Sale Sharks have announced the signing of South African International Lood De Jager from the Vodacom Bulls.
De Jager has signed a 3-year contract with the club and will arrive in Manchester ahead of the 19/20 Gallagher Premiership season following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The 26-year-old started his career with the Toyota Cheetahs and quickly burst into the spotlight after a stellar first season. The 6ft 9in powerhouse went on to make 40 Super Rugby appearances for the Bloemfontein based franchise and was rewarded for his outstanding form in 2015, winning the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year award.
Known in Super Rugby for his superior physical presence, the 125kg second-row was quickly recognised by the Springbok hierarchy as an upcoming talent and was selected for the national side in May 2014, at just 21 years old. The experienced line-out operator has now won a total of 38 caps for South Africa.
In 2016 De Jager made the switch from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, signing for the Vodacom Bulls ahead of the 2017 Super Rugby Season. He has gone on to make 20 appearances for the Bulls, and was awarded the captaincy ahead of the 2019 season.
Steve Diamond Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Said:
“I am extremely pleased to secure the services Lood for the 2019/20 season. He is a world class line-out operator with lots of experience at the highest level and offers a huge physical presence around the pitch. Lood’s signing is a statement of intent in our endeavour to become a force in the Gallagher Premiership and Europe over the next three years.”
Commenting on the recent announcement Lood said:
“Firstly it is a great honour for me to join Sale Sharks, they are a club with great tradition and really high ambitions and they are building something really special. It’s exciting to be a part of and Im looking forward to joining up with the guys in Manchester later in the year.”
Remember this tussle he had with fellow Springbok Eben Etzebeth?
The club also announced that Dorian West has taken a permanent role as forwards coach at the club.
Dorian joined the club on an interim basis in September 2018 and, working alongside Pete Angelsea had an instant impact on the Sharks set piece.
The former World Cup winner has a wealth of experience both as a player and a coach, having overseen the England U20’s forwards after the conclusion of his illustrious playing career, but most notably guiding Northampton Saints to their most successful season of all time in 2015. The Saints, under West and former Sale captain Jim Mallinder, finished top of the Premiership table that year only to lose out on the title to Saracens in the grand final in May.
Commenting on the news Dorian said:
“I am delighted to have signed a permanent deal at Sale, I have really enjoyed the last 8 months with the Club and I can already see progress being made within the team.”
“The ambition and direction being shown by Dimes and supported by our owners Simon and Ged is second to none and to say I am excited for what the future holds, would be an understatement.”
“I would like to thank Steve for giving me such a great opportunity and we are looking forward to finishing the Gallagher Premiership season on a high, and building on the improvements we have made this year to create a formidable pack capable of challenging at the top of the professional game.”
Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond said:
“Earlier in the season it became apparent that we needed some extra bite within our forwards and some organisation within our set piece.”
“Dorian has an abundance of experience within the game and met all the required criteria we were looking for in a coach.”
“Since joining ‘Nobby’ has fitted into the environment at Carrington seamlessly and his hard work and commitment is already showing dividends.”
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
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.”
Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled
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.
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Scotland international heading to Bristol
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.”