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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.

Super Rugby

Roberts to leave Dragons & join Aussie Super Rugby franchise

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Dragons Rugby can today announce that centre Jamie Roberts will leave the region for personal reasons at the end of this month.

Roberts joined the Men of Gwent in August 2020 and has made 23 appearances in all competitions, scoring five tries.

The Wales and British & Irish Lions ace has been granted early release from his contract to move to Australia to join his Sydney-born partner, who is expecting their second child in March.

Dean Ryan, Director of Dragons Rugby, said: “We thank Jamie for his time at Dragons and the support he has given us; helping stabilise the environment and encouraging youngsters to come through.

“We fully support what has been a difficult decision for him to make. We wish him a safe trip over to Australia and look forward to welcoming him and his family back to Rodney Parade in the years to come.”

Roberts has thanked the region for understanding his request to move overseas and paid tribute to the Rodney Parade supporters for their support during his time at Dragons.

“It is with a heavy heart that I’m leaving the Dragons at the end of the month. I’d like to personally thank Dean for understanding my personal circumstances,” he said.

“As my Sydney-born partner is expecting our second child in March, we feel the best decision for our family is to be surrounded by her support network in Sydney during this period.

“Although it’ll be difficult leaving, I do so with many fond memories,” he added. 

“As well as enjoying wearing the jersey and playing, I’ve taken great satisfaction in supporting and witnessing the growth and development of many younger players in the squad, many of whom are no doubt destined for success in the game.

“It’s been great fun playing back at Rodney Parade, where my parents took me as a young lad growing up to watch the Black and Ambers. 

“Although supporters haven’t been able to attend as much as they’d have liked, for obvious reasons, I’d like to thank them for their support. 

“The club is nothing without its supporters, and I hope that moving forwards, the playing group can give fans lots to cheer about from the terraces.

“I wish the coaching and playing group nothing but the very best moving forward.”

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International

Leicester confirm signing of Springbok

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers will welcome World Cup-winning fly-half Handré Pollard to the club ahead of the 2022/23 season. 

The South Africa international will make the move to Leicester from French club Montpellier.

The 27-year-old has been capped on 60 occasions by the Springboks since making his Test debut against Scotland in 2014 while still a member of the South Africa Under-20s squad.

Pollard played youth rugby for Western Province, in Cape Town, while attending Paarl Gimnasium School and was selected for South Africa Schoolboys in 2012.

That same year, Pollard was selected for the Junior Springboks as an 18-year-old and remained in the squad for three successive seasons, captaining the age-grade national side in his final year. 

In 2013, Pollard moved to the University of Pretoria and represented UP Tuks while also making his provincial debut for the Blue Bulls in South Africa’s Currie Cup competition.

His Super Rugby debut followed in 2014 for the Bulls, who he would represent for the next five seasons, as well as a lone campaign for Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in 2015/16. 

After playing in South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup win, Pollard joined current club Montpellier. 

An accomplished goal-kicker, he has registered more than 600 points for the Springboks at an average of more than 10 points per Test.

He represented the Barbarians in 2018 and recently shared in South Africa’s series win over the British & Irish Lions.

Speaking about the addition of Pollard to the Leicester Tigers squad for next season, Head Coach Steve Borthwick said: “Handré is a world-class fly-half who brings with him a wealth of experience from Super Rugby, Top14 and international rugby.

“He is a World Cup winner who has been highly sought-after from clubs all over the globe. But, most pleasingly, he sees Leicester Tigers as the club for him.

“What has impressed me most in our dealings with him has been his desire to be a part of what we are building at this club but also his desire to develop, learn and grow as a player and person.

“This is a very exciting signing for the club and one I hope Leicester Tigers fans are excited about.”

Discussing his decision to join Leicester Tigers, Pollard said: “I am excited to join Leicester Tigers, to be a part of this great group of players at a special club and challenge myself, test my limits and be the very best I can be for the team.

“The club is going brilliantly at the moment and I know there is an expectation to continue that, to keep getting better because getting to the top is hard but staying there is even harder.

“There are bigger deals on the table, but I’ve made this decision to work with Steve [Borthwick] and to be a part of an unreal, great club at Leicester Tigers which has such a great history,” he added.

The Springboks fly-half also spoke of his excitement ahead of playing at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

“I don’t know the whole history of Leicester Tigers, but this is a club that is so well renowned worldwide,” he said.

“Everybody I have spoken to about playing there, for Tigers or an away team, say it’s the one stadium that is on another level.”

Pollard will link up with his new Leicester Tigers team-mates at the conclusion of international commitments ahead of the 2022/23 season.

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Super Rugby

Larkham To Return To Brumbies

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Picture Credit: Brumbies Rugby

Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham will return to the club as head coach for the 2023 and 2024 Super Rugby Pacific seasons.

Brumby 13, Larkham played 116 times in ACT colours from 1996 to 2007, winning two Super Rugby titles, and joined the club’s coaching staff in 2011.

Larkham began his first stint as head coach in 2014 alongside current assistant coach Laurie Fisher, becoming head coach in 2015 before departing after the 2017 season to take up a full-time role with the Wallabies.

The Rugby World Cup winner will continue in his coaching role at Munster in Ireland for the remainder of their season and will return to the Brumbies in July with Dan McKellar joining the Wallabies full-time at the end of the 2022 season.

Brumby 13, Stephen Larkham said: “It’s exciting to know I’ll be returning home to the Brumbies and to Canberra with my family after finishing up my time in Ireland.”

“Playing for the Brumbies as a Canberra local was obviously a special time in my life and the club were very supportive in my transition into coaching so I want to thank Phil (Thomson, CEO) and the Brumbies board for giving me this opportunity to come back and represent the club again as head coach.

“I’ve developed and learnt a lot both as a person and as a coach in these past couple of years, and I’m looking forward to bringing that experience back to the Brumbies to ensure their continued success.

“Moving forward for this season, I’ll be supporting the Brumbies as always from here in Ireland but my only focus now is on finishing off my time with Munster on a high.”

Brumbies CEO, Phil Thomson said: “This is a very good appointment for the Brumbies, and we’re delighted to be able to bring Stephen home to the club which he has served so well as a player and as a coach.”

“Stephen has been integral in the Brumbies history and while it will be difficult to replace Dan, having Stephen re-join to continue on his exceptional work over these past four seasons, five at the end of 2022, is fantastic for the team and the club.

“Through the recruitment process, Stephen proved to be the strongest candidate, and his appointment gives us an opportunity to continue the progress we have made on the field, and what we can add to that in 2022.

“Making this appointment now puts us in a position where we have certainty for the players, and it is also important that we have continuity and stability for our existing staff and the organisation moving forward.

“With this process now completed, the team and organisation can now fully focus on the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.”

Source – Super Rugby

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