British & Irish Cup + RFU Championship News

Friday 17th

Cup + Championship News


British & Irish Cup Final Teams & Previews
+ RFU Championship News

News and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.

Friday 17th May 2013
Newcastle Falcons v Leinster 19:30

Newcastle Falcons v Leinster  - Friday 19:30

Newcastle FalconsLeinsterNewcastle Falcons v Leinster    
Kingston Park
Friday, 17th May
Kick Off 7:30pm


Newcastle Falcons

Dean Richards has named his side for tonight’s British and Irish Cup final against Leinster ‘A’ at Kingston Park as Newcastle Falcons look to secure the first part of a domestic double.

The Falcons reached tomorrow night’s showpiece occasion after winning each of their Pool 4 games before defeating Nottingham and Bedford Blues in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Victory over Leinster will see the northeasterners lift their first trophy in nine years, and with tickets priced at £10 adults and under-16s going for free, an electric atmosphere is expected inside Kingston Park.

Falcons boss Dean Richards“There are a lot of changes for this game purely to back-up what happened on Sunday as there are a lot of bruised bodies, and we have to make sure that we get them right for next week,” said Richards.

In saying that, the quality of the squad that we have named is exceptionally good, and I am looking forward to it, and I think it is going to be a really good game,” added Richards.

James Hudson will skipper the side with the towering lock itching to lift the trophy in his final season as a Falcon.

He said: “Even though it is their younger development team, anybody who is involved in that culture at Leinster which is one of success, will be well-coached.

“They are brought through in an environment which demands success and having watched a few of their games they have got quality throughout, and their core skills are very good.”

Newcastle Falcons:
15 Jamie Sole, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 James Fitzpatrick
11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson
1 James Hall, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Sean Tomes
5 James Hudson (c), 6 Ollie Stedman, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Chris York

16 Michael Mayhew, 17 James Hallam, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua
20 Chris Pilgrim, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Michael Tait


Leinster have named their side for the trip to Kingston Park for the province's first final in this competition.

Jordi Murphy leads a young team and forms an exciting back-row alongside Conor Gilsenan and Dominic Ryan

Luke McGrath continues the half-back pairing with his former school-mateCathal Marsh at half back, with Noel Reid partnering Brendan Macken at centre, who has returned to full contact training after a recent hand injury.

Up front, Michael Bent is named in the front row alongside hooker Aaron Dundon and Academy prop Jack O'Connell, with Tadhg Beirne locking down alongside Mark Flanagan.

Leinster A
15: Fionn Carr 14: Sam Coghlan-Murray 13: Brendan Macken 12: Noel Reid
11: Andrew Boyle 10: Cathal Marsh 9: Luke McGrath
1: Jack O'Connell 2: Aaron Dundon 3: Michael Bent 4: Tadhg Beirne
5: Mark Flanagan 6: Dominic Ryan 7: Conor Gilsenan 8: Jordi Murphy (capt)

16: James Tracy 17: Martin Moore 18: Leo Auva'a 19: Daniel Leavy
20: Adam Griggs 21: Jordan Coghlan 22: Adam Byrne

What The Papers Say

Mark Smith, The Journal: Prospect Of Silverware Gives Falcons Final Focus

Newcastle Falcons have changed their entire side for this evening’s British and Irish Cup final, director of rugby Dean Richards telling Mark Smith that promotion remains the priority

More than nine years on from their Powergen Cup triumph, Newcastle Falcons tonight have another crack at some silverware.

It may come in the form of rugby’s ugly duckling and see them up against reserve-grade opposition, but with a promotion play-off final to come in the next fortnight the British and Irish Cup climax could well set the tone for a memorable May.

“A lot of people, probably including myself at certain times of the season, have felt the cup has been a little bit of an inconvenience.”  said Richards

“It is not at the moment, though, and as well as being a final in its own right it will also keep us ticking over going into the Championship play-offs against Bedford.”

Full Story

News From The Clubs This Week

 Bedford Blues

Bedford BluesBlues Retain Five More Players For 2013/14

Bedford Blues have announced that five more players have signed new contracts at Goldington Road.

