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Panthers coach Ivan Cleary reveals major difference in Tyrone May following rollercoaster 18 months – Sporting News AU



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Major League

Toronto Arrows face more challenges as Major League Rugby season winds down



A loss Saturday to NOLA Gold would result in the Toronto Arrows being mathematically eliminated from Major League Rugby playoff contention. And the Arrows (4-8-0) have more problems to come as the regular season winds down.

A loss Saturday to NOLA Gold would result in the Toronto Arrows being mathematically eliminated from Major League Rugby playoff contention.

And the Arrows (4-8-0) have more problems to come as the regular season winds down.

After games against NOLA and Rugby United New York, Toronto could lose more than a dozen players to international duty with matches against Old Glory DC and the New England Free Jacks remaining in early July. Nine Arrows will be joining 23rd-ranked Canada for July games at No. 6 Wales and No. 3 England.

Toronto also expects to lose backrower Manuel Diana and backs Leandro Leivas and Gaston Mieres to No. 17 Uruguay.

The Arrows only brought 30 players down to suburban Atlanta, their pandemic home away from home, so they have had to bring in new talent just to be able to field a matchday 23 in their final two outings.

“We’re having to turn over 40 per cent of our roster,” said Mark Winokur, Toronto’s chief operating officer and GM. “It’s not like if we were at home where we could call people in who are local. It’s quite a process to get people down here.”

Complicating the matter is that pandemic restrictions back home mean little, if any, rugby is being played.

Nine Arrows have already been called up by Canada, which still has two spots to fill on its 32-man touring roster. 

Headed abroad with Canada are scrum half Ross Braude, fly half Will Kelly, centres Spencer Jones and Ben LeSage, fullback/centre Pat Parfrey, flanker Lucas Rumball, hooker Andrew Quattrin and props Cole Keith and Tyler Rowland.

LeSage and Rumball are the Arrows co-captains and will serve the same role with Canada, along with Rugby ATL’s Matt Heaton.

According to a survey by Americas Rugby News, the Arrows will have twice the number of call-ups as the next-highest MLR team.

Winokur is not complaining. One of the Arrows’ goals is to help feed the national team. But it doesn’t ease his job.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said.

Winokur has already been busy, securing replacements. The Arrows announced the signing of six players this week including Sam Malcolm, the club’s all-time leading scorer. The New Zealand fly half/fullback returns after a short stint with Japan’s Kamaishi Seawaves, whose season has been disrupted by the pandemic.

 “He hasn’t had a lot of rugby since he left here last year and he just said ‘Hey, want me to come over and give the boys a hand?'” said Winokur. “He’s a true Arrow through and through.”

The 25-year-old Malcolm started 21 of the 22 matches Toronto played in 2019 and 2020. His club records include points (212), conversions (58), penalty goals (31), and kicking metres (3,062). He is also the only non-Canadian to captain the Arrows in an MLR match.

He will not be available for Saturday’s game, however.

The other new signings are Canadian international flanker Ollie Nott, Welsh hooker Joe Tomlinson, former Irish under-20 international backrower Ronan Foley, Canadian lock Hank Stevenson and prop Alexandre Janlin, who holds French and Canadian citizenship.

Stevenson, 21, arrives on loan from the Utah Warriors. The six-foot-five forward is a graduate of Rugby Canada’s Maple Leafs sevens development program.

The Arrows have lost three in a row and five of the last six. With props Cole Keith and Tyler Rowland injured, Toronto had to borrow prop Luke Schlotman from Rugby ATL as an emergency replacement for a 47-21 loss to Austin last week.

Toronto only has five props in Georgia, with four needed in the matchday 23. Schlotman may be needed again this weekend, depending on how the injured players fare in treatment,

“It’s not normal and not something we like to do. But it’s survival mode really,” Winokur said of the loan.

Then again, not much has been normal for the Arrows this season.

