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‘We’re only scratching the surface’: Les Kiss on young talent, bench rotation and the Worcester win



London Irish Head Coach Les Kiss believes there is much upside to come from the Exiles’ pool of talented outside backs following a fulfilling Round 1 victory against Worcester Warriors.

Five of Irish’s seven scores on the day, including a brace from substitute Henry Arundell, were notched by backs in the 45-14 win at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The win arrives off the back of difficulties faced by Saturday’s opponents, Worcester Warriors, off the field in what was the third consecutive opening day fixture between the Clubs.

Kiss shared his sympathy regarding the wider context outside of the 80 minutes but was unfeigned in his side’s attitude going into the game.

“I think there was an interesting emotional energy surrounding the whole day, notwithstanding the bigger picture with the Queen’s passing.

“In terms of Worcester’s situation, the narrative was really how they were going to manage this and we were very considerate of how that was, but we had to focus on what we have worked for as well.

“We talked about managing how we approached it; did it manifest the way we like?

“Maybe not completely, but there was a weird emotional energy around the game, and it was tough for those guys and where they’ve come from.”

With attacking intent evident as ever for the Boys in Green, the team also showed their force as a defensive outfit by staving off Warriors up to the fourth quarter.

“In some part, we had to just focus on what we were about, and I think that came through in our first 20 minutes.

“Defensively, we were absolutely brilliant to the things that we had worked on and that defence was crucial to be able to take away what we did.

“That spark that can happen for a team in that situation, they possibly could have got something going and grow energy from that so I was really pleased with our focus in that first 20 to 30 minutes, as they had two good sets on us down in our 22 and we repelled it.”

Defensive duties were not exclusive to certain areas of the squad, the whole matchday 23 contributing to a round-high tackle percentage of 95.15%.

With and without the ball, winger Ollie Hassell-Collins was one of many standouts after bagging a try of his own as well as an impressive stat line of seven tackles (none missed), one turnover forced and three defenders beaten.

The Australian was complimentary of Hassell-Collins, who was involved in all of Irish’s first-half scores as well as assisting Henry Arundell’s first try of the Premiership season in the second period.



“Ollie has been influential for a couple of years now, and I think there has been another growth in him for sure in the offseason,” Kiss elucidated.

“His training has been impeccable, but I thought we saw today that he used the extra pass, he used his pace and did enough to sit defences where he needed to then feed other people into positions.

“He also had to finish off a fairly physical end to score try, there was some nice stuff from Ollie today but I sometimes still feel that we’re scratching the surface with him.

“There’s only upside to him all the way, and there has been some real quality feedback from his peers in training in the way that he’s engaging his voice in the game too.

“He’s being more vocal, more direct in how he can help other people around him because he is a dangerous beast when he opens up.”

The excitement of Irish’s Head Coach was not capped to just the 23-year-old, with Arundell’s contributory deuce of tries only furthered with Will Joseph’s third career try for Irish.

Being the Club’s first England representatives since 2013, Arundell and Joseph only extended their recent form on Saturday and Kiss believes there is more to come in relation to international recognition from the wider squad.

“There is a sense of a confidence boost and a sense that they belong in Test footy, they believe that they can belong in that territory.

“It would be remiss of me to not say that we have a number of outside backs that could live in that space, Ollie [Hassell-Collins] is growing, Ben [Loader] will have his chances at some stage and Tom Parton has been in that area too.

“That experience, you can’t replace that and I have had good chats with Martin Gleeson (England Attack Coach) about some of the stuff we can continue to grow with them, so that conversation is solid and we want to do as much as we can to help those two lads and all of our outside backs.”



Arundell’s introduction to the game on 46 minutes, and score a minute later, spurred on a jubilant Gtech Community Stadium for the first points of the second forty.

The coaching teams were seemingly no different, sharing the excitement of the Exile Nation as the teenager continued to cement his name amongst the division’s most exciting talents.

Kiss joked: “I’d be inhuman if I didn’t!

“With Henry, everything he touches turns to gold at the moment but it’s not by accident.

“It’s not just him also, it’s also how the team work around him to open up opportunities for him.

“I know we saw that almost unbelievable situation in the Test matches in Australia, he creates special moments and he nearly created another opportunity when he chipped the ball and it bobbled around.

“He’s got something about him, again it’s not by accident but there’s a true ability that’s with him.

“When you have guys like Ben Loader and Matt Williams who are the recent youth, he’s stepping into that bridge now where they are working so close together that it makes a massive difference to what he can do.