Scrum half Darryl Veenendaal, fly half Jake Sharp, centres Mark Atkinson and Brendan Burke have all signed on for the 2013/14 season as has impressive young full back Aaron Morris who has signed his first deal with the club.

Speaking about the signings, Rayer said: “It has been quite a week so I am thrilled that five such exciting players have committed themselves to the Blues for another year.

“Brendan continues to be an important cog in the Bedford Blues machine and it is important to have someone with his experience in the squad. Mark Atkinson has been in spectacular form this term and he gives us so many options in the back line.

“Jake has put in a huge amount of work this season and played a lot of rugby. He’s still a young man but has been a fine player for us since joining from Saracens two years ago. Darren continues to learn and develop all the time and the hope is that Aaron will kick on in very much the same way.”

Bedford Blues now have nine players re-signed for next season along with James Pritchard, Phil Boulton, Ollie Dodge, Ben Gulliver and Darren Fox who are in the middle of two year contracts while Neville Edwards (Rosslyn Park), Charlie Clare (Leicester), Corey Hircock (Munster) and Michael Le Bourgeois (Jersey) will all join in the summer.

Players Leaving

Hooker Chris Locke and winger Mark Kohler will be leaving the club this summer. Locke, 23, who has been with the Goldington Road outfit for five years having come through the Blues Academy, has agreed a move to National League One side Coventry. Kohler, also 23, who joined the club in 2011 from Luton Rugby and has represented Canada Under 20s, has not been offered a new contract.

Rayer said: “Chris and Mark have been nothing but professional, but they have found game time extremely difficult to come by this season and it is imperative that they play more than they have. We wish them all the best for the future and thank them for their dedicated service during their time at Goldington Road.”

Other StoriesThis Week

Bedford today: Falcons Boss Richards Expects The Unexpected From Blues Clash

Having season his Newcastle Falcons side triumph 15-6 against Leeds Carnegie in Sunday’s RFU Championship semi-final second leg, director of rugby Dean Richards admitted he is expecting the unexpected from Bedford Blues in the final.

He said: “We understand that Bedford are a good side and they play an expansive game, so it will be interesting to see what they have to offer against us.

“We think that we know them reasonably well, but I am sure they will try to pull a few rabbits out of the hat at some stage.”

Full Story

Cornish Pirates

Cornish PiratesPirates Confirm Movers & Stayers For 2013/14

19 players in contract or who have finalised a new contracts:
Alan Paver, Rob Elloway, Chris Morgan, Laurie McGlone
Jonny Bentley, Gavin Cattle, Alex Cheesman, Kyle Marriott
Tom Kessell, Matt Evans, Kieran Hallett, Gary Johnson
Ben Prescott, Darren Barry, Tom Riley, Junior Fatialofa
Peter Joyce, Tom Duncan, Kyle Moyle.

13 new players:-

Ryan StorerJack Andrew (left) prop from Plymouth Albion
Aaron Carpenter hooker/No 8 from Plymouth Albion
Shane Cahill loose-head prop from Rotherham
Neale Patrick lock from Rotherham
Tom Channon hooker from Bristol 
Will Graulich lock from Gloucester
James Sandford lock from London Irish
Joe Atkinson back-row from Loughborough Students
Jake Parker back-row from Loughborough Students

Kieran Goss full-back from Eastern Province Kings
Craig Holland full-back/wing from Loughborough Students
Alex Dancer centre from Hartpury College 
Rheon James centre from Scarlets/Carmarthen Quins.

12 players who have completed, or are being released from contracts:

Tom BedfordPaul Andrew (left) to Worcester Warriors
Phil Burgess to England 7s
David Lyons to London Scottish
Ben Maidment to Jersey
Ryan Storer to Ealing Trailfinders
Darren Semmens unattached
Owen Hambly to Redruth.

Tom Bedford to Ealing Trailfinders, Wes Davies retired
Aaron Penberthy and Grant Pointer to Jersey.
Ben Mercer unattached.

