Yesterday, the Ospreys announced their first new signing ahead of the 2019/20 season and it was a pretty big one.
“Ospreys Rugby are delighted to announce the signing of Gareth Anscombe.”
It’s become a common trend now for teams to announce their new signings with some form of quirky social media. Bristol and Wasps have had some crackers already this season, our favourite being the signing of Fekitoa with the Jurassic Park announcement.
Ospreys didn’t go with the ‘comical’ style video, they opted for this.
Speaking about the move west from his current Region, Cardiff Blues, Anscombe said:
“I’m delighted to have secured my future to play professional rugby in Wales and to be joining the Ospreys, I am very happy to finally be able to put pen to paper during what’s been an unsettling time and commit to staying in Wales.
“I know a lot of the boys from my time with the Wales team and they can’t speak highly enough of the spirit and ambition within the Region which really excites me. I’ve been impressed with the vision and the long term goals of the coaches and Region as a whole and I would like to thank them for supporting my dream to continue playing pro rugby in Wales and, if I am playing well enough, to play for my country.”
Dual qualified due to his Welsh mother, Anscombe headed north in 2014, linking up with Cardiff Blues, for whom he has played 76 times to date and scored 597 points, the most notable undoubtedly being the 78th minute penalty he kicked to secure a 31-30 win over Gloucester in Bilbao last year, clinching the European Rugby Challenge Cup for his team.
With 26 caps and now established as first choice for Wales in the number 10 shirt, he has played a huge part in the country’s record breaking winning run, starting seven of the nine test matches this season at outside half, including four of the five wins in the Six Nations Grand Slam success.
Rugby General Manager, Dan Griffiths said:
“The signing of Gareth is a real statement for the Ospreys. His performances at both club and international level over the last year have been standout, and have attracted the attention of a number of high profile clubs across Europe. To secure his services not only signifies the intent and ambition we have as a region, it reflects an environment and culture that players of Gareth’s calibre want to be a part of.
“His experience and character will challenge and drive the established quality and exciting young talent we have around him. To add his attacking ability and guile to our backline is an exciting prospect for Ospreys supporters.”
Head Coach, Allen Clarke, echoed those comments, highlighting that Anscombe is eagerly anticipating working with some familiar faces:
“Gareth is a player I’ve admired for a long time and I’m delighted that he has committed his future to the Ospreys. It’s not just a statement of intent, it’s adding another player of current international quality to our squad for next season, the number one player in Wales in his position.
“He’s worked closely with Matt Sherratt previously and I know that Gareth is looking forward to linking up with him again both in terms of the challenge and quality development of his game. Gareth will also add his undoubted positional and game breaking X-factor attributes to our backline and team attack. I have no doubt his drive and talent will contribute to the quality we already possess within the squad and he will become a fans favourite.
“This is a significant announcement, a signing which shows how ambitious we are to re-establish ourselves as a leading team in the PRO14.”
“I would like to thank everyone at the Blues for the last five years of continuous support. They have an incredible team of people working behind the scenes to help the boys, along with some of the best supporters around, I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me since arriving from NZ. Thanks also to a great group of boys playing at the club who welcomed me and made me feel at home from the start. I will continue to do my best for the team until the end of the season and I will leave with many happy memories of my time with the Blues.”
Anscombe is the first new face confirmed at the Ospreys for 2019/20, while new deals for Dan Evans, Cory Allen and Luke Morgan have already been announced.
Leinster Confirm 21 New Contracts but One Man Still Hasn’t Signed
Leinster have announced that a total of 21 contracts have been signed with the IRFU however, one players future is still up in the air
Following on from the announcement earlier today that Cian Healy has extended his IRFU contract until 2021, Leo Cullen has confirmed a further 20 player contracts have been agreed including already the already confirmed Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw.
“It’s a credit to the work that goes on in the schools and in the clubs that we are in a position to confirm 21 new contracts, with all but three coming through the system here. Over the last 20 months or so we have been able to hand debuts to nine academy players and they have deserved those opportunities. And now seven players that started this season in the academy will start next season as senior players,” said Cullen.
