Hook lands writers award
James Hook can celebrate again after being named player of the year by the Welsh Rugby Writers
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- James Hook has been named player of the year by the Welsh Rugby Writers for the second time.
The versatile Ospreys and Wales back beat off a host of big names to claim the award he last won in 2007. Hook has operated at centre and fullback for Wales in what was a disappointing international season, while his club form saw the Ospreys reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and the Magners League Grand Final.
The 24 year-old was a runaway winner ahead of Shane Williams, Bradley Davies, Jamie Roberts, Stephen Jones and last year's winner Gethin Jenkins despite operating for much of the year with a shoulder injury that requires surgery. Scarlets hooker Ken Owens was chosen as most promising player.
- The New Zealand Rugby Union have announced that they will install an extra 800 temporary seats at Carisbrook when the Dunedin ground hosts its last rugby test next month.
This follows the last of 27,247 traditional stand and terrace tickets being sold this morning for the test between the All Blacks and Wales on June 19. The move will increase the capacity beyond 28,000. The 'House of Pain' will be replaced by a new, indoor stadium which will be used as a venue during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
- Craig Chalmers was today effectively put on probation by Scottish Rugby following his arrest for breach of the peace at the Melrose Sevens.
The Melrose head coach avoided the sack as Scotland Under-20 backs coach but was warned his future conduct would be monitored. Former Scotland fly-half Chalmers, 41, spent a night in the cells and was fined £60 following an incident outside a public after-party in Gibson Park on the evening of Saturday, April 10.
A disciplinary panel convened by Scottish Rugby to look at the latter affair found two weeks ago that it would have been unjust to uphold any misconduct charge against Chalmers due to the inconsistency of the oral evidence submitted. He was, however, warned as to his future conduct, something echoed today by Scottish Rugby following their investigation into the circumstances behind his arrest.
- Tim Molenaar has signed an extension on his contract with Gloucester that keeps him at Kingsholm until 2012.
The centre was a late addition to the Gloucester squad for the 2009-10 season, moving to Kingsholm on a two-year deal from Championship side Nottingham last August. He went on to make 19 starts and 8 replacement appearances, forming impressive midfield partnership partnerships with both Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Mike Tindall.
"Considering his late arrival with us and the fact that he missed preseason," coach Bryan Redpath said. "Tim's had an outstanding season. Various injuries in the backline have meant that he's had to partner different people in the midfield but he's risen to the challenge and genuinely improved as a player as the season has progressed."
- Leeds have expressed their disappointment at the loss of Seru Rabeni who has opted to move to French second division club La Rochelle.
The 31-year old centre, who will play for Fiji in this weekend's IRB Sevens event at Twickenham, was named in the Premiership Team of the Season. Leeds wanted to keep hold of the player but have admitted defeat. Director of rugby Andy Key said he was unhappy to lose the player, but understood why he had made the decision.
"Unfortunately after several weeks of hard work behind the scenes by the club and lawyers on behalf of Seru, we have been unable to retain Seru because of the contract he had already signed with La Rochelle," Key said. "We understand that a rugby player's career is short and that they must look to maximise their potential income"
- English referee Chris White is to take charge of the Magners League Grand Final at the RDS, Dublin next week.
Leinster face the Ospreys at their home ground and White will be the man in charge for his eighth match in the Celtic competition. He will be assisted by Scotsmen Andy Macpherson and David Changleng on the line while two Munster Branch IRFU appointees, Leo Colgan and Dermot Moloney, will act as 4th and 5th Officials respectively. Scotland's Jim Yuille, completes the group as Television Match Official (TMO).
- The Brumbies have signed Francis Fainifo for a further two years.
The winger missed the final six games of the season after breaking his leg against the Chiefs. Fainifo has been with the Canberra based club since 2006, making his debut against the Bulls in 2007.
"I always wanted to stay with the Brumbies; it's where it all started for me and they gave me my chance," he said. "Loyalty is a big thing for me; the Brumbies have been good to me and I wanted to repay them and stay.
- Glasgow Warriors have announced three new signings including the capture of Ryan Grant from Edinburgh.
The Scotland 'A' prop will be joined at Firhill by scrum-half Henry Pyrgos of Loughborough University, while 19 year-old lock Robert Harley steps up from Scotland's National Academy. Grant has played 14 times for Edinburgh over three years and coach Sean Lineen is happy with his capture, saying, "He'll add quality to the front-row, which is a crucial area for us. He's a big lad, but he's also very mobile."
- Alan Tait has appointed Paul Moriarty as his new assistant coach at Newcastle Falcons.
The 45-year-old Welshman spent six seasons on the coaching staff with Llanelli Scarlets in the Magners League and Heineken Cup, having joined them from Swansea back in 2003 and Tait welcomed his appointment, saying, "Paul will add a huge amount to the coaching team. He has been there and done it at a high level over a considerable period of time, he brings the fresh ideas that we need and I believe he can really help us drive this talented group of players onto the next level."