RFU Championship Friday News Round Up
Friday 22nd July 2011
Bedford Blues forward Alex Rae who has been named as captain while skipper James Pritchard is away at the World Cup with Canada.
Rae, 25, who can also play in the back row, has been an impressive signing since joining the Blues in 2009 from near neighbours Northampton Saints and has recently signed a new contract to keep him at Goldington Road.
During the Saints tenure in the then National Division One in 2007/8, Rae was instrumental in the Northampton scrum and started 31 times - a record only bettered by Bruce Reihana - scooping a league and cup medal along the way.
The Coventry born player, who stands at an imposing six foot five inches tall, has continued this impressive run of appearances and has already pulled on a Blues jersey more than 50 times in his two year stint with the club.
Speaking about the appointment, Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer said: “Alex has been a very consistent player for us since signing two years ago and he is mature beyond his years.
He has a great rugby brain and is a very good communicator within the group. He is well respected by the players and coaches and we have no doubt he will do a great job.
He’ll also have some able lieutenants alongside him to lean on, most notably Sacha Harding, Paul Tupai and Brendan Burke.
“The World Cup is going to have a big impact on the Championship this year and although we will be without James for a number of weeks I am delighted to have such a suitable deputy in Alex to call on.”
Rae added: “Getting a call from the director of rugby telling you that he needs a private word can be a bit of a worry, but this is the sort of news that is great to receive.
“It is a great honour to be offered the captaincy of the club even if it is only for a short period of time while Pritch is at the World Cup. I hope to lead the club forward as the new campaign gets underway and leave things in great shape for when he returns.”
Meanwhile new floodlights are currently being erected at Goldington Road and six new speakers have been attached to every stanchion.
New Leeds Carnegie signing Iain Thornley says he is excited about the challenge of making a name for himself this season in the Championship just like another former Wigan Rugby League convert; Chris Ashton.
Thornley swapped codes midway through last season to join Sale Sharks and has now come to Headingley Carnegie as part of a new relationship between the Edgeley Park club and Leeds Carnegie.
He says the prospect of playing on a regular basis is something that excites him, he added, "It is great that Sale and Leeds have this arrangement and players can come over here and play at a really good standard in the Championship.
This year there are only five games in the A League and that is not enough to keep you up to speed. I feel I have adapted to Union now since coming across from Wigan nine months ago but the thing that will help me most is game time.
"Chris Ashton got the chance to play in the Championship when he first signed for Northampton and that has been the making of him. You can see how is confidence has grown and that shows what can be achieved," added Thornley.
London Scottish have now finalised their fixture list for the 2011/12 season.
Seven clashes with Richmond FC, co-tenants of the Athletic Ground with Scottish, had meant that a period of negotiation was necessary for both clubs while mutually beneficial solutions were found. The clashes have all now been resolved, and the fixture alterations have provided some exciting opportunities for both clubs.
The alterations will see Scottish playing on a total of 5 Sundays during the first phase of the season. London Scottish CEO Tony Copsey commented:
“Although traditionally London Scottish play on Saturday afternoons, the number of clashes with Richmond, our co-tenants at the Richmond Athletic Ground have dictated that we will be playing on five Sundays this season.
Scottish have also appointed Simon Elkinson as the new Strength and Conditioning coach. 'Elko' arrives from Esher, where he spent four years as Head of Strength and Conditioning after retiring from playing due to injury.
'Elko' was eager to get started with the players and has been working with them during the initial stages of an intensive pre-season training programme. "I joined Scottish to win games, and make my athletes as fit and as strong as possible. One of my major aims is to help this club develop young, Scottish talent.
"I am a very ambitious person and feel that London Scottish match me in this outlook: everybody here is striving to make a name for themselves which suits me down to the ground."
Obviously, Elkinson will be up against some familiar foes over the course of the season: "I joined London Scottish as it felt like it was the right time for me to move on from Esher.
