Tag Archives: aviva

Welsh fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season

Sweeney to swap Cardiff for Exeter in bid to make his mark on Premiership

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

Former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season, his current club Cardiff Blues have announced.

Sweeney has made over 100 appearances since joining the Blues from Newport Gwent Dragons in the summer of 2008, guiding them to the EDF Energy Cup in 2009 and the Amlin Challenge Cup the following year.

'I've really enjoyed my time with the Blues, they are a fantastic club and the supporters have been outstanding,' he said.

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

'For me, it's my home region and with the young players they have coming through the ranks, the future of the club certainly looks very bright.'

The 33-year-old will bring a wealth of experience with him to Sandy Park.

He made his debut for Wales in the 2003 Six Nations against England and also featured in two World Cups, winning a total of 35 caps for his club – the last of them in 2007.

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Sweeney is now excited to make his mark in the Aviva Premiership.

'Exeter are a fantastic club and as soon as I heard they were interested in me, I was keen to talk to them and have a look around the place,' he added.

'Like a lot of people, I've watched how they have risen over the last few years and how they've made a real name for themselves, not just in the Premiership, but in Europe as well.

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

'It's an exciting move for me and my young family and it's a fresh challenge.

'I know it will be the first time I've played club rugby outside of Wales, but the thought of testing myself in the Premiership is something I'm really keen to do.'

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14 – Sarries go top: Match report

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14: Sarries go top as Strettle's hot streak continues

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

David Strettle continued to push for an England recall by sealing a bonus point win for Saracens against beleaguered London Welsh that took them to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

The in-form winger followed up his double at Leicester last week by running in Sarries' fourth try as they took themselves four points clear of Harlequins at the summit.

It rounds off a difficult week for Welsh, who find out their fate over the alleged ineligibility of scrum-half Tyson Keats at an RFU hearing on Tuesday which is threatening to seal their fate in their battle against the drop.

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

The visitors got off to a disastrous start when Keats' kick in the first minute was charged down by Alistair Hargreaves, leading to a penalty and an easy three points for Charlie Hodgson.

Unsurprisingly, Saracens were having the lion's share of possession in the early stages and soon doubled their lead when Hodgson was given another simple kick at goal from under the posts.

A horribly-executed scrum then led a Welsh player being penalised for going in off his feet at a ruck, but Hodgson was this time unable to punish them as he kicked wide.

Completely against the run of play, London Welsh scored the game's first try after 26 minutes when Julio Cabello's off-load bounced nicely for Seb Stegmann on the left wing.

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

The debutant sold two Saracens players a dummy which both bought – and he could not believe his luck as he sauntered over, although Gavin Henson's missed conversion meant the hosts retained their lead.

But the visitors then lost Canadian winger Phil Mackenzie to the sin-bin and a few minutes later conceded a penalty try as a Sarries lineout led to a maul that was illegally dragged down.

To make matters worse, prop Tom Bristow was yellow-carded for the offence, but while they were down to 14 men, Henson knocked over a penalty.

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

However, yet more ill-discipline from the Exiles allowed Hodgson to slot another penalty before Henson reduced the gap to 16-11 with a scrappy drop goal that clipped the crossbar right on half-time.

Saracens managed to put more daylight between the sides seven minutes into the second half when a sweeping move involving Hodgson and Duncan Taylor led to Joel Tomkins holding off his tackler to score, with the former converting.

To London Welsh's credit, this latest setback still did not break their spirit and they brought the deficit back down to nine points with another Henson penalty.

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

The inevitable raft of substitutions hurt the game's rhythm somewhat, Hodgson seeing a penalty come back off the left-hand post.

But Sarries took a huge step towards victory just after the hour mark when Strettle found Schalk Brits, whose off-load allowed Will Fraser to just about finish in the corner, with the try awarded by the TMO.

Still Welsh refused to lie down and the visitors thought they had a route back in the game when Henson touched down on the right wing – only to see the try chalked off for obstruction by Tom Arscott in the build-up.

The outcome was settled with eight minutes remaining when Saracens sealed the bonus point after Strettle went through a gap that appeared to be made by Tomkins holding back Henson.

