News in Brief
Irish rule out Madejski euro switch
London Irish's Madejski Stadium home is set to welcome some top-class European action next season
© Getty Images
- London Irish have rejected any thoughts of moving their high-profile Heineken Cup ties away from the Madejski Stadium in the hope of creating a hostile home environment.
The Exiles open their daunting campaign in the so-called "group of death" at home to two-time European champions Munster on October 9. Jonny Wilkinson's star-studded Toulon are in Reading on December 12 with London Irish to host Magners League champions Ospreys due on the second weekend of January.
Saracens, who face French champions Clermont Auvergne, Leinster and Racing Metro, are currently in negotiations about which games they can take to Wembley Stadium this season. But London Irish will not be moving any of their group matches to Twickenham in the hope of maximising home advantage at the 24,000-capacity 'Mad Stad'.
"We are relishing the challenge of the Heineken Cup. Doing battle with the best of the best on our own turf guarantees a true test of how far we have come in recent years and some great rugby," said director of rugby Toby Booth. "We need to leave our visitors in no doubt that the Madejski is a London Irish stronghold. I ask all of our supporters to get behind the squad, fill the stadium three times over and show that we are a true force to be reckoned with both on and off the pitch."
- Sale Sharks' summer recruiting drive has now seen them turn cross-code raiders with the Aviva Premiership club swooping to capture Iain Thornley from rugby league neighbours Wigan Warriors.
The 18-year-old Thornley, who plays at centre for the Warriors, is a product of Wigan's Academy and has already represented England at Academy level and, in spite of his tender years, at 6ft 4ins and weighing in at more than 15 stone he will offer both bulk and power in Sale's back-line.
"Iain's name was brought to my attention shortly after arriving at the club and after having a look at him play and talking to him, I decided to sign him up," Brewer revealed. "Iain is one of the hottest young properties in both codes of rugby. He has chosen to move to rugby union although he was a member of the Wigan first team squad and was attracting interest from Australian Rugby League sides.
"He is a big lad in peak condition who has pace, great handling skills and is very strong defensively. "He will have to work hard but I have every confidence in him."
- The South African Rugby Union have suffered a financial setback with the loss of sponsor Sasol from 2011.
The Guardian reports that the energy and chemicals company has announced it will not renew its £2.5m-a-year contract, covering the Springboks, SA Sevens, the Emerging Springboks and the U20s, when it expires next year, despite the fact the Springboks will be attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups. The association with Sasol dates back to 2004.
- Television match officials (TMOs) will return to New Zealand's national provincial championship - the ITM Cup - beginning next week.
Budget cuts last year saw the use of TMOs discontinued, but the New Zealand Rugby Union's professional rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said feedback from unions and fans had been clear: "They wanted us to find a solution."
A sideline match official will take on the role of TMO and have use of a television monitor for replays if required by the match referee. The match official with the TMO role will be appointed jointly by provincial union hosting the match and the NZRU.