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Wasps lose another International player.. and he’s off to Gloucester

Great signing and even better signing video

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Gloucester Rugby today confirmed via their website that England International Scrum-Half Joe Simpson will join the club from Wasps ahead of the 2019/20 season.

They announced the news on Twitter with this excellent ‘signing video’

Simpson has been one of the most consistent performers over the past decade in the Premiership, making in excess of 200 performances for Wasps having graduated from their Academy.

At international level, he has represented England at U19 and U20 level, taking part in the inaugural Junior World Championship in Wales in 2008, as well as playing for the Sevens and Saxons teams.

Currently Wasps’ longest-serving player, Simpson is also a full international, having represented England in Rugby World Cup 2011.
He has deservedly earned a reputation as one of the top number nines in the Premiership. He possesses an eye for a gap, the pace to exploit it as well as a superb tactical kicking game and quality service off either hand.

And, according to Gloucester Rugby’s Director of Rugby David Humphreys, his ability and experience will be a valuable addition to the first team squad.

“As we seek to build a squad that is capable of competing for honours at the highest level of the domestic and European game, strength in depth in our squad is crucial. And the addition of Joe to our ranks is a very significant one.

“His background speaks for itself, he has been one of the top performing scrum-halves throughout his career at Wasps, and has shown this season that he’s still performing at the very top of his game.

“Joe’s signing means that we will have significant experience and ability at the scrum-half position next season and we’re all very much looking forward to seeing him in Cherry and White.”

Simpson himself confirmed that he’s looking forward to a new challenge, but still has unfinished business at Wasps.

“I’m excited about joining Gloucester Rugby next season. They are a team on the rise and play an entertaining brand of rugby. I’ve spoken to friends at the club and they have reinforced this.

“I believe the squad that they are assembling is one that is capable of challenging at the top. I feel like the move has come at the right time for me and I am looking forward to starting a new challenge.

“It goes without saying that I will give my all to Wasps until the end of the season and hopefully I can finish on a high note.”

International

Former Springbok Hangs Up Boots

A former South African international has called time on his career earlier than he would have hoped

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Springboks back-row Heinrich Brussow has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect following a series of injuries.

The Northampton Saints player, who has played for the English side 21 times during his two year stint has picked up a number of injuries in recent times and has decided to call time on his career at only 33, but believes it is the right choice. 

“I feel very proud to have represented a Club like Saints which has such a rich history and the passionate support of Northampton behind them. I came to Northampton after spending a long time in Japan, looking for a new challenge and to push myself here in England. But I have been battling injuries for some time now and I have made the very difficult decision to call time on my career,” he said. 

Although his stay at the club was not as long as he would have hoped for he thanked everyone that has supported him over his time in England. 

“I want to say thank you to all of Saints’ loyal supporters who have done nothing but offer encouragement during my time here. I wish I could have pulled on this famous jersey more often for them, but unfortunately injuries have prevented me from doing that. I also have to thank my teammates and all the medical staff at the Club for everything they have done for me, as well as my wife, my family and friends who have been by my side throughout my career – I am truly grateful,” he added. 

Meanwhile the Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd has thanked Brussow for his contribution not only on the pitch but for his help in developing younger players within the squad, most noticeably England’s Lewis Ludlam, who has gone on to star for his country at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

“Heinrich is a great rugby player, a great man, and was a complete professional on and off the field. He played in an era of great openside flankers, and at his best he was at the very top of the class. The young loose forwards at Saints, especially Lewis Ludlam, have benefited greatly from him passing on his considerable knowledge to them,” he said. 

Boyd noted how Brussow’s inability to compete at the highest level due to injuries is unfortunate and thanked him for all his work with the Saints. 

“Heinrich has been to the top of the high-performance mountain and seen the view – unfortunately a succession of injuries have prevented him physically from climbing that mountain any longer. The frustration of not being able to consistently perform for himself and for Saints has prompted him to retire, but the decision not to let others down is a true mark of the man. He wants to be able to play at 100 per cent, or not at all. We all thank Heinz for his contribution to Northampton Saints, and wish him and his family all the best for their future,” he added. 

The Boks star had a career that took him around the globe playing for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, spending five years in Japan, two years with Northampton as well as not only playing for the Springboks but featuring in their three test series against the British and Irish Lions in 2009. 

Known for his work at the breakdown and his ability to score tries from the back-row his loss to the Saints will be felt and it is sad to see such a talent forced to give up so early.

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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Saints topple Saracens in opener.

Huge results for Saints.

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Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

Northampton Saints kicked off their Gallagher Premiership campaign with their first win at Allianz Park in three years as they defeated reigning champions Saracens in a see-saw season opener.

In a back-and-forth contest that saw the lead switch six times, Saints scored three tries before the break – David Ribbans, Rory Hutchinson and Henry Taylor all crossing the whitewash – with Saracens only able to send Matt Gallagher over in response.

But the boot of Ben Spencer kept the home scoreboard ticking over and though neither side crossed the whitewash in the second forty it was ultimately a James Grayson penalty that secured the win at the death for Saints. 

Saracens wasted no time getting their first points of the Premiership season – with Spencer knocking over a penalty just two minutes in – before the scrum-half added a second on the 15 minute mark.

But Saints responded well and charging runs from Taqele Naiyaravoro, Alex Coles and then Paul Hill got Saints into Saracens’ 22; and after a period of pressure on the tryline, the men in Black, Green and Gold came away with the first try of the game – David Ribbans the man over the line in his 50th appearance in Saints’ colours.

Grayson made no mistake with the conversion to put Saints ahead, but the lead was short-lived as another Spencer penalty swung the scoreline back Saracens’ way. And the home side stretched that lead just a minute later as Ben Earl snuck through a gap and fed Matt Gallagher for the score.

