Leicester Tigers Club statement: New Head Coach

Leicester Tigers are delighted to announce that Matt O’Connor is to return to the club as head coach.
O’Connor won three Premiership titles in his previous spell with the Tigers up to 2013 and has subsequently worked with Leinster, Queensland Reds and Tonga.

He will begin his new role at Leicester in early April, subject to visa.

Leicester Tigers club chairman Peter Tom CBE said: “We are delighted that Matt O’Connor has accepted an offer to return to Welford Road.

“The club has conducted an exhaustive search to find who we feel is the right person to take the team forward and this brought up the names of a number of potentially very good coaches. One of the most significant factors in our deliberations was experience of the Premiership and what it takes to win the competition.

“Matt has that experience as head coach during a successful period which brought three league titles, an Anglo-Welsh Cup and the club’s most recent appearance in the European Cup Final. The team also topped the try-scoring figures in the Premiership four times in that five-year period with Matt in charge of the attack.”

Aaron Mauger, the current head coach, will leave the club after this Saturday’s Aviva Premiership fixture against Northampton Saints.

Former centre Mauger returned to Welford Road as head coach at the start of 2015/16 season, a campaign which included appearances in the semi-finals of both the Aviva Premiership and European Cup.

Tigers remain in the fight for places in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals this season and have just won the Anglo-Welsh Cup with Mauger in interim charge of team affairs.

Chairman Peter Tom added: “While preparing to welcome Matt, we are also disappointed to lose Aaron.

“Matt’s strengths are in his work with players on the training pitch and we are making changes to our organisational structure to enable him to focus solely on the success of the team.

“We thank Aaron for his commitment to the club over the last two seasons as head coach and especially in his time in interim charge of team affairs in recent months. We wish him well for the future.”

Former Australia international centre O’Connor worked as assistant coach with the Brumbies and Australia ‘A’ before joining Leicester in the summer of 2008, initially as backs coach under Heyneke Meyer and then as head coach with Richard Cockerill.

In his time at the club, Tigers won Premiership titles in 2009, 2010 and 2013, the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2012 and reached the 2009 European Cup Final.

After leaving Welford Road in 2013 to become head coach at Leinster, O’Connor led them to the Celtic League title in his first season and reached the semi-finals of the Champions Cup a year later.

He became attack coach and then co-head coach at Super Rugby side Queensland Reds and assistant coach with Tonga as they recorded three wins out of three on their European tour last autumn.

Tigers club captain Tom Youngs said: “Matt has a good record in the Premiership and had a lot of success in his previous spell here. We look forward to working with him again when he arrives next month.

“At the same time, it is disappointing that Mage is leaving the club. He’s a good man and a good rugby man who has worked very hard as head coach over the last couple of seasons and goes with our best wishes.”

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Anglo Welsh Cup preview: Exeter vs Leicester

Venue: Twickenham Stoop Date: Sunday, 19 March Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

The time has come for the Anglo Welsh cup final and it is an all English affair.

Leicester Tigers come off the back of a convincing win versus Saracens, their first ever at Allianz park, and make two changes. Mike Williams comes in at Flanker whilst Peter Betham replaces J P Pieterson on the wing. Tigers have gone for experience as they search for their first silverware since 2013 with the likes of Mathew Tait and Freddie Burns leading the attack and Graham Kitchener, who was in the last Tigers team to win the Anglo Welsh cup, leading the lineout. Meanwhile they make four changes to the bench, bringing in extra experience with Tom Youngs, Dom Barrow, Luke Hamilton and Matt Smith being added.

Chiefs bring in props Moray Low and Greg Holmes while behind Dave Ewers gets the nod over Tom Johnson in the back-row. Jack Maunder returns at scrum-half  while Max Bodilly’s switch from wing to centre means there is also a starting spot for recently crowned Premiership Player of the Month, James Short, on the wing.

Exeter: Turner; Jess, Bodilly, S Hill, Short; J Simmonds, Maunder; Low, Malton, Holmes, Atkins, Welch, Ewers, Salvi (capt), Simmonds.

