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Tigers & England wing to retire from professional rugby



Chris Ashton will retire at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season after an 18-year career as a professional in both rugby union and rugby league.

The Leicester Tigers outside-back has, to date, made 25 appearances for the club after joining midway through the 2021/22 campaign.

Prior to joining Tigers, Ashton played for Wigan Warriors (rugby league) and Northampton Saints, Saracens, Toulon, Sale Sharks, Harlequins and Worcester Warriors (rugby union), as well as representing England in both codes and the Barbarians.

One of the most prolific try-scorers in the history of rugby union, Ashton is the record try-scorer in the Gallagher Premiership (98) and Heineken Champions Cup (41) competitions.

To date, he has won three Premierships, two Heineken Champions Cups and one European Challenge Cup.

His professional career began in 2005 when he debuted for Wigan, as an 18-year-old, and scored two tries in his first appearance.

Ashton made more than 50 appearances for the Super League club, and represented England in rugby league, before switching to rugby union to join Northampton.

In 2010, he made his England Rugby Test debut and went on to represent his country on 44 occasions, scoring 20 international tries.

He spent five seasons with Saints before moving to Saracens, where he spent a further five years and was part of two Premiership and one European Cup winning campaigns.

In 2017, Ashton joined Toulon and, during his lone year in France, he broke the record for tries scored in a single season with 24 tries in 23 appearances.

He returned to England in 2018 to join Sale before stints with Harlequins and Worcester ahead of joining Tigers in February 2022.

In his time at Tigers so far, he has scored 10 tries in 25 appearances and started on the wing in the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership Final win over his former club Saracens at Twickenham.

Discussing his decision to retire at the end of this season, Ashton said: “I have just felt, this season, that my body is not able to do what I want it do anymore.”

“I am still enjoying the game, enjoying being in and around the team and the game every day, but if I am not able to keep the standards that I expect of myself, then it is the right time for me to retire.

“I am content with the decision and, honestly, I definitely wouldn’t have been had I not been able to come to Leicester Tigers, get back into the game and finish my career on my terms.

“It is the right time for me, I know that, and I am happy in making this decision at this time.”

Looking back on his decorated career, Ashton said: “I still can’t believe all that I have been able to do and all that rugby union has given me.”

“This game has opened the world to me, taken me to places I never thought I would have been or experienced, and I am so grateful for that.

“Playing for Wigan Warriors was my dream growing up, that was all I wanted to do, and I know rugby league would have given me so much too, but it is amazing to look back and see what I have been able to do because of both codes and the groups and places I have been a part of in my career.

“I am honoured to have done what I have done, for the clubs I have played for and to represent my country in two codes.”

On his Leicester Tigers tenure, he added: “My time at Leicester Tigers gave me something I thought I might have lost, which was just to play the game again and play until I knew I could keep playing and contributing.

“To be a part of this group, at this club, has been special. This is a unique group of players and unique environment, in the way that they are so resilient, want to do the hard work and have such a no nonsense approach.

“I am grateful to have been able to experience this in my final years and to have been a part of this group of players and people at a club like Leicester Tigers.”

Ashton also made special mention of his family.

“I know I wouldn’t be where I am today or achieved all that I have without the support from the very beginning from my family, in my mum, dad, brother and sisters, as well as all that my wife, Melissa, and children, Ava and Isaac, have given to me.

“I have been fortunate to have shared in so many special moments with all of my family throughout the years and especially, in these later years, the chance to share in even more with my kids.”

Speaking about Ashton, Leicester Tigers Interim Head Coach and former teammate with Leicester, Saracens and England Rugby, Richard Wigglesworth said: “Chris changed the game, to put it bluntly. That’s the biggest compliment I can give him.”

“Coming over from rugby league, at a young age, Chris worked diligently, and has never stopped working, to understand the game and to be the very best player he could be.

“He has got a miles better brain for the game than he will ever get credit for and is one of the most competitive players I have played with and coached.

“He, unashamedly, just wants to score tries and is the most relentless try-scorer there has ever been.

“I have spent a lot of time with Chris over the years, on and off the pitch, and is a great guy, a team guy, with a brilliant attitude and great sense of humour. You will always have a good time with Chris.

“Since I got this job, his professionalism and his support has been of a great help to me. He has been a great sounding board for me and, in his time at Leicester Tigers, been a great example of professionalism and work ethic for our young players.

“I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me, first as a teammate and now as a coach, and look forward to seeing him continue to be a great player until retirement at the end of this season.”

Keep an eye on LTTV for an in-depth chat with Ashton explaining his decision to retire, discussing his career to date and looking back on memorable moments throughout his time in rugby union and rugby league.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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