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​Edinburgh confirm signing of Exeter lock

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Edinburgh Rugby today confirmed the signing of European Champions Cup and two-time English Premiership winning Exeter Chiefs and Scotland lock Sam Skinner.

Skinner – who will join the capital club next season – has started nine of his 15 Test caps to date since he burst on to the scene with a player of the match winning international debut against Fiji at BT Murrayfield in 2018.

The signing provides Edinburgh Rugby with a significant boost ahead of the upcoming 1872 Cup derbies – with the first leg hosted at Scotstoun this coming Monday 27 December – and sees the capital club continue its business for next season, with up-and-coming Scotland locks Jamie Hodgson and Marshall Sykes both putting pen-to-paper on new deals in the past week.

Skinner, said: “I’m massively excited to make the move north next season. The URC is an extremely competitive league and I’m really looking forward to testing myself in a new environment with a great group of lads.

“I want to challenge myself and grow as a player and Edinburgh is the perfect place to do that. I can’t wait to get stuck in, help the club to success while really experiencing Edinburgh and Scotland.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Mike [Blair]. I obviously worked with him for a period of time at Scotland and I like how he communicates and connects with players, while motivating them at the same time. He has Edinburgh playing an exciting brand of rugby and I believe it will suit my own playing style too.

​“Having spoken to a lot of the boys at Scotland, there seems to be a really strong culture at the club, while it’s an exciting time with the new stadium, which I’ve heard has been fantastic so far with a brilliant atmosphere.”Sam Skinner

“I can’t wait to get started next season. It’s such an exciting time for Edinburgh Rugby and I’m really looking forward to being part of the journey moving forward.”

A product of Torquay Boys’ Grammar School, Skinner finished his secondary studies in 2013 and set his sights on travelling the world on a gap year but a late growth spell encouraged him to give rugby one last go.

Skinner featured for National League Two South side Taunton Titans in 2014 – a period in which he was involved in the then Scottish Exiles (now Scottish Qualified) programme – before he was picked up by the Chiefs in the 2014/15 season.

He then became an increasingly prominent part of the Exeter squad that won the English Premiership title in 2017 and 2020 (runners-up in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021), completing the double with European Champions Cup glory in 2020.

As well as being part of the Exeter Chiefs squad, Skinner has, for the last few years, combined his work at Sandy Park with that of studying for a degree at the University of Exeter – whom he captained to BUCS Championship success in 2016 – with the lock recently achieving a first in business and economics.

A Scotland debutant against Fiji in 2018, Skinner – who is equally adept in the back-row – has featured in a plethora of memorable games for the national side, including the 38-38 draw at Twickenham in 2019 and the 2021 win over France in Paris, the team’s first such result since 1999.

Head Coach Mike Blair, added: “We’re absolutely delighted to secure the signature of a player of Sam’s quality and reputation. His signing really adds to what we’re building at the club and I’ve got no doubt supporters will enjoy watching him pull on the Edinburgh jersey at DAM Health Stadium.

“He is a proven winner, while at 26-years-old he still has plenty of years ahead of him to develop and grow as a player.

“I’ve obviously worked with Sam during my time with the national team, so I’ve seen first-hand how dedicated he is to his craft, while his leadership and experience will bring added strength and depth to what is an already exciting forward pack.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming Sam to the club next season and I’m sure he’ll be relishing a new and exciting challenge at Edinburgh Rugby.”

Source – Edinburgh Rugby

Premiership

Steve Diamond to become Director of Rugby at Worcester Warriors

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Steve Diamond will become Warriors Director of Rugby from the end of this season on a two-year contract.

Diamond was appointed Lead Rugby Consultant in November and he will continue in that capacity for the remainder of this season before succeeding Alan Solomons as Director of Rugby when Solomons retires from coaching at the end of June.

Diamond will take charge of the rugby programme immediately with Solomons providing support as needed.

“Having taken the time to work with Steve in his role as a Lead Rugby Consultant it was the logical decision to offer him the role as Director of Rugby for the next two seasons,” said Warriors co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham.

“Steve is an experienced and proven Director of Rugby with the qualities needed to take the club to the next level and achieve our ambitions of competing at the top end of the Premiership.

“We have invested a great deal into ensuring we have all the right ingredients for the club to reach its full potential.

“We have unwavering confidence in the strength of the players and the ability of the club to achieve that goal. We will continue to do everything we can to achieve it.

“Alan has built an excellent platform for Steve to take things to the next level and achieve the full potential this club has to offer.

“Alan arrived in a consultancy role four years ago and his recruitment philosophy to develop and invest in a core of home-grown Worcester players and supplement them with x-factor talent has led to the development and retention of an exciting group of young players with more now coming through behind them in the academy.”

In addition to Diamond succeeding Solomons, Warriors can confirm that Head Coach Jonathan Thomas has departed the club with immediate effect.

“Jonathan has given his all to the club. We appreciate everything he’s done in his time at Warriors both as a player and a coach and we wish him all the very best in his future ventures,” said Goldring and Whittingham.