“Just trying to operate a business in a country where you have no ties, roots, infrastructure, nothing, is very, very difficult,” Winokur said. “You don’t know who to go to for solutions to problems. There’s been enormous challenges with COVID. There’s been stuff on the field that we wouldn’t normally have to deal with.

“Not being able to go home to your friends and family and have any life outside this situation has, I think, been pretty tough on us.”

On the field, he notes the Arrows had three games decided in the last minute “by official decisions that we didn’t quite understand.”

“But we have to be resilient enough to overcome those things and in a lot of cases we just haven’t been,” said Winokur, who has not seen his family since March 18. “Yeah, I do think there’s no question that the situation we’re in bothers some people … The players are human beings. Some are able to deal with this situation better than others.”

“We’re not where we want to be … but having to play an entire season on the road does not make it a level playing field for us,” he added. “And we knew that going in.”

Toronto has played 33 career MLR games. Only eight have been in Toronto.

“We’re just continuing to deal with it as best we can,” said Winokur. “We’re definitely going to keep going.”

As for whether the league will help with the additional costs of setting up shop south of the border, Winokur said that “is sort of to be determined.”

“They have been sympathetic and they have been helpful where they can,” he added.

NOLA Gold (6-4-1) is coming off a 25-21 win over Old Glory DC. and has won two of its last three (the loss was by one point to Rugby ATL). NOLA, whose roster includes Canadians Kyle Baillie, Eric Howard, and Lockie Kratz, beat Toronto 22-14 when they met earlier in the season.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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The 53 Leicester Tigers players and coaches to leave in 17 months



The Leicester Tigers rebuild accelerated once more this week with the confirmation of Kevin Sinfield’s impending arrival and Mike Ford’s summer exit.

That double announcement came in the same week that ten players departed, from both the senior and academy squads, to end a season where Tigers have already agreed the early exit of the likes of Jordan Taufua, Luke Wallace and Jake Kerr. Others, such as Tomas Lavanini and Johnny McPhillips, are also moving on at the end of the month.

Of course, 17 months is a long time for any professional rugby club and there will be large numbers of players and staff coming and going – before you factor in Covid-19 and the overhaul that was required to revive the fortunes of the Tigers.

But there’s no denying there’s been a sizeable shake-up at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Below, we have listed 53 people who have left Leicester Tigers since Steve Borthwick was confirmed as a future head coach of the club back in January 2020, before taking up the role actively from July 1 that year.

We’ve only included personnel involved in the playing operation at Leicester Tigers, discounting boardroom-level changes…

Simon Barbour: The head of analysis’ time at Leicester Tigers, which began on a full-time basis in 2008 and was punctuated by a spell working with England in 2016/17, comes to an end this summer.

Greg Bateman: His five years at Welford Road ended when an agreement was not reached upon the renewal of his contract last year when pay cuts were introduced due to the financial impact of Covid-19. The popular prop signed for the Dragons in September 2020.

Phil Blake: The Australian started his second spell at Tigers as a defence coach in January 2020, he was released that summer.

Ryan Bower: The prop enjoyed a fairytale return to Tigers after making his ‘first debut’ in 2010. Leaves Tigers for a second time this summer with 13 appearances to his name.

Jordan Coghlan: Joined Tigers in the summer of 2019 and made 11 senior appearances for Tigers. Spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Nottingham and leaves Tigers this summer.

Gaston Cortes: Argentinian tighthead spent six seasons at Bristol before joining Tigers in 2018. Upon his release last year he joined Major League Rugby side Toronto Arrows.

Sam Costelow: Wales U20 fly-half joined Scarlets during the break in the 2019/20 season.

Luan de Bruin: His stay at Tigers was always going to be a brief one as it was essentially a ‘stop-off’ before joining Edinburgh. The South African proved to be a dependable scrummager at loose and tighthead.

Joaquin Diaz Bonilla: A curious Tigers career. Made five Tigers appearances but then didn’t feature in the final 21 games of the season as Borthwick preferred Zack Henry and Johnny McPhillips at fly-half.

