News in Brief
Vickerman confirms Saints deal
Former Wallaby lock Dan Vickerman has signed for Northampton
© Getty Images
- Northampton Saints have announced the signing of Australian lock Dan Vickerman for the 2009-10 season. Vickerman, who has 54 caps for the Wallabies, will combine his rugby at Northampton with his studies at Cambridge University. Vickerman came in to the spotlight by ditching his rugby career in Australia for his academic pursuits, and faced off against former All Black skipper Anton Oliver during the 2008 Varsity Match at Twickenham.
"Northampton is a club that has made great strides with the results that the team have had this year," Vickerman said. "I've watched them play and they play a great brand of rugby. I will also be wanting to grow as a player. Rugby is a game in which you're continually learning and it will be fun playing under Jim and his coaching staff. And if I can contribute to the club getting better then that would be great too."
- Queensland Reds star Digby Ioane is demanding an extra AU$125,000 to his contract or he will accept an offer from Europe or Japan.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will make an eleventh-hour effort to persuade the winger to stay in Australia after he was allegedly offered AU$1.1m from abroad. The ARU's base offer to the 23-year-old is $175,000 a season but that figure could rise to $410,000 if Test and Super 14 match fees, along with car and living-away-from-home expences are factored in.
"I could stay for $300,000 (base rate)," Ioane told rugby365.
"I love Queensland and I would love to play in the (2011) World Cup. It's just sad. I really want to stay. But what I got offered I felt was just an insult. Money is a big thing to me. I need to support my family, my mum and my dad. For me family comes first."
An ARU spokesman said on Sunday that the differential between what Ioane could earn overseas and the extended ARU offer really was as wide as the $700,000 mark.
"There is only so much money in the coffers," he said. "It's not a bottomless pit. But it should be pointed out that in 2008, there were only 20 players in Australian rugby who were offered over $400,000."
- The Brumbies are set to put together a dream team by signing Leinster's Rocky Elsom as one of the last players on their books. The Canberra outfit are expected to finalise contracts with exisitng players shortly but there is still a spot available in the back-row.
Elsom is rumoured to have agreed terms but Brumbies Chief Executive, Andrew Fagan, said a deal was yet to be finalised.
"He's obviously moving a little closer to making a decision ... he knows what our position is," Fagan told AAP.
"He's over here next week, obviously coming to play in that (Barbarians) game and I would suggest it may not be until then, that he wouldn't make a decision until he's actually in the country. There's no scheduled meeting at this stage."
- The Wallabies and Barbarians will contest the inaugural Nick Shehadie Trophy when the clash at the Sydney Football Stadium on June 6. The trophy is named after Shehadie, the first man to play for the Baa Baas against his own country, a feat he managed during Australia's European tour during the 1957-58 season.
- Vulnerable Air New Zealand Cup provinces have cause to watch their backs as the number of participating teams is destined to be reduced, possibly from as early as next year. That is the over-riding outcome of a series of principles agreed to by the provincial unions themselves, New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew announced the series of principles that all but guarantees the number of competing teams will be cut as the competition is crammed into a 10 to 12-week space, ending in October. Also flagged for future competitions is the implementation of a promotion-relegation match but whether this will be automatic or by way of a playoff match has yet to be determined. Each team will be guaranteed four or five home games. Tew said the principles provided strong guidance for competition structures and options would now be further developed.
"These principles mean the premier division of our domestic provincial competitions will feature fewer teams and this was agreed by those present, providing meaningful competition is available for all 14 provincial unions which are currently in the Air NZ Cup," he said.
- SANZAR have confirmed that South African referee Jonathan Kaplan will take charge of the Super 14 final between the Chiefs and Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
- Gloucester have confirmed the singing of former Ireland U21 prop Paul Doran-Jones from National One side London Welsh.
- Edinburgh have signed Scotland 'A' fullback Steve Jones from Newcastle Falcons following the departure of Hugo Southwell to Stade Francais.