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Premiership

Confirmed by Leinster. Sean O’Brien to join London Irish

Leinster have confirmed the news.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland and Leinster back row Sean O’Brien is set to join London Irish after the World Cup this year.

Leinster today confirmed that the 31-year-old O’Brien will move to Declan Kidney’s side later on this year. O’Brien is currently on a central IRFU contract.

O’Brien turns 32-years-old later this month and is now entering the latter stages of his career. As a result, the union were unwilling to hand him a new long-term deal.

London Irish are believed to have made Leinster an offer of around
€ 400 000 per season which is similar to what he currently gets.

Reports state that O’Brien’s current status will not have any impact upon his status as part of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad which will participate at the World Cup.

Previously O’Brien has been part of two British and Lions tours. These came in 2013 and 2017 and he started all three Tests against New Zealand during the latter trip.

Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie this morning, Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen said,

“Seán has been a key driver of Leinster Rugby’s success over the last ten years and played a pivotal role in our four Heineken Cup-winning seasons.

“He has not only been a world class player on the field, but has also made an incredible impact in growing the game all over the province. He has also been a model professional and a shining example to our young and Academy players.

“As a teammate, Seán was the sort of competitor you always wanted beside you. He is the kind of player who gives you the confidence that anything is possible – nothing fazes him and he always led from the front.

“Everyone at Leinster wishes only the very best for Seánie in his future as he embarks on a new challenge. We will all miss him greatly, but his legacy here will live on as he has influenced so many of us in such a positive way.

“For now, we hope to finish this season strongly and, after his disappointment of missing out on a number of big games last season through injury, we hope Seán can play a major part in Leinster’s push for silverware in two competitions this season.”

For his part O’Brien said, “This is one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I have played all my rugby in Ireland.

“With Tullow, with Leinster and with Ireland and to move from the place I call home and that I love so much, was not easy.

“That being said, I feel that the time has come to explore other opportunities, to challenge myself at a new environment, in a new city, with a new club and against different players and teams on a weekly basis. London Irish and what they are about is a club that I feel I can grow with and also contribute to and I feel that they have a set up and an ethos that will make me feel at home.

“For me and the time I have left here in Ireland, I want to stay fit and healthy and finish out the season with a strong Six Nations with Ireland and then turn my attention to Leinster and hopefully a seat on the plane to Japan.

“Thanks to my family, friends and my girlfriend Sarah for their unbelievable support in making this decision and of course the fans for all the support I’ve received over the past 13 years. I am looking forward to representing Leinster and Ireland as best as I can over the next nine months.”

London Irish really are making waves in the transfer market!

They’ve already snapped up fellow British Lion Alan Dell and Wallabies Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona.  They’ve also secured the services of Ian Keatley until the end of the season and have been heavily linked with Paddy Jackson ahead of their predicted return to the Gallagher Premiership next season.

Premiership

Bristol Looking at Uruguayan Star

Bristol Bears are set to be ready to sign another key player ahead of next season as they look to build a Premiership title challenging side

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears are looking into the possibility of signing Uruguay back-row Manuel Diana according to Americas Rugby News.

The Bears have already been active in the transfer market ahead of the 2020/21 season, securing the signatures of the likes of Semi Radradra and Kyle Sinckler, as well as Saracens’ Ben Earl on loan. 

However, they now appear to be eying up Diana, who is currently playing for Major League Rugby side Toronto Arrows. 

The regular No 8 was part of Uruguay’s Rugby World Cup squad and played in all three of their pool stage matches, including their incredible 30-27 win over Fiji, in which he scored one of his team’s tries. 

With the rugby calendar up in the air due to the coronavirus outbreak it is unknown when exactly players will be able to move from club to club, but in the case of Diana, the remainder of the MLR season has been called off so it would seem ideal for him to be signed up. 

Although, a move to Bristol would mean he would have a fight on his hands for minutes on the pitch with players such as Nathan Hughes, Stephen Luatua and Jordan Crane already on the Bears’ books. 

