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Premiership

Confirmed by Leinster. Sean O’Brien to join London Irish

Leinster have confirmed the news.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland and Leinster back row Sean O’Brien is set to join London Irish after the World Cup this year.

Leinster today confirmed that the 31-year-old O’Brien will move to Declan Kidney’s side later on this year. O’Brien is currently on a central IRFU contract.

O’Brien turns 32-years-old later this month and is now entering the latter stages of his career. As a result, the union were unwilling to hand him a new long-term deal.

London Irish are believed to have made Leinster an offer of around
€ 400 000 per season which is similar to what he currently gets.

Reports state that O’Brien’s current status will not have any impact upon his status as part of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad which will participate at the World Cup.

Previously O’Brien has been part of two British and Lions tours. These came in 2013 and 2017 and he started all three Tests against New Zealand during the latter trip.

Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie this morning, Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen said,

“Seán has been a key driver of Leinster Rugby’s success over the last ten years and played a pivotal role in our four Heineken Cup-winning seasons.

“He has not only been a world class player on the field, but has also made an incredible impact in growing the game all over the province. He has also been a model professional and a shining example to our young and Academy players.

“As a teammate, Seán was the sort of competitor you always wanted beside you. He is the kind of player who gives you the confidence that anything is possible – nothing fazes him and he always led from the front.

“Everyone at Leinster wishes only the very best for Seánie in his future as he embarks on a new challenge. We will all miss him greatly, but his legacy here will live on as he has influenced so many of us in such a positive way.

“For now, we hope to finish this season strongly and, after his disappointment of missing out on a number of big games last season through injury, we hope Seán can play a major part in Leinster’s push for silverware in two competitions this season.”

For his part O’Brien said, “This is one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I have played all my rugby in Ireland.

“With Tullow, with Leinster and with Ireland and to move from the place I call home and that I love so much, was not easy.

“That being said, I feel that the time has come to explore other opportunities, to challenge myself at a new environment, in a new city, with a new club and against different players and teams on a weekly basis. London Irish and what they are about is a club that I feel I can grow with and also contribute to and I feel that they have a set up and an ethos that will make me feel at home.

“For me and the time I have left here in Ireland, I want to stay fit and healthy and finish out the season with a strong Six Nations with Ireland and then turn my attention to Leinster and hopefully a seat on the plane to Japan.

“Thanks to my family, friends and my girlfriend Sarah for their unbelievable support in making this decision and of course the fans for all the support I’ve received over the past 13 years. I am looking forward to representing Leinster and Ireland as best as I can over the next nine months.”

London Irish really are making waves in the transfer market!

They’ve already snapped up fellow British Lion Alan Dell and Wallabies Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona.  They’ve also secured the services of Ian Keatley until the end of the season and have been heavily linked with Paddy Jackson ahead of their predicted return to the Gallagher Premiership next season.

Premiership

Wasps sign Munster & Edinburgh players short-term loan deals

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Wasps are delighted to announce that Alex McHenry and Patrick Harrison have joined the Club on short-term deals from United Rugby Championship sides Munster Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby respectively.  

McHenry, a 24-year-old centre, will provide cover for Malakai Fekitoa while he is out with a shoulder injury, while Harrison will provide vital cover at hooker with Gabriel Oghre unavailable.

The 6ft 2in Irishman McHenry, came through the Munster Academy and was capped by Ireland U20 in 2017. McHenry also featured for the Ireland 7s side during the following season. The Christian Brothers College product captained Munster U19s in 2015.

19-year-old Harrison, made his Edinburgh debut against Dragons at the Principality Stadium in March 2020 at the age of 18, becoming the youngest hooker in the club’s history.

That day, he also became the third youngest debutant in PRO14 history – and Edinburgh’s fourth youngest debutant of all time. Harrison made his first start for the Scottish side in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash against Ulster in June 2021.

Wasps Men’s Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “We are delighted to bring Alex and Paddy on board. They will provide vital cover for us, while we are without a number of first team squad players.”  

McHenry added: “I am delighted to get the opportunity to play in the Gallagher Premiership.

“Wasps play a great brand of rugby and I’m looking forward to playing my part in that.”

Harrison said: “I am excited to come down and play some rugby in the English Premiership.

“Wasps are a famous Club, and it is an honour to have joined them.”

Tickets are available for our next Gallagher Premiership home games online by clicking here or by calling the Wasps Ticket Office on 02476 786 411.

Source – Wasps Rugby

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Thomas Young leaving Wasps for Wales

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(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Cardiff Rugby are thrilled to secure the services of Wales flanker Thomas Young on a long-term deal at the Arms Park.

The 29-year-old, who came through the Cardiff pathway and made 10 senior appearances before crossing the border, has established himself as one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership.

During a seven-season stay at Wasps, Young has made 141 appearances and scored 35 tries – more than any other forward in the Coventry-based club’s history. 

His fine form for Wasps has led to three previous Wales caps, with eligibility rules preventing further appearances but Young has now taken the decision to return to his homeland. 

He said: “I’m really excited to have this opportunity at Cardiff and I’m looking forward to returning home to Wales. 

“It was a difficult decision to make because I’ve had such an enjoyable time at Wasps and learnt so much, which I remain very grateful for but I’m also a proud Welshman and the opportunity to stake a claim for further international honours was too great to turn down. 

“Once I made that decision, Cardiff was always my preference – this is my home club. I am born and bred in the Cynon Valley, I played all of my age-grade rugby for the region and still have a lot of friends here from that time. 

“I’m looking forward to linking up with the boys and contributing next season but remain fully committed to Wasps and want to sign off on a high.” 

Young last featured for Wasps in Sunday’s Midlands derby victory over Northampton Saints, in which he was named man-of-the-match.

He has also captained the English giants on numerous occasions and Dai Young, who of course is the flanker’s father, believes he will be a significant addition for the Blue and Blacks. 

The Cardiff Director of Rugby said: “When Thomas made the decision to return to Wales, we were of course very keen to bring him home to Cardiff – that goes for myself, the coaches and board.

“It is my job to improve and develop this squad and I have no doubt that Thomas will significantly add to our strength and depth in the back-row and drive standards in our environment. 

“He suits the style we want to play and I know he will do his talking on the pitch and show everyone in Wales how good he is.

“This is just the first in a number of signings we will make in this building process and the journey we are on. I know the positions we want to strengthen and we will continue to do that.”

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Premiership

Simpson joins Bath Rugby on initial three-month loan

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Image Credit: Bath Rugby Twitter

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce experienced scrum-half Joe Simpson has joined the Blue, Black and Whites on an initial three-month loan from Gloucester.

The 33-year-old arrives as injury cover for Ben Spencer and will compete for a starting berth alongside Ollie Fox, Max Green and Tom Carr-Smith. 

Simpson has been one of the most consistent performers in the Gallagher Premiership since graduating from the Wasps Academy in 2008. 

He headed into the Black and Gold’s first team striking up an electric partnership with Danny Cipriani, culminating in the duo playing 53 Wasps games together across the latter’s two spells at the club. 

Featuring over 250 times for Wasps in 13 years, one-cap England international Simpson signed for Gloucester in 2019 where he scored 11 tries in 29 matches ahead of a short-term deal with Saracens this season.

“We are delighted to bring in a player of Joe’s Premiership quality to our group,” Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper said. 

“He adds great experience to our squad and will enhance the competition for the nine shirt alongside Ollie, Max and Tom whilst Ben is injured.”

Source – Bath Rugby

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