“He’s really appreciative of what his teammates do for him, and I am excited for him and what he can do.”

Arundell’s introduction was one of eight on the day as Declan Kidney emptied the bench in the first run-out of the campaign, with utilisation of depth set to be an important component of Irish’s season.

“We had to manage some of their [Henry Arundell and Will Joseph’s] minutes, they have been training and today we managed Henry’s pitch time.

“The use of our replacements was critical; giving Paddy [Jackson] a chance to catch a breath, to see Luca Morisi at 12, give Benhard [van Rensburg] a go at 10 and to have a young nine in Caolan Englefield on in place of Ben White was crucial.

“We gave Danilo [Fischetti] a chance to feel his way into how we play in the Premiership, so we talked a lot about how we managed our replacements going forward and I thought we did so well today.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


Club announce arrival of former Wallaby coach



Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar has appointed Petrus du Plessis to his senior coaching team as Interim Scrum Coach.

The South African will remain in the role until the arrival of new Scrum Coach Dan Palmer, when his commitments with the Wallabies are complete following the Australian national side’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

Born in South Africa, du Plessis represented St Helens, Orrell and Sedgley Park between 2001-2009 before joining Nottingham Rugby ahead of the 2009/10 Championship season.

He joined Saracens a year later and, during the next sevens seasons, featured in three league and two European Champions Cup winning campaigns.

The front-rower moved to London Irish in 2017 and then Glasgow Warriors in 2018, spending two seasons in Scotland before retiring in 2020 – including a final season as player/coach.

In September 2020, du Plessis was announced as Australia’s Scrum Coach where he worked alongside McKellar for almost three years.

Speaking about the interim appointment, Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar said: “Our scrum is an integral part of what we do and, with Dan [Palmer] arriving after the World Cup, we felt it was important to have that specific focus on it during this period.

“To have been able to appoint someone with the experience of Petrus for that was an added bonus and too good an opportunity not to take up for the club and our players.

“I have worked with Petrus over the past few years in Australia and know the energy and enthusiasm he brings, as well as the effort he puts into his work. I am glad we’re able to have that here at Leicester Tigers in the interim.”

The appointment of Petrus du Plessis to the interim role is effective immediately.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

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Bath confirm 2023/24 squad



The official Bath Rugby squad for the 2023/24 season has been announced.

Entering into his second year at the helm of Bath Rugby, Johann van Graan welcomed Ollie Lawrence, Ted Hill, Alfie Barbeary and Fergus Lee-Warner over the course of 2022/23, who remain with squad as we head into 2023/24.

With Finn Russell and Thomas du Toit still yet to link up with the squad after the Rugby World Cup, the Head of Rugby’s squad is looking full of power and prowess. 

Several big names committed their futures to the Blue, Black and White earlier this year, seeing England internationals Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Ben Spencer and Joe Cokanasiga all re-signing. 

Scotland international Cameron Redpath also pledged his future to the club, as did Irish international second row Quinn Roux. 

Arriving at the club this summer is recently announced signing, Mikey Summerfield, who joined from London Irish. The young prop has been lauded with talent and high prospects, offering another option in the front row. 

Bath Rugby also named Billy Sela, Jack Bennett, Ieuan Davies, Ioan Emanuel, Rory Cameron, James Short, George Timmins and Raff Weston as their Academy intake for 2023/24, with many of them already putting their stamp on the age-grade international stage. 

The Bath Rugby squad are now preparing for the season ahead, with the opening fixtures seeing the commencement of a newly formatted Premiership Rugby Cup.

The coaching set-up has also been refreshed for 2023/23. Joining van Graan on his staffing team are Assistant Coaches Lee Blackett and Richard Blaze, who arrived at the club from Wasps and Leicester Tigers ahead of pre-season.

Stevie Scott and Andy Robinson have also joined van Graan to assist with scrummaging and the coaching of the Academy, respectively.