Rugby Students

Students Matt Bolwell flanker, Tom Hendrickson centre, Mike Roach prop and Max Bodilly full-back are part of a new venture involving the Cornish Pirates, Truro College and Exeter Chiefs, whereby their college timetable will be tailored to fit around their rugby training with the Cornish Pirates.

A small number of players are likely to be dual registered with Exeter Chiefs and hopefully Bath Rugby.

Ian DaviesCommenting on the squad and expressing appreciation for the efforts of those that are leaving, Cornish Pirates head coach Ian Davies said:

“It is always a difficult decision for the club to make as to when players need to move on but it is especially difficult this year with Ryan Storer leaving for Ealing as he has been with us since 2009 and on a personal level I’ve known him for nearly 15 years!

“I’m sure we will be reading how well Paul and Phil will be getting on, in the Premiership and the IRB 7s respectively, and with the other players I look forward to having a chat with them post match when we run into each other again next season.”

He added: “For the new squad of players it is an exciting time to be at the Cornish Pirates and the coaching staff are already looking forward to the pre-season which begins on the 10th June.”

Doncaster Knights

Doncaster KnightsDougie Flockhart Re-Signs For Knights Until At least 2015

Influential and long serving Knight; flying winger and Strength & Conditioning Coach Dougie Flockhart has signed a two year extension to stay at Castle Park until at least the summer of 2015.

Flockhart signed with Doncaster Knights in 2009 from fellow National One side Esher, having also previously been in the Championship, and has gone onto to accumulate just short of 100 appearances in Donny colours.

Last season the 28-year-old Scotsman took on the dual role of player/coach and has been a tremendous success in the Strength and Conditioning element of the position and will remain a key member of Griffiths’ back room staff.

The signing of Flockhart is another timely boost ahead of the new season as one of the Knights most consistent performers and again proves the Club’s ambition to return to the Championship at the first attempt.

Speaking on the signing Griffiths said: “I’m delighted Dougie has chosen to stay with us and will continue to combine both playing with his conditioning role which he has done a fantastic job of.

“The condition of last season’s squad was incredible. Thanks to Dougie and our Physio we kept the players fresh up to the final game of the season, and even managed three matches in seven days at the end of a tough season. The fitness and condition of those players never dipped in that period of throughout the campaign which is testament to Dougie’s work.

“Dougie has a great appetite for the sport and is fully committed to Doncaster, he wants to be here and play a big role in taking us back to the Championship.

“He is also still a quality player and his goal kicking has improved greatly. He is a valuable member of the squad and will always fight for his starting jersey which is a great quality to have, I’m certain he will be running in tries next season.”

Other StoriesThis Week

Doncaster Free Press: Hills Eyes Quick Ascent Upon Homecoming

Experienced flanker Michael Hills has dropped a division to help his hometown team “bounce back to where they belong”.

The versatile 27-year-old has agreed to join Knights after leaving relegated Premiership outfit London Welsh.

“The club is close to my heart and I have always kept my eyes on how Doncaster have faired over the years so when an opportunity to come back with an exciting new challenge presented itself I was

“I’m really looking forward to bringing what I have to the club and building a successful side on the field to gain promotion back to where we belong.”

Full Story

Ealing Trailfinders

Ealing TrailfindersWe Welcome Ealing To Our News Pages And The RFU Championship

A Summary Of Recent Squad Announcements

Coaching Team For 2013/14

Director of Rugby Mike Cudmore
Head coach Ben Ward
Scrum and general coach Kieran Power
Lineout and general coach Marco Wentzel
Defence and skills Billy McGinty
Strength and conditioning Nick Rees
Medical Justin Smith

Marco Wentzel currently plays lock for London Wasps and will combine his playing role with Wasps next season alongside a part time assistant role at Ealing Trailfinders, where he has been a member of the coaching set up for the past two seasons.

