News in Brief
Barnes makes Waratahs switch
Berrick Barnes will play for the Waratahs next season
© Getty Images
- Australia centre Berrick Barnes has confirmed his switch from the Queensland Reds to the New South Wales Waratahs for the 2010 season.
The 23-year-old, who has also re-signed with the Australian Rugby Union until the end of 2011, has penned a one-year deal with the Waratahs and has the the option of a second season.
Barnes' signing will be a boost to the Sydney-based side who have been rocked in recent weeks by the departures of Lote Tuqiri and Timana Tahu.
"I'm excited about this sort of challenge and that sort of thing," Barnes said.
"And it's a tough thing, I never thought I'd be playing down here to be honest but as circumstances panned out this is the best opportunity for me and I can look myself in the mirror and say that along with my family.
"It's been a tough few weeks and especially the last week, I won't lie about that, but as we've come down to it I think this is the best move."
- Munster have confirmed the signing of Julien Brugnaut from Dax, subject to the results of a medical.
The 27-year-old prop, who was capped twice by France during last year's 6 Nations, arrived in Ireland for talks with the two-time Heineken Cup champions on Tuesday and, less than 24 hours later, put pen to paper on a one-year deal, with the option of a second season.
"I was immediately impressed with what I saw and heard. It is a very professional set-up," Brugnaut said.
"I am, of course, well aware of Munster and their great history in the Heineken Cup and I am very happy to be joining them and looking forward to the challenge."
Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald believes that Brugnaut will prove a tremendous acquisition for the province.
"It is the first time we have had a French international in the squad. We are delighted to be able to attract a player of Julien's quality and I believe it is a move that will reap dividends for both Munster and the player himself," he said.
- Geordan Murphy has been appointed as Leicester Tigers captain for the coming season.
The versatile Ireland international, who can play at full-back or on the wing, led the side during the closing stages of last season because of the absences of the now-retired Martin Corry and the injury-prone Aaron Mauger. As a result, Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill has now decided to give Murphy the captain's armband on a full-time basis.
"Geordan has been at Tigers for more than a decade and has been a fantastic servant to this club," the Tigers boss said. "He was captain at the end of last year and did a fantastic job."
The Tigers have also announced the signing of one of Murphy's compatriots, former London Wasps fly-half Jeremy Staunton. In addition, centre Billy Twelvetrees has been signed from Bedford, while hooker Joe Duffey and prop Robbie Harris have been prised away from Nottingham.
Meanwhile, Leicester will begin the defence of their Guinness Premiership title without the services of Alesana Tuilagi. The 28-year-old winger fractured a foot whilst on international duty with Samoa and is expected to be out of action until the end of the September.
There is positive news for Leicester, though, regarding the availability of the aforementioned Mauger. "All the indications are that he will be ready for the start of the season," Cockerill said.
Leicester kick off their Guinness Premiership campaign with a trip to Edgeley Park on September 4 to face Sale Sharks.
- Peter Hynes and Pek Cowan have been added to the Australia squad for Saturday week's Tri-Nations clash with South Africa in Cape Town.
Both men featured in last month's victory over Italy but missed out on inclusion in the match squad for last Saturday week's meeting with the All Blacks in Auckland, although Hynes did travel to New Zealand as the 23rd man.
The Wallabies depart for South Africa on Friday, with head coach Robbie Deans expected to name his starting line-up the following Tuesday.
Australia squad v South Africa: Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O'Connor, Drew Mitchell, Peter Hynes, Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Berrick Barnes, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, Richard Brown, George Smith, David Pocock, Phil Waugh, Dean Mumm, James Horwill, Nathan Sharpe, Ben Alexander, Pek Cowan, Al Baxter, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stephen Moore.
- The ERC has unveiled the fixture list for this season's European Challenge Cup.
The opening round has thrown up a number of interesting ties, with the clash between Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon and French rivals Castres Olympique on Friday, October 9 arguably the pick of the bunch.
However, the meeting of former champions London Wasps and tournament newcomers Racing-Metro 92 two days later should also generate plenty of interest.
Worcester Warriors will kick off their campaign with a home game against Montpellier on the Thursday, while Leeds face a trip to France for a meeting with Bourgoin the following night.
Newcastle Falcons also open with an away game on the opening weekend, with Steve Bates' troops off to Italy to take on Petrarca Rugby.
Saracens, though, will not have to travel in round one as they get up and running with a game against Rugby Rovigo at Vicarage Road.
In a change from last year's format, the five pool winners will be joined in the knockout stages by three runners-up from the pool stages of the Heineken Cup (the third, fourth and fifth ranked teams).
- The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has announced the introduction of an end-of-season championship play-off for the upcoming Principality Premiership campaign.
The new championship will feature the top eight sides from the regular season standings and will be played out over four rounds, with the top six clubs will represent Wales in the following season's British and Irish Cup.
With the league set to finished by April 10, the play-offs should get underway on April 27, with the final provisionally scheduled for May 23.
The revamped format is expected to be ratified at a WRU meeting on Thursday.
"Our stated aim is to be player centred, development driven and competition supported," WRU Head of Rugby Performance and Development Joe Lydon said.
"In designing this incredibly competitive end of season for the Principality Premiership Division we are certainly achieving those aims.
"It all creates an edge which will ensure fierce competition and give the supporters the mouth-watering prospect of seeing some tremendous rugby action.
"We have promised to drive the Principality Premiership Division forward and the league and cup structure this coming season will benefit the development of the game at the semi-professional level in Wales.
"I want to thank the Principality Premiership Division clubs for embracing this challenging amount of change and helping us create something that the players and fans will enjoy being part of.
"There is a lot of hard work ahead, but we have already proved that the WRU and the Premiership Division clubs can function in partnership on to meet these challenges head on."
The WRU also revealed that the semi-finals of the Swalec Cup have been pencilled in for April 17, with the semi-finals of the British and Irish Cup set to take place the following weekend.
- Jano Vermaak has been forced to pull out of the Golden Lions' Currie Cup clash with the Griquas on Friday night.
The Emerging Springbok scrumhalf is still showing signs of a light concussion from the blow to the head he sustained in last week's encounter with the Leopards.
Vermaak's withdrawal sees Chris Jonck promoted to the starting line-up and Freddie van Zyl added to the bench.