six-month ban following his second violation of the RFU Illicit Drugs Programme.

He is banned from 4 December 2018, the date of his provisional suspension, until 4 June 2019. This is the first time a player has breached RFU’s illicit drugs policy for a second time. Embed from Getty Images

Pope had previously admitted a first violation, resulting from a test taken on 12 September 2017, which had revealed the presence of cocaine or its metabolites in his system. The player was subject to a fixed penalty of £1,000 in respect of that violation.

While the RFU does not publish first time offences, under the policy second violations are made public.

On 20 November 2018, the player was subject to another test pursuant to the policy, which returned an adverse analytical finding (‘AAF’) for cannabis and cocaine. He admitted the violation and an independent disciplinary panel hearing took place on 11 February 2019.

The panel, which consisted of Jeremy Summers (Chair), Dr Gary O’Driscoll and Dr Tom Rees, considered the evidence presented and adopted a reduced period of ineligibility of six months and a fixed penalty of £1,000.

RFU Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs Programme Manager Stephen Watkins said:

“The purpose of the Illicit Drugs Policy is primarily to protect the health and welfare of players. This means that in the first instance, the problem can be dealt with as a confidential health-related issue.

“This is the first time we have had a second offence since the policy was established in 2010. It should send a strong deterrent message to all players that the RFU takes the misuse of substances seriously. Players have responsibilities as role models in our sport and therefore have an important part to play in protecting its reputation.”

Sale Sharks made the below comments on the outcome of an RFU disciplinary hearing held on the 11th February 2019 involving prop Jake Pope.

“Jake has received a six month ban from the RFU following a second violation of their Illicit Drugs Policy.

“As soon as Sale Sharks were made aware of Jake’s failed tests, the club intervened to ensure Jake had the support pathway he required to address the matter and avoid any further issues arising in the future.

“As a role model to young players across the North-West, this behaviour is unacceptable. The club does not condone the misuse of drugs from any player and accept the decision made by the RFU, however Sale Sharks prides itself on being able to offer a career pathway into rugby for people of all backgrounds and circumstances and for this reason we feel it is right that, as a young man who has made mistakes, Jake be given a fair chance to redeem himself.

“Jake will be available to play again from 4th June 2019.”

Premiership

London Irish announce signing of Creevy

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Argentina international Agustin Creevy has agreed to join London Irish with immediate effect.

The former international captain made 89 appearances for Los Pumas, including playing at two Rugby World Cups. His impressive number of international caps ensures that Creevy is currently the most capped Argentinian international player of all time.

Over half of Creevy’s international appearances saw him captain Argentina, proving his leadership qualities on the highest stage.

The hooker’s career has seen him develop his game in France with Biarritz, Clermont and Montpellier before joining Worcester Warriors. More recently, Creevy has been plying his trade with Super Rugby’s Jaguares, helping the Argentinean franchise to the 2019 Super Rugby final.

Creevy’s arrival at London Irish sees the Exiles’ amount of different nationalities grow to 10. The squad currently has players from England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Samoa, Tonga and now Argentina.

Commenting on the latest addition to the squad, Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby, said: “Agustin comes to London Irish with a fantastic amount of club and international experience.

“Hopefully he can help to continue the journey that the club is on.”

“I am looking forward to joining London Irish and playing in England once again,” explained Creevy.

“Declan spoke very highly of the club, the people and the direction they want to go. I can’t wait to join up with my teammates and to get stuck in.”

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Premiership

Saracens star signs 2 year extension

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens is delighted to announce Scotland international Sean Maitland has committed his future to the club.

The 31-year-old has penned a two-year contract and will remain in north London until at least 2022.

Maitland has played his part in some of Saracens’ biggest moments over the past four years, scoring crucial tries in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Premiership final successes.

In total, the winger has crossed the whitewash 29 times in 73 Sarries appearances and feels at home in NW4.

“I’m very happy to extend my Saracens; it was a bit of a no-brainer for me,” Maitland said.

“My family love it here, we’re settled and I wanted to stayed because I love being here and I love what the club is about and the people that are in it.

“We’re one big family. That comes right from the top, from the owner, into the group and the Academy. We’re all aligned, one big family, and for me that’s important.

Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “Sean has made an outstanding contribution to our club over the last four years both on and off the field.

“He has taken his game to a new level during that time and has had a great influence on some of our younger players. To have a player of Sean’s quality and experience commit his future to the club is a huge boost.”

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Gloucester announce departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann

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(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Gloucester Rugby today announced the departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann, who will be joining Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July.

Gloucester Rugby Chairman Martin St Quinton said “I’d look to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the Club over the three seasons he’s been with us. His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

David Humphreys, Director of Rugby, added:

“While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.

In his 3 years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his “play to inspire” philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the Club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.

Ackermann joined the Cherry and Whites at the start of the 2017/18 season, and took the team to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season. The following season ended with the Club in third place in the Premiership, thus qualifying for a second successive season of European Champions Cup rugby.

Johan Ackermann had this message for the Gloucester fans, staff and players: “Being Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it. Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. I would especially like to thank Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the Club nothing but the best.”

Gloucester Rugby today announce the departure of Head Coach Johan Ackermann, who will be joining Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in July.

Gloucester Rugby Chairman Martin St Quinton said “I’d look to put on record our thanks to Johan for the significant contribution he’s made to the Club over the three seasons he’s been with us. His infectious enthusiasm for the game, as well as his in-depth rugby knowledge, made him not only a fans’ favourite, but a strong leader of our playing department. I wish him every success in his new venture.”

David Humphreys, Director of Rugby, added:

“While I’m sorry to see Johan leave Gloucester Rugby, I fully understand his reasons for doing so. Johan approached Martin and me to say that he had received a number of coaching opportunities which, for personal reasons, he would like to consider and we agreed to his request.

In his 3 years at Gloucester, Johan transformed the way we play the game and his “play to inspire” philosophy will leave a lasting impact from his time at the Club. I know it was a difficult decision for him to leave Gloucester and I’ve no doubt he’ll make a real difference with the Red Hurricanes in Japan.

Ackermann joined the Cherry and Whites at the start of the 2017/18 season, and took the team to the final of the European Challenge Cup in his first season. The following season ended with the Club in third place in the Premiership, thus qualifying for a second successive season of European Champions Cup rugby.

Johan Ackermann had this message for the Gloucester fans, staff and players: “Being Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it. Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience. I would especially like to thank Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me. Gloucester Rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the Club nothing but the best.”

In light of Johan’s departure and the implications arising from Covid-19, The Board of Gloucester Rugby has discussed a new coaching structure for the playing department, and will make an announcement about it once the appropriate consultations have taken place.

In light of Johan’s departure and the implications arising from Covid-19, The Board of Gloucester Rugby has discussed a new coaching structure for the playing department, and will make an announcement about it once the appropriate consultations have taken place.

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