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.
PREVIEW: Munster V Connacht
The Westerners were narrowly defeated by the Southern province, 20-17, in the side’s last meeting in March in a keenly contested interprovincial derby.
Despite the loss, Friend says there were plenty positives to take from the performance — which he described as smart — and he says applying those traits to Friday evening’s game will be crucial to any win.
“What we brought in that game at Thomond, more so in the game here(the December meeting of the team’s at the Sportsground), was that we defensively muscled up against them,” the Australian said.
“I thought our line out worked really well against them, in both attack and defence, and I thought we played a smart brand of Rugby, in terms of what we were doing with the ball, whether we were kicking it long or kicking for contestables. They were key areas that I felt worked for us and we have to make sure we replicate that and some on Friday night.”
Friend, meanwhile, paid tribute to Quinn Roux after the Irish international announced he will leave the province at the end of the season after seven years in Connacht green.
While the second row will be missed, the head coach wished him the best of luck for the future and thanked him for his service.
“He’s given an enormous amount to this province,” the former Australian sevens coach said.
“He leaves with our blessing and our respect. We would love to keep him, of course we would, but at the end of the day, people make decisions. It was a lengthy process we went through and a decision was made at the end.
“We have already begun the process of recruiting a new second row and we will obviously make an announcement about that in due course.”
Elsewhere, second row Gavin Thornbury says that Friday’s renewal of rivalries with Munster will provide players the opportunity to put their hands up for international selection with the Irish national team.
Ireland recently announced summer tests against the USA and Japan in Dublin and Thornbury says that competing against other players in the fold for national team squad berths will give him — and every other eligible player — the platform to showcase their abilities and further their international ambitions.
“They are always big,” the 27-year-old said of the interprovincial clash.
“Every time an interpro is played, It’s played fully and 100%, no matter who is playing. It’s another chance to put yourself in the shop window. All I can do is make sure I get myself as mentally and physically in as good a position as possible to put in a performance on Friday. I’m looking forward to that.”
Irish line out coach Paul O’Connell attended Connacht training last week and Thornbury said it was a great opportunity to show a member of the national team coaching staff their qualities close up.
“It was good to get him down and show him what we’re doing here,” he said.
“He would have always been someone I looked up to, so it was nice to meet him and introduce myself and just have a conversation with him. We had a good conversation and I was pretty happy with that. Hopefully, now I just back it up with performances and that’s probably the biggest thing.”
Thornbury, who joined the Westerners in 2017 from Leinster, was superb in the last game between the teams, a 20-17 home win for Munster in March, and he said he is keen to make a similar impression on Friday and help the team go one better and claim a win.
“Yeah, it was good,” the Dublin native said when asked how he would assess his performance in his last trip to Thomond Park.
“I think a lot of things probably came off for me that mightn’t have come off on another night. Obviously, I was fully gutted with the result. I thought we put ourselves in a position where we could have won the game and unfortunately it didn’t come through.
“Personally, some stuff came off that I was really happy with but there’s a lot to keep working on.”
Source – Connacht Rugby By John O’Sullivan
Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Update | May 2021
It has been a busy past month for the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.
Ian Costello was appointed to the role of Academy Manager in April and will return to the province in the summer having worked in England for the past five years with Nottingham and then Wasps. See full details here.
We can confirm that former Munster player Andi Kyriacou also rejoins the province as Elite Player Development Officer (Forwards). Andi has previously coached at Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.
Ben Healy made a further two appearances for the senior side over the past month and has now featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games so far this season.
Academy trio Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips have been training with the Ireland 7s team and have been named in their squad for this weekend’s International Rugby 7s tournament. See full details here.
On the injury front, Eoin O’Connor (knee), John Hodnett (achilles), James French (hamstring), Jonathan Wren (hamstring), Cian Hurley (thumb), Scott Buckley (knee) and Thomas Ahern (knee) are continuing to rehab.
We spoke to the Academy’s Lead Physiotherapist, Shane Malone (above), for the latest update.
Current Academy crop…
“We all want to see the lads do well because we see on a daily basis how hard they work. They are exceptionally dedicated and just a really good group of characters.
“It’s great to see the nine guys [who are moving up to the senior squad next year] rewarded for their hard work and getting the opportunity to prove themselves at pro level.”
Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips involved with the Ireland 7s…
“It’s a great opportunity for guys to go up and prove themselves and gain a different skillset. They also have the opportunity to experience a different high performance environment.
“For our point of view, it’s been seamless because we have a very good relationship with the IRFU physios. We speak about the players that are involved on a weekly basis.”
Helping players to recover from long-term injuries…
“If you take John Hodnett’s injury as an example, the surgery on an Achilles rupture happens within a few days. Obviously with a severe injury like that you want to get as good a start as possible to get him back playing rugby as quickly and safely as possible.
“We gave John a bit of time away from the HPC to recuperate afterwards and leave everything settle down but we’re involved from day dot where we ring him at home to make sure he’s doing all the swelling management and all the acute care correctly.
“When he came back in here, it was full throttle from then on.
“It’s another opportunity for guys when they are injured to concentrate on other areas and John is developing his upper and lower body and he’s flying with that.
“He’s a young player so all that rehab and all that strength work is going to stand to him later in his career.”
Working with the sub-Academy players…
“Myself and Lorcan Kavanagh are the Academy physios. Lorcan also works with the sub-Academy/National Talent Squad group so we look after them if they pick up injuries.
“Academy staff look after how the sub-Academy players are developing from an athletic development point of view and also an injury prevention point of view as well.
“By the time lads get into the Academy, we usually have a very good idea of where they’re at and what they need to work on. It’s a real advantage for us to have that information as opposed to starting from scratch when they join the Academy, it’s really important.”
Greencore Munster Rugby Academy
Fifteen players commenced the 2020/21 season with two additional players, Cian Hurley and Conor Phillips, joining in January 2021. See the full Academy squad here.
Nine players from the current group will advance to senior contracts ahead of the 2021/22 season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Jake Flannery, James French, Seán French, Ben Healy, John Hodnett and Josh Wycherley.
Eoghan Clarke has completed his time with the academy and linked up with Championship side Jersey Reds at the end of March.
Seven academy players made their Guinness PRO14 debuts this season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Seán French, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen and Josh Wycherley. Young prop Wycherley also made his Champions Cup debut this season.
Out-half Ben Healy leads the way with senior appearances on the Academy front this season having featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games, scoring 77 points.
66% – The future continues to be bright with an expected highest representation of academy graduates in over eight years in the squad next season.
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
O’Brien and Doris back training ahead of Ulster test
Both Jimmy O’Brien (hamstring) and Caelan Doris (calf) hope to resume full training this week after recovering from their respective injuries and, provided all goes well, both hope to be available for selection for Friday’s game.
Jamison Gibson-Park will continue to be managed this week with his hamstring injury while Jack Conan, who went off for a Head Injury Assessment against Connacht Rugby, will follow the Graduated Return to Play Protocols this week.
Unfortunately, Ciarán Frawley injured his shoulder and his hamstring against Connacht Rugby and will be unavailable for selection this week with further assessment required on his injuries.
There was no new update on a number of players: Rhys Ruddock (calf), Harry Byrne (hamstring), Johnny Sexton (concussion), Will Connors (knee), Jack Dunne (ankle), Adam Byrne (quad), Dan Leavy (knee), Conor O’Brien (knee) and Max Deegan (knee)
Images & Content from Leinster Rugby
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PREVIEW: Munster V Connacht
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