- Preparations underway for next Championship season
- Signings affecting Falcons and Nottingham
Photo: Getty Images
With the final round of league games taking place this weekend, clubs from around the RFU Championship are making preparations for the 2013-14 season.
Promotion favourites Newcastle Falcons announced the signing of Saracens flanker Andy Saull on Thursday. The 24-year-old, who has represented England at Under 16, Under 18, Under 19, Under 20 and Saxons level, joins former teammates Adam Powell and Noah Cato on Tyneside.
Making his Saracens debut against Sale Sharks in 2008, the London-born back row has made more than 100 appearances for the Allianz Park club, during which time he was a member of the England Under 20s team that won the Six Nations Grand Slam as well as making his Saxons bow against Portugal at Edgeley Park in 2009.
Progressing through Saracens’ academy system, Saull made his first-team debut against Bristol in the EDF Energy Cup just months after completing his A-Levels, and quickly earned himself a reputation as one of the best openside flankers in the country.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge of playing for Newcastle Falcons, and I have heard nothing but good things about the place from Adam [Powell] and Noah [Cato],” said Saull, who was speaking from his training base in London.
“They told me how professional the set-up is up there under Dean Richards, and there are certainly big plans in place at the club to go all the way to the top.”
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Andy is a fantastic signing, who has the potential to achieve big things in the game.
“He has benefited from an excellent rugby education with Saracens, coming through their academy and going on to play alongside a string of world-class players.
“I am thrilled that we have secured Andy’s services.”
Photo: Steve Galloway
Closest rivals Nottingham Rugby announced the departure of Green & Whites favourites Nic Rouse and Matt Parr to London Irish, following previously departed head coach Glenn Delaney, who took up the position of forwards coach at the Premiership club.
Twenty-nine-year-old loose-head prop Parr has previous Premiership experience with Leicester, Sale and Saracens and brings with him a wealth of expertise in the front row position.
Second row Rouse has been around the Midlands club since 2006 and has played over 160 games. In his first season with Nottingham he was awarded 'Player of the Year'. Nic previously spent time on loan with London Irish in 2008, before he signed a one-year deal to play for Sale Sharks.
London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “We are delighted to have these two players on board for the next few seasons. Matt will bring massive strength, work rate and experience in a key position, which will be crucial for us going forward. Nic also has a great work rate and is a very physical player. Glenn Delaney has worked with both Nic and Matt and is very happy that both will be joining us next season.”
Commenting on signing for the Exiles, Matt Parr said: "I’m looking forward to joining London Irish next season. They are an ambitious club with some great players. Until then I will be concentrating on Nottingham and the club’s promotion push.”
Nic Rouse echoed his teammate’s words, saying: “It will be an exciting challenge when I join London Irish in the summer. They have really showed in the last few months that they are a top side and I am sure we can push on next season. There is still work to be done at Nottingham and that will have my full attention until the end of this season.”