Ospreys sign Tito Tebaldi

Ospreys snap up Italian scrum-half Tebaldi on two-year deal to replace outgoing Fotuali'l

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

12:24 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:24 GMT, 2 March 2013

The Ospreys have announced the signing of Italy international Tito Tebaldi on a two-year deal.

The scrum-half, who has won 16 caps, will move to the Liberty Stadium from Ospreys' fellow RaboDirect PRO12 team Zebre.

And he is set to fill the void left by Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'l, who is set to join Aviva Premiership club Northampton next term.

Inbound: Tito Tebaldi has joined Ospreys

Inbound: Tito Tebaldi has joined Ospreys

Tebaldi, 25, said: 'I am excited about this fantastic opportunity with the Ospreys.

'Their record in the PRO12 speaks for itself, and the chance to be a part of such a successful club is something I couldn't turn down.

'I am looking forward to a new challenge in a competitive environment that will help me to improve as a player and a person, while hopefully contributing to the continued success of the Ospreys.'

Andy Robinson set to be named as Bristol"s Director of Rugby after quitting Scotland

Former Scotland boss Robinson tasked with securing promotion for Bristol

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

14:20 GMT, 15 February 2013

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UPDATED:

19:48 GMT, 15 February 2013

Former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson will be unveiled as Bristol's new director of rugby on Monday.

The 48-year-old resigned from his Scotland post late last year after they slumped to defeat against Tonga at the end of an autumn campaign which also featured losses to New Zealand and South Africa.

The long-time Bath stalwart as player and coach has retained strong West Country links and will be placed in charge of Bristol’s quest to gain promotion from the Championship back into the Aviva Premiership.

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson being inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame during at the Hurlingham Club on February 7, 2013

Andy Robinson has had mixed results as an international rugby boss but was inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame earlier this month (right)

Robinson was forwards coach under Sir
Clive Woodward when England won the World Cup and he subsequently took
on the head coach role from 2004-2006, before resigning following a
dismal series of results.

He resurfaced at Edinburgh and made a sufficiently positive impression to be given the Scotland job in 2009. He led them at the World Cup two years later, but they suffered a pool stage exit for the first time.

Robinson also won eight England caps as a player.

Life after Andy: Scotland have lost one and won one in this year's Six Nations

Life after Andy: Scotland have lost one and won one in this year's Six Nations

Bristol are battling to secure a place
in the Championship play-offs, although Newcastle remain firm favourites
to secure the one available promotion spot.

Head coach Liam Middleton is set to remain in his role after Robinson's arrival.

Six Nations 2013: venue guide

Six Nations venue guide: A look at the stadiums playing host to this year's Championship

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

12:10 GMT, 28 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:57 GMT, 1 February 2013

The Six Nations kicks off in February and ahead of the annual feast of rugby Sportsmail runs through the venues that will host this year's games.

TWICKENHAM – LONDON

A capacity of 82,000 identifies the home of England as the world's largest rugby-dedicated venue and the nation's second-largest stadium behind Wembley. When England are winning there are few more rousing places to be – witness the atmosphere against New Zealand last autumn for example – but long spells of quiet can often dampen the occasion. Travelling there can be hellish as the roads become gridlocked while the all-too-infrequent rail service can see trains become horribly overcrowded.

HQ: England's Twickenham Stadium in Surrey

STADE DE FRANCE – PARIS

Just pipped by Twickenham in capacity terms, the 81,338 seater Stade de France was built for the 1998 football World Cup and remains an impressive sight within the unwelcoming district of Saint-Denis, where it is inadvisable to linger after dark. Seasoned Les Bleus supporters still yearn for the more gladiatorial Parc des Princes, the previous home of French rugby, not least because of some poor results at the Stade de France.

General view of the Stade de France in St Denis,Paris.  Mandatory Credit: David Rogers /Allsport Z0111169

AVIVA STADIUM – DUBLIN

Ever since returning to their revamped home, Ireland have spoken of the need to turn Aviva Stadium into a fortress but it has proved an uncomfortable relationship so far after losing seven of their 13 games there. A superb, modern venue, the 51,700 ground is among the finest rugby stadia in the world and access is relatively painless partly thanks to the battalions of available taxis. The atmosphere can be eerily silent, however, and contrast markedly with the noise generated at Irish provincial games.

