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Premiership

RFU Scrap ‘Tackle Height Trial’ – “unanticipated’ finding”

‘unanticipated’ finding’

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Written by Reynardt Deminey
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

The Championship Cup tackle height trial will not continue for the knockout stages of the competition, which will begin on Saturday 2 February 2019. This was confirmed by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) today.

Interim Chief Executive Nigel Mellville stated that: “The RFU is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury-prevention”

“This was always a trial and we weren’t sure what the outcomes would be. Our two main objectives were to determine whether through law change the height of the tackle can actually be reduced and if a reduction in the height of the tackle then leads to a reduction in concussion risk”, he added.

The trial which was scheduled to run for the duration of the competition did succeed in lowering tackle heights. There was a 24% decrease in tackles where contact was made on the player above the armpit line, a 25% decrease in tackles where contact was made on an upright player above the armpit line by an upright tackler and a 41% decrease in the number of tackles where contact was made with the head or the neck of the player carrying the ball.

Despite the first objective being achieved, there was an unanticipated increase in concussion risk to the tackler where contact was made above the armpit line with a bent at the waist ball carrying player, the RFU said.

Melville added: “We need to analyse the data in more detail, but our preliminary analysis has shown all of these incidents occurred when a bent at the waist tackler was attempting to tackle a bent at the waist ball carrier following a short pass from the scrum half. This is an area that the trial was not specifically looking to influence as the primary focus was to reduce the risk of concussion where ball carrier and tackler were both upright. We will be analysing this particular situation in more detail.”

“Overall this has been an extremely valuable exercise. We’ve learnt a lot and tested an approach to reducing the risk of concussion in a real-life setting. We have shown that reducing tackle height is achievable and we already have useful and detailed data from the first 36 matches in this 43-game cup competition.”

As a result of the decision to not continue with the trial, match officials will revert to the original rule for the knock out fixtures. The line of the shoulders will again be the permitted tackle height when the knockout stages begin.

Before releasing the final report the RFU will be analysing the data in more detail. The report will be discussed at the World Rugby meeting in France in March.

Melville added that the RFU would like to thank all clubs, coaches, medics, management, players and fans for their support, understanding, and engagement during the trial.

“The RFU is constantly looking at ways to make the game safer and looks forward to taking this research to the World Rugby meeting March and discussing ideas and challenges with other unions.”

Premiership

Saracens confirm Sanderson future

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After a 17-year association with Saracens, Saracens can today confirm Alex Sanderson will depart to take up the position as Sale Sharks Director of Rugby.

The 41-year-old joined Sarries from Sale as a player in 2004 and has made an instrumental impact since becoming part of the coaching team in the 2008/09 season.

Amongst many contributions on and off the training field, he has transformed the Men in Black’s defence into a formidable force and leaves behind the Wolfpack mentality which will forever be instilled at Saracens. 

Sanderson heads back to the North West to take on the challenge of the first lead role of his coaching career, having played over 100 times for Sale between 1998 and 2004.

With the move, Sanderson becomes the latest of a long line of former Saracens coaches and players who have gone on to coach in lead jobs at top-flight clubs and at international level, something the club is extremely proud of given its huge emphasis on the strength and development of its coaching and support team.

“Alex has an enormous heart and huge character. He will always be a dear friend of the club,” said Saracens CEO Lucy Wray. 

“I know this was a tough decision for Alex, but we completely understand his desire to take on a new challenge and take the next step in his coaching career. As we do with our players, we want to continue to nurture our coaches and promote from within. Thank you, Alex, for everything you have given to Saracens, both physically and emotionally. You and your family are always welcome back to StoneX Stadium.”

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “Few people have been as central to the Saracens story as Alex. His drive, ambition and personality are woven into the very fabric of the club. 

“He is one of the leading Coaches of his generation, blending comprehensive technical and tactical knowledge with an in depth understanding of the people in his care. His creativity, ability to articulate message and ferocious desire to improve players, sets the standard of what it is to be a modern day coach. 

“Away from the field, Alex is loved by everyone at the club. Honest, kind-hearted and generous, he is considered by many a dear friend. He is also a dedicated family man and we wish him, Emma, and Ty every success in the future. Thank you, Alex, for all you have done for our club.” ‘

Talking on behalf of the current playing squad, Jamie George said: “It is nearly impossible to quantify the impact Al has had on every member of the playing squad at Saracens. He comes into work every day with a desire and passion to make the group the best they possibly can be. 

“Where Al is different to others is the strong connection he has with the entire squad, he has taken a genuine interest in every player on and off the field and of course will be remembered for his weird and whacky ways of getting messages across to the group. On behalf of the playing squad, I would like to thank Al for showing us what it takes to be the best and wish him, Emma and Ty the very best in their move back to Manchester.”

