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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

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

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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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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