Scotland internationalist Jamie Ritchie returns from injury to captain Edinburgh Rugby in tomorrow night’s Scottish Building Society pre-season friendly against London Scottish at DAM Health Stadium (Friday 2 September, kick-off 6.45pm).
The 26-year-old back-row makes his long-awaited return to action having last featured in February’s Calcutta Cup victory at BT Murrayfield.
Ritchie is one of four Scotland caps named in the starting XV as Jamie Hodgson, Marshall Sykes (locks) and James Lang (centre) all start.
Elsewhere, summer signing Nick Auterac (loosehead prop) and academy wing Jake Henry both feature in an Edinburgh side for the first time, with the latter fresh from Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games action, where the flyer excelled at Sevens for Team Scotland.
Purchasing a Season Ticket remains the best value way to secure your place at DAM Health Stadium in 22/23, with London Scottish the first of 12 home fixtures in the Membership package.
Match tickets are still available for tomorrow evening’s pre-season clash against The Exiles at DAM Health Stadium (2 September, kick-off 6.45pm) with prices starting at £20 for adults, £15 for concession/students and £5 for Burgh Juniors (U16).
Ahead of the match, Head Coach Mike Blair said: “We’re really excited to kickstart our season at home and the boys are fired up to get back into competitive games after a really tough, but rewarding, pre-season block.
“Our players always look forward to pulling on the Edinburgh jersey and representing the city, while there are a lot of younger academy guys getting their first taste of rugby at this level. We’re eager to see how they step up to the test.
“London Scottish are a week ahead of us in terms of pre-season preparations, having faced Harlequins last weekend, so they’ll be in good shape and travelling north with confidence.
“It’s set up to be a cracking game of rugby and we can’t wait to get back out there in front of our passionate home support.”
Henry Immelman is named at full-back after recovering from a knee injury sustained at the tail end of 21/22. Wingers Jack Blain and henry complete the back-three, with the former once again available for selection following a developmental period in Australia with Warringah Rugby Club.
Lang – named vice-captain – is selected at outside centre alongside club centurion Chris Dean, while scrum-half Charlie Shiel and stand-off Charlie Savala form an exciting half-back combination.
Hooker Adam McBurney packs down alongside props Auterac and Angus Williams, with Sykes and Hodgson in the middle-row.
Number 8 Ben Muncaster – capped by Scotland A against Chile in the summer – anchors a back-row alongside flankers Connor Boyle – named vice-captain for the first time – and the aforementioned Ritchie.
Mike Blair names a mix of experience and youth on a bench which sees FOSROC Super6 players Connor Gordon (Stirling Wolves), Kwagga van Niekerk (Watsonians) and Korie Winters (Southern Knights) selected, with Jamie Jack – recruited from Ampthill RFC last season – also involved for the first time.
Edinburgh Rugby team to face London Scottish at DAM Health Stadium in the Scottish Building Society pre-season friendly
Friday 2 September, kick-off 6.45pm
15. Henry Immelman (16)
14. Jack Blain (20)
13. James Lang VICE-CAPTAIN (19)
12. Chris Dean (121)
11. Jake Henry (0)
10. Charlie Savala (11)
9. Charlie Shiel (45)
1. Nick Auterac (0)
2. Adam McBurney (14)
3. Angus Williams (12)
4. Marshall Sykes (23)
5. Jamie Hodgson (41)
6. Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN (85)
7. Connor Boyle VICE-CAPTAIN (23)
8. Ben Muncaster (16)
Jamie Jack, Harrison Courtney, Patrick Harrison, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Dan Gamble, Jamie Campbell, Pierce Philips, Connor Gordon, Nick Haining, Kwagga van Niekerk, Henry Pyrgos, Ben Vellacott, Jaco van der Walt, Finn Douglas, Cammy Hutchison, Cammy Scott, Matt Currie, Korie Winters, Damien Hoyland.
