Tottenham new stadium: Spurs agree partnership with Saracens to host annual ‘Big Game’ at £1billion ground

2 Apr

Tottenham have reached an agreement with Premiership Rugby side Saracens to host their annual ‘Big Game’ at their stunning new stadium, the Premier League club have announced.

The fixture, which usually takes place during March, has previously been held at both Wembley and the London Stadium.

The latter held this year’s match, which Sarries won 27-20 last week.

Tottenham’s new stadium officially opens this week after a six-month delay

Premiership Rugby becomes the third sport confirmed to take place at Spurs’ new ground, which officially opens on Wednesday.

As well as football and rugby, there is a long-term agreement with NFL to host regular season matches at the £1billion structure.

It is believed Tottenham hope to host NFL’s flagship fixture, the Super Bowl, in the coming years.

Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, said: “This agreement with Saracens further reinforces our aspiration to deliver a world-class multi-use venue in our home of Tottenham.

“To attract one of world rugby’s biggest club sides will bring a new audience to the area, as well as help drive significant socio-economic benefits for businesses and local people, as we continue to underline our commitment to the regeneration of north Tottenham.

“We look forward to welcoming Saracens and their fans to Tottenham and delivering world-class rugby matchday experiences, showcasing our new stadium and all the surrounding area has to offer.

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“This is an exciting partnership and, alongside Premier League and NFL matches, it is one that continues to underline our desire to create a sports and entertainment destination that we believe can transform this area of London.”

More follows.

Gloucester Rugby produce incredible signing video after scrum-half Joe Simpson joins from Wasps

6 Feb

Gloucester Rugby have signed scrum-half Joe Simpson from Wasps and have become the next sports club to announce a new player with a superb signing video.

Burnley recently announced the signing of Peter Crouch from Stoke City with a hilarious robot video – in memory of the iconic robotics celebration he showboated for England 13 years ago.

Joe Simpson has signed for Gloucester from Wasps

It now looks as though the trend has spread to rugby – have a look at the superb video below…

The video features the iconic opening sequence of the American sitcom ‘The Simpsons’, followed by a a stunning try scored by Simpson for Wasps.

Meanwhile, Gloucester Rugby’s Director of Rugby, David Humphreys praised the signing of Simpson.

He said: “As we seek to build a squad that is capable of competing for honours at the highest level of the domestic and European game, strength in depth in our squad is crucial. And the addition of Joe to our ranks is a very significant one.”

Stuart Hogg: Exeter Chiefs sign Scotland full-back on contract from next season

13 Nov

Exeter Chiefs have signed Scotland international full-back Stuart Hogg on a two-year deal from next season, the Premiership club have announced.

Hogg, who has won 63 caps and toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, will move to Sandy Park from Glasgow Warriors.

Scotland international Hogg joins Exeter from Glasgow Warriors

The 26-year-old is Exeter’s first new signing ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

Hogg has spent nine seasons with Glasgow and established himself as one of the most exciting broken-field runners in world rugby.

“I am very excited about the move – it’s a great opportunity for myself and my family,” Hogg said.

“Like a lot of people, I have seen how the Chiefs have risen over the last few years, and I am a big fan of the way they play their rugby.

“This is a decision that has taken a great deal of thought, as I’ve loved my nine seasons at Glasgow Warriors.

“I said I would decide my next step for family and rugby reasons, and I feel now is the right time to gain new rugby experiences and push myself in different situations where I will be challenged and hopefully improve further.”

Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter described Hogg’s signing as a statement by the Chiefs.

“We’ve tracked him for some time and we actually wanted to sign (him) before he signed his last contract at Glasgow,” Baxter said.

Hogg has twice toured with the Lions

“At that stage, it wasn’t the right time for him to move, but now it is and we feel he will be a fantastic addition to our squad.

“Yes, it’s a statement on our part.

“But anyone who knows us and where we want to go will understand that for us to move forward and win trophies – which is undoubtedly what we want to do – we have to back ourselves fully, and that means bringing in players who we feel will take us to that next level.”