Aviva Stadium

STADIO OLIMPICO – ROME

Italian rugby has a new home while work continues on the Stadio Flaminio, with the 82,000 capacity Stadio Olimpico proving a superb addition to the list of Six Nations stadia. More traditionally known as the home of Lazio and Roma football clubs, it is one of Italy's most cherished sporting venues and was home to the 1960 Rome Olympics. A running track surrounds the pitch and this affects the atmosphere.

Stadio Olimpico

MURRAYFIELD – EDINBURGH

The declining fortunes of Scottish rugby are evident at Murrayfield, where a dwindling number of spectators turn out to watch a team that has suffered like no other amid the transition to professionalism. Located in the west of the Scottish capital, the superb 67,130 stadium is capable of generating some rousing atmospheres – if only those attending were given something to celebrate on a regular basis once again.

Murrayfield

MILLENNIUM STADIUM – CARDIFF

The finest rugby stadium in the world An argument could certainly be made for what many regard as the jewel in the Six Nations' crown. Brilliantly designed and situated in the heart of Cardiff, it is a spectacular centre-piece for Welsh rugby that can take noise levels to a new dimension. When Wales are firing, it becomes an inspiring venue. The only negative is the difficulty getting out of the city – by car or train – after a match.

Millennium Stadium

Saracens and Ulster Heineken Cup quarter-final at Twickenham

Twickenham to host Heineken Cup quarter-final between Saracens and Ulster

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:05 GMT, 30 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:57 GMT, 30 January 2013

Saracens have announced their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster on April 6 will be played at Twickenham.

The Aviva Premiership club's new Allianz Park home, complete with its artificial playing surface, had been mooted as a possible venue.

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

But club chairman Nigel Wray told Saracens' official website today that the game will be staged at Twickenham.

'We look forward to playing this important match at the home of English rugby, a ground that many of our players know extremely well,' Wray said.

'It is absolutely clear that people want to see big teams playing big matches at big stadiums, and that is precisely what we will deliver at Twickenham.

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

'We did consider the option of playing this showpiece match at Allianz Park, our brand new home stadium in NW4, but, in consultation with local residents and our partners at the London Borough of Barnet, we have decided to settle at the new venue before applying to stage a one-off event with a larger capacity.'

Harlequins will host Munster at their Twickenham Stoop home the following day, with the quarter-final line-up completed by Leicester visiting Toulon and Clermont Auvergne hosting Montpellier.

Saracens 32 Sale 12: David Strettle stars to storm back into England reckoning

Saracens 32 Sale 12: Strettle stars for Sarries to storm back into England reckoning

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

18:25 GMT, 6 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 6 January 2013

Forgotten wing David Strettle fired Saracens to success over struggling Sale in the absence of England full back Alex Goode, who is now an injury doubt for the Six Nations.

Goode missed Saracens’ final Aviva Premiership match at Vicarage Road with a shoulder injury picked up three weeks ago against Munster.

Mark McCall, Saracens director of rugby, said Goode needs another two or three weeks of rehabilitation before he is likely to play again.

ar: Strettle scores Saracens' first try

Star: Strettle scores Saracens' first try

He said: ‘At the minute we are looking at the non-surgical route but it all depends on how his rehab goes.

‘If he makes the progress they (the
medics) hope, he’s got a great chance of making the Six Nations, but
England may want him to play a game or two.’

Goode could yet be joined in the England squad by Strettle, who lost his place last summer due to a hernia operation.

Owen Farrell is favourite for England's no.10 shirt after Flood was cited for an alleged tip tackle

Spot on: Owen Farrell is favourite for England's no.10 shirt after Toby Flood was cited for an alleged tip tackle

ENGLAND WATCH

Stuart Lancaster has no worries about the goal-kicking of Owen Farrell, who scored 22 points.

Eight from eight kicks took his Premiership ‘hot streak’ to 20.

He also weathered the attempts of Sale’s heavyweight centres Johnny Leota and Sam Tuitupou to power past him.

England centre Brad Barritt had another solid match and provided the pass for David Strettle’s try.

McCall hopes his decision to switch Strettle to the left wing might prompt a return to the squad to be announced on Wednesday.