An important turnover from Coles in Saracens’ territory got Saints back on the front foot though and with Northampton working their way up the pitch, Hutchinson spun and stretched over the line for Saints’ second of the match. 

Grayson’s conversion brought the game back within two and Saints were soon back on the scoresheet again. After scooping up loose ball in their own 22, Grayson hacked the ball downfield and with Collins in chase and Taylor on his shoulder, the wing offloaded to see the scrum-half score Saints’ third against his former side – again Grayson converted and the away side entered the changing room five points in front.

Saints were denied a George Furbank try by the TMO after the break though, and Spencer sent another penalty through the posts to close the gap to two points. Spencer and Grayson exchanged another penalty each before the Saracens kicker added another from the tee to see the home side lead again.

But the scrumhalf’s eighth kick came off the post and when the chance came for Grayson to line up for the sticks in the game’s final minute, the 21-year-old sent the ball sailing through the uprights to see Saints secure their first away win over Saracens in three years.

Match Highlights:

Report from Saints

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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Paddy Jacksons stars as London Irish Pip Wasps.

Irish surprise Wasps at the Ricoh

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

London Irish opened their Gallagher Premiership account with a hard fought 26-29 win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena this afternoon. 

Tries from Blair Cowan, Albert Tuisue and a long range effort from Ollie Hassell-Collins, combined with 14 points off the boot of Paddy Jackson, was enough to get the Exiles across the line. 

Irish started the contest well and after going behind to a Lima Sopoaga penalty striking back right away. Paddy Jackson fizzed a pass to Ollie Hassell-Collins who broke down the left-hand flank. The winger was tackled five metres short of the line but three phases later, Blair Cowan bundled over the line for the opening score of the game. 

Sopoaga and Jackson traded penalties before the hosts struck back with their first try of the afternoon. The Exiles were turned over after gathering the restart and Wasps capitalised with Zach Kibirige squeezing in at the corner. The try gave Wasps an 11-8 lead. 

Declan Kidney’s side continued to stay in the fight and, when Jackson kicked his second penalty goal of the afternoon from 45 metres the scores were level at 11-11 at the half hour mark. 

With 10 minutes of the half remaining there was still a few twists and turns to take place. London Irish crossed for their second try of the afternoon following a well worked line-out. Paddy Jackson kicked to the corner and the resulting catch and drive saw a rampaging Albert Tuisue thunder back towards the Wasps try line carrying three Wasps defenders over with him. 

The Exiles lead lasted three minutes, with Zach Kibirigie crossing for his second of the afternoon to lock the game up again, this time at 16-16. 

Irish went into the break with the lead, Jackson converting his third penalty after a great penalty turnover was won by Blair Cowan. 16-19 Irish led at the break.

Hassell-Collins got what his first half performance deserved, three minutes into the second half. The winger sprinted in from 55 metres out, collecting a wide passed from the impressive Cowan to score his side’s third try. Jackson converted from the sideline to give his side a 10-point lead at 16-26. 

A Jackson penalty five minutes later was converted as referee JP Doyle penalised Wasps for being offside in the midfield. Irish led 16-29 with just over 30 minutes remaining. 

The following exchanges saw Wasps dominate possession in the Irish 22, however it was meet with resolute Irish defence. A stand-out moment saw Tom Parton make an outstanding try saving tackle to prevent Kibirigie his hat-trick in the corner. 

The hosts were not to be denied and, after gutsy Irish defence, Dan Robson eventually spotted a gap to dot down and bring Wasps right back into it. Sopoaga’s conversion reduced the deficit to 23-29 in favour of London Irish. 

Jacob Umaga, on as a second half replacement, reduced the arrears further with a penalty goal and it was agonisingly close moving towards the end. 

Wasps were camped on the Exiles line with time up on the clock and, when the ball was fumbled by the hosts, Jackson touched down over the Exiles try line to secure a three point victory.

Match Highlights:

Wasps: Penalties: Sopoaga (9, 15) Umaga (73); Tries: Kibirigie (23, 36), Robson (66); Conversions: Sopoaga (67) London Irish: Tries: Cowan (10), Tuisue (33); Hassell-Collins (43); Penalties: Jackson (21, 26, 40, 48); Conversions: Jackson (43)

London Irish 

15. Tom Parton; 14. Ben Loader; 13. Curtis Rona; 12. Terrence Hepetema; 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins; 10. Paddy Jackson; 9. Scott Steele (rep: Ben Meehan, 40); 1. Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (rep: Harry Elrington, 52) 2. Saia Fainga’a (rep: Ross McMillan, 73); 3. Oliver Hoskins (rep: Lovejoy Chawatama, 73); 4. Franco van der Merwe © (rep: George Nott, 28); 5. Ruan Botha; 6. Matt Rogerson; 7. Blair Cowan; 8. Albert Tuisue

Replacements: 16. Ross McMillan; 17. Harry Elrington; 18. Lovejoy Chawatama; 19. George Nott; 20. Conor Gilsenan; 21. Ben Meehan; 22. Stephen Myler; 23. Matt Williams

Wasps

15. Marcus Watson; 14. Zach Kibirige; 13. Malakai Fekitoa; 12. Michael Le Bourgeois; 11. Josh Bassett; 10. Lima Sopoaga; 9. Dan Robson (C); 1. Zurabi Zhvania; 2. Tom Cruse; 3. Kieran Brookes; 4. James Gaskell; 5. Charlie Matthews; 6. Brad Shields; 7. Jack Willis; 8. Sione Vailanu

Replacements: 16. Gabriel Oghre; 17. Ben Harris; 18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen; 19. Thibaud Flament; 20. Nizaam Carr; 21. Sam Wolstenholme; 22. Jacob Umaga; 23. Juan de Jongh

Match Report from London Irish

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