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Super Rugby

Chiefs Coach Steps Down

The Chiefs will have a new head coach for the 2020 Super Rugby season as Colin Cooper has decided to move on

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(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper will not complete the final year of his contract and will step down the club and New Zealand Rugby have confirmed.

Cooper, who has completed two of the three years on his contract will take next year to spend time with his family and has been in discussions over a release from his contract for several weeks.

Having led the Chiefs to successive quarter finals in 2018 and 2019, Cooper is happy with the time he spent with the franchise and believes that it is the right time to step aside.

“I believe the team and the club are bigger than the individual and the club comes first. With next year the start of a new World Cup cycle, I believe it is the right time to step aside. There is a good crew of players and staff here who are committed to carrying the club forward. Developing young players and coaches for the future of New Zealand rugby is something I’m very passionate about, and I’m proud and grateful to have been a part of that with the Chiefs,” he said.

He went on to thank the support he had over his two years with the club and confirmed that he will be spending some time with his family while away from the sport.

“The Chiefs and the Club are well supported by fans and sponsors, and I would like to thank them for making me feel welcome and at home in Hamilton. For now, my focus is to complete our season review, and then my priority is to spend time with my whanau, and moko who are continuing to grow,” he added.

Cooper admitted that while he is taking the time to be with his family, he will also be considering his future.

“The role of the head coach has evolved so much over the past five or six years. My passion is ‘hands-on’ on-the-field coaching, but with bigger playing numbers and more staff involved these days, I am getting taken further and further away from my passion. So, I will take some time out with my family and discuss our future,” he finished.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew was full of praise for Cooper who has been on the coaching scene for over 20 years now and hopes to see him back in the rugby circle again soon.

“Coops is a remarkable individual with great presence and mana. We know Coops to have a special talent in communicating with young men and working to bring the best out of those in his charge, and to help grow outstanding individuals on and off the field. We appreciate that he will have some decisions to make and while he will have choices in front of him, we hope his special abilities won’t be lost to New Zealand rugby,” he said.

Tew also agreed with Cooper’s timing and the way he dealt with stepping aside by allowing notice to give the club time to find a replacement.

“Next year is a post-World Cup year when there is a lot of player movement within Super Rugby and clubs are beginning the next four-year cycle. Taking that into consideration, both Colin and the Club have spoken at length over several weeks and agree that the time is right for a new coach to take the Chiefs into 2020 and beyond Being an ultimate professional and team man, Colin’s early decision was not made lightly by either him or the Club, but it has allowed us some space to recruit and plan for a smooth and successful transition,” he added.

Cooper will be a hard man to replace as he was loved by many at the club, and rugby fans will be hoping to see him back on the scene soon.

Rugby Transfer Rumours

Springbok Lock Heading Home After Six Years in France

Following a six-year stint in France one Springbok is heading back to his old stomping ground

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(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Springbok lock Juandre Kruger is returning to South Africa and the Bulls following a six-year stint in France.

The 17-cap Springbok, who made his last international appearance in 2013 before his move, is a welcome addition to the Bulls squad following the departures of Lodewyk de Jager and RG Snyman to Sale Sharks and Honda Heat respectively.

Kruger took to social media to confirm his return and is excited to be back.

“Hi Bulls family. Juandre Kruger here. It has been a while since I addressed you guys. For those who haven’t heard I am super excited to announce that I am heading back to my old stomping ground, Loftus. I have just done a deal with the Bulls and I will be joining the boys in December later this year. I am looking forward to making you proud. I’ll check you in a few months,” he said.

The 33-year-old will bring plenty of experience having previously played for the Bulls between 2008 and 2013 before heading to Racing 92 where he stayed for three-years, winning the Top 14 in his final year. He then moved on to Toulon whom he is leaving to re-join the Bulls.

The Bulls finished the Super Rugby season with eight wins out of their 16 matches in the regular season before going on to be defeated by the Hurricanes in the quarter-finals.

Kruger’s signing is the second of an impressive week for the Bulls after they announced the arrival of Scottish international Josh Strauss earlier this week. He will link-up with the squad following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Wallabies Powerhouse Set for European Switch

One of Australia’s hookers seems set for a move to Europe next season according to reports

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(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu could be on his way to Stade Francais next season according to French outlet Midi Olympique.

The report claims that the Waratahs player, who is in the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad for their upcoming campaign, has burnt his bargaining bridges with Rugby Australia following a drink-driving incident earlier this year.

That issue resulted in Latu pleading guilty to the charges and being handed suspensions both on and off the pitch. He received a four-match suspension and a $5,000 fine from Rugby Australia.

However, on the pitch Latu has been in good form and it is thought to be wanted by Heyneke Meyer at Stade Francais, who already have four Aussies in his squad in Paul Alo-Emile, Sefa Naivalu, Hughe Pyle and Tala Gray.

The Top 14 side have got three hookers on their books in Laurent Panis, Remi Bonfils and Lucas Da Silva, but the arrival of Latu would most likely become the first-choice hooker if he arrived.

Ironically if the move does come to be the 26-year-old would be joining a club that his current Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika used to manage.

Whatever happens, Latu will more than likely be heading to the World Cup in Japan with his country meaning any move away from the Waratahs would occur in November once the tournament concludes.

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Premiership

Scottish Star Signs for the Bulls

One of Scotland’s key back-rowers has left his contract a year early to join the Bulls

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland back-rower Josh Strauss will leave his contract with Sale Sharks a year early on order to join the Bulls

The 32-year-old has been at the English club for two-years since joining from Glasgow Warriors, with Sale agreeing to let him leave early having signed Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez and Mark Wilson this summer.

He had been in talks with the Warriors about a return, as well as receiving a lot of attention from French Top 14 sides, but chose the Bulls.

By signing for the Bulls, Strauss will return to his country of birth, but is far more associated with Scotland having qualified for their national side in 2015.

He made his debut for the Scots in the 2015 World Cup and has gone on to gain 22-caps for them since.

Strauss is included in Scotland’s 44-man World Cup training squad by head coach Gregor Townsend and played in all five of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures earlier this year.

However, there is no guarantee that he will make the tournament in Japan as he faces huge competition for a place on the plane with Ryan Wilson, Matt Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury, Sam Skinner and Blade Thomson are all vying for places.

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