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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Cardiff Confirm Contract Extension of Star Player

Cardiff Blues have been able to seal the services of a key squad member for another season

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nick Williams has been able to remain with the Cardiff Blues for another season after a meeting with the PRB/RMB.

It was feared in recent weeks that the No 8 would be unable to continue his stay with the club as the Welsh Rugby Union blocked his extension, but it seems as though common ground has been found.

Since his arrival in 2016 from Ulster, the 35-year-old has become one of the most influential players on the team and Cardiff Blues’ chief executive Richard Holland is delighted that he is staying on.

“We are thrilled to be able to retain the services of Nick, a player who has become such a key figure within our environment. Anyone who has watched Cardiff Blues this season, and most recently Judgement Day, will have seen he is still producing the goods on the pitch but on top of that, he brings an enormous cultural benefit to the entire environment. He will now continue to play a key role in mentoring and developing young Welsh talent,” he said.

As Holland mentions one of the terms of his extension is that he will help with the development of younger players in the squad and Holland hopes that this could see a long-term position open up for Williams.

“We would like to thank PRB for their support throughout the process, which has culminated with a positive outcome for Cardiff Blues and our strategy to develop young talent from within, which is ultimately for the betterment of Welsh rugby as a whole. Nick embodies all of the values we want at Cardiff Blues and this mentoring role has the potential to become something more long-term,” he added.

Williams, who has settled in Barry with his family had previously spoken of his love for the area and his desire to remain in Wales and is excited that he can continue with the club.

“I’m very happy and blessed to be able to go again. I spoke to my family and they were all supportive, so I told John in November-time that I was keen to stick around. The body feels fresh, mentally I feel good and it all seems to be working for us so I’m happy to get another year. After winning the Challenge Cup I thought it was a good way to go out but I didn’t really think about what I could give back to rugby, particularly in regards to bringing young guys through. I have a good relationship with the boys. I’m a bit more kicked back and relaxed compared to some of the other boys. I like to lead with action and hopefully the boys follow,” he said.

Williams is also excited with his role in aiding with the development of younger players and has promised to give his all for the region.

“I really rate the young boys in the squad. We have a good group, who have come through together and are very tight. Hopefully I can help them develop and if they stick together the future is really bright both for Cardiff Blues and the individuals. I also like to think I’ve also been playing some decent rugby. We have a recipe here that works. Cardiff Blues look after me through the week and I pay them back by giving 110 per cent on the weekend. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to keep playing here,” he added.

The No 8, who has scored 12 tries in 66 appearances, is as good in defence as he is in attack and head coach John Mulvihill is happy that he will have his presence on and off the pitch next season.

“It is great to keep Nick at the Arms Park. He brings a physical presence every time he takes the field and still has a huge amount to offer. Off the pitch he is an invaluable mentor to the likes of Jim Botham, Alun Lawrence and Shane Lewis-Hughes. We have further announcements to make in the coming weeks and will continue to strengthen our squad where possible,” he said.

The Welsh outfit have been working well to keep players at the club as well as Williams with other star men Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Rhys Gill and Willis Halaholo all signing new deals. Along with them are the new signings of Welsh duo Hallam Amos and Josh Adams, all of which makes the Blues an exciting prospect already for next season.

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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Former England Hooker Heading to Jersey

One of England’s former stars has confirmed that he will be joining the coaching set up of the Jersey Reds at the end of the current campaign

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Former England hooker Rob Webber is heading to the Jersey Reds at the end of the current campaign as the side’s forwards coach.

The current Sale Sharks star will take over from Neil Tunnah, who is leaving after three years at the club and he is delighted to be starting a new chapter in the sport. 

“I am really excited about moving to Jersey and joining The Reds’ coaching team. It’s a great opportunity for me and my family as I set out on the next phase of my career. It is an exciting squad that Harvey and the guys are putting together and I look forward to contributing to helping the lads push on. I’d like to thank Harvey and (Reds Chairman) Mark Morgan for giving me the opportunity,” he said on the move. 

The 16-cap England international will link-up with former team-mate Harvey Biljon, the club’s director of rugby and Biljon welcomed Webber, admitting he stood out among a list of strong candidates. 

‘We’ve spoken to some very high-quality individuals about the role, but Rob stood out and I’ve had a lot of positive endorsements from people I respect. He knows the game and is very articulate and I believe his character will really transmit itself to the others he’ll be working with. There’s a lot of excitement about Rob’s arrival and it will be great to have him working in harness with (Assistant Coach) Ed Robinson – two really promising young English coaches,” he said. 

The 33-year-old will bring a vast amount of experience to the team after announcing he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season. 

During a career spanning 17 years, he has represented Leeds Tykes, Wasps, Bath and Sale  as well as England which has seen him compete and be successful in European and domestic competition as well as playing in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Saracens Facing Fight to Keep Vunipola Brothers

England star duo Mako and Billy Vunipola are looking at their options for next season and considering leaving Saracens according to reports

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Saracens could be without both Mako and Billy Vunipola next season as the pair are being chased by a number of Super Rugby franchises according to a report in the NZ Herald.

The report states that the brothers may have already held talks with some of the Super Rugby sides as they consider their options following Saracens relegation to the Championship for a breach of salary cap regulations. 

Both are in the final year of their current contract with Sarries and having forged their names at the club they have gone on to become two of England’s key men. 

With Mako at 29, and Billy 27, the pair are in their prime and may not like the thought of playing against weaker sides in the English second-tier next season, despite talks of Saracens organising “bigger” matches against teams outside the league, including the possibility of a game with the Springboks to keep their stars at their best. 

As well as possibly not being attracted to facing weaker opponents on a weekly basis the brothers will be aware that they will need to put their best foot forward at the highest level next year in order to make it into the British and Irish Lions squad for their tour of South Africa. 

They wouldn’t be the first Englishmen to head down south in recent times with fellow England international Joe Marchant on the books at the Blues this year. 

It would be a massive coup for the competition if they chose to head to Super Rugby, with fears that interest is lowering lately due to the number of key southern hemisphere players heading elsewhere for more luxurious contracts, but we will have to wait and see what develops over the coming months.

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International

Skelton Set for Summer Move from Saracens

Australian second-row ace Will Skelton looks set for a move away from Saracens this summer, but Rugby Australia won’t be happy with his choice of destination according to reports

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(Photo credit GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia appear set to miss out on bringing Will Skelton back to Australia once again with a move to France looking imminent according to reports.

The giant second-row has been a target for Rugby Australia since before last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, but he decided to remain in England with Saracens ruling him out of contention to feature for the Wallabies due to their overseas laws. 

However, they took another shot at getting his signature once Saracens salary cap scandal unfolded, believing it was the perfect opportunity to bring him home. 

Talks took place with the 27-year-old but reports in France are now claiming that a deal with French Top 14 side La Rochelle will be confirmed shortly. 

It would be another big-money move for the lock, but once more he would be unable to represent his country as he falls well short of the 60-caps needed for an overseas player to be eligible to be called-up. 

Failing to tie-down a star name like Skelton again would be a major blow for Rugby Australia and may cause them to consider altering their current rules around the Giteau Law as they are missing out on being able to select some of their best players because of it.

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