News and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.
Bristol head coach Middleton recently returned from a six-day working trip to South Africa, where he shadowed the Sharks coaching staff and exchanged rugby ideas with them.
Bristol are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to secure promotion back to the Aviva Premiership at the end of the 2012-13 season – which was underlined with the recent appointment of Dean Ryan as rugby consultant.
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Since arriving in Cornwall from Nuneaton back in 2009, Rob made 104 appearances for the Pirates and scored a magnificent 1,029 points, and was a stand out performer in the Championship.
Ahead of linking up with his new team mates at Kingsholm, who will include among them former 'Pirate' colleague Drew Locke, Rob said: "It's a great opportunity for me and I'm genuinely excited at the prospect as playing in the Aviva Premiership has always been a goal of mine.
"Leaving the Pirates wasn't an easy decision to make as I've spent three great seasons there and made friends for life. They've been great about it all and their result will be the first one I look out for each weekend."
The 31-year-old winger spent a decade at Saracens before moving in 2010 to London Wasps, where he played for two seasons.
“Richard has played rugby at a high level, and he impressed me with his enthusiasm for joining Jersey for an exciting first season of Championship rugby,” states Director of Rugby Ben Harvey. “Although he has connections here through his wife’s family, this was first and foremost a rugby decision for Richard, enabling him to take the next step in his career.
“As well as playing a full part on the field, I also anticipate that he will be able to pass on his experience from Premiership, Heineken Cup and international rugby to the younger, less-experienced members of the squad.”
Richard played for the England Saxons, the national ‘A’ side, in the 2006 Churchill Cup tournament, making two appearances and scoring a try. He was also a fixture in the England Sevens squad for several seasons, playing in 31 tournaments on the International Rugby Board circuit and scoring 106 tries. He won a silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
In his club career, Richard made around 170 1st-team appearances for Saracens, scoring 44 tries, and had a further 59 outings at Wasps, including eight tries. His last appearance was in Wasps’ final game of 2011/12, when the club successfully avoided relegation at the expense of Newcastle Falcons, who Jersey will meet in the Championship this season.
The scrum half is an England Students international and was recommended by the national team manager Steve Colwell, who introduced prop Sam Lockwood to Leeds Carnegie last season before he went on to become an integral part of the squad at Headingley Carnegie.
Commenting on signing for Leeds Carnegie, Field said, “I am pleased to be moving to Leeds Carnegie and excited about the chance to play in the Championship.
I know there will be a lot of competition for the number nine shirt this season with James Doherty and Craig Hampson but I hope I can offer something else to the squad that complements their styles and gives Diccon and the coaching staff other options.”
Director of Rugby Chris Gibson added, “Brad was recommended to us by Steve Colwell having worked with him with the England Students squad.
Obviously there is a transition between playing for Hartbury College and competing in the Championship but, as with Sam Lockwood last season who came on a similar route, we will be working hard with him and he will get an opportunity to show what he can do in training and in games this season.”
Leeds have also announced the two venues that will host their On the Road fixtures for the coming season
Diccon Edwards’ men head to North Yorkshire to play Moseley on Sunday 11th November at Wharfedale and East Yorkshire to play London Scottish at Hull Ionians RUFC on Sunday 10th March, both games kicking off at 3pm.
Commenting on the fixture list, Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said, “We are delighted to have agreed with Wharfedale and Hull Ionians to host our On the Road fixtures this season. Both clubs are excited about hosting Championship rugby this season and I am sure we will be warmly received in those parts of the county.
We have maintained our traditional matchday of Sunday with 3pm kick off for the majority of our games but also included two Friday night fixtures early in the season following feedback from supporters.
Our intention is to take one of our three home British & Irish Cup games On the Road as well but these fixtures will not be confirmed for a number of weeks.”
Newcastle Falcons have appointed Will Welch as captain for the 2012-13 season.
Academy product Welch, 22, who scooped both the Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the season awards last term, has been a cornerstone of the Falcons’ pack since signing professional forms in the summer of 2009.
The former Royal Grammar School pupil and England under-20s international played in all 22 league games last campaign, helping the Falcons take their Premiership survival bid right down to the wire.
“It truly is an honour to be named captain and it fills me with immense pride to lead this club both on and off the field,” said Newcastle-born Welch.
He added: “There are some really exciting things taking shape here at Kingston Park with the investment from owner Semore Kurdi.
“I am delighted to be a part of the new regime but to be named captain is very special.”
Welch’s appointment has been given the full backing of former skipper James Hudson who is delighted for the local talent.
He said: “I am delighted for Will and he thoroughly deserves this responsibility as the club enters an exciting phase in its history.
“I enjoyed every minute of my time as captain over the last two seasons but with Welch’s appointment I can now concentrate 100 per cent on improving my game and helping the Falcons get back to the top-flight.”
Incoming director of rugby Dean Richards has hailed the appointment of Welch as captain, saying: “I am delighted for Will and his appointment is testament to him.
“Will has progressed through the club’s academy system and has made a real impact at Kingston Park.
“The role of captain is a challenge but I am sure he will do a great job.”
Nottingham have appointed Martin Haag as the club’s head coach.
The former England international lock, 44, whose three year spell as forwards coach at Premiership side Bath came to an end in May, brings with him a wealth of top flight experience and a reputation for promoting young talent.
After a stellar playing career in which he made more than 300 appearances for Bath, won two caps for England and helped the Pirates to National League One promotion in 2003, Haag went on to hold academy coaching roles at both Bath and the RFU between senior posts at Bristol and his latest return to the Rec.
His appointment at Nottingham is his first as head coach. Haag says he is thrilled to take the reins of an RFU Championship club with Premiership-sized aspirations.
“The opportunity to be a head coach was a big driver for me and this is a very exciting club to be a part of,” Haag said.
“Having done my homework and gone through the interview process I’ve been impressed by the board, their ambition and how they see the club in the future, and not just talking about the next year, but long term.
“When I first came in to meet the board, looked at the home ground Meadow Lane, toured the training facility at Lady Bay, I could see that this would be a fantastic place to be. There is incredible infrastructure here, we just have to build on it.”
Haag is determined to pick up where his successor, Glenn Delaney finished last season. Haag insists that the semi-final rugby that Nottingham management craves is within touching distance.
“Glenn was here for a long time and did a tremendous job,” Haag said.
“I hope I can be here for nearly as long and take things the next step. We are not at a stage where we will be promoted next week, but we have a great opportunity to push for the top four where the board wants us to be.”
Nottingham Rugby chairman Alistair Bow said Haag’s extensive knowledge of the game, from youth development to the highest levels of the sport, makes him an exciting choice to replace the long-serving Delaney who recently joined Premiership side London Irish as forwards coach.
“This is an important appointment for the board to make, and one that we are very proud to announce,” Bow said.
“Martin’s knowledge of the championship, demands of the Premiership and academy coaching background, really fits the criteria of what we were looking for.
“This in an ambitious club and Martin is an ambitious coach who wants to get us to the Premiership. As a board we don’t expect miracles, but we know he is going to give it a great go.”
Albion's head coach Nat Saumi has returned from his trip home to Fiji and is ready to put the finishing touches to his 2012/13 playing squad.
Saumi's first task is to check out a whole host of trialists who have arrived at Brickfields keen to secure a contract with the Championship club.
He will get a chance to have a look at a few tonight when Albion split their squad in half for two small-sided fitness matches against Launceston and Tavistock.
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