Rugby Union news: English rugby to introduce in-season breaks for players as part of new Premiership structure

23 Oct

English rugby will introduce in-season breaks for players under a new structure for the next three seasons, the Rugby Football Union have announced.

Beginning in the 2019/20 campaign, the new plans are designed to improve player welfare and protect players during a demanding schedule, which includes the 2019 World Cup and 2021 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

THE RFU have announced a new structure for the next three seasons in the English game

The changes will also introduce a mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players, and will see the Gallagher Premiership season end in late June and summer tours take place in July.

They will also ensure England players play a maximum of 30 full games per season, reduced from 32, and be confined to a limit of 35 match involvements of 20 minutes or more.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Stephen Brown said the new structure was a partnership between the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association and that it had focussed “on the requirements of player welfare”.

The key announcements include:

  • Guaranteed in-season breaks for players in each of the three seasons.
  • Mandatory five-week post-season rest for all players which includes two weeks’ absolute rest and three weeks’ active rest
  • Minimum 10 weeks off/pre-season for England Senior Elite Player Squad (EPS) players (five weeks rest and five weeks preparation)
  • Minimum 12 weeks between Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final and Round 1 of the following Gallagher Premiership Rugby season
  • Maximum 35 match involvements (>20 minutes) in any one season for all players
  • Maximum 30 full game equivalents (reduced from 32) in any one season for all players
  • Premiership Rugby Cup structure to provide rest weeks for players with the most match time
  • England Senior EPS players to have a mandatory rest week if playing all international matches and more than 65% of total minutes (reduced from 80%) in the Quilter Internationals or Six Nations

In addition:

  • England Rugby World Cup squad rested for the summer Tests in July 2020 unless they have had 20 or fewer match involvements in the 2019-20 season
  • England players on the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to have a rest week during the 2021 Autumn internationals
  • English Lions’ players to have 10 weeks break
  • Tri-partite panel with an independent chairman to monitor and ensure compliance with the principles and to decide on any individual exceptions
The new structure will allow England international to be at their peak fitness for crucial international games and tournaments

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said the structure achieved “a number of progressive goals for the English structure over the next three seasons, building in new player management approaches, reducing overlaps and scheduling more of Gallagher Premiership Rugby for the better weather conditions of spring and early summer”.

RPA chief executive Damian Hopley said: “It is fundamental that players had their say in the shaping of this new season structure” and added that the new agreement “gives players guaranteed in-season breaks for the first time and reduces playing thresholds”.

Danny Cipriani arrested and charged after incident at a nightclub in the early hours of Wednesday morning

15 Aug

Danny Cipriani has been arrested and charged following an incident at a nightclub in St Helier, Jersey, early on Wednesday, his club Gloucester Rugby have confirmed.

Cipriani trains with his new side ahead of the Premiership season

According to Jersey Police, the 30-year-old was charged with common assault, larceny, assault on police, resisting arrest and disorderly on licensed premises.

The club released a statement after the news broke on their website, saying: “”Gloucester Rugby are aware of an incident involving Danny Cipriani in the early hours of Wednesday morning following an incident at a St Helier nightclub.

“He was arrested and has since been charged by police. He will appear at Jersey Magistrates Court at 10am tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

“The club will be issuing no further comment at this time but will make a further announcement in due course.”

Cipriani made his long-awaited return to the England squad back in June

The England fly-half joined his new side from Wasps this summer and made his long-awaited return to the national side during the Series defeat to South Africa earlier this summer.

More to follow…

Wasps land Georgia international prop Zurabi Zhvania from Stade Francais

2 Jul

Georgia international prop Zurabi Zhvania has agreed a deal to join Wasps, the Premiership club have confirmed.

New Wasps signing Zurabi Zhvania (right)

The 26-year-old will head to Wasps ahead of the new Premiership season, which starts late next month.

Zhvania arrives at the Ricoh Arena after six seasons with Paris-based Stade Francais.

He has won 34 caps for Georgia, making his Test debut against Spain in 2013.