Kyle Eastmond: The centre’s time at Tigers came to an end at the same time as Bateman when a contract renewal agreement wasn’t reached. The 31-year-old former Bath, Wasps and England back returned to rugby league with Leeds Rhinos but announced his retirement in May 2021.

Blake Enever: Australian second row arrived in the summer of 2020 and made six Tigers appearances before his release in February 2021.

Mike Ford: The defence coach, who also served Tigers as attack coach and as a consultant when he first arrived, is leaving the club at the end of the month.

Facundo Gigena: Argentinian prop played 45 times for Tigers after making his debut in January 2018. Was released from his contract at the same time as Enever and then teamed up with London Irish.

Ged Glynn: Operated as the head of player pathway and talent identification. His exit was confirmed in May 2020 due to ‘tough financial decisions have to be made around the streamlining of structures and operations in some departments’ brought on by the global pandemic.

Tom Hardwick: The fly-half centre appeared to be frozen out under Borthwick and his departure was confirmed in a very brief Tigers statement made in March 2021.

Zack Henry: Joined Tigers upon rugby restart in August 2020 and his role in the side grew in importance due to his ability to play at ten and 15. Is heading back to France with Pau for the 2021/22 season.

Owen Hills: The academy graduate loosehead prop joined Nottingham in June 2020.

Jonah Holmes: Winger/fullback was released from his contract in April 2020 after scoring 24 tries in three seasons. He was announced as a Dragons player the following month, a move that kept alive his hopes of adding to his international honours with Wales.

Sione Kalamafoni: Popular Tongan back rower spent five years at Gloucester before enjoying three years at Tigers. Joined the Scarlets midway through 2020.

Jake Kerr: Scottish hooker found himself behind a clutch of Tigers hookers and was allowed to join Bristol Bears in May 2021.

Tomas Lavanini: Argentinian lock signed off his time at Tigers with a try against Wasps and will join Clermont Auvergne ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Sam Lewis: The 23-year-old made 21 Tigers appearances since making his debut in November 2017. Spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Championship club Coventry.

Shalva Mamukashvili: Released in February 2021, the Georgian international hooker’s Leicester Tigers career took in just 13 minutes of on-field action.

Darryl Marfo: Arrived at Tigers during the 2020/21 season when they had issues at prop but the Scottish forward leaves this summer having not made his debut.

Jonny May: England winger returned to Gloucester on July 1, 2020 after what he called a ‘challenging few years at Tigers’.

Jan McGinity: The head of elite performance and recruitment’s departure was confirmed in December 2020.

Johnny McPhillips: Given how he ended the 2020/21 season, there was real disappointment when the fly-half’s move to Carcassonne was confirmed. He was really hitting his straps.

David Mėlė: The former scrum-half returned to the club at the start of the 2019/20 season as a coach with emphasis on half-back skills working with the academy squad. Left at the same time and for the same reasons as Ged Glynn.

Geordan Murphy: Retired from playing in 2013 having played 322 for Tigers across 16 season. Worked his way up through the coaching ranks to director of rugby position. His contract, which was due to conclude this summer, was cancelled by mutual consent in November 2020.

Tatafu Polota-Nau: Australian hooker joined Tigers on a two-and-a-half year deal in November 2017. His contract wasn’t extended beyond last summer. He returned to Australia with Parramatta Two Blues in July 2020.

Noel Reid: Joined from Leinster ahead of the 2019/20 season but wouldn’t complete the campaign after he was among those who left the club when contracts were renegotiated. The Irishman subsequently joined Top 14 side Agen.

Will Spencer: Second-row spent two seasons with Tigers before leaving last year to rejoin his first club Bath.

Boris Stankovich: The former prop, who played more than 100 times for Tigers between 2007 and 2014. Was part of the club’s coaching team from 2017 but left ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Jimmy Stevens: Hooker was forced to retire from a concussion injury aged 29 in May 2020.

