Saracens Set to Sign Springboks Out-Half
Saracens have agreed a deal to sign a Springbok fly-half ahead of the new season
Saracens have agreed to sign Stormer and Springboks No 10 Damien Willemse as a World Cup cover player if he fails to break into Rassie Erasmus’ 31-man squad.
The out-half, who can also play centre, winger and full-back is currently playing in the Currie Cup but has been given the opportunity to play for Saracens according to Western Province coach John Dobson.
“If he doesn’t go to the World Cup, Damian could have an opportunity to go to Saracens on a short-term loan. If that does come about it will be a good thing for him as he can learn a lot through a short stint in the UK. Saracens, as you know, have a very good kicking game. If he goes there he will learn a lot about the game management that is expected of fly-half and he will come back better equipped to do well for us in Super Rugby. Our WP captain Chris van Zyl played for Saracens last year, enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the experience and was then back to take part in our pre-season,” he said.
As well as gaining experience Willemse could get some vital game time and be match-fit should an injury occur to someone in the 31-man squad and he would therefore be available to slot in.
Having come back from a knee injury Willemse is preparing for Western Province’s final Currie Cup game this weekend against the Cheetahs. Dobson is sure that Willemse could cut it at the reigning European and Premiership champions, but nothing is confirmed that he will head to England.
“Damian is a special kid off the field as well as on it and is a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind, he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad. Damian showed us last week when he came on against Griquas what a good attacking fly-half he is and we are expecting a lot from him against the Cheetahs. He is really motivated to do well for us and hopefully push our season out by another few weeks, but if he is not in the World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday he will then give some thought to Saracens,” he added.
The Springboks’ World Cup squad is set to be announced on Monday and it seems unlikely Willemse will be involved which would open the door for him to cover for the likes of England’s Owen Farrell while they go to Japan.
Gloucester Rugby sign Cardiff star
Gloucester Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of centre Max Llewellyn, who will arrive at Kingsholm this summer ahead of the 2023/24 season.
Llewellyn, who qualifies for both Wales and England, moves to the Cherry & Whites from United Rugby Championship side Cardiff Rugby, where he has made 40 appearances, scoring five tries.
The 24-year-old also spent time with Cardiff RFC in the Welsh Premiership and represented Wales U20s 14 times between 2018 and 2019.
At 6’5’’ and 105kg, Llewellyn brings a significant physical presence into Gloucester’s midfield options.
Max comes from impressive rugby stock, his father, Gareth Llewellyn, having won 92 caps for Wales.
Gloucester Rugby Head Coach, George Skivington, says the young centre is a welcome addition to the squad.
“Max is a young player that has a huge amount of potential and we’re excited about him seeing him in Cherry & White. He’s been really impressive for Cardiff over the last couple of seasons and we know he’s relishing the prospect of challenging himself in the Gallagher Premiership.
“He’s obviously a big lad and he enjoys that physical side of the game but that’s not the only string to his bow.
“Max will have some experienced Premiership backs to learn from here in addition to the coaching staff, so he’s in a great place to develop, and we’re looking forward to seeing him in Cherry & White.”
“I’m really excited to be coming to Gloucester” commented Llewellyn.
“It’s always been an ambition of mine to play in the Premiership and to do that for a club like Gloucester, it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“I was fortunate enough to play at Kingsholm in pre-season and the atmosphere there was amazing; it’s somewhere you look forward to playing every week.”
Max is in for 2023/24, are you? Get your 2023/24 Club Membership before 5pm today (Monday 20 March) HERE to secure your early bird discount.
Dave Walder to leave Newcastle Falcons
Thursday 16 March 2023
Dave Walder will leave his role as head coach at Newcastle Falcons at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.
Following the departure of Dean Richards at the end of last season Walder has spearheaded the coaching department throughout the 22-23 campaign, which also comprises Mark Laycock, Mark Wilson, Micky Ward and Scott MacLeod.
While Dave will leave at the end of his contracted period he will step back with immediate effect, handing the reins to Mark Laycock until a successor is officially appointed in the coming months.