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Champions Cup

Exeter Ace Signs Contract Extension

Following the news that England star Harry Williams has agreed a new deal with Exeter Chiefs another star player has committed his future to the Premiership giants

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

England prop Ben Moon has put pen to paper on a new deal with Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

The eight-cap England international has agreed a new “long-term” deal that will see him remain at Sandy Park for the foreseeable future and he is delighted to be staying at his hometown club. 

“Obviously, I’m delighted. To be at one club your whole career is pretty rare these days. The fact it’s my hometown club as well, it’s brilliant, and I feel very privileged to be part of the Chiefs. Luckily for me, I’ve been part of a brilliant journey – one which I know has plenty of miles still to go. What we have achieved as a club, as a team, and as individuals, it’s taken a huge amount of work and effort, but everyone has seen the result,” he said to the club’s website. 

Moon has been with the Chiefs since his time in the academy and has managed to pick up an incredible 259 appearances for the club, notching 11 tries in that time. 

He has been part of the team since their time in the English second-tier and has helped them rise up the ranks, culminating in a Premiership crown in 2017. 

It is further good news for the current Premiership league leaders after fellow England international Harry Williams signed a contract extension with the club over the weekend as the Chiefs build toward the future.

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Premiership

Vunipola Sets Out Future Plans

There has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Billy Vunipola since Saracens relegation was confirmed, but now the man himself has set the record straight on his plans for the future

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England ace Billy Vunipola has confirmed that he hopes to remain with Saracens beyond this season despite their relegation to the Championship.

The No 8 is one of the stars of English rugby and the Saracens side that has dominated club rugby in recent seasons. However, there were questions raised about his future with Sarries, when the club were relegated from the Premiership for breaching salary cap rules. 

Although contrary to many reports Vunipola has admitted that he wants to stay with Saracens for the foreseeable future, while speaking to Jim Hamilton for RugbyPass and is even taking positives from the situation. 

“There way I see, it’s part of the journey of the club. Some boys have had to try and further their careers, as they are at the start of their careers. I’m kind of in the middle of it. Boys are in different situations, and I can understand that. They’ve got families and things to look after. From my point of view, I’m just trying to sit still and play it out, see where we end up next year,” he said. 

At 130kgs, Vunipola is one of the most powerful and explosive back-rowers in the game, but has had his fair share of injuries in recent months and years and believes that time in the Championship could actually benefit his body in the long run. 

“I can’t see a negative in it. I’ve haven’t spoken directly to the powers at the top, when it comes to England or at Sarries, as to what will happen in terms of international recognition but if there’s one positive to take out of it, is I hope that my body will take less of a battering. With no disrespect to the Championship, it will give my body a chance to heal. I don’t think they play as many games in the Championship. They don’t have Champions Cup or those big games. You (Jim Hamilton) know what it’s like, they just keep coming. I’m excited for next year. I reckon I’ll play as much as I can, try to help the team as much as possible and hopefully we’ll come straight back up,” he added. 

It remains to be seen how time in the Championship will affect his international career as he mentioned above, but when pushed on his club career he was very clear to state that he will be at Sarries next season. 

“All the reports coming out, the club have looked after me, and not just me, my family. It’s time for me to dig my heels in and scrap with the boys and hopefully come up next year. There lots of examples of clubs going down, like Northampton going down and coming up and doing well, same thing goes for Quins, so, it’s kind of a good point in our journey as a club to reset some of our goals and accelerate. Yes, I’m definitely staying,” he continued. 

It is a major boost for Saracens to know that their key man will remain loyal to their cause despite recent set-backs within the club. However, with the British and Irish Lions tour around the corner next year the hope will be that time in the second-tier doesn’t impact his chances of making the trip to South Africa

Although reports have claimed that the club are trying to set-up high profile sides such as the Springboks themselves in order to allow their test-level players to compete against the best of the best.

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