Wentzel said “I’ve really enjoyed being part of it over the past few years up there and I will take a step up next season which is something I am really looking forward to. The boys at Ealing will be part time next season so there’s no problem combining my day job at Wasps with a coaching role up there”

New Players

Tom BedfordTom Bedford (left) centre / wing - Cornish Pirates

Stuart Commins scrum half - London Wasps

Billy Robinson full-back - Moseley

Ryan StorerRyan Storer (left) prop - Cornish Pirates
Conor Carey prop – Ulster
Jordan Saunders prop - Cardiff Met Uni
Sam Wilkes hooker - Moseley
Josh Elliot hooker – Bath Uni
Ed Siggery back row – Pontypridd
Thomas Anderson flanker - Connacht
Dan Collier 2nd row – Unattached

Signings from Loughborough & Two Former Youth Players Return

Chris Kinloch – Loughborough Students – Centre / Wing
Andy Hall – Loughborough Students – Fly Half / Full back
Camilo Parilli-Ocampo – Leicester Tigers and Loughborough Students – Prop
Will Magie – Leeds Uni – Fly Half / Full back

Mike Cudmore Director of Rugby said “we have managed to recruit not only quality experienced players but, more importantly, players that will suit our style of play and philosophy

We know there will be a step up in physicality from National 1 and it’s important to have strength in depth and players competing for the shirt.”

Dual registered players with Harlequins and Wasps

In a link with Harlequins, Ealing Trailfinders will be getting five players for the forthcoming season.

Charlie Walker – Full back / centre / wing
Harry Sloan – Centre
Jack Clifford – Back row
George Merrick – Second row
Kyle Sinckler – Prop

Cudmore is delighted with the signings “We have worked with Harlequins in the past and the quality of their players is of a high level. Their attitude, commitment and delivery are second to none and I am looking forward to work

In addition to the players from Harlequins Ealing have announced that Will Bigley – Prop has signed on loan from London Wasps: Will has played in National 2 South for Henley Hawks, National 1 for Rosslyn Park

Players That Have Signed New Deals To Stay At The Club

Adam Preocanin, Alex Bradley, Anders Nilsson, Andrew Henderson
Ben Ward, Gavin Curry, George Sandford, Isaac Ajayi, Joe McVey
Joe Southwell, Karl Gibson, Mathew Evans, Matt Killeen, Morgan Thompson
Owen Bruynseels, Phil Chesters, Richard Townsend, Ronnie McLean
Sam Wardingley, Steve Pape, Steven Neville, Tim Brocket, Tom Parker, Tom Wheatcroft

Mike Cudmore said ”We had a very talented group of players at the club last season and that is the reason so many have been retained as we feel they all have a lot to offer in the Championship”

Players Released, Retired, Not Re-Signed Or Unable To Commit Due To Work Reasons:

Adam Sowter, Ben Hunter, Benji Marfo, Bryan Young, Dipo Osho, Jack Fishwick, Jon Moyce, Jono Woodward, Lee Starling, Lewis Brown, Liam Perkins, Peter Hodgkinson, Rory Damant, Sam Shires, Simon Bundy, Simon Gaynor, Sungo Kuwana, Tom Riley, Tim Kavanagh and Tim Tunnicliff


Nottingham Campese Ma’afu has signed with Nottingham for 2013/14

Ma’afu, 28, joins the Meadow Lane outfit from the Cardiff Blues, boasts one of the most iconic names in world rugby having been christened after Australian legend David Campese.

The similarities between the 183cm, 118kg Australian-born forward and his celebrated Wallaby namesake stops there.

Nottingham head coach Martin Haag is delighted to bolster the pack with the powerfully built prop.

Ma’afu is a very physical player, great scrummager and is hungry to develop his game further,” Haag said.

“He suits the way we want to play and has all the skills to complement the game plan we have in place here.

“At the age of 28 he also brings a good amount of experience from both the Southern and Northern Hemisphere having played extensively in Australia before moving to the Pro12 competition last year.”

Sydney-born Ma’afu, who featured for West Harbour in the powerful New South Wales Shute Shield in Australia before moving to Cardiff, is a versatile forward who specialises as a loosehead and comes in to replace London Irish-bound prop Matt Parr.

Ma’afu, who has played 14 times for Fiji, is the younger brother of Northampton-bound Australian prop Salesi. The pair made their international debuts against each other in 2010.

Nottingham Trio Sign Contract Extensions

Nottingham hooker Shaun Malton, fly-half Rory Lynn and winger Ryan Hough have signed contract extensions with the Meadow Lane club.