Wasps rugby director Dai Young said: “We have been tracking Zura for a couple of seasons and are really pleased to finally get him on board. He is an experienced player, despite still being in his mid-20s, who I expect to bring plenty to our front-row.

“The timing of this is also good, since both Matt Mullan and Simon McIntyre are currently recuperating from long-term injuries. We look forward to his arrival in Coventry and to working with him in the months ahead.”

Tough-tackling Zhvania (right) pictured in action for Stade Francais

Zhvania added: “I have big ambitions in the game, and I believe I can achieve these with Wasps both at Premiership and European level.

“They play a very attractive style of rugby which I believe suits my game and will bring out the best in me.”

Zhvania joins a crop of new arrivals at Wasps for next term, including Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Kieran Brookes.

Chris Ashton asks to leave Toulon as former Northampton and Saracens man seeks England return

14 Jun

Chris Ashton has asked to leave Toulon after just 12 months in France and could be set for a return to England.

The winger broke the Top14 try-scoring record with 24 in his debut season with the three-time European champions, but under RFU rules is ineligible for selection by his country while playing his domestic rugby abroad.

Ashton, 31, reminded England head coach Eddie Jones of his talents with a hat-trick for the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 27, as his side ran out 63-45 winners.

Toulon finished fourth in Top14 last season, enough to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs where despite an Ashton try they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Lyon after a 19-19 draw, by virtue of having scored fewer tries in the game.

The former Northampton and Saracens man was prolific for England, scoring 19 times in 39 tests, including a super try against Australia in 2010, but has not featured for his country since the 2014 New Zealand tour.

French outlet RMC reported on Wednesday night Ashton was looking to break the three-year contract he signed last summer, with a potential return to his homeland on the cards.

Ashton began his career in rugby league before crossing codes in 2007, leaving Wigan Warriors to join Northampton.

He was awarded Premiership Player of the Season in 2009/10 with the Saints before joining Saracens in 2012.

In his time there he won two Premiership titles and a European Cup, but his performances were not enough to break back into the England setup.

After missing out on the 2015 World Cup squad and Jones showing no signs of giving him a look-in, Ashton made his switch to France official in October 2016, before joining up with his new team the following summer.

George Kruis pens new three-year contract with Saracens

4 Jun
George Kruis signs new three-year contract with Saracens
Kruis has tied himself down to Sarries until 2021

England lock George Kruis has signed a new three-year contract with Premiership champions Saracens.

Sarries announced that Kruis’ new deal will extend his stay at Allianz Park until 2021, while South Africa international prop Vincent Koch has signed an extension for the next four years until 2022.

The new deals follow terms recently agreed by club captain Brad Barritt and Saracens’ senior coaching team, led by rugby director Mark McCall.

Kruis and Koch played key roles in Saracens’ title success this season and last year’s Champions Cup final triumph, while Kruis was also part of the 2016 domestic and European double-winning team.

Koch, who has won nine caps for South Africa, joined Saracens in 2016. Kruis is a Saracens academy product.

“It was an easy decision to make, really,” Kruis said. “I’ve progressed so much in my time at Saracens and we’ve achieved so much as a group over the last few seasons together.

“It is a hugely-exciting time to be involved here, we’ve got a massively-talented group of guys who are all hungry to keep improving. I am really proud to be part of that.”

McCall added: “We’re delighted that Vinnie and George have signed new deals with the club.

“Both of them are phenomenal assets to the club, and we look forward to seeing them continue to develop in a Saracens shirt over the coming seasons.”

Kruis, who played in one Test for the British and Irish Lions on last summer’s New Zealand tour, featured in four of England’s NatWest 6 Nations games this season

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall signs contract extension

29 May
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall signs contract extension
Mark McCall

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has signed a contract extension at the club, along with six members of the backroom staff.

Defence coach Alex Sanderson, performance director Phil Morrow, backs coach Kevin Sorrell, skills coach Joe Shaw, forwards coach Ian Peel and kicking coach Dan Vickers have joined McCall in extending their stay at Allianz Park.