JP Ferreira and Jon Callard remain with the squad into their second year alongside van Graan. 

bath rugby squad 2023/24

PROP: Arthur Cordwell, Thomas du Toit, Ioan Emanuel, Archie Griffin, Johannes Jonker, Scott Kirk, Beno Obano, Juan Schoeman, Billy Sela, Archie Stanley, Will Stuart, Mikey Summerfield, Kieran Verden

HOOKER: Niall Annett, Tom Dunn, Max Pearce, Jasper Spandler, John Stewart

SECOND ROW: Jack Bennett, Rory Cameron, Harvey Cuckson, Josh Dingley, Eddie Erskine, Charlie Ewels, Will Jeanes, Fergus Lee-Warner, Daniel Marais, Josh McNally, Ewan Richards, Quinn Roux

BACK ROW: Abdul-Khalik Akenzua Al Kareem, Alfie Barbeary, Josh Bayliss, Chris Cloete, Jaco Coetzee, Thompson Cowan, MacKenzie Graham, Arthur Green, Ted Hill, Nahum Merigan, Miles Reid, Ethan Staddon, George Timmins, JJ Tonks, Sam Underhill

SCRUM-HALF: Tom Carr-Smith, Ieuan Davies, Murdoch Lock, Louis Schreuder, Ben Spencer

FLY-HALF: Orlando Bailey, Piers Francis, Sam Harris, Finn Russell, Raff Weston, George Worboys

CENTRE: Will Butt, Louie Hennessey, Ollie Lawrence, Max Ojomoh, Will Parry, Cameron Redpath, James Short, Max Wright

BACK THREE: Joe Cokanasiga, Tom de Glanville, Ciaran Donoghue, Matt Gallagher, Gabe Goss, Luke Graham, Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, Ruaridh McConnochie, Will Muir

bath rugby coaching team

HEAD OF RUGBY: Johann van Graan

ASSISTANT COACHES: Lee Blackett, Richard Blaze, Jon Callard, JP Ferreira, Andy Robinson, Stevie Scott


Content & Images from – Bath Rugby

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Alex Brown | Open letter to supporters



Gloucester Rugby

Dear All, 

I wanted to write following Lance’s announcement last week that he was standing down as CEO of Gloucester Rugby. First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lance for his significant contribution to the Club over the past four years; during Lance’s stewardship, we have emerged from an extremely challenging period to a position of financial health and together, have built a team of staff and players who hold a forward-thinking mindset, setting up our Club well for a promising future ahead.  

I feel truly privileged and humbled to have been asked by Martin St Quinton to help to drive the Club forward this summer. 

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how the off-season is progressing behind the scenes.  

150th Anniversary 

Founded in 1873, it is an incredibly exciting year for the Club as we celebrate our 150th Anniversary. We have been working on plans to commemorate this significant event and look forward to hosting our Big Summer Party on the 12th August to kick off the season. There will be live music, community coaching opportunities, signing sessions and more. And of course, not forgetting a hero’s welcome for our Premier 15s winning Gloucester-Hartpury team who will be joining us on the day to mark this notable milestone in the Club’s history. I am also delighted to announce that we will be launching our new 2023/24 home shirt on this day too. 


The full fixture list has now been drawn; and with a new season structure in place this year (owing to the Rugby World Cup), the Gallagher Premiership season will start slightly later, and include a rest period during the Six Nations. This is a beneficial change for the whole league, ensuring that international players are available and promoting Premiership Rugby for much of the season. Tickets for our opening three Premiership games and all our Premiership Cup fixtures will go on sale on the 1st August.  Our Venue Sales Team have been working hard to update and improve the hospitality packages for next season and I’m pleased to say we are already taking bookings for the first three games. If you are interested in learning more about our hospitality packages, please do get in touch with us here.  

We are delighted to have over 5000 Club Members already signed up for next season, with another 200 Gloucester-Hartpury Club Memberships sold in our first season too. There’s still time to secure yours if you haven’t yet. Being a Club Member is the most cost-effective way to secure your spot at every regular home fixture next season. All Club Membership packs will be sent out over the coming month. You can get your membership here

2023/24 season 

As we edge closer towards September, work is continuing behind the scenes across the business in readiness for the new season. Our ambition remains to deliver success for our Club at every level; either through on-field success, through our inspiring work within the community or the experiences we all enjoy at our stadium. We have always benefitted from a strong brand and an incredible fan base; now is the time we strengthen that to put Gloucester Rugby at the top of the table in all areas. 

I’d also like to thank you for your tremendous ongoing support. Despite last season not finishing how we hoped, we still had record numbers of supporters turning out to watch our men’s and women’s teams. We hope that as we grow, you will remain on this journey with us and once again, thank you. I look forward to welcoming you back to Kingsholm again.  

I will keep everyone informed as things are firmed up in terms of long-term leadership for the Club. 

Best wishes, 


Content & Images from – Gloucester Rugby

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