The Brumbies captain, who has played 148 times for the club will end his twelve-year association with the club at the culmination of the Brumbies campaign.
“This was a difficult decision for me and would like to thank the Brumbies for their support throughout my time at the club,” Lealiifano said of his choice to move to Japan.
“The Brumbies mean a lot to me and my family, and they have given me so much.
“I love Canberra and the community, as it’s my home and will always hold a special place in my heart.
“The players, staff, members and supporters have been behind me every step of the way since my debut and I am grateful and thankful for their unconditional support.
“I leave with many amazing memories and friendships which I will cherish.
“The support that the Canberra public gave me and my family through a difficult time in my life will never be forgotten.
“I believe this club has a bright future under Dan and his coaching staff and look forward to following that progress.
“We still have much to play for this season as well, starting with our Quarter Final against the Sharks on Saturday evening, and I am fully focused on doing my best to help us reach the next stage.”
He subsequently won a much-publicised battle with Leukaemia to reignite his rugby career, earning a recall to the Wallabies training camp ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup in the land of the Rising Sun.
“We are sad to see Christian move on but we are very grateful to have had such a quality person at our club for so long,” Head Coach Dan McKellar commented.
“Christian has been a huge part of the Brumbies for 12 years now. His contribution both on field and off field have been enormous.
“Christian the player, has been so important for us, his fearlessness, his direction, his leadership, particularly this year. He’s grown so much as a leader in my time here, but Christian the person is what makes him who he is.
“You will not meet a more selfless person then Christian Lealiifano. To go through what he went through, and to comeback and still find time to lead and care for those around him, to be there for his teammates, he’s an incredible person.
“He should be very proud of the legacy he leaves at the Brumbies.
“We wish Christian, his family all the best for his future in Japan and beyond.”
A firm favourite with the Brumbies faithful, Lealiifano has captained the side 46 times with only George Gregan (47 caps as Captain) and Ben Mowen (51) ahead of him on the list of players to lead the team onto the field.
“Christian has been a tremendous ambassador for the club, both on and off the field, and we are sorry to see him leave,” Plus500 Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson commented.
“On behalf of the Brumbies family we wish Christian, and his family, all the best for their next adventure.”
Rob Kearney secures move to Australia
Press Release from Western Force:
Ireland’s most decorated player, Rob Kearney, has signed with the Western Force on a one-year deal.
At club level, Kearney has earned 219 caps for Leinster, playing a crucial role in establishing the provincial side as Ireland’s most successful club team, where he lifted six PRO14 titles, four European Champions Cups and a European Challenge Cup since debuting against Welsh side Ospreys back in 2005.
Kearney’s aerial prowess, strength and reliability throughout his career has seen the Dundalk-born player also earn three caps for the British and Irish Lions, which included Tours to South Africa in 2009 and a series victory against Australia in 2013.
Having conquered the European club and international landscape for over a decade, Kearney is delighted for the opportunity to ply his trade in Western Australia.
“I am delighted to be joining the Western Force for their upcoming season and excited to play with such an ambitious club who are looking to improve on this year’s campaign,” Kearney explained.
“I hope to add value both on and off the field that complements the high ambition of the club.
“I’m particularly excited to immerse myself in a new performance environment and to play both with and against some of the best players and teams in the southern hemisphere.
“I look forward to moving to Western Australia to begin building relationships with my new teammates and coaches alike and to meet the ever-growing Western Force fan base which also includes a strong Irish contingent.”
Head of rugby Matt Hodgson is excited to see the Force attract world class talent, saying it shows the potential and positive development of the club.
“Rob is a fantastic signing, but more than that he is a great person who will be able to bring a lot to WA rugby,” Hodgson stated.
“He is a player of the highest calibre that brings a wealth of experience and quality to the side.
“He also brings a winning mentality, having experienced so much success for his country and Leinster. We can’t wait for the Sea of Blue and the sizeable Irish community within WA to see him pull on the Force jersey next season.”
Kearney will join the club for pre-season later this year.
More player announcements can be expected in the coming weeks.
Rugby Australia Make Significant Cuts
Following the coronavirus pandemic rugby has been hit hard with no way of playing games and now Rugby Australia have been forced into making cuts in order to retain staff in the long-run
Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.
The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off.
In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make.
“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis. Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season. Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies test matches at some point this year. The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period,” she said.
Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay.
It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.
New Zealand Rugby Sides Facing Pay Cuts
New Zealand Rugby are preparing for the possibility of having to cut wages following the outbreak of the coronavirus
New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol has admitted that there is a possibility of pay cuts among Super Rugby sides with the league in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Over the weekend it was confirmed that Super Rugby would be suspended due to the coronavirus and there is a fear that the competition may not be completed this year.
Speaking on the situation, Nichol told Stuff that New Zealand’s five Super Rugby side are preparing for the worst.
“As it stands right now, things are kind of status quo. But we are not naive. We know there is going to be a commercial impact, we know we will have to sit around the table and work with the other stakeholders and be a part of the solution. And get things on an even keel once we understand what we are really dealing with,” he said.
There are a number of options over the remainder of the season being put forward, with only “derby matches” being played one of the possibilities.
That would mean a number of matches not being played and a loss in matchday revenue for the respective teams, but Nichol is ready for whatever happens as long as the people are looked after.
“Whatever we decide to do, it will be that kind of team approach. We know there is going to be commercial ramifications but first of all we will be doing what is right for the people,” he added.
There is no certainty over what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months, but the ramifications could be huge and Nichol finished by stating that however this ends all sides will work their hardest to make the most of a bad situation with clubs heading into the unknown at this moment in time.