Jordan Taufua: One of the more recent departures. The 28-year-old played 18 times for Tigers after joining in February 2019. But, following interest from Lyon, he was allowed to leave with immediate effect and made his Top 14 debut against Clermont Auvergne.

Rob Taylor: Granted early release from his contract on compassionate grounds in November 2020 and returned to coach in New Zealand.

Joe Thomas: Former Ospreys centre was released by Tigers at the same time as fellow backs Adam Thompstone and EW Viljoen.

Guy Thompson: Back row spent two seasons at Tigers making 33 appearances. He joined ambitious Championship club Ealing Trailfinders and will be back at Jersey Reds next term.

Adam Thompstone: The experienced winger left Tigers last summer having made more than 160 appearances for the club.

Manu Tuilagi: One of the ‘Leicester Five’ who left when contracts were renegotiated. Manu joined Sale Sharks and scored on his return to Welford Road in September 2020 but suffered an Achilles injury shortly afterwards before making his playing comeback towards the end of the 2020/21 season.

Telusa Veainu: Talented Tonga international was among the players who left when contracts were renegotiated last season. He subsequently joined Stade Francais.

EW Viljoen: The South African back joined from the Stormers but after a handful of Tigers games, he was released last summer and returned to his home country for the Lions.

Luke Wallace: Arrived at Tigers following the restart of the 2019/20 season last August and made 16 appearances before being allowed to join Harlequins in the closing months of the 2020/21 campaign.

Ben White: Became Tigers’ youngest-ever Premiership player and seemed destined to be Ben Youngs’ successor. But the rise of Jack van Poortvliet and Richard Wigglesworth’s arrival limited his game-time chances.

Development Squad members Kyran Bungaroo,Sam Eveleigh,Leo Gilliland,Cameron Jordan and Keston Lines also left Tigers during 2020 and Ollie Ashworth, Osman Dimen, Henri Lavin and Kit Smith will leave at the of June 2021.

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Heavy Island, MLR flavour to Canadian rugby roster for tuneups against Wales, England



A constant past refrain in North American rugby has been about the need for a domestic pro league. That has now come to be in the form of Major League Rugby and it is having an impact.

Twenty-five of the 30 players, including five of the eight Islanders named for the Canadian tests next month against England and Wales, are from MLR teams. Quinn Ngawati of Victoria plays for Rugby United New York, Doug Fraser of Ladysmith for Old Glory DC of Washington, Lachlan Kratz of Victoria for NOLA Gold of New Orleans, UVic Vikes-grad and CW-product Jake Ilnicki for the Seattle Seawolves and Josh Larson of Nanaimo captains the New England Free Jacks.

Ben LeSage and former UVic Vikes player Lucas Rumball, from the Toronto Arrows, and Matt Heaton of Rugby ATL of Atlanta will captain Canada.

“The MLR is providing our players the opportunity to consistently train and play at a high level,” said Canada head coach Kingsley Jones of Sooke.

Other Islanders selected include Foster Dewitt of Courtenay and Isaac Oslen of Victoria, both from the Rugby Canada National Development Academy in Langford. The lone overseas pro is Will Percillier of Victoria from Stade Francais.

Ngawati, Dewitt, Kratz and Olsen are among 11 uncapped players selected. No players from the Langford-based Canadian sevens team were picked because they are preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

“We are very excited to assemble for the first time since our high-performance camp last November,” said Jones.

“It’s been a massive undertaking in coordinating the logistics of assembling these players in a COVID-world, but we feel privileged and humbled to have the opportunity to play these critical World Cup qualification preparation matches.”

Regional qualifying for the 2023 World Cup in France begins in the fall.

The two Canadian tests in the U.K. are against world powers and both on hallowed rugby grounds – versus Wales on July 3 at Principality (formerly Millennium) Stadium in Cardiff and July 10 against England at Twickenham. They will be the first games for Canada since the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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