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Premiership

Premiership Rugby Player banned following second illicit drugs violation

6 Month ban.

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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.

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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

Ben Te’o among 8 players leaving Worcester.

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Worcester Warriors have announced that eight players will be leaving the club at the end of the current season.

England centre Ben Te’o, former Samoa back-row forward Alafoti Faosiliva, flankers Carl Kirwan and Zac Xiourouppa, loosehad prop Jack Cosgrove and two members of the Three Pears Warriors Academy, Mason Tonks and Nick Rigby, will all be moving on. In addition former South Africa flanker Dewald Potgieter has announced his retirement from professional rugby.

All will leave Sixways with the best wishes of the club and with thanks for their contributions to Warriors.

“We would like to thank all who are leaving for their contribution to the club and wish them the very best for the future,” said Warriors’ Director of Rugby Alan Solomons.

Te’o, 32, joined Warriors from Leinster three years ago and has won 20 international caps, two for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand two years ago, during his time at Sixways.

He has made 33 first team appearances for Warriors, the most recent in last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership win over Sale Sharks at Sixways, and has scored eight tries including one in the away win at Bristol Bears last month.

Samoa international Faosiliva joined from Bath in 2016 and has played 45 times for Warriors with his last appearance coming against Pau in December when he scored the opening try.

Kirwan joined Warriors from London Welsh four years ago and has made 28 appearances for the club, most recently in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Harlequins.

Academy product Xiourouppa had a spell on loan at Greene King IPA Championship club Cornish Pirates earlier in the season and made

the last of his three first team appearances in the Premiership Rugby Cup match against Saracens in November.

Cosgrove, another Warriors Academy graduate, returned to Sixways in December from Bristol Bears on a short-term contract and made his made his third senior appearance for the club as a replacement in the European Challenge Cup match in Pau.

Potgieter arrived at Sixways in 2016 and made ten first team appearances before suffering a serious knee injury.

“After being sidelined the last two years following an unfortunate and unrecoverable knee injury, I’m retiring from pro rugby at the end of this Premiership season,” Potgieter said.

“During what was an extremely frustrating period, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude towards the Warriors for affording me the time to transition to a post-sport milieu.

“I wish the club all the best in their future endeavours, and in particular all the people who made the experience an incredible final pitstop, concluding a supremely rewarding career.”

Tonks, an England Sevens international, signed an Academy contract in October having impressed for the Cavaliers in the early-season Premiership Rugby Shield matches.

Rigby joined the Senior Academy two years ago and made his first team debut as a replacement in the Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Sale Sharks in November 2017.

“We would like to thank Mason and Nick for everything they have done during their time with the Academy and we wish them well for their future ventures,” said Chim Gale, Manager of the Three Pears Warriors Academy.

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International

World Cup Winning Springbok to retire.

Hanging up the boots.

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Worcester Warriors’ World Cup-winning centre Wynand Olivier has announced that he will retire from playing at the end of the season.

Olivier’s glittering career includes 38 Springboks caps, a World Cup winners’ medal as part of Jake White’s triumphant squad in France in 2007 and Super Rugby and Currie Cup success with Bulls in South Africa.

Olivier, 35, joined Warriors from French Top 14 club Montpellier in October 2015 and made his 50th appearance against Saracens in the Premiership Rugby Cup at Allianz Park last November.

“I have had a long career and made some great memories. have been very privileged to play the game I love for so long,” Olivier said.

“It will be undoubtedly be an emotional experience leaving the game but I’m excited about what the future holds and to follow my ambitions outside of rugby.”

As a World Cup-winner Olivier is a member of one of rugby’s most exclusive clubs but winning trophies is only one part of his career.

“I think people define success in different ways. I’m proud of what I have achieved. However, it is about looking forward and maintaining the ambition and drive that I have learnt from rugby into my transition,” he said.

“I have made a lot of friends along the way and these relationships have only made my career more enjoyable.”

A serious hamstring injury restricted Olivier’s availability last season but he returned to play a pivotal role in the memorable European Challenge Cup victory over Stade Francais in Paris in October.

He helped Warriors reach the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup and Premiership Rugby Cup this season and has also helped to develop the next generation of Warriors players with the Cavaliers in recent Premiership Rugby Shield matches.

“It has been great to see youngsters come through the academy and see them reaching their potential. That has been very satisfying,” Olivier said.

“Obviously I had that injury last year where I tore the hamstring off the bone. Injuries are part of the rugby experience but it has allowed me to pass on my experience to some of the younger athletes and I have enjoyed working with them.”

Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons, a former South Africa assistant coach. Said: “Wynand has had a terrific career. He is a superb rugby player, a wonderful bloke and a great team man.

“He is the consummate professional. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with him. We wish Wynand all the very best for the future.”

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He joins Rory Best in announcing his retirement this week. Best announced that he will retire from the game post Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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Premiership

Blackadder to leave Bath. Taking up new role.

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Bath Rugby today announced on their website that Todd Blackadder will leave Bath Rugby at the end of the season. The Director of Rugby has been granted early release from his one-year contract extension in order to allow him to join Toshiba in Japan as Head Coach.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to lead the Blue, Black and White for the past three years and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved. It might not be silverware but together we have built strong foundations and I leave knowing that the best is absolutely yet to come.”

“Bath is a very special Club. I’d like to thank everyone, especially the players and all of the staff. I also want to thank our supporters, even in the wind, rain and biting cold they are all at the Rec cheering us on. Thank you. Our sights remain set on a top four finish and we are all intent on making this season our best one yet,” commented Blackadder following the announcement of his departure.

Tarquin McDonald, Bath Rugby’s Chief Executive thanked Blackadder for his unwavering commitment in his statement: “Todd and I have been open and consistent with our conversations regarding the progression and future of the rugby department. We are confident that the Club can move forward and deliver on our long-term plan with solid foundations and a system that is ready to accommodate such change. I am pleased that we have been able to support Todd’s decision knowing it is right for him and his family.

“I have said before that it is a mark of Todd’s special and unique character, rare among coaches, that we have been able to bring about such positive change to the culture of our Club whilst he has been at the helm. Todd leaves us a stronger Club than the one he joined three years ago. He has been a pleasure to work with and I would like to thank him not only for his contribution of what has gone by but also for what is yet to come. I wish him every success for the future.”

Todd will depart Bath Rugby following the final game of the season.

The Club will confirm details of its coaching structure in the coming weeks.

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