The news comes just a few days after Saracens won their fourth Aviva Premiership title in seven years on Saturday with a thrilling victory against Exeter Chiefs.

“It’s great news that they have all re-signed. They’re a team within a team; a group of friends together – they’re my friends,” said chairman Nigel Wray.

McCall joined Saracens in 2009 and took up his current position during the 2010/11 season, leading the club to the Premiership title.

The 50-year-old has helped steer Sarries to three Premiership crowns in total as well as back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham to become Aviva Premiership champions once more

26 May

Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs 27-10 to become Aviva Premiership champions once moreSaracens beat Exeter Chiefs 27-10 at Twickenham to become Aviva Premiership champions once more

Saracens have been crowned Aviva Premiership champions for a third time in four seasons.

Mark McCall’s side ended Exeter’s title reign with a 27-10 victory at Twickenham in the 2017/18 final on Saturday.

First-half tries by number eight Billy Vunipola and wing Chris Wyles sent Saracens on the way to victory as Chiefs’ hopes of claiming a second successive Premiership crown dried up in the south-west London sunshine.

Wyles added a second touchdown after 47 minutes and there was no way back for Exeter after that as Saracens collected Premiership silverware for a fourth time in their history.

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell, who will captain England on their three-Test tour to South Africa next month, kicked two conversions before going off 15 minutes from time, appearing to be in discomfort, with Ben Spencer adding a late penalty and Nathan Earle a 79th-minute try.

Exeter’s points came through an early Joe Simmonds penalty and a Gareth Steenson try that Steenson converted but despite finishing well clear of Saracens over the 22-game regular Premiership season, they could not withstand their opponents’ superior pace and power that was driven by man-of-the-match Mako Vunipola.

England head coach Eddie Jones looked on as Billy Vunipola, who overcame a hamstring injury concern to start the final and featured for an hour, opened Saracens’ account following an initial 15 minutes that Exeter dominated.

And when United States international Wyles, making his farewell appearance before retiring from professional rugby, struck four minutes later, Exeter were left chasing the game before ultimately suffering a first defeat since mid-February.

Exeter forced the final’s first mistake when Saracens wing Sean Maitland spilled Chiefs scrum-half Nic White’s high kick, and then the defending champions did what they do best – keep possession and go through numerous phases.

There was also a high-risk element to Exeter’s passing game, which they continued with after Simmonds kicked them into a fifth-minute lead.

It took Saracens 15 minutes to move inside Exeter’s 22, but they struck from their first opportunity after Farrell’s clever kick into space found full-back Alex Goode, who kept the ball and set up an imposing attacking platform.

It enabled Saracens to free their heavyweight ball-carriers, and Billy Vunipola touched down from close range for a try that Farrell converted.

Vunipola, who has endured an injury-hit season, initially looked as though he had taken a knock, but he quickly rejoined his team-mates before Saracens cut Exeter’s defence wide open.

Goode was again heavily involved, firing an overhead pass to Maitland, who had switched wings, and he completely committed Exeter’s final defender before sending an unmarked Wyles in at the corner, securing a nine-point advantage.

Exeter, having dominated initially, could not get their hands on the ball and they also lost captain Don Armand for a head injury assessment, with Thomas Waldrom going on for a final Chiefs experience before he returns to New Zealand.

Armand returned to the fray just before the break and Exeter managed to avoid further damage when Farrell sent a touchline penalty wide, meaning Saracens led 12-3 midway through an absorbing contest.

Wyles’ second try early in the second period, converted from wide out by Farrell, gave Exeter a mountain to climb, and rugby director Rob Baxter reacted by making five substitutions in one go, including taking off Simmonds and centre Sam Hill.

Exeter rallied early in the final quarter, piling on pressure either side of Saracens’ replacement hooker Schalk Brits being sin-binned for pulling down a maul in his last game before retirement.

It proved only a short reprieve for Saracens as Steenson pounced from close range before converting his own try and giving Exeter a glimmer of hope, although ultimately it did not transpire.