News in Brief
Challenge Cup finale switched to The Stoop
The Crusaders' Leon MacDonald has been capped by the All Blacks 56 times
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- This season's European Challenge Cup Final between Northampton and Bourgoin has been switched from Gloucester's Kingsholm ground to The Stoop - home of Premiership side Harlequins.
"Bourgoin and the LNR raised a number of concerns with ERC this week regarding the location of the 2009 final after consulting with fans in the wake of their semi-final victory over Worcester Warriors," said ERC chief executive Derek McGrath.
"Even though we began the process of finding a suitable venue for this season's final way back in January, and formally announced Kingsholm as the venue last Sunday, we have been open to the arguments put forward by Bourgoin who are delighted to reach this European final. To their credit Northampton Saints were very understanding and agreed to a switch as a gesture to the French club."
The game will still take place on Friday, May 22 and kick off at 7.45pm.
- Long-serving All Blacks and Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald will join Japanese club Kintetsu at the end of the Super 14 season.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make, as I will obviously miss playing for the Crusaders and Canterbury," said rhe 31-year-old who will join former Crusaders coach Peter Sloane at the Osaka-based club. It will be his second stint in Japan, having played for Yamaha in 2004.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said while it was sad to see MacDonald go, he remained "the ultimate professional". "Leon has performed at the very highest level and has done fantastically well for the All Blacks, Crusaders and Canterbury," said Henry. "He has had to overcome major obstacles with injury and has returned to play some exceptional rugby."
- London Irish have signed 23-year-old fullback and fly-half Jamie Lennard from Doncaster Knights.
The England U21 international, who was the highest points scorers in National League One this season, has signed a two year contract that will keep him with the Exiles until the end of the 2010-11 season.
"Being attack minded as a club, the ability to score points is important which is why we're pleased to sign Jamie," said Irish head coach Toby Booth. "His age means that there is the potential to add value to him and improve him as a player as we've done with so many of the young players in our squad."
- The International Rugby Board has announced that Toshiba will be the title sponsor of the IRB Junior World Championship 2009 in Japan from June 5-21.