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Matthews extends deal with Glasgow Warriors

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Matthews extends deal with Glasgow Warriors

Johnny Matthews confirmed there was no hesitation in putting pen to paper on a new deal with Glasgow Warriors, after the hooker agreed to extend his stay at Scotstoun until at least the summer of 2026.

The 30-year-old has caught the attention of supporters and pundits across the BKT United Rugby Championship so far in 2023/24, his 10 tries in the competition seeing the hooker sit clear at the top of the try-scoring charts at the halfway mark of the campaign.

A landmark 2023 saw Matthews write his name into the Glasgow Warriors history books on more than one occasion courtesy of his try-scoring exploits; having become the first player in club history to score five tries in a single match in April’s demolition of the Dragons at Scotstoun – notching the fastest-ever hat-trick by a Warrior in the process -, Matthews then became the first player in club history to register 20 tries in a calendar year when crossing in a 22-10 victory over Edinburgh at Scotstoun last month.

Having come through the ranks at Sedgley Park, the Liverpool-born hooker first linked up with the Warriors ahead of the 2019/20 season, his performances under Dave Rennie earning him a full-time contract for the 2020/21 campaign.

The hooker had also previously impressed for Boroughmuir in the Tennent’s Premiership, as well as representing Scotland Club XV during his time at the Meggetland outfit.

Eligible to represent Scotland courtesy of his Glaswegian mother, Matthews was first called up to a senior Scotland representative squad in the summer of 2022, representing Scotland A in their victory over Chile.

He then made his Scotland debut in unforgettable fashion, coming off the bench against Romania at the 2023 Rugby World Cup and marking his first appearance in the dark blue shirt by finishing off a flowing team try in front of the travelling Scottish supporters in Lille.

His tally of 34 tries in 60 appearances to date puts him fifth in the Glasgow Warriors all-time try-scoring charts, while the hooker also currently tops the BKT URC in lineouts won courtesy of his 72 successful throws to date this season.

“It was a very easy decision to renew, to be honest,” Matthews told glasgowwarriors.org.

“It’s a great group to be a part of, both on and off the pitch, and I’m just delighted to be able to commit my future to the club.

“We try and play a brand of rugby that’s attacking and fits the tradition of Glasgow rugby, and everyone wants to be involved in a team like that during their careers. Franco and the coaches make it a really easy team to fit into, and you can see the hard work everyone puts in by the results we’ve been picking up over the season so far.

“We’re a really tight-knit playing squad, too, which makes coming in to training each day that much more enjoyable. We all really get along, from the players to the coaches to the backroom team – everyone from top to bottom is all reading from the same page and it’s a great place to play.

“I just want to keep playing well and keep putting my hand up for selection – anything that comes after that is just the icing on the cake.”

Head Coach Smith added: “Johnny is someone who, from day one, has fully bought into everything that we are looking to build at this club.

“We firmly believe that good people make good rugby players, and Johnny embodies this; his work ethic and determination to be the best version of himself, as well as to drive standards in those around him, are attributes that both we as coaches and his team-mates value.

“He works hard to earn each opportunity and he contributes both on and off the field to our environment, and we look forward to continuing to aid his development for the next couple of seasons.”

Matthews’ journey through club rugby at Boroughmuir then the Warriors on to the national team, has made him an ideal candidate to take on the role of ambassador with Scottish Rugby’s own charity, the Murrayfield Injured Players’ Foundation (MIPF).

He said: “MIPF is about rugby looking after its own.

“Everyone I’ve come across in Scottish Rugby, whether at club level, with the Warriors, right through to the national team, takes player welfare and well-being very seriously.

“The Foundation is there to provide support when a player can be at a low ebb, perhaps after an injury.”

Ian Rankin, MIPF chair, said: “We are delighted to welcome Johnny on board as our ambassador.

“We look forward to working with him and hearing his ideas on how we can increase awareness of our work and encourage more people to support the Foundation through fund-raising.”

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URC

Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago

News

Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock

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Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Swansea.com Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Swansea.com Stadium (live on ViaPlay and URC.tv).

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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