McCall said: ‘David has really
relished the chance to play on the left wing and England don’t have any
out-and-out natural left wingers.’

Strettle showed his try-scoring
ability here by breaking through a stubborn Sale defence in the 62nd
minute of a match dominated until then by the goal-kicking of Owen
Farrell and Danny Cipriani.

Saracens finally cracked the Sale
midfield by using Farrell and substitute Charlie Hodgson as decoy
runners, which allowed Brad Barritt to put Strettle in the clear.

Sale's James Gaskell tries to break through the midfield

Scrap: Sale's James Gaskell tries to break through the midfield

Strettle also delivered the final act
by neatly placing a grubber kick through the Sale defence for Hodgson
to score the second try 10 minutes from time.

Saracens moved second, two points behind Harlequins.

John Mitchell quits Sale Sharks

Sale shock as Mitchell quits just a month into job at Premiership's bottom club

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UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 29 December 2012

On his way: Mitchell has quit Sale

On his way: Mitchell has quit Sale

Sale's turbulent season took another turn for the worse yesterday when coach John Mitchell resigned after just a month in the job.

Friday night’s narrow Aviva Premiership win over Worcester seemed to have signalled the start of a resurgence, but the 48-year-old on Saturday shocked owner Brian Kennedy by announcing he was standing down with immediate effect.

‘John has had to return to South Africa for personal reasons, which we respect,’ Kennedy said. ‘We are grateful for his valuable and insightful contributions, albeit for a shorter term than envisaged.’

London Welsh 15 Wasps 34

London Welsh 15 Wasps 34: Super Simpson gets his side in contention for top four spot

PUBLISHED:

18:16 GMT, 29 December 2012

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UPDATED:

18:16 GMT, 29 December 2012

A brilliant try from scrum-half Joe Simpson was the highlight of London Wasps' bonus point victory as they did the Aviva Premiership double over London Welsh this season.

Simpson had an outstanding game as Wasps came from behind with tries from wing Elliot Daly, replacement prop Will Taylor and, right at the end, a fourth try for wing Tom Varndell.

Welsh fly-half Gordon Ross kicked all his side's points with five penalties, while Wasps fly-half Nicky Robinson landed three penalties, Daly booted one and replacement stand-off Stephen Jones kicked the only conversion of the match.

Crunch: Hugo Southwell of Wasps is tackled by Franck Montanella

Crunch: Hugo Southwell of Wasps is tackled by Franck Montanella

Wasps were looking for to repeat their win over the Exiles at Adams Park, Wycombe, back in October.

Welsh, meanwhile, needed to bounce back from a 13-6 loss at Worcester.

Although not in any immediate danger at the wrong end of the table after basement side Sale Sharks beat Worcester on Friday night, revenge on their near neighbours would be welcome for head coach Lyn Jones if only to steer them further away from the dogfight below them.

The first half-hour was dominated by the boot, both with positional kicks and shots at goal, as first Welsh took a six-point advantage and then saw it clawed back by their visitors.

There was not a great deal to choose between them up front but the most obvious mistake made by the field kickers, Welsh full-back Tom Arscott a particular offender – was booting the ball straight into touch and losing the territory that would have gained.

Wasps could have led handsomely at the interval had they taken the majority of their goal kicks. Daly missed a long-range effort for the visitors before an excellent scrum from the Exiles and an offside decision given their way saw Ross secure two successes.

On the move: Elliot Daly of Wasps (left) gets going as his side did the double over London Welsh

On the move: Elliot Daly of Wasps (left) gets going as his side did the double over London Welsh

But the lead did not last long as ex-Wales international Robinson levelled matters with two penalties but then sent two more penalties wide of the uprights from similar distances of 25 metres.

Ross, on the other hand, was deadly accurate at that short range. As Welsh frustrated their opponents and the front row of Franck Montanella, Neil Briggs and James Tideswell caused havoc for opponents Zak Taulafo, Rhys Thomas and Phil Swainston, Ross secured another two goals to take his side into a 12-6 interval lead.

But, even though the ball may have been greasy from the earlier rain, there was little excuse for a poor first-half with hardly any invention in attack towards either try-line.

Robinson reduced the arrears after the break to three points with his third penalty before a piece of individual magic took the match up a gear.