Saracens owner Nigel Wray added: “All my family will miss you Alex, and indeed will miss all your family, Emma, Ty, your Mum and Dad… but we will always be friends. We will always be close friends. Thanks for those many years and the very best wishes for the future”.

A fantastic coach and, more importantly, a fantastic human, everyone at Saracens would like to thank Alex for everything he has done for the club over a prolonged period and wish him every bit of success in his new venture.

Sanderson penned the below letter to the Saracens family:

It’s with a heavy heart after a month of introspection and consideration I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and farewell to my Saracens Family members.

To say ‘I love’ the organisation, the supporters, and my friends within it that make it so special would be an understatement. Saracens has been my life, and in many ways has shaped my life so indelibly that wherever I go from now on, a part of me will forever be a Saracen.

There are many accolades that we have achieved over the years, and belting nights out to boot, though ironically, it’s been on the occasions that we have had to steel ourselves, players and fans alike, and bond tighter together through all the hardships that I am most proud of.

To my peers…

First Brendan Venter then Mark McCall, have been mentors that have shown me the way, supported me, and given me the space to grow into the coach and person that my own father is proud of today. Most importantly they’ve been my friends and will forever remain so.

As for the rest of them, that being Shawsy, Peely, Kev, DV, Phil, Powelly, Jonesy and Slinger we have been lucky enough to have liked, known and worked together for a combined period of 125 years! A feat deserving a spot in the Guiness book of records – failing that, at the very least, a sure sign that it’s the strength of long-lasting relationships that truncate the core of all that is special about the club.

To such end, it would be remiss of me not to mention the massive contribution of the rest of the team behind the team, the S+C staff, Laura and her medical team, George, Warrick, Amelia and Nate. Thank you. 

To the players…

Those legends who have moved on and those that remain, some of whom I’ve known since they were kids, seen them grow into impressive strong adults and on to become husbands and fathers – it’s difficult to express my appreciation for the trust, friendship and effort you have shown over the years.

Through our experiences together I am now rarely surprised, but always inspired on every occasion that you have been weighed and measured but never found wanting…

To Dominic Silvester…

A true-blue legend, a man of seemingly endless generosity, and another person who I consider a friend for life, thank you for your council and rock like support.

And finally, to the Wray family…

‘Thank you’ said in as many ways – as many times as I can muster doesn’t begin to cut it. I still have the letter that Nigel wrote to me welcoming me to the club 17 years ago.

It was Nigel who invested in me first as a player, then as a coach – Nigel who gave me the opportunity to make something out of myself and so it is with all sincerity when I say I will be forever grateful for all that you have done, and Lucy continues to do.

Long live the Wolfpack,

Al “

In other news, Saracens have announced their team to face Ealing Trailfinders

Saracens begin their Trailfinders Challenge Cup campaign on the road at Ealing Trailfinders with seven full internationals in the starting XV.

England Number 8 Billy Vunipola features in the back row alongside Namibian Janco Venter while Fiji’s Eroni Mawi and Springbok World Cup winner Vincent Koch start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.

After kicking seven from seven in his last outing, Will Hooley of USA partners Welshman Aled Davies at half-back while Scotland centre Duncan Taylor is in the midfield.

Hooker Tom Woolstencroft will captain the side and leads a pack which contains three Academy products in Jon Kpoku, Ollie Stonham and Andy Christie.

Academy graduates Rotimi Segun, Dom Morris and Elliott Obatoyinbo are selected alongside Sevens star Ben Harris who completes an exciting backline.

Former Ealing man Harry Sloan is among the replacements as is lock Llewelyn Jones who has joined Saracens on a two-week loan from Ampthill.

Saracens team to take on Ealing Trailfinders: 

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo

14 Ben Harris

13 Dom Morris

12 Duncan Taylor

11 Rotimi Segun

10 Will Hooley

9 Aled Davies

1 Eroni Mawi

2 Tom Woolstencroft ©

3 Vincent Koch

4 Jon Kpoku

5 Ollie Stonham

6 Janco Venter

7 Andy Christie

8 Billy Vunipola

16 Kapeli Pifeleti

17 Sam Crean

18 Josh Ibuanokpe

19 Llewelyn Jones

20 Callum Hunter-Hill

21 Tom Whiteley

22 Harry Sloan

23 Charlie Watson

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Premiership

Gloucester announce one big departure & one new signing

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(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Gloucester Rugby today announced that Danny Cipriani has left the Club with immediate effect.


Having joined Cherry & Whites in 2018 Cipriani, now 33, went on to score 128 points in 44 appearances for the Club.


Cipriani was keen to express his gratitude for his time at Gloucester Rugby.


“After much deliberation, I have decided to leave Gloucester with the love, support and blessing of my coach and friend George Skivington. Whilst I’m sad to be leaving such a great club I know the club is in safe hands for the future under George’s leadership.”


