RFU Championship Friday News Round Up
Friday 1st July 2011
Bedford Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer has confirmed his 36 man squad for the 2011/12 Championship season after finalising a number of dual registration players with Premiership Champions Saracens.
There will be a number of familiar faces making the journey from Vicarage Road to Goldington Road along with a few new ones next season. Duncan Taylor, who signed for Saracens in the summer, Will Fraser and Jackson Wray will be joined by Harry Allen, Sam Stanley, Ben Ransom and Mako Vunipola.
Allen, 19, is a hooker who has played for Blackheath and impressed the Bedford Blues coaching staff during his two outings against the Barbarians during Mobbs Memorial matches at Goldington Road. Ransom made his Saracens debut against Northampton Saints last year and gives another option at fullback.
Stanley, 19, has an impressive rugby background as the nephew of All Black legend Joe Stanley. The Centre made his Saracens debut in the friendly encounter against USA last November and was a regular with Saracens Storm as well as being dual registered with Barking RFC last season.
Vunipola is a name familiar with many Blues fans as the powerful prop who was a shining light for Bristol last season before being snapped up by Saracens.
Speaking about the squad, Rayer said: “I’ve been really pleased with our recruitment process during the off season and everyone is really excited about the year ahead. We experienced a fine working relationship with Saracens that benefitted both sides and we are delighted that this is continuing.
“The World Cup in September and October is going to have an effect on both ourselves and Saracens in terms of available players, but we have great depth and I’m sure that we will be able to cope.
The Blues return to pre-season training this weekend and will be back in action at Goldington Road on August 19 when Saracens come to town
Blues 2011/12 squad *Indicates dual-registration with Saracens
Harry Allen*, Don Barrell, Josh Bassett, Tom Bedford, Phil Boulton
Brendan Burke, Neil Cochrane, Ollie Dodge, Jonathon Fisher
Will Fraser*, Gregor Gillanders, Sacha Harding, Mike Howard
Mark Kohler, Jamie Lennard, Stefan Liebenberg, Chris Locke
James Pritchard, Ben Ransom*, Alex Rae, Handre Schmidt
Dan Seal, Jake Sharp, Henry Staff, Sam Stanley*, Nico Steenkamp
Duncan Taylor*, Sean Tomes, Paul Tupai, Ian Vass
Darryl Veenendaal, David Vincent, Mako Vunipola*
Sam Walsh, Nick Walshe, Jackson Wray*
Leeds Carnegie have announced their fifth new signing for the 2011-12 season with the capture of tight head prop David Young, 26, from Edinburgh.
The prop, who originally was part of the Leicester Academy before a spell at Gloucester, moves back to England after two seasons in the Scottish capital.
Young, who was born in Belfast while his father was serving in Northern Ireland, made his Scotland A debut in the Churchill Cup in June 2008.
Commenting on signing for Leeds Carnegie, he said, "I am really pleased to be here. I have been speaking to Andy Titterrell, who I know from my time at Gloucester, for a couple of weeks and he was very persuasive about what Leeds has to offer. Leeds are clearly an ambitious club who want to get back into the Premiership and I want to be part of that.
"The Championship is going to be a tough competition for us, especially in the front five. There are a lot of experienced guys playing in this division and we know we are going to have to be at our best each week. However, we are looking forward to that challenge and putting in the hard work now in pre-season to make sure we are ready.
"The atmosphere within the group is really good and I have felt right at home straight away. Pre-season is always a tough time of year but you have to get on with your job and get through it however here everyone is driving each other on and there is a great team ethos," added Young.
Assistant Coach Mark Luffman commented, "We are pleased to have captured David from Edinburgh. He is someone who comes highly recommended to us and who Andy Titterrell knows from first hand experience from his time at Gloucester. David has all the right attributes both on and off the field to fit into our organisation and adds greatly to our options in the front row for next season."
The signing of Young follows the capture of Joe Ford (Northampton), Dan Hemingway (Leicester), Ryan Burrows (Rotherham) and Stevie McColl (Doncaster).
Scrum-half Matt Heeks has rejoined London Scottish after spending last season at Barking.
Heeks was part of the Scottish youth set up since the age of 18, and represented Scotland at Under-18 level, the Under 19 World Cup in France in 2007, as well as Scotland Under 20s in the 2009/2010 Six Nations tournament.
He moved to Barking for 2010/2011 in an attempt to gain regular first-team rugby: a decision that paid off as, until suffering a thumb injury at the end of the season, he became the first-choice number 9 in a Barking team that were narrowly pipped to the National 1 League title by Scottish.
Simon Amor is pleased by Heeks' development: "Matt has progressed immensely following his spell at Barking - we will be getting a fantastic player that has greater experience and understanding in an absolutely vital position on the field, and we are delighted to have him back."
Joining Heeks on the road from Barking to the Richmond Athletic Ground are a number of other former Barking players. Props Aaron Liffchak and Alex McKenzie, second-row Ben Thomas and back-row forwards James Kellard and Anthony Andrews have all made the short trip across London.
Amor sees their arrival as a challenge to the current squad to up their game: "The arrivals will create a great competition for places, which has to be one of our main aims. By bringing quality players such as these guys in, it will strengthen our squad, and provide extra motivation for all of our players to keep performing.
Great credit has to go to our new forwards coach, Alex Codling. Barking had the stand-out pack in National League 1 last season, and so the fact that these guys were so keen to continue working with Alex speaks volumes about his coaching ability."
Lorne Ward has called time on his days as a professional rugby player to turn back the clock at Rosslyn Park.
From next season the 34-year-old popular prop will be revisiting his semi-professional days at the Exiles’ neighbours in National League One, having taken up a position in the city.