He went on to congratulate the younger players that have come through the ranks as well as welcoming back academy graduate Cian Kelleher from Connacht.
“I’m delighted for them and indeed their families and congratulate them on their promotion. We have been very happy with what we have seen from them all in the Guinness PRO14 and in some cases in the Heineken Champions Cup and we hope that they get many more chances in a Leinster jersey in the coming years. It’s also exciting to welcome Cian Kelleher back to Leinster. We have always kept a close eye on his progress at Connacht and it’s great that we can now welcome him back to Leinster and we wish him well in what is already a very competitive position in the team,” he added.
Kelleher returns to Leinster having joined Connacht in 2016, where he scored 14 tries in 54 appearances and is delighted to be back in blue where he will be reunited with younger brother Ronan.
“I’m incredibly excited to get back to my home province this summer and get started in an unbelievable set up in Leinster. It was an opportunity too good to refuse when it came up and I can’t wait to get started and compete in an extremely competitive environment. I hope to add to the incredible success the province has had in the last couple of seasons,” Kelleher said.
All the star names from the past few seasons remain contracted to the club along with youngsters such as Ciaran Frawley, Conor O’Brien, Scott Penny and Hugh O’Sullivan.
However, the most noticeable name missing from the list is that of Ireland international full-back Kearney who is yet to agree renewal terms on his centrally funded IRFU contract. There has been plenty of speculation regarding his future especially since Sean O’Brien, who leaves for London Irish this summer, posted an apparent parting message for Kearney on his Instagram.
For now, all focus will be on Leinster’s Pro 14 final against Glasgow on Saturday but after then there is no doubt that attention will swing back to Kearney’s situation once more.
Another Leinster Player Doubtful for Pro 14 Final
Leinster could be without another player for their Pro 14 final on Saturday
O’Brien will be desperate to prove his fitness and pull on the blue jersey one last time before his summer move to London Irish.
The good news for Leinster is the timing of Josh van der Flier’s return from injury which has ensured that they are covered in the back-row either way. O’Brien will probably be battling for a place on the bench after van der Flier’s incredible performance against Munster in the semi-final over the weekend.
Only yesterday Leinster confirmed that lock Devin Toner will miss the final due to a knee injury he picked up during the match with Munster. It is hoped now that the injury will keep him out for four to six weeks meaning that he would be available for Ireland’s World Cup preparations.
However, it is expected that Scott Fardy will come in to replace Toner in the starting XV this weekend.
Elsewhere, Rob Kearney suffered a head injury during the final with Saracens, but he has gone through the return to play protocols and has retaken his place on the field.
While it is also expected that captain Johnny Sexton will also return to the starting XV having played well after coming off the bench against Munster.
Leinster and Ireland Star Signs New Contract
One of Ireland’s key men has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU
The prop is one of the country’s most consistent performers and is delighted to have the opportunity to continue representing both province and country.
“Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get. I am delighted therefore to have extended my IRFU contract and to continue to line out for Leinster. I believe that we have built something special at Leinster and with the national team and I want to contribute as best I can to both teams in what will be a hugely exciting few months and years ahead,” he said.
Healy has faced a number of serious injuries over the years but has thanked everyone at club and national level for their support and looks forward to the future with both.
“There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury but the support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters and it’s something that I won’t forget. It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team. I hope to play my part in helping Leinster and Ireland achieve further success over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in that journey,” he added.
Having been capped by Ireland 88 times since his debut in 2009 and holding 207 Leinster caps to his name already Healy is almost ever-present and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora paid tribute to his consistency.
“Cian is performing at a very high level week in and week out. He works incredibly hard in ensuring that he is physically in the best condition to perform and has bounced back from adversity to return to the top of the international and club game. He will continue to be a leading performer for Ireland and Leinster over the coming years,” he said.
Healy has represented Ireland at two World Cups (2011 and 2015) and will be hoping to be heading to a third in Japan later this year, he also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2013.
As well as that Healy has a host of winner’s medals to his name with three Six Nations Championships in the bag for Ireland, while with Leinster he has won four European Cups, three Guinness Pro titles and a Challenge Cup.
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