Vodacom Bulls sign Premiership star
The Vodacom Bulls are happy to announce the signing of Premiership and Champions Cup winner, Jannes Kirsten. The multifaceted forward will join the Pretoria-based Vodacom Bulls from 1 July 2023 with his initial stay pencilled in till June 2026.
Kirsten – a former South African Under-20s international – is no stranger to Loftus, having made his mark playing for the Vodacom Bulls, both in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. The 29-year-old has the Vodacom Bulls DNA, being the younger brother of one Frik Kirsten, a prop who made 81 appearances for the club between 2008 and 2014.
Since moving to England in 2019, the lock/back-rower has made a mammoth 75 appearances for his current side, the Exeter Chiefs. Forming part of the core group that would help the English club claim a historic double, winning both the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup during the 2019/2020 season. A season where Kirsten became an instrumental figure on the field and a proven champion off it.
Blue Bulls Company (BBCo.) Chief Executive Officer, Edgar Rathbone said the news of Kirsten joining the herd is good for South African rugby and not just the Vodacom Bulls.
“We know Jannes very well and understand the impact he can have. We appreciate that he has gone on to play in Europe, in different conditions against some of the best rugby stars in that part of the world, so the experience he returns with will be invaluable to us. He knows Pretoria very well and having him return means that he sees us as the place he can call home and so we are really glad to see him return to be united with his family,”
“The introduction of South African teams in European competition has meant that now more than the years before, we are seeing a few more locally produced quality players looking to make a return because they still have the opportunity to compete against some of the best in the Northern Hemisphere whilst adding value to the game in their own backyard,”
“We appreciate that he is a versatile player, who can slot in at lock and flank and that will add to our dynamic options, strengthening our rugby offering. We look forward to welcoming him in July and are confident that he will continue being the world-class player that we have seen become, wearing our stripes” concluded Rathbone.
Reflecting on his time at the Chiefs, Kirsten said: “The past four years have been an unbelievable experience, not just in terms of my rugby, but my own personal life. Coming to Exeter was obviously a new challenge for me, but it’s one that has brought me so much.
“The club, the city, the people, they have all been amazing and I will leave at the end of the season with only happy memories. What I have been able to achieve is something I am very proud of and the friends I have made will be life-long.
“South Africa, however, is home for me and the time is right for me to go back there and continue the next chapter of my rugby career. Heading over to Pretoria just a few weeks ago with the Chiefs was very special, particularly as I never thought I would run out at Loftus as a visiting player.
“Also, getting the opportunity to show my homeland to my teammates and the staff that travelled was something I will remember. The Chiefs will always hold a big place in my heart and between now and the end of the season I will be doing everything possible to ensure my time here finishes on a high note.”
Everybody at Loftus is excited and cannot wait to welcome Jannes home.
Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named
The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
New Role for Ian Costello
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Academy and Pathway Manager Ian Costello will assume the newly created role of Head of Rugby Operations at the end of this season.
Costello will take on further responsibility in an all-encompassing Head of Rugby Operations role that will oversee the long-term strategic development of the elite player pathway, succession planning, and provide recruitment support for developing, retaining, and recruiting players in conjunction with the Head Coach.
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are delighted that Ian will step into this newly created role.
“This has been a work in progress in the background for some time as we look to align our resource support with the IRFU and other provinces.
“When Ian returned to the province as Academy Manager he was identified as the ideal candidate for this role when incorporating his previous coaching experience, managerial skill-set, and strategic abilities for aligning and developing our player pathway.”
Head Coach Graham Rowntree added, “I’m delighted to have someone of Cossie’s calibre (Ian Costello) taking on this role.
“We work very closely as it is through his academy role, and from my own personal point of view it has been a really positive working relationship. Ian and his academy team play a key role in everything we are trying to achieve each week.
“It’s great to have a dedicated resource to driving long-term succession planning and coordinate recruitment operations, and I believe it will be of huge benefit to not only me and our coaching team, but to Munster Rugby.”
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
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