Commenting on Cipriani’s departure, George Skivington added: “Danny has been playing at the top of his game for over a decade now, his reputation in the game is undisputed. It has been a pleasure to have been a part of Danny’s career at Gloucester and I wish him well for his next challenge.”
Gloucester Rugby would like to place on record our appreciation for Danny’s contribution during his time with us. We wish him the very best for his future endeavours.

In better news for the club, Gloucester Rugby announced the arrival of Scottish international fly-half Adam Hastings for the 2021-22 season.

Hastings will join the Cherry & Whites from Glasgow Warriors, where he has been a key player since his arrival at Scotstoun in 2017. The 24-year-old’s form in Glasgow soon led to international recognition, with Hastings notching up 22 caps, and 96 points in the blue of Scotland over the last 3 years. 

Known for his attacking prowess, the talented fly-half is set to grace the Gallagher Premiership when he arrives at Kingsholm in the summer of 2021. 

George Skivington was delighted to confirm the signature of a player of Hastings’ stature.

“We are really pleased to welcome Adam to Gloucester for next season. He’s matured as a player impeccably over the last couple of years and developed into a top international fly-half. The most exciting part for us is that he’s still got plenty of room for development as well.

“He’s now built up a considerable amount of domestic and international experience which will prove invaluable to the squad.

“With Adam, Lloyd [Evans], and George [Barton] coming through as well, it’s an area in our squad that we believe has a huge amount of promise in the immediate, but also long-term future.”

Upon agreeing his deal with Gloucester Rugby, Hastings was pleased to secure his future in Cherry & White.

“I’m really looking forward to linking up with Gloucester next season. The vision that George & Alex [Brown] presented to me was an opportunity too good to turn down, and I’m eager to play my part in a bright future for the Club.

“There’s still plenty more rugby ahead of me this season, but when the time comes, I look forward to pulling on the Cherry & White.”

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Premiership

Murphy leaves Leicester Tigers

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Leicester Tigers have today announced the departure of Geordan Murphy from his role as Director of Rugby at the club.

After discussions with Murphy about his current contract, which was due to end at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, it was decided that it would not be renewed and, by mutual consent, it was agreed that Murphy would leave the club with immediate effect. 

Murphy joined Tigers as a teenager, making his senior debut in 1997, and went on to make 322 appearances in 16 seasons, including four years as club captain.

After retiring in 2013, having won eight Premiership and two European titles, Murphy moved into coaching and rose through the ranks as skills coach, backs coach, attack coach, head coach and director of rugby.

He is Leicester’s leading try-scorer and appearance holder in European rugby and is 17th on the club’s all-time tryscorers’ chart.

Speaking about his time at the club, the outgoing Director of Rugby said: “First, I want to thank my wife Aneka and my two boys, and our new addition on the way, for everything they have done for me and how they have continued to make me a better player, coach and person.

“As well as my family here in Leicester, and all of our friends, I want to thank my family and friends in Ireland for their support throughout my career at Tigers as a player and coach in the good and bad times.

“I have spent 23 great years at Leicester Tigers and forged great friendships with people throughout that entire period.

“I’m most proud of the respect I earned from my team-mates and colleagues, and I’m grateful to all of them for how they have helped me, supported me and shared in my time at this club.

“Winning has been the easy part. It is when things are not going well, when you are losing and having to get back up every day and put on a brave face, that you know who your friends are and, to all of those who supported me through those times, those are the friends I will have for life.

“I wish the club the very best for the future on and off the pitch, and say thank you to the supporters who have been a part of my life for more than 20 years.”

“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man” Tigers Chairman, Peter Tom

Tigers Chairman Peter Tom thanked Murphy for his contribution to the club, on and off the pitch, since 1997.

“I want to express, on behalf of everybody at Leicester Tigers, my sincere gratitude to Geordan for all that he has done for our club for more than two decades,” said Tom.

“His contribution of more than 23 years is unrivalled in the professional era and all of us had the privilege of watching Geordan play for Leicester Tigers before being afforded another privilege in working alongside such a passionate club man. 

“I wish Geordan, his wife Aneka and their children all the best for what comes next and I know, when we are able to safely do so, we will afford him the proper send-off he deserves in front of all of our supporters at Welford Road.”

The club will not be recruiting to replace the Director of Rugby role but will now commence a recruitment process to identify candidates for a position in the organisation charged with overseeing the strategic vision and off-field responsibilities at Oval Park.

Tigers Chairman Tom added: “This decision, while difficult, was made to ensure we are as effective and successful an organisation as we can be at Leicester Tigers.

“Steve Borthwick understands the expectations of him, his coaching team and the playing group at Leicester Tigers on the pitch.

“We are determined to see this club back at the top, where supporters expect us to be, competing for trophies and are fully behind the players, coaches and staff on this journey.”

Statement from Leicester Tigers Ends.

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