Former young Springbok and South African School Boys representative Malton, 22, joined the Green and Whites from London Irish in November, making 19 appearances, including seven starts, in all competitions.

Lynn, 20, a graduate of the Leicester Tigers Academy, made 13 appearances, including six starts in all competitions since signing his first professional contract in the summer.

Ryan HoughHough (left), 21, made eight starts for the club last term and broke his try scoring duck for the Championship outfit with a dazzling hat-trick against Plymouth at Meadow Lane in March.

Nottingham head coach Martin Haag said: “I look forward to seeing these youngsters step up again and push for places in the first team.

“They have all developed a great deal this season and their continued improvement will make the squad stronger.

“Each of them has put in strong performances at different times. Shaun impressed with a number of league starts at the turn of the year, Rory held himself in good stead against a variety of opposition and Ryan underlined his season in style with that hat-trick.”

Released Players:

Nottingham have confirmed that Jack Cobden, Phil Eggleshaw, Matt Shields, Joe Quinn and Scott Wright have all been released by the club.

“I’d like to thank all of them for their efforts this year to push the club forward and we wish them well,” Haag said

Plymouth Albion

Plymouth AlbionAlbion Sign Centre Heath Stevens And Prop Tom Harrison

Plymouth Albion have announced the signing of Heath Stevens, who joins from Coventry, and Tom Harrison who this season has been playing for French side FC Auch Gers.

21 year old Stevens, who plays in the centre, has spent the last three seasons at National One side Coventry, and has representative honours with England Counties under 20’s.

Stevens, who this season scored 7 tries in 24 appearances for Coventry, will be completing an NVQ course at City College when he moves to Plymouth.

22 year old Harrison is primarily a loose head prop, but can also play tight head.

Harrison spent three years at Hartpury College before playing for Clifton in the 2011-12 season, and like Stevens has played for England Counties under 20’s.

This season Harrison has been playing for FC Auch Gers in the French ProD2 league, which is the same level as the RFU Championship.

To further his rugby development Harrison is about to spend three months in New Zealand working with specialist NZRFU coaches.

Albion Head Coach James Shanahan said, “Stevens is an up and coming player who I know is keen to learn and develop in a full time rugby environment.

“Harrison has done very well playing in France this season and after spending time in New Zealand he will arrive back with useful experience.”

Shanahan added, “I’m very pleased with how the Albion squad is shaping up for next season.”

Albion Have Sign  Nonu And Woods Earlier This Week

Plymouth Albion’s new Head Coach James Shanahan has made his first signings, with backs Pale Nonu and Ben Woods joining the club.

34 year old Nonu, who is the brother of All Black Ma’a Nonu, plays in the centre and joins Albion from Rotherham Titans.

Nonu is well known to Westcountry rugby fans having previously played for Mounts Bay and the Cornish All Blacks.

Nonu, whose wife is from Cornwall, was born in Wellington New Zealand although both his parents come from Samoa. Nonu who stands 6’ and weighs 17 stone can play either 12 or 13 but prefers the inside berth.

23 year old Woods will join a growing band of Irishman at Brickfields and moves to Albion from Dublin based club Old Belvedere.

Woods who has represented Leinster under 20’s and Leinster A, can play either in the centre or full back.

Commenting on the signings Shanahan said, “Pale Nonu and Ben Woods are two very exciting signings and with their physicality they will give us a lot of go forward next season.

“Nonu has played in the Championship for three seasons and that experience will good for what will be a new look Albion backline.

“Woods is very good over the ball, he has good footwork and his defence is excellent.”

Plymouth Albion’s pre season matches
Saturday 17th August v Aberavon at Brickfields 3.00pm
Saturday 17th August v Exmouth at Brickfields 5.00pm
Friday 23rd August v Worcester Warriors Cavaliers at Brickfields 7.45pm
Friday 30th August v Gloucester at Kingsholm 5.00pm

From The Papers

Sara Raine, Plymouth Herald:  Saumi: My Job Was To Bring Some Stability Back

NAT SAUMI says he heads back to Fiji this month satisfied with the job he has done as Plymouth Albion's director of rugby.