In what will surely be one of the contenders for try of the season, Simpson took the ball from a line-out thirty metres from the Welsh line, went through a gap at the back and embarked on a diagonal sprint across the pitch.

Rough and tumble: Ed Jackson of London Welsh is tackled by Joe Launchbury (right)

Rough and tumble: Ed Jackson of London Welsh is tackled by Joe Launchbury (right)

He looked to be going nowhere but somehow found a gap towards the line. The scrum-half ran through three tackles and got past desperate defence on the line to touch down and leave everyone in the crowd amazed.

Robinson failed with the conversion but that put Wasps two points to the good and, when Daly kicked a thumping penalty from fully 53 metres, it was the turning point of the contest.

Wasps were on top and they threatened to leave Welsh with nothing to show for their efforts when Daly sprinted down the right wing to just get in for the second try of the game .

Welsh would not lay down, and Ross' fifth penalty put them within sight of Wasps. But a final killer converted try from replacement Will Taylor saw Wasps home and dry.

Vardnell went over on 83 minutes to get the bonus point and put Wasps challenging for a top four place on Saturday night.

Gloucester 18 Exeter 16: match report

Gloucester 18 Exeter 16: Burns' boot puts his side on top in frantic clash

PUBLISHED:

17:46 GMT, 22 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 22 December 2012

Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns kicked six penalties to lead his side to victory over Exeter in their Aviva Premiership clash at Kingsholm.

Visiting hooker Simon Alcott scored the only try of a cracking clash, but the highly-rated England prospect Burns punished the Chiefs as Gloucester came from behind to win by two points.

Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson converted Alcott's try and added three penalties of his own but it was not enough.

Give 'em the boot: Freddie Burns was on good form and kicked several penalties for his side

Give 'em the boot: Freddie Burns was on good form and kicked several penalties for his side

Exeter arrived at Kingsholm buoyed by two excellent victories in the Premiership over the last month in claiming the scalps of both London Irish and Wasps that put them in a healthy mid-table position before kick-off.

The heat was on both sides as Gloucester were one place above the Chiefs in fifth and one point better off at the start, having beaten Sale Sharks last week.

The sell-out crowd were not disappointed either as both teams got to grips with each other at a frantic pace right from the start.

Burns struck first with a 30-metre attempt before Steenson landed a booming 35-metre effort from the left touchline and then put the Chiefs into a 6-3 lead with an easy 15-metre shot after an infringement by the Cherry and Whites.

Mud men: Gonzalo Camacho of Exeter is tackled by Jim Hamilton

Mud men: Gonzalo Camacho of Exeter is tackled by Jim Hamilton

Exeter had the most territory in the opening half-hour as their front five, lead by props Brett Sturgess and the huge tight-head Hoani Tui, thumped into the Gloucester midfield as scrum-half Haydn Thomas scampered the ball away at the breakdowns.

Gloucester found their way back into the match as the interval approached and nearly got the first try of the match when full-back Rob Cook played a delicate chip-and-chase over the head of the Exeter defence and, after pressure on the visitor's line, scrum-half Jimmy Cowan was held-up over the line.

Referee Llyr Ap Geraint Roberts brought play back for a Gloucester penalty which Burns booted to level the scores as tempers flared in the last seconds of the half, leading to a lecture for both captains.

It may not have been the high-scoring Premiership fiesta of last season at Kingsholm where the Cherry and Whites came home 37-23 but it was intense and engaging.

That's mine: Sione Kalamafoni of Gloucester takes the ball in a line out

That's mine: Sione Kalamafoni of Gloucester takes the ball in a line out

Burns put Gloucester six points ahead with two penalties after the teams resumed, much to the disgust of furious Chiefs coach Rob Baxter.

Exeter would not lay down, though, and, after Steenson landed a third penalty of the match, the Chiefs put pressure on the home side which eventually told as the Gloucester defence was breached as Alcott picked up a ball from a ruck and just got over the line to touch the ball down.

Steenson converted but he lead was cut soon afterwards to a single point as Burns landed his fifth penalty to set up a thrilling finale.

And fatally, Exeter went over the top of a ruck with seven minutes left, leaving Burns to boot his final penalty to put the Cherry and Whites back in front and see them to victory.