Replacements: Taione, Keast, Owlett, Skinner, Johnson, Thomas, Hooley, Hendrickson.

Leicester: Worth; Betham, Tait (capt), Roberts, Brady; Burns, Kitto; Genge, McGuigan, Balmain, Wells, Kitchener, Williams, Thacker, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Youngs, Rizzo, Bateman, Barrow, Hamilton, White, Williams, Smith.

Referee- Thomas Foley

Prediction- Tigers Win

 

 

 

 

 

Anglo Welsh cup Semi-final Preview Exeter vs Harlequins

The second semi final of the weekend is between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins. Exeter come off the back of a bonus point win over the Leicester Tigers whilst Quins visit after a massive comeback vs Gloucester to win 27-30.

Both teams have gone for a mix of experienced and academy players. Julian Salvi captains the Chiefs on his return from injury to line up alongside Ben Moon and Damian Welch in the Chiefs pack. Whilst their backline features Ollie Devoto at outside centre.

Harlequins have gone for an experienced back three with Chisholm, Yarde and Alofa. And Adam Jones starts at Tighthead prop to make his 31st appearance.

Exeter: Turner; Jess, Devoto, S Hill, Bodilly; J Simmonds, Townsend; Moon, Malton, Williams, Atkins, Welch, White, Salvi (capt), S Simmonds.

Replacements: Taione, Keast, Low, J Hill, Johnson, Thomas, Hooley, Hendrickson.

Harlequins: Chisholm; Yarde, Marchant, Hopper, Alofa; Jackson, Mulchrone; Lambert, Gray, A Jones, Merrick, Matthews, Naoupu, Ward (capt), Luamanu.

Replacements: Buchanan, Evans, Shields, South, Hodson, L Jones, Lang, Walker.

Referee: Dan Jones

Prediction: Exeter win

Anglo Welsh cup Semi-final Preview: Saracens vs Leicester

The Anglo Welsh cup semi-finals kick off with Saracens vs Leicester Tigers (11/03/17 KO 18:00).

These two teams will meet for the fourth time this season with Tigers seeking their first ever win at Allianz Park. Saracens have named an entirely different team to the one which beat Newcastle by 27 points to 35 last weekend. The Saracens bench packs plenty of firepower with players such as Burger, De Kock, Lozowski whilst still playing in the spirit of the Tournament, picking a young team with Samoa lock Fa’atiga Lemalu making his first start after signing on a short-term deal last month, while Tom Lindsay could make his debut from the bench.

The Leicester Tigers have made twelve changes to their starting xv with J P Pieterson, Kitto and Luke Hamilton the only players to retain their place. It is a Tigers team packed with experience with Burns, Tait, Balmain,  Kitchener, Thacker, McCaffrey coming into the team. There is also a starting place for full-back George Worth who stood in earlier in the season when Tait and Veainu were out with a Broken Jaw and Concussion respectively. Tigers have packed a young bench with Ben White named at 21 coming in for the injured Sam Harrison and Harry Thacker’s brother Charlie coming in at 23.

Saracens come into the match on the back of a poor start to times without their internationals whilst Tigers return to action after a 34-15 drubbing by the Exeter Chiefs after a noticeable improvement in their performance.

Saracens: Gallagher; Ellery, Streather (capt.), Tompkins, Earle; Whiteley, Taylor; Barrington, Saunders, Koch, Lemalu, Flanagan, Brown, Conlon, Vunisa.

Replacements: Lindsay, Stringer, Lamositele, Isiekwe, Burger, De Kock, Lozowski, Perkins.

Leicester: Worth; Brady, Tait (capt.), Roberts, Pietersen; Burns, Kitto; Genge, McGuigan, Balmain, Wells, Kitchener, Hamilton, Thacker, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Croft, Rizzo, Bateman, Maksymiw, Owen, White, Williams, Thacker.

Referee: Luke Pearce

Prediction: Tigers win