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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.

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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

Wasps sign Munster & Edinburgh players short-term loan deals

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Wasps are delighted to announce that Alex McHenry and Patrick Harrison have joined the Club on short-term deals from United Rugby Championship sides Munster Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby respectively.  

McHenry, a 24-year-old centre, will provide cover for Malakai Fekitoa while he is out with a shoulder injury, while Harrison will provide vital cover at hooker with Gabriel Oghre unavailable.

The 6ft 2in Irishman McHenry, came through the Munster Academy and was capped by Ireland U20 in 2017. McHenry also featured for the Ireland 7s side during the following season. The Christian Brothers College product captained Munster U19s in 2015.

19-year-old Harrison, made his Edinburgh debut against Dragons at the Principality Stadium in March 2020 at the age of 18, becoming the youngest hooker in the club’s history.

That day, he also became the third youngest debutant in PRO14 history – and Edinburgh’s fourth youngest debutant of all time. Harrison made his first start for the Scottish side in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash against Ulster in June 2021.

Wasps Men’s Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “We are delighted to bring Alex and Paddy on board. They will provide vital cover for us, while we are without a number of first team squad players.”  

McHenry added: “I am delighted to get the opportunity to play in the Gallagher Premiership.

“Wasps play a great brand of rugby and I’m looking forward to playing my part in that.”

Harrison said: “I am excited to come down and play some rugby in the English Premiership.

“Wasps are a famous Club, and it is an honour to have joined them.”

Tickets are available for our next Gallagher Premiership home games online by clicking here or by calling the Wasps Ticket Office on 02476 786 411.

Source – Wasps Rugby

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Thomas Young leaving Wasps for Wales

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(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Cardiff Rugby are thrilled to secure the services of Wales flanker Thomas Young on a long-term deal at the Arms Park.

The 29-year-old, who came through the Cardiff pathway and made 10 senior appearances before crossing the border, has established himself as one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership.

During a seven-season stay at Wasps, Young has made 141 appearances and scored 35 tries – more than any other forward in the Coventry-based club’s history. 

His fine form for Wasps has led to three previous Wales caps, with eligibility rules preventing further appearances but Young has now taken the decision to return to his homeland. 

He said: “I’m really excited to have this opportunity at Cardiff and I’m looking forward to returning home to Wales. 

“It was a difficult decision to make because I’ve had such an enjoyable time at Wasps and learnt so much, which I remain very grateful for but I’m also a proud Welshman and the opportunity to stake a claim for further international honours was too great to turn down. 

“Once I made that decision, Cardiff was always my preference – this is my home club. I am born and bred in the Cynon Valley, I played all of my age-grade rugby for the region and still have a lot of friends here from that time. 

“I’m looking forward to linking up with the boys and contributing next season but remain fully committed to Wasps and want to sign off on a high.” 

Young last featured for Wasps in Sunday’s Midlands derby victory over Northampton Saints, in which he was named man-of-the-match.

He has also captained the English giants on numerous occasions and Dai Young, who of course is the flanker’s father, believes he will be a significant addition for the Blue and Blacks. 

The Cardiff Director of Rugby said: “When Thomas made the decision to return to Wales, we were of course very keen to bring him home to Cardiff – that goes for myself, the coaches and board.

“It is my job to improve and develop this squad and I have no doubt that Thomas will significantly add to our strength and depth in the back-row and drive standards in our environment. 

“He suits the style we want to play and I know he will do his talking on the pitch and show everyone in Wales how good he is.

“This is just the first in a number of signings we will make in this building process and the journey we are on. I know the positions we want to strengthen and we will continue to do that.”

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Simpson joins Bath Rugby on initial three-month loan

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Image Credit: Bath Rugby Twitter

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce experienced scrum-half Joe Simpson has joined the Blue, Black and Whites on an initial three-month loan from Gloucester.

The 33-year-old arrives as injury cover for Ben Spencer and will compete for a starting berth alongside Ollie Fox, Max Green and Tom Carr-Smith. 

Simpson has been one of the most consistent performers in the Gallagher Premiership since graduating from the Wasps Academy in 2008. 

He headed into the Black and Gold’s first team striking up an electric partnership with Danny Cipriani, culminating in the duo playing 53 Wasps games together across the latter’s two spells at the club. 

Featuring over 250 times for Wasps in 13 years, one-cap England international Simpson signed for Gloucester in 2019 where he scored 11 tries in 29 matches ahead of a short-term deal with Saracens this season.

“We are delighted to bring in a player of Joe’s Premiership quality to our group,” Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper said. 

“He adds great experience to our squad and will enhance the competition for the nine shirt alongside Ollie, Max and Tom whilst Ben is injured.”

Source – Bath Rugby

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