News in Brief
Magners champs Munster draw plaudits
Munster skipper Paul O'Connell has added the Magners League title to the Lions captaincy
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- Celtic Rugby chief David Jordan has congratulated Magners League champions Munster. The Irish province, who will take on Leinster in the Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park on Saturday, were handed the title when the Ospreys failed to secure a bonus point in defeating the Dragons on Thursday night.
"They clearly intended to claim the Magners League trophy this season following on from their success in Europe last, and from the outset they have been almost unstoppable, having won 13 of their 16 matches to date," he said after their title was confirmed on Thursday night. "Munster's success on the pitch has also been reflected off it and the re-opening of the impressive Thomond Park Stadium has brought capacity crowds to their Magners League games at that venue.
"The esteem in which their players are held has resulted in the selection of such a large contingent of Munster players in the British and Irish Lions touring party named last week.
"The winning of the Magners League title is a splendid achievement and the culmination of a strong and well coached squad throughout the campaign, the presentation of the trophy should prove to be a great occasion for players, backroom staff and fans alike."
- Newcastle Falcons have completed the signing of former Junior All Black and Blues fly-half Jimmy Gopperth on a three-year contract. Gopperth, 25, will join after representing the Blues in this year's Super 14, in a move that may signal further developments in terms of Jonny Wilkinson's place at Kingston Park. The Falcons have also signed Harlequins winger Charlie Amesbury on a two-year deal.
- London Irish winger Adam Thompstone, 21, has committed his future to the club by signing his first professional contract at the Madejski Stadium. Thompstone has scored seven tries in ten appearances so far this season.
- Gloucester have confirmed that Ryan Lamb, Anthony Allen, Mark Foster and Willie Walker will all leave the club after being released. The players join Iain Balshaw, Gareth Cooper, Jack Forster and Carlos Nieto in exiting Kingsholm following a disappointing season.
- Gloucester hooker Olivier Azam has been ordered before an RFU disciplinary panel after his citing for allegedly making contact with the eyes/eye area of Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Roberts was re-opened. The case had originally been dismissed because the citing was officially submitted too late following the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final on April 18.
- Sale Sharks have handed the captaincy for next season to lock Dean Schofield. Schofield has taken over from Argentina international Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, who will leave at the end of the season, and will be assisted by vice-captains Charlie Hodgson and Mark Cueto.
- Brumbies centre Tyrone Smith has re-signed with the Canberra-based Super 14 side. Smith, younger brother of Brumbies and Australia flanker George, has inked a new two-year deal with the club that he joined from Harlequins rugby league in 2008.
- Northampton Saints have applied for planning permission to extend their Franklin's Gardens ground. The club plan to replace the existing Sturtridge Pavilion, increasing capacity from the current 13,500 to 17,000.
- Reds and Wallabies flanker Hugh McMeniman could be out of action for up to six months after suffering an ankle tendon injury. McMeniman will now require surgery on the injury picked up during a training drill.