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Super Rugby

Gatland Named Chiefs Head Coach

Less than 24 hours after it was announced that Colin Cooper would leave the club Warren Gatland has been confirmed as their new main man

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has been announced as the new head coach of New Zealand Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs.

The club confirmed on Friday that Gatland, who takes over from Colin Cooper, has signed a four-year deal which will begin following the conclusion of this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Gatland previously managed Waikato Rugby Union and was a technical advisor at the Chiefs before his move to the international stage. The Six Nations most successful coach with four titles including an incredible three Grand Slams is delighted to have returned to home soil.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to come back home. The opportunity to come back as head coach of the Chiefs is something that I am really looking forward to. The Chiefs are well known for the success they have had both on and off the field and the really loyal support they have from everyone within the Chiefs region. I’m excited to come back and be a part of the Chiefs community with the players, the fans, the sponsors, it’s something I really look forward to,” he said.

As well as all his Welsh success Gatland has also coached the British & Irish Lions in both Australia and New Zealand, securing a series win and draw respectively.

It was confirmed earlier this year that Gatland will lead the Lions on their 2021 tour of South Africa and his deal with the Chiefs accounts for a period of leave to accompany this.

New Zealand Rugby’s head of professional rugby believes that the signing of Gatland is exciting for New Zealand Rugby as a whole.

“This is an outstanding appointment and a coup for the Chiefs, for Super Rugby and for the game in New Zealand generally. We are excited to have a coach of Warren’s experience and international standing coming back into our environment,” he said.

Meanwhile Chiefs CEO Michael Collins is excited about the prospect of Gatland’s return, insisting he can build on the foundations left by Cooper.

“Warren is a world-class coach who boasts a proven track record. With a sound rugby background and his desire to return home to New Zealand and be involved in Super Rugby naturally made him a top choice for the role. Like Warren, we are excited for his return to the Chiefs environment. He will continue to build on the work Colin Cooper and his team management have achieved in maintaining a sustainable high-performance environment for the club,” he said.

Gatland is also set to manage the Barbarians in a November test against current side Wales upon their return from the World Cup.

The question that many fans will wonder is if this is the final step before Gatland takes the reins at the All Blacks in a move that has been hinted at for some time, but we will have to wait and see.

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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