The news brings to an end Ward’s long association with London Welsh – an association stretching back to 2002 and incorporating 144 appearances and eight tries, over two spells at the club.
Last season he was one of three players – the others being Paul Sampson and Matt Corker – to pass the milestone of 100 league games for the Exiles.
“London Welsh was some of the best years of my life,” said Ward. “I’ve loved every minute of both spells at the club - they were obviously very different, one was part-time and one was professional, but I enjoyed them both equally.
“I just realised that at my age it was probably about time that I made the transition, while I can still play a bit of part-time rugby.
“At this stage I could probably still play Championship rugby, but the way the job market is and the opportunity that I’ve been given I had to do it now. I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers.”
Already well into pre-season training with Rosslyn Park, Ward has been reunited with former London strength & conditioning coach Chris Walton, who is now, along with former Exiles hooker Ben Gotting, putting the Park players through their paces.
As if readjusting to Monday and Wednesday night training wasn’t bad enough, Ward also has Walton’s ‘strong man’ sessions to look forward to every Saturday morning.
But having won promotion to National League One in 2010, Rosslyn Park are now eyeing up a place in the Championship, and that could one day see Ward lining up against his former club.
“That would be interesting, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! I’ve got a couple of years left, maybe a few more than that,” he said.
Commenting on Ward’s decision to leave London Welsh, managing director John Taylor said: “We’re very sad that Lorne has decided to hang up his boots. We were hoping that he would feel he had one more season in him as a full-time professional, but we understand his decision to pursue a career in the city.
“He therefore goes with our very best wishes and we hope he enjoys some good seasons at Rosslyn Park.
“Lorne did a wonderful job for the club last season, where right through the season we were particularly short of tight-head props. He did an immense job. Thank goodness he’s stayed as fit as he has or we’d have been in real trouble!
“He was a huge favourite with the supporters and became very much part of the London Welsh family, and we’ll miss him.”
Full Story www.london-welsh.co.uk
Moseley have announced four further signings in preparation for the new season:
Jack is no stranger to Moseley supporters having starred in the EDF Trophy win at Twickenham while duel registered with Gloucester. After two seasons at Bristol the outside centre has decided his future lies back at Billesley Common.
Scottish Tight Head Prop Colin joins ex Rotherham front row colleague Craig Voisey at Moseley next season. Colin brings considerable experience to the club having played in Federale 1 (France) and for L’Aquila in Italy, where front row play is considered an art form. Colin is also versatile enough to cover Loose Head Prop when required.
William joins Moseley from Cambridge where, during 2010/11, he led their try scoring with 18 tries. A feat which saw him 7 th in the National Division 1 try scoring table. A versatile player, William can play Wing, Full Back and Centre.
Scrum Half Sam moves to Billesley from Cinderford where he was ever present in last seasons National Division 1 team. Prior to Cinderford Sam made 52 appearances for Birmingham & Solihull Bees, being an integral part of their promotion winning squad.
Meanwhile Gareth Taylor has decided to extend his Moseley career by at least another year.
The veteran scrum-half first played for Moseley in 2003 and has agreed to play until at least 2012 after signing a one-year contract.
Taylor, who is a full-time teacher, remains one of the club ’ s longest serving players and alongside other stalwarts like Richard Stott, Adam Caves and Neil Mason is a member of a dwindling band of par-timers.
He will hope to wrestle back the No.9 shirt he lost to Ryan De La Harpe midway through last season and will be given an early opportunity to do just that with the Namibian away on World Cup duty.
However, promising centre Joe Munro will not be adding to his tally after signing for Mose ’ s Championship rivals Nottingham.
The 20-year-old says he has moved to Meadow Lane for more game-time.
Munro becomes the second centre to leave Billesley Common after Bevon Armitage turned his back on a contract to sign for Plymouth for two-years.
Full Story www.birminghampost.net
Nottingham have signed scrum half Nathan Jones, 27, on a one-year deal from Doncaster Knights.
Jones also has experience of playing in the Championship with Coventry and represented England at under-19 level while he was at the Leicester Tigers Academy.
Nottingham director of rugby Glenn Delaney is delighted Jones has agreed a deal with the Meadow Lane club.
He said: "I'm really looking forward to Nathan joining us.
"He's an experienced player who has played at this level on a regular basis and he will be joining players he has been on the park with before."
Delaney has made several signings since the end of last season as he attempts to strengthen the Green and Whites' promotion ambitions in the Championship.
He has also captured ex-Moseley player Joe Munro, Joe Cobden from the Tigers, tight-head Michael Holford from London Welsh, Rupert Cooper and Joe Duffey.
Albion boss Graham Dawe is set to unveil what is expected to be a significant new signing today.
Dawe declined to identify his target, but he confirmed Albion had been in talks with the player and were hoping to get him to put pen to paper at Brickfields today.
The Albion chairman of rugby said: "I can't really say who it is at the moment as I haven't seen his paper work yet, but I can describe him as a significant signing and someone who will strengthen the squad."
Dawe, whose team escaped the drop last season via the relegation play-offs, is continually adding depth to his squad.
He said: "We have got eight weeks until the season starts and hopefully the squad will be ready to give us a really good start to the season."
Meanwhile, utility back Mark Lee has re-signed for Albion – and brought his younger brother with him.
Flanker Dan Lee, 18, is a product of Ivybridge Community College and the England under-18s clubs and schools' squad.
Lee made it clear he wanted to follow in his 21-year-old brother's footsteps into the Albion first team.
He said: "I've still to play for Albion, but my aim is to get into the first team.
"Having my brother here helps me out with training and it's good to be here.
"I know if I'm given a chance here, I've got to take it. I don't mind really where I play, though, as long as I'm on the pitch."
Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk