Leeds swoop for Hohneck
Former Bristol lock Sean Hohneck is on his way back to the Guinness Premiership with Leeds
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- Leeds Carnegie boss Neil Back has moved quickly to replace the Biarritz-bound Erik Lund by signing giant lock Sean Hohneck from Viadana.
It was confirmed earlier this month that Lund was on his way to France and Back has reacted by bringing the New Zealand-born Hohneck to Headingley on a two-year deal.
"Erik Lund did a fantastic job for us over the past two years and we developed him as a player during his time at the club. Our challenge was to find someone with the same physical presence as Erik plus the ability to compete in the line-out; in Sean we believe we have found that ideal candidate," Back said.
"He has the same frame as Erik and is a fantastic option in the line-out. He could have remained in Italy to play in the Magners League but he was keen to return to the Guinness Premiership. He has a young family and wants a new challenge to test himself. He has bought into what we want to achieve as a club.
"We have done a lot of homework to make sure we are signing someone who can not only add to our playing strength but also to our character as a club. We know that Sean is coming to Headingley Carnegie for the right reasons and we are looking forward to welcoming him for the start of pre-season."
- Rod Davies has put pen to paper on a new two-year contract with the Queensland Reds. The 21-year-old winger, who is nicknamed 'Rocket', racked up five tries in eight appearances for the franchise this term and is looking forward to adding to his tally in the coming seasons.
"Everything has been going really well and I'm happy to stay here," Davies said. "I didn't want to go anywhere else with the way the team has been going and I didn't really look anywhere else to be honest.
"We're really building something here and hopefully in the future we can go on to bigger and better things. If we can build on this season, there are exciting things to look forward to in the future. Our core group will be going into its third year together next season, so we can only get better.
"Ewen (coach Ewen McKenzie) has brought something different to the club and it has obviously worked. A lot of the boys like his coaching style and it's the reason I decided to stay."
- The Barbarians have been further strengthened by the addition of Rodney So'oialo to their squad for their 2010 summer tour. The Baa-baas face England at Twickenham on May 30 before travelling to Limerick to take on Ireland five days later and Barbarians president Micky Steele-Bodger is delighted that So'oialo has been cleared to feature in both fixtures.
"Rodney has accepted our invitation with the blessing of Graham Henry and the New Zealand Rugby Football Union and we are delighted to add him to what was already an impressive squad," he said.
England duo Ben Kay and Julian White have also been added to the panel, while Leinster lock Malcolm O'Kelly has been cleared to play in Limerick. The Baa-baas have also been buoyed by the availability of a number of players who featured in European competition over the weekend. Heineken Cup winners Toulouse have released former All Blacks scrum-half Byron Kelleher and France backs Cedric Heymans and Florian Fritz, while Biarritz pair Jerome Thion and Benoit August have also been made available for selection.
In addition, the newly crowned European Challenge Cup champions, Cardiff Blues, will be represented by Martyn Williams, Casey Laulala and Xavier Rush. The Welsh side's vanquished foes, Toulon, will supply Pierre Mignoni, Sebastian Bruno and Ross Skeate.
- Former Stade Francais boss Fabien Galthie has taken up the reins at Montpellier. The 41-year-old Galthie, who was capped 64 times by France, succeeds Warren Britz as head coach after penning a three-year contract with the club.
- Outgoing Cronulla Sharks boss Ricky Stuart has dismissed speculation that he will link up with the Melbourne Rebels next season.
Stuart confirmed on Thursday that he will not be seeing out the final year of his contract with the Sharks, prompting further talk that he is bound for Melbourne. However, Stuart insists that he intends to continue coaching in the National Rugby League (NRL).
"I can honestly say that myself or (manager) John Fordham have not had any contact from any other football club…. (in) rugby union or rugby league,'' Stuart is quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
"For the last three months I've been linked with the Melbourne Rebels - I didn't even know who the Rebels were when this first happened. I'm a rugby league coach and I believe I will be a rugby league coach for many many years."
- The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has announced a restructuring of the All Ireland League. Under the changes, which will be implemented from the 2011/2012 season, the number of senior clubs will be increased from 48 to 52, with each of the provincial champions from next year automatically gaining senior club status.
The new All Ireland structure will include:
- A Division One consisting of two sections of 10 teams each playing home and away (known as 1A & 1B). Promotion and relegation between 1A and 1B would be one automatic and one decided by play-off.
- A Division Two consisting of two sections (to be referred to as 2A & 2B) of 16 teams each playing 15 games. Promotion and relegation between 2A and 2B would be two automatic and one by play-off.
- Promotion and relegation between Division 1B and 2A would be automatic two up and two down.
- The present qualifying league structure (provincial junior league winner's round robin competition) would be maintained, including the promotion and relegation system to 2B.
- The team which finishes top of their respective division will be deemed to be the divisional league champions, and the winners of Division 1A will be deemed the All Ireland League Champions. (Consideration may be given to playoffs in Division 1A to be included in the future).
In addition, fully contracted players will only be allowed to line out in Division 1. Furthermore, only two fully contracted players will be in allowed in match day squads, of which only one can be a forward. There will also be a move to stage more games on Friday nights and rolling substitutes will be introduced on a trial basis.
- Former England captain Martin Corry has been appointed as a member of the United Kingdom Anti-Doping's (UKAD) new athlete committee. The 36-year-old World Cup winner, who retired from the game last summer, will provide advice on drug testing initiatives from a sporting perspective.
- The Ospreys have announced that strength and conditioning coach Alex Lawson and physiotherapist Daloni Lucas will leave the region after Saturday's Magners League Grand Final against Leinster.
Lawson, who has been with the Ospreys for seven years, has accepted a position with the Newport Gwent Dragons, while Daloni is departing after four years in Swansea to take up a new role with the Professional Jockeys Association.