Diamond, who played more than 350 games for Sale in a career that spanned the amateur and professional eras, has a proven track record as a coach with Sale, Saracens and the Russia national team.

He re-joined Sale in 2011, initially as Director of Sport before being appointed Director of Rugby the following year.

Sale won the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2019/20, Diamond’s last full season in charge at the AJ Bell Stadium and they also qualified for the Heineken Champions Cup five times.

Diamond is now looking forward to taking charge at Sixways and helping Warriors to become similarly competitive.

“We have a really exciting challenge in front of us and it’s one that I am relishing,” Diamond said.

“We have enthusiastic owners who have ambitions for the club to be established in the top six of the Gallagher Premiership and playing in the Heineken Champions Cup.

“Clearly we are not where we would like to be at the moment as a club. To achieve our ambitions, our results need to improve and changes need to be made. A key part of my role will be the recruitment of players and staff.

“Worcester is a hotbed of rugby with a fantastic core group of supporters. We want to grow that supporter base and give the city, county and region a successful and sustainable Premiership club that everyone can be proud of.”

Images & Content from Worcester Warriors

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Premiership

Bath loan English International star from Rivals

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Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Nathan Hughes will join Bath Rugby on a loan agreement with immediate effect.

The No. 8 makes the switch to the Recreation Ground on a short-term deal, although Bears have a call-back option if required.

Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “It’s important for Nate to get some regular quality game-time at this stage of the season to enable to get back to his best rugby.  This is a great opportunity for him and one that suits all parties with our neighbours Bath short of back row options at present.

“Although Nathan has missed out on selection in recent weeks, his attitude and commitment around the environment has been outstanding as he’s played his part in ensuring the team continues to grow and improve on and off the field. I will stay in close dialogue with him over the loan period as he could still play an important part in our season.”

Hughes will not be eligible to play in the Gallagher Premiership fixture between the sides on Saturday, March 5 (3pm KO).

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Premiership Rugby sign new deal with ITV

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Premiership Rugby and ITV can today announce a game-changing new partnership to show, free-to-air, live Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches and a weekly highlights programme up until the end of the 2023-24 season.

This season four Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches will be shown on ITV, in addition to the Final which is on ITV4.

The coverage kicks off with Sale Sharks taking on Leicester Tigers on Sunday 30 January at 3pm, with the highlights show starting that evening. Furthermore, for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons there will be seven live games on ITV, also including the Final.

  • All live matches will be simulcast on ITV and BT Sport, who will continue with their comprehensive coverage across the whole season, showing live matches every weekend.
  • The new partnership means that the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final, at Twickenham Stadium on 18 June, will be shown free-to-air for the first time in the competition’s history.
  • As part of the ITV partnership, there will be a weekly highlights show on ITV4 and repeated on ITV, presented by David Flatman and Topsy Ojo.

New Premiership Rugby Chief Executive Simon Massie-Taylor said: “The return of Gallagher Premiership Rugby to terrestrial TV is the perfect way for us to kick off 2022. It’s great news for the league, our clubs, the supporters and the profile of rugby in England.

“Our ambition is to grow the game and make Gallagher Premiership Rugby available to as many people as possible. BT Sport have done an amazing job in building the core Premiership Rugby TV audience and the ITV partnership allows us to expand our reach into the households of millions of other rugby fans. This season our average match audience on BT Sport has risen 30% year on year, which shows the potential.”

Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted to announce this deal to bring regular free-to-air coverage of top-level club rugby to viewers across ITV’s platforms. It has been a pleasure working with BT Sport and our partners at Premiership Rugby in agreeing this deal and we look forward to showcasing the action and the stories from this elite league over the coming years.”

Massie-Taylor added: “We also want to make the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022 the most-watched in our history and we believe we can achieve that with the match screened on both ITV4 and BT Sport. A phenomenal proposition for English club rugby’s showpiece occasion.”

“We are delighted to have five games, rising to seven next season, live on ITV but it is also crucial for us to have a weekly highlights programme that is accessible to millions of people. This will allow us to showcase the best of Gallagher Premiership Rugby to the widest possible audience. The highlights show gives a significant, regular presence with a broadcaster that will also show the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup 2023.

“With another highly competitive and exciting season, we have seen significant growth in our audiences on BT Sport this season and we see a big opportunity to bring this amazing rugby product to new fans, drive attendances and continue to grow the game.”

In the last round of Gallagher Premiership Rugby on BT Sport we saw:

  • Our highest ever Friday night average audience –252,000 for Bristol Bears v Sale Sharks (peak: 346,000)
  • Our highest ever regular season Saturday average audience on BT Sport – 300,000 for Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs (peak: 374,000)
  • Our second-highest audience ever for a three-game weekend (only eclipsed by Round 10 earlier this season).
  • After 38 matches on BT Sport so far this season the total peak cumulative audience is 9.6 million

The deal further enhances ITV’s portfolio of world-class sports rights, which includes exclusive live coverage of the England men’s and England women’s football team, the FA Cup, the Six Nations, the Rugby World Cup, horse racing and the Tour de France.

Source – Exeter Chiefs Rugby

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