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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.”

Major League Rugby

Saracens Lock Latest to Join MLR

Another player has decided to make a move over to the US for a taste of Major League Rugby action

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Saracens lock Dominic Day has left the Premiership side to join San Diego Legion in the Major League Rugby on a two-year deal.

The 33-year-old has been at Allianz Park for two years, making 32 appearances and has been influential in helping the club’s young talent.

The former Scarlets and Bath lock is thankful for the chances he has been given at Sarries.

“It’s been an amazing two years. I’ve met a lot of really good people and have been a part of a team which has won four trophies since I’ve been here. It’s been more than I could ever have asked for. Saracens are a massive club and pride themselves on being up there and winning things; being part of that has been amazing,” he said.

As well as his efforts on the pitch and with the youth development he has also set up fourfive CBD with fellow lock George Kruis which is a brand that helps athletes maintain an active lifestyle.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall thanked Day for his time at the club and wished him luck in the US.

“Dom has been a brilliant person to have at the club over the last two seasons. In particular, he has played a key role in mentoring some of our younger players both on and off the field. We wish him and Nadia well as they embark on this exciting new challenge and will always be grateful to him for the huge contribution he has made at our club,” he said.

Day will now link-up with former England international Steffon Armitage, who joined San Diego Legion last week.

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Premiership

Worcester Coach on the Move

Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan could be set to leave the club very soon according to reports

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Worcester Warriors head coach Rory Duncan has been given permission to speak to other clubs according to reports in the Worcester News. 

The news outlet claim that they have been informed by the club that they do not see Duncan as a part of their future plans.

“The club has put in place a strategic plan for the future of Warriors. We do not envisage Rory Duncan being part of those plans and, therefore, we have given Rory permission to seek opportunities elsewhere,” a club spokesperson said

Duncan has impressed with stints at the Cheetahs and the Warriors, and a return to the Cheetahs looked to be on the cards until the club announced Hawies Fourie as their new coach.

However, the Southern Kings are currently looking for a new head coach and Duncan is among a four-man list of coaches being considered for the position, with Steve Jackson, Corniel van Zyl and Pieter de Villiers being the others.

Duncan has experience with the Kings having played two Currie Cup seasons with them before his retirement from playing.

Both the Warriors and the Kings open up their respective campaigns for the 2019/20 season in September and one would imagine they will want a quick resolution if he is to depart for South Africa once again.

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Premiership

Scottish Star Signs for the Bulls

One of Scotland’s key back-rowers has left his contract a year early to join the Bulls

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Scotland back-rower Josh Strauss will leave his contract with Sale Sharks a year early on order to join the Bulls

The 32-year-old has been at the English club for two-years since joining from Glasgow Warriors, with Sale agreeing to let him leave early having signed Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez and Mark Wilson this summer.

He had been in talks with the Warriors about a return, as well as receiving a lot of attention from French Top 14 sides, but chose the Bulls.

By signing for the Bulls, Strauss will return to his country of birth, but is far more associated with Scotland having qualified for their national side in 2015.

He made his debut for the Scots in the 2015 World Cup and has gone on to gain 22-caps for them since.

Strauss is included in Scotland’s 44-man World Cup training squad by head coach Gregor Townsend and played in all five of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

However, there is no guarantee that he will make the tournament in Japan as he faces huge competition for a place on the plane with Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Skinner and Blade Thomson are all vying for places.

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