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Premiership

Saracens owner releases another statement.

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Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Last week Saracens hit the headlines after ‘salary cap’ concerns. Owner Nigel Wray came out publicly last week and has came out this morning with the below message:

Statement from Saracens.com

“If you think of the Saracens culture and how we look after our people as a jigsaw puzzle then co-investments with players and staff are just one piece of the puzzle. The Saracens journey has taught me far more about what really caring for people means and how powerful that can be.
There was much talk last week about Saracens and in particular my co-investment partnerships with players past and present. First and foremost, I am an advocate of entrepreneurialism and independent spirit. Small businesses and young entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and it is why I have personally invested in hundreds of these opportunities over 40 years.

As a Club, we want and actively encourage all of our players to consider their futures beyond playing the sport we all love. A professional rugby career can be short-lived and we have a responsibility to educate, prepare and support all of our players in carving alternative career pathways for their lives after rugby. We are a Club that cares.

Our culture has evolved and will continue to do so but being a family matters to us. How do you look out for your family?

Players are supported in many ways. From arranging business secondments for work experience through to a creche facility at the training ground for their kids. Twelve players have been on work placements with our Club sponsors, Allianz and CME. Former player, Nils Mordt joined CME full time after finishing his rugby career as a direct result of a work placement during his time playing at Saracens. Hayden Smith is enjoying a very successful career at Enstar, where Saracens board director Dominic Silvester is CEO. Peter Harvey, former Corporate & Commercial Banking CEO at Barclays and a huge Saracens supporter, has worked for over 10 years with Saracens players as part of our Player Development Programme. Sadly, Joel Conlon had to retire through injury earlier this season and Peter has been helping Joel with his post rugby career choices by introducing him to board directors and exploring opportunities. We supported and nurtured Alex Sanderson, Kevin Sorrell, Paul Gustard and Andy Farrell as coaches when their playing careers came to an end and look where they are now…

Education is a crucial part of our culture. Those of you who know about the Saracens High School which opened last September will know that. We have had 17+ players who have gone on to further education including, to name but a few, George Kruis who got a first-class degree in Business Management, Jackson Wray who has a BA Hons psychology degree, Ben Earl who is studying Comparative Literature and Rotimi Segun who is studying Chemistry. Mark and the coaching team have always been fully supportive of this. Our strength and conditioning and medical staff will often rearrange sessions or come in on weekends to allow young players to go to university. It’s a Club wide ethos. Approximately, 75 per cent of the squad are involved in either university education, an industry qualification, meaningful work experience or an entrepreneurial venture.

We invest in developing our coaches from the Academy up. For example, Kelly Brown, a former player, who is now an Academy Coach and spent some time with Scotland Rugby to learn. Adam Powell, another former player, is now an Academy Coach and has a hugely bright future. Our staff are just as important to us as our players and we are currently running an internal training and development programme modelled around ‘The Saracens Way’ – an executive and management coaching programme run by Will Fraser, a former player who embodies the culture and ethos of Saracens.

We can’t list all these examples without recognising the incredible work that David Jones, our Personal Development Manager, does. David works tirelessly to develop tailored development programmes for each and every one of our players and is always there to listen. He is dedicated in this role.

It goes without saying that not everyone can be entrepreneurial and obviously investment comes in many forms. The more commercial investments often require significant capital and hence are largely co-investments with our senior squad. We actively support independent business. For example, when our captain Brad Barritt founded Tiki Tonga Coffee, we created an opportunity for them to sell their products at Allianz Park (for which they pay a commercial rights fee to Saracens). Tiki Tonga is 100 per cent funded by Brad and his business partner Justin and has recently opened their first coffee shop in South Africa. When Chris Wyles and Al Hargreaves started Wolfpack Lager, we were happy to help them on their way and I was delighted to have the opportunity to invest. Former player Jim Hamilton has also invested and I have recently increased my investment as the value of Wolfpack Lager grows. Ben Spencer and Henry Taylor have their table business 99 which has supplied various coffee shops. Henry also did work experience in Geneva three weeks ago organised by us, with Louis Dreyfus a commodities company. At Allianz Park we also have Fines Master Gin on site, a business launched by Michael Rhodes, Raw Spirit which is the brain child of Mike Ellery & Tim Streather, and Sanderson’s Puddings run by Alex Sanderson’s mum.

If any of our players have a sound commercial idea, I am interested and I may invest. The least I will do is offer advice. I recognise that in some quarters, these co-investments are perceived as part of the Premiership salary regulations. They are not. Investment is not salary. Investments go up and down. It’s an opportunity and a risk. It might be immodest to say this but between the Board and some hugely generous supporters our players have access to some of the best investment advice available anywhere in the country and we are all happy to share this for everyone’s benefit.

The Club is open and transparent with the salary cap manager and we proactively disclose co-investments when they occur, even though we are under no obligation to do so. We respect the rules and the salary regulations that are in place.

Our success is built on the strength of our Academy and the incredible efforts of the Academy staff are often overlooked. Of our current squad, 57 per cent is home-grown talent, the highest in the league, contributing towards the £1.2 million in credits we receive from PRL which, incidentally, makes our salary cap higher than most.Through significant investment in our academy system we have developed 58 players for the Saracens senior team, 11 internationals and four British & Irish Lions since 2008.

But there is, as always, so much more to do. With that connection, I am pleased to say we have now received full permission for the new West Stand, fully financed and with a strong partnership with Middlesex University. Work begins in the off season.

All the best,

Nigel”

A very interesting message which clearly shows that Saracens aren’t just a club that produces quality rugby players.

6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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Premiership

Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled

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Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.

COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.

We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.

When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.

Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.

We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.

An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.

• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:

In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.

Images & Content from Worcester Warriors

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Premiership

Scotland international heading to Bristol

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.

The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.

“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.

“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.

“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”

Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.

He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.

“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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