RFU Championship News

Friday 15th

15th July 2011


RFU Championship News

RFU Championship Friday News Round Up
Friday 15th July 2011


BEDFORD Blues have announced that director of rugby Mike Rayer has agreed a new deal keeping him at Goldington Road until 2013.

The two-year deal was agreed with Chairman Geoff Irvine earlier this week and Rayer is now looking forward to cracking on with the Blues’ preparations for the 2011-12 season.

The former Welsh international full-back said: “There has never been any doubt about my commitment to this club and I am delighted to extend my stay for another two years.

“During my time at the club I feel that we have made real progress both on and off the field.

“The main factor however in this decision is the support I have received from the chairman who has placed a lot a faith in me and we have a great working relationship.

“We do have our ‘healthy’ discussions from time to time but that is a good thing and long may that continue. It keeps us on our toes!

“This season is another exciting challenge to look forward to and I think that the early signs are that we have established an impressive squad who can hopefully improve upon last season’s effort.

“I also want to take a moment to say a big thank you to all of the other coaches at Bedford Blues who contribute so much to the team.

“It certainly isn’t and never will be solo effort at this club and I couldn’t do this without the support and commitment of such a good bunch.”

Rayer began his rugby career at Llandaff North RFC where he captained the Welsh Youth.

In 1984 he joined Cardiff for the first time, and soon became a crowd favourite with his hard running and strong tackling.

In 1996 Rayer moved to Bedford where he played for two years before returning to Cardiff for a second stint where he also became instrumental in the setting-up of the Cardiff Blues Academy. Rayer returned to Bedford in May 2005 and has cemented the club’s position as one of the best part-time outfits in England.

Bedford Blues chairman Geoff Irvine said: “On behalf of the club I was very happy to secure Mike’s services six years ago and even more happy that he is remaining with us for another two years.

“Hopefully this will stop any speculation about his future.

“Both Mike and I believe that we are on a journey with this club which is not yet completed and we have certain goals in mind that we would like to achieve together.

“It is my view that the level of competition in this division is going to be even higher this season which will make it even more difficult to achieve the same levels that we did last year.

“Mind you, however difficult it will be we set a standard last season and we hope to maintain that level of rugby once again.”



The Yorkshire Post says that Leeds Carnegie’s relegation from the Premiership has resulted in them effectively becoming a development club for Sale Sharks.

In a move which could help the Headingley club make a swift return to the top flight next season, several emerging Sharks players will sign dual registration forms with their Roses rivals.

It is part of the agreement that saw England flanker Hendre Fourie move across the Pennines to Edgeley Park when Leeds’s exit from the top sphere was confirmed.

Relegation for Leeds also signalled the exit of other high-profile players such as international forwards Steve Thompson and Marco Wentzel to Wasps, Kearnan Myall, Scott Mathie, Luther Burrell to Sale, Ceiron Thomas to Cornish Pirates, Alfie To’oala to La Rochelle and James Craig to Northampton.

Former Wigan Warriors rugby league centre Iain Thornley, 19, who joined the Sharks in October, is the first to sign dual registration forms.

Full Story www.yorkshirepost.co.uk

Sharks executive director of sport Steve Diamond said: “We are really pleased to be announcing this tie up with Leeds. We now have a superb partner club where our young players can develop in a quality environment during the 2011-12 season.

“Players like Iain Thornley are the future of Sale but with a shortened A League programme of only five games, he might not have got as much game time as he needed this season. Iain needs to play games regularly now to learn the sport.

“The quality of rugby offered in the Championship is ideal for young players like Iain. The dual registration rules mean we can call the players back to Sale as required but the important factor is that they get to play week-in, week-out rugby at a high level which will accelerate their development.

“Once the World Cup is over, we will be looking to place more players at Leeds on loan or via dual registration as our squad will be boosted by the return of a number of internationals.

“That’s when I see this arrangement with Leeds really bearing fruit for both clubs but particularly for the players involved.”

Gary Hetherington, Chief Executive of Leeds added, "This is an exciting partnership for both ourselves and Sale Sharks. We have certain requirements within our squad for this season and this arrangement allows us to bring in quality individuals who will fit in with our ethos.

Obviously having been part of the Sharks set up, we know they will be of the required standard and the Leeds Carnegie coaching staff will have the option to draw upon other resources as the season progresses.

As well as this partnership, ourselves, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons, as share holders in Premiership Rugby, are looking to work together over the coming years to strengthen Rugby Union in the North of England and work with the authorities to nurture and develop the base of talent and support for the game that exists in the North."


Plymouth Albion

BEVON ARMITAGE has insisted it has always been his ambition to play for Plymouth Albion.

The 28-year-old experienced centre has joined the Brickfields club this summer after spells at Moseley, Nice, Doncaster, Esher and Brixham.

Armitage has signed a two-year contract with Albion.

And he said it was one of the easiest decisions he had ever had to make.

"Part of it was about coming back to Devon," said Armitage, whose parents live in Brixham.

"But mainly it was to play for Graham Dawe. "I enjoy Albion's type of rugby and what they try to do.

"I like their aggressiveness at the breakdowns, their rucking and their general play. "I think my game is suited to Plymouth."

"I grew up watching Graham Dawe play and it will be an honour to play for him.

"My dad was a big fan of his, so he was pretty happy about me moving to Plymouth."

Armitage has been impressed with some of Albion's young players, but he has warned them that the Championship takes no prisoners.

"There are some exciting youngsters," he said.

"Some of them are very confident in themselves, but the Championship is a very hard league.

"For me the Championship seems harder than the Premiership. Some of the boys could get a shock to the system if they turn up expecting it to be easy.

"There are no easy games in the Championship."

Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Rotherham Titans

New recruit Elliott Brierley is ready and raring to go, in an attempt to secure a regular starting berth at Rotherham.

Brierley, who has played North and England Counties U20s, has joined the Titans from Cheshire-based outfit Wilmslow. Currently studying law, the 19 year-old is determined to make his mark at Championship level, although he recognises it wont be an easy task.

Brierley said, "It's a big step up for me to be playing in the Championship and Andre has recruited a good squad. But I'm up for the challenge and believe that I can take the opportunity when it arrives."

Brierley prefers to play at outside centre, but believes the intense competition for that position will see him take his chance on the wing.  

Brierley went on to explain how the chance to join Rotherham came about, "I was playing for the North U20s against the Midlands for an England counties shirt and Andre was there. After the game Andre asked me to come down for a chat and it went from there really.  

"Andre's straight talking and I like that. It's a great opportunity for me to be playing in the Championship and I jumped at the chance to join a club like Rotherham.

I'm ambitious and I want to play at the highest level possible. I realise it will be a challenge with so much competition in the squad, but my aim is to start as many games as possible."