I had four brilliant years there, and have left some amazing friends. However, this is professional sport - I would be lying if I expected the matches against Esher to be just another game! I'm looking forward to them already."
NEIL Fowkes has a new role at Nottingham Rugby.
The prop, who has been with the club since he was five, has taken on a player/coach position, allowing him to utilise his teaching qualifications along with his key knowledge in scrummage and forward play.
"I'm delighted with the chance to do some coaching," he said. "And I'm grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity."
The Green and Whites' director of rugby Glenn Delaney said: "It's fantastic to see a player who has come up through the ranks at Nottingham Rugby extend his career here.
"Neil has been successful at all playing levels at the club and has all the skills to excel as a coach.
"We are pleased to have him as part of the team."
Full Story www.thisisnottingham.co.uk
Canadian international lock Tyler Hotson will return to Plymouth Albion once the 2011 World Cup has finished.
Hotson has agreed a new deal to stay at Brickfields.
It means Albion will again have three Canadians in their ranks, with Sean-Michael Stephen and Aaron Carpenter having committed their futures to the club earlier in the summer.
Hotson has already have two seasons at Albion, making 48 first team appearances.
“We always hoped he would stay at Albion, so it has worked out well for the club and the player,” said chairman of rugby Graham Dawe.
PLYMOUTH'S highly-rated England Under-18 fly-half Henry Slade could be turning out for Albion next season.
Slade, who has been the star of the Plymouth College rugby team for the last few years, was signed by Exeter Chiefs in the summer after finishing his A levels.
The Chiefs get the first pick of all Devon and Cornwall's top youngsters after they were granted the South West of England Rugby Academy licence in 2008.
But it looks like Exeter are going to allow Slade, 18, to join his hometown club on a dual registered agreement.
Cornish England Under-18 prop Luke Cowan-Dicke is also likely to be dual registered, although both his and Slade's deals have yet to be confirmed.
"It is a probability that we will have two more dual-registered players in Henry and Luke, but nothing has been signed yet," admitted Albion's chairman of rugby Graham Dawe.
"They are both talented rugby players, but whether they are Championship players remains to be seen. They just have to try to impose themselves."
None of the players Albion have dual signed from Exeter have played regularly in the Premiership or Championship. All are untried youngsters.
Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk
Meanwhile Graham Dawe has been casting his eye over a number of trialists as he looks to put the finishes touches to his 2011/12 squad.
Munster forward Kieran Essex, Hartpury College flanker Marcus Brown and Leicester Lions' flanker James Harris are the latest players to have been on trial with the Championship club.
Essex who can play back-row or lock, is the most recent Irishman to turn up at Brickfields.
The 22-year-old has followed in the footsteps of his former Munster Academy team-mate, scrum-half Paul Rowley, and fly-half Willie Staunton in trying to impress Albion's chairman of rugby Graham Dawe.
Brown spent last year playing with James Love at Hartpury. He had previously been at Cinderford and in Gloucester's Academy.
Harris, originally from Cullompton, has been studying at Loughborough University but has now returned to Devon.
Essex, Brown and fly-half Staunton have finished their trials at Albion and Dawe was giving little away if any of the trio would return.
"It remains to be seen," was all Dawe would say.
Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk
The Daily Telegraph reports that Saracens, the English champions, are in negotiations to stage their Heineken Cup pool match against Biarritz next January in Cape Town.
Saracens are due to face Biarritz, who lost the 2010 Heineken Cup final to Toulouse, at Vicarage Road on the weekend of Jan 13-15.
However, it is understood the RFU has received a request to stage the game in the South African city, either at Newlands stadium or the Cape Town Stadium, which was constructed for the 2010 football World Cup.
Edward Griffiths, the Saracens chief executive, confirmed last night that the north London club were exploring the options to stage the game in Cape Town, having already committed to hosting their Heineken Cup match against the Ospreys in December at Wembley.
Full Story www.telegraph.co.uk