The 42-year-old feels he has brought stability back to the club over the last 16 months and he hopes incoming head coach James Shanahan can build on that.

Nat Saumi

"For me it was quite a challenging task to be left on my own after all the things that had gone on in the club," said the Fijian, who had joined Albion as a player in 2003.

"But I am someone who loves challenges. I lost my dad at the age of 11 and I was the eldest in the family so I had to look after my brothers, sisters and mum.”

"To come through a challenge like that at a very young age means you are up for any challenge.”

Full Story

Rotherham Titans

Rotherham Titans Titans appoint new Player/Forwards Coach

Rotherham Rugby Club have recruited Ed Williamson as Player/Forwards Coach for the 2013-14 season.

Twenty-nine years-old Williamson arrives at Clifton Lane with a quality playing record, having spent nine seasons at Premiership outfit Newcastle Falcons.

Ed joined the Falcons when aged just 18 and went on to make 48 appearances for the North East based side.

Then, following a serious hand injury which kept him out of the game for a season, Ed joined Yorkshire rivals Leeds Carnegie, before spending last term with Premiership side London Welsh.

Williamson hails from Stockton-on-Tees and at 6' 3" and 17 stones, the hard-hitting back rower is certain to add a physical and dynamic presence to the Titans set-up.

Ed’s previous coaching experience came with his involvement with England Students, Newcastle University and with lower league side Westoe. However, Titans Head Coach Lee Blackett is full of confidence Williamson will make his mark at Clifton Lane as a player and a coach, as he explained, “Ed will come in on a similar basis to how I came in last season as a player coach. Ed will mainly coach the forwards and look after large parts of the defence, but he will be available for selection as a player as well.

“Ed has played in the Premiership for several years, so with that he brings in a huge amount of playing experience. He also had a year out with a hand injury and during that spell he coached England Students. So he has got coaching experience, but it will be a massive learning curve for him this year, as it was for me last season. However, I have 100% faith in his abilities as a coach and a player.

“We see Ed playing at either blind side or at number 8 and we know he’s going to bring massive physicality to our pack. He’s really aggressive in his approach, he likes to dominate opposition and he enjoys that aspect of the game.

“He wants to come here because he sees it as a great opportunity. He’s spoken to ex Titans Neil Briggs and Alfie To'oala down at London Welsh and they’ve told him that Rotherham is a fantastic club. They’ve told him how exciting it is to play at Clifton Lane and how good the supporters are and Ed wanted to come here and experience that for himself.

“I Know Ed from my time at Leeds; he’s a very loyal guy and I know this club’s environment will suit him down to the ground. He’s been up here twice to meet us and he’s had a good look around and he’s extremely excited by this opportunity. I think Ed will be a big hit with our supporters and I’m really looking forward to working with him next season.”

Rotherham Titans Agree Terms With Toby Freeman

Toby Freeman has agreed terms which will see him extend his stay in South Yorkshire until the summer of 2014.

Twenty-five years-old Freeman joined the Titans last year from Spanish side Ampo Ordizia and made 21 appearances, scoring two tries, both of which came in the Titans final two games of the season.

Toby FreemanFreeman, whose previous clubs include Penryn, Exeter Chiefs and the Cornish All Blacks enjoyed a successful first season at Clifton Lane, which saw him put in several man-of-the-match performances.

His ability to play in the second and back rows makes the versatile Cornishman an important component of the Titans set-up.

Titans Head Coach Lee Blackett is delighted Toby has agreed to stay on for next term and explained:

“Toby had a good year with us and we saw him progress as the season developed. It was a touch difficult for him at times because one minute we used him in the second row and the next we put him in the back row. But Toby’s very adaptable and as a result he becomes a vital squad member because of that adaptability.

“Toby’s ball-carrying at times has been exceptional and his try in the last match against London Scottish was outstanding; there can’t be too many back row players in the division that would have scored from there. His defence when he gets his tackling right is top drawer and he puts in some very dominant hits.

“We are really happy that he’s re-signed and we hope the progression that he’s made this year will carry on through into the new season.”