Speaking on Dave’s departure, Matt Thompson, chairman of rugby, said: “Realistically we haven’t been where we want to be for a few years now and as a club we recognise the need to make changes to our approach to achieve our goals. Transitional periods like this are never easy, and unfortunately we are going to lose some people along the way.
“A lot has happened, particularly this year, both across the sport and on and off the field at the club, and we need a bit of a reset across the board.
“Our aim is to be a sustainable club that is here for years to come and in line with that it’s important that we invest in the right areas, in the right way at the right time. We want to entertain our supporters and play an exciting brand of rugby, which also means having the right players and coaching personnel in place to take us forward, and that is part of our ongoing recruitment strategy.
“We’ve already made some great announcements including re-signing a number of players such as Ben Stevenson, Jamie Blamire and Adam Radwan. This has been bolstered by some new faces including Tim Cardall, Murray McCallum and Kiran McDonald. We also continue to recruit both on and off the field into the rugby department, including across the coaching team.
“The ongoing support from our loyal supporters and our employees is huge, and we want to thank them for the commitment they continue to show to Newcastle Falcons. We’re really excited for them to come on this journey with us and be part of what is shaping up to be both an exciting and sustainable future.
“On a more personal note, we’re immensely grateful for everything Dave has helped us to achieve. He’s been a massive part of our club for many years and as with all departures it’s been a tough decision, but ultimately the right one for the club as we move forward. We wish him all the best in the future and look forward to seeing what he does next.”
As a player Walder made 110 appearances for the Falcons, scoring the winning try in the 2001 Tetley’s Bitter Cup final and forming an instrumental part of the side which won the 2004 Powergen Cup final.
Going on to earn domestic and European honours with Wasps before finishing his playing career with Japanese side Mitsubishi Dynaboars, Walder joined Newcastle’s coaching staff in 2014.
Initially serving as kicking skills coach, he stepped up as backs and attack coach before being promoted to head coach in 2017, earning promotion from the Championship and helping steer the Falcons to their first Gallagher Premiership semi-final.
Newcastle Falcons is working to finalise the structure of the coaching team for the 2023-24 season, and further announcements will be made once the interview process has concluded.
Ollie Thorley re-signs with Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to announce that academy graduate, Ollie Thorley, has extended his stay at Kingsholm.
The Cheltenham College product became the Club’s youngest first-team try scorer when he crossed against Ospreys in March 2015 in the LV Cup and he hasn’t stopped scoring since.
The explosive winger has scored over 30 tries in Cherry & White, including a chart-topping 11 tries in the 2019/20 season, the highest-ever Premiership total by a Gloucester player.
Thorley represented England at U18 and U20 level, winning the 2016 IRB Junior World Championship with the latter, he later went on to win his first England cap against Italy in the 2020 Six Nations and is widely tipped to gain more international honours soon.
He bounced back from an injury that kept him out of the start of the season and has hit form straight away, winning back-to-back Stowford Press Player of the Match awards against London Irish and Saracens recently.
Gloucester Rugby Head Coach, George Skivington, commented:
“We’re really pleased that Ollie has committed his future to the Club. He’s a leading example of a player that has developed in the Gloucester Rugby pathway and gone on to be a key figure in the first team.
“He’s naturally a very dangerous attacking player, but he’s always working to develop and grow his game which you can see in his performances this season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Ollie represent this club for years to come.”
Squad Update | Preparations Continue For Glasgow At Thomond
Gloucester Rugby sign Cardiff star
O’Connor, Annan to start in Reds Suncorp Stadium return
What rugby is on and where to watch it October – December
Six Nations 2020 – Fixtures & TV Schedule
Farrell Names Ireland’s Six Nations Squad
Premiership1 week ago
Polledri set to depart
6 Nations1 week ago
Ireland Squad in Recovery Mode After Murrayfield Mayhem
6 Nations6 days ago
Ireland Sevens Star to join Connacht Rugby
URC1 week ago
Squad Update | Preparations Begin For Glasgow At Thomond
Premiership6 days ago
Davison signs for Saints as Heffernan heads north
6 Nations4 days ago
England side to face Ireland in Six Nations
6 Nations4 days ago
Wales name much changed team for France
6 Nations6 days ago
Tom O’Toole – A Tight-Head’s Journey