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Premiership

Tigers confirm 2 new signings.

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It’s been a busy few weeks at Leicester Tigers with the announcement of a new incoming head coach with Steve Borthwick followed by the news of 2 new signings.

It had been widely rumoured that Fiji superstar Nemani Nadolo would join the club. The club confirmed the signing this morning.

The outside-back, who is a proven try-scorer and accomplished goal-kicker, has registered 222 points in 29 Test appearances for Fiji since his international debut in 2010 and is capable of playing at wing or centre.

Nadolo, considered one of the game’s best finishers, is currently with Montpellier in France’s Top 14 after impressive showings during stints in both the southern and northern hemispheres.

Prior to the move to France, Nadolo had spells with the Crusaders in New Zealand, Green Rockets in Japan, Exeter Chiefs, Bourgoin and the NSW Waratahs in Australia.

He has registered more than 1,000 points in domestic and international rugby, including more than 150 professional tries.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy admitted the addition of Nadolo to the Leicester squad was one that players, coaches and supporters could all “get excited” about ahead of his arrival in the summer.

“It’s certainly one to get excited about, no matter who you are,” said Murphy.

“He’s a star of the international game and a player that crowds all over the world have been able to enjoy.

“Now, the Tigers faithful get that chance and the squad, as well as coaching staff, get the opportunity to work alongside and with Nemani from next season.”

Nadolo will follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Seru Rabeni, Vereniki Goneva, Seremaia Bai, Campese Ma’afu and World Rugby Hall of Famer Waisale Serevi in representing the Tigers.

Murphy, who played alongside all but Ma’afu for Tigers, said he believed Nadolo could leave a legacy like his fellow Fijians at Welford Road.

“We have been blessed with some incredible Fijians at Tigers and I was fortunate enough to have featured alongside some of the very, very best as a player,” added Murphy.

“Nemani certainly possesses the traits of a player that Tigers fans look for and if we didn’t believe he could come here and do for us what we know he’s capable of, we wouldn’t have signed him.

“I don’t think it will be long before we are hearing ‘Nadolo’ chanted from the Terrace at Welford Road.”

The 32-year-old’s signing comes after the recent announcement of signings Zack Henry and Shalva Mamukashvili, as well as recommitments from international duo George Ford and Ellis Genge alongside youngsters Tom Hardwick, George Worth and Sam Aspland-Robinson.

Speaking about the Tigers, Nadolo said: “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club.

“Tigers is everything I’m looking for in a club … family first and the vision they have moving forward is something I wanted to be a part of.”

When asked about what Tigers supporters can expect of him, he said: “I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up and rip in.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and my family to come set up shop in your town.

“Hopefully I earn the respect of the fans by doing my talking on the field.”

Nadolo will link-up with his new Tigers team-mates in the summer ahead of the 2020/21 season.

The Tigers also announced the signing of Georgian international, Shalva Mamukashvii.

The 29-year-old has made 73 Test appearances for The Lelos since 2011 and represented his home nation at both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.

Mamukashvili’s career began in Georgia as a 17-year-old with RC Kochebi, from where he was selected for the national side, before moving to Armia Tbilisi.

In 2014, he was signed by Sale Sharks and spent a season in the Premiership before stints in Scotland with the Glasgow Warriors and in France with Montpellier, Toulon and US Carcassonne.

Mamukashvili moved home to Georgia in 2018 to join Locomotive before linking up with Enisei-STM ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said the addition of Mamukashvili to Leicester’s front-row stocks was an exciting prospect.

“Shalva is a well-travelled, experienced young man who offers us a unique, exciting option in the front row,” said Murphy.

“This club has welcomed front-rowers from all over the globe and we’re confident Shalva can be another international success story for us at Tigers.

“Nobody plays 70-odd Test matches and for the quality outfits that Shalva has unless you are a hard-working, motivated professional and in the conversations and meetings we have had with him, we’ve seen that in spades.

“Supporters should be excited about Shalva’s arrival and what he will bring to this club, on and off the pitch.”

Mamukashvili added: “It’s a great club, a very historical club and one of the most successful in England and the Premiership.

“I am motivated to give 100 per cent and have a good season at Tigers. I am looking forward to it.”

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.

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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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