World Cup winning All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu has begun his overseas rugby career as a water-boy, promising a selfless attitude as he tries to help London Welsh establish themselves in the English Premiership.
Weepu said he would bring a team-first approach to a club freshly promoted and looking to do better than their last stay at the top that lasted just one season. And he’s already proved that by running the water bottles in a pre-season match.
“I’m here to push this club as hard as I can and I’ll do everything possible for the team,” Weepu told The Rugby Paper website as his arrival in Britain drew attention ahead of this weekend’s season kickoff.
“Everything is about the team, not the individual, and if someone’s not pulling their weight, including me, I hope they’ll say it.
With the new English domestic season kicking off on Friday, we take a look at the prospects of each of the 12 clubs competing for the Premiership title. Let’s get started.
The pioneers of modern English rugby, Saracens have established themselves as one of Europe’s leading teams over the last few years.
Making three Premiership Finals in the last five years along with contesting Europe’s showpiece last season underlines their rise to the top of the game. Unafraid to experiment off the field, 2013/2014 saw Saracens revolutionise their play on it by throwing off the shackles and producing attacking rugby that was hard to resist. More of the same please.
Wasps statement on stadium move:
Wasps have responded over growing speculation regarding their possible future stadium in a statement on Sunday.
The Rugby Paper has linked the club with moving their games to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Quick to address any speculation given possible negotiations to move away from Adams Park in High Wycombe remain sensitive, Wasps have moved quickly to discuss the rumours.
“Wasps are aware of media reports in recent days linking the club to a number of possible new stadiums,” read the statement.
“Wasps has made no secret of a desire to find a permanent home which reflects the ambitions of the club.
London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.
It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.
Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.
Guy Mercer is under no illusions about the importance of Bath’s final match of the season, and insists the players are ready to end their Premiership season on a high.
This weekend sees action in the penultimate round of the league stage of the Aviva Premiership with the first match of the round being between Gary Gold’s Bath and Leicester Tigers. The final match of the weekend is scheduled for Sunday afternoon with London Wasps at home to Exeter Chiefs.
Ex-London Welsh team manager Mike Scott has been banned for life from rugby union for falsifying documents to make it appear a player was English.
The club were deducted five points and fined £15,000 on Thursday for fielding an ineligible player after selecting New Zealander Tyson Keats this season.
Table-topping Harlequins will look to return to winning ways when they welcome Worcester Warriors to Twickenham Stoop in the opening Round 10 fixture on Friday.
As the Premiership starts gaining momentum, the spotlight will shine much brighter on newcomers London Welsh, who opened their account with a fine win last week.
The second round of Aviva Premiership games take places this weekend and while it may only be Round Two, Saracens have laid down an early marker in the 2012/13 Premiership season.
The Aviva Premiership gets underway this weekend, with the first match kicking off at 1500 South African time on Saturday at Twickenham. There will be a further four matches on Saturday with the final game for the round due to kick off at 1500 South African time on Sunday.
Various pre-season friendly matches have taken place this weekend, ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect Pro12 competitions. Furthemore, there has been news of player injuries as well as some player transfer news.
The regular rugby season officially kicks off in the UK and Ireland in just over two weeks time when the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect Pro12 league games start. However, the clubs have been busy with their pre-season preparations and a number of friendly matches were played this past weekend.