All in the scrum



Irish players extend deals

A couple of Irish players have committed their immediate futures to the Aviva Premiership. Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter confirmed former Ireland underage international outhalf Gareth Steenson has signed a contract extension with the club.

Baxter said: “Brett (Sturgess) and Gareth have signed on so we are starting to get through the bones of a team, and what we have got together for next year is already looking pretty solid.

“What we have to do now is pin down the last few guys we want to from the current squad, then make sure the guys we want to bring in are there for us and that we work hard on getting them in.”

Steenson kicked three penalties and a conversion at the weekend but was unable to prevent his side from going down 18-16 to Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Freddie Burns kicked all of the Gloucester points and included in their ranks was another Irish player Shane Monahan, who the previous week scored four tries in an Amlin Challenge Cup match.

The other Irish player to put pen to paper this week is former Ulster and Ireland A secondrow Ryan Caldwell, who has agreed a new deal at Bath.

Drico drubs hapless Healy

Brian O’Driscoll told an interesting story on a HSBC Lions video diary about a tour sparring session in 2001.

Former England player and now ESPN commentator Austin Healy put on boxing gloves and gave O’Driscoll a playful jab in the head.

The Ireland captain found a set of gloves of his own and the two started messing around until O’Driscoll caught Healy with a punch.

The exchanges became a little more earnest before O’Driscoll, having caught his opponent several more times, said: “Listen Austin you have a game at the weekend. I can’t be giving you a hiding. You can’t be going out on the pitch with black eyes.”

Morris doubles up on Irish

Niall Morris inflicted some serious damage on London Irish as he scored a brace of tries, and it was an illegal tackle on the former Leinster player that led to one of his side’s two penalty tries in a 31-9 victory at the Madejski.

Morris’ first came from a cross-kick by Toby Flood and an excellent finish from long range; his second, which guaranteed the bonus point, was again created by Flood.

Geordan Murphy started at fullback for Leicester for the first time since a recent injury while Ian Humphreys kicked three penalties for Irish.

Elsewhere former Leinster flanker Eoin Sheriff came on in the second half of Saracens 22-0 win away to Bath.

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