Australia lock Rob Simmons will leave the Waratahs at the end of the Super Rugby AU season and is set to join London Irish.

Simmons has won 100 caps for the Wallabies, but it remains to be seen if he has played his last Test after sealing a move to England.

The loss of the 31-year-old captain is a big blow for the Waratahs, where he arrived in 2018 following nine seasons with the Reds.

Simmons will join compatriots Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Adam Coleman at ambitious Premiership club the Exiles.

He said: "It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas.

"Timing with situations like this can't always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.

"I've loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it's a wonderful organisation and it's been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.

"My team-mates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there's a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar."

Maro Itoje has become the latest Saracens star to sign a new contract despite their impending Premiership relegation.

England lock Itoje, 25, joined Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Elliot Daly, Mako Vunipola and Billy Vunipola by committing his future to the club, though the length of the deal was not disclosed by the reigning European champions.

Sarries will spend the 2020-21 campaign in the Championship after being relegated due to salary cap breaches, but they will still retain a wealth of talent in their squad.

"I'm massively excited to be a part of this club. I've been part of Saracens since I was 14 years old, and we've had some great memories," said Itoje.

"The culture at Saracens is second to none and I think that's evident for everyone to see.

"I'm really looking forward to the future; the future is going to be brighter than our past. The future is in our hands and we have the power to shape our own destiny."

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: "From his early days in our academy, to being part of the club's biggest moments, Maro has been a vital member of the Saracens project and we are thrilled he is committing to Saracens.

"On and off the field, Maro is a diligent, professional and thoughtful individual, who sets the example of what it means to use every opportunity you are given to improve.

"At 25, it is very exciting to think where he can take his game, this team and our club in the future."

The British and Irish Lion, who was named European player of the year in 2016, has made 119 appearances for Saracens since making his debut in 2014.

Eddie Jones has expressed delight at Manu Tuilagi's decision to stay in England and is not concerned that Owen Farrell will be playing in the Championship next season.

Tuilagi this week joined Sale Sharks on a deal until the end of next season after failing to agree terms to remain with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion was linked with a move to France or a code swap, options which would have ended his England career.

Jones says the 29-year-old's switch to Sale is great news for the Rugby World Cup runners-up.

The England head coach said: "Manu made up his mind what he was going to do. We had a couple of phone calls, we kept in contact the whole time.

"I gave him a small piece of advice, but he knew what he wanted to do. He's a valuable Test player, his performance in the World Cup and Six Nations indicated there is still more in him and I'm delighted by his decision.

"It's obviously a difficult time for everyone at the moment and we are glad he's made that decision."

Farrell will not be on the move after committing his long-term future to Saracens, who are heading for the second tier due to persistent salary-cap breaches.

It was also revealed that Mako Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Jamie George will stay with Sarries this week and Jones says the European champions’ England contingent will be picked if they are performing well enough.

He said: "I'll be comfortable [picking Saracens players] if they're in good form. Players who have a track record of Test match success, I'll have a pretty good idea of where they are and where they need to be.

"My understanding is most of the younger guys at Saracens are moving to other clubs so they will not have the same issues that the older players have. 

"Without sounding too grandiose, if I look at Owen Farrell it doesn't matter what game he plays I've got a pretty good understanding of where he needs to be."

Owen Farrell has committed his long-term future to Saracens, signing a new deal with the Championship-bound club.

The England captain has been a pivotal part of Sarries' success since coming through the academy, helping them become a dominant force in the Premiership as well as enjoying success in Europe.

However, the three-time Champions Cup winners will be dropping into the second tier for 2020-21 after being punished for breaching salary-cap regulations.

Farrell is the latest big name to confirm he will be staying despite relegation, following on from England team-mates Elliot Daly, Mako Vunipola and Jamie George.

"The club means a lot to me," said Farrell, who toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017. "I've been here a long, long time now and to be sorted going forward is brilliant.

"Most of the senior players are in a similar position. They'd do anything to put us in the best position possible and that was telling during the tough times this year and I'm sure that will be the case going forward as well."

Director of rugby Mark McCall praised Farrell - who made his debut for Saracens in 2008 - for his "relentless" drive. No terms of the deal were disclosed.

"Owen has grown up at Saracens; from a teenager in our academy to a central figure in English rugby," McCall said.

"His drive to improve is relentless, pushing everyone in the organisation – players and staff – to be better every day. Quite simply, Saracens would not be the club it is without Owen.

"Off the field he is a grounded family man, who cares deeply about the club and the people here.

"We are delighted he has committed his long-term future to Saracens."

Elliot Daly is the latest England international to commit his future to Championship-bound Saracens.

Sarries announced on Wednesday that Daly has signed a new three-year contract with the Premiership and European champions, running until 2023.

The 27-year-old utility back joined the London club from Wasps last year and will be staying on despite Sarries' relegation from the Premiership following points deductions for persistently breaching salary-cap regulations.

British and Irish Lion Daly joins the likes of Mako Vunipola and Jamie George in deciding to remain at Allianz Park.

Daly said: "I haven't been here that long but I really feel part of the Saracens family, so it was an easy decision.

"I'm looking forward to the next three years. Hopefully we can do some special things."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "We are thrilled that Elliot has committed his future to the club.

"He has been a pleasure to work with in his short time with us and there is no doubt that he will have a significant role to play in the exciting years that lie ahead.

"Despite his many achievements on the field Elliot remains incredibly modest and is highly respected within the group."

Sale Sharks have pulled off a major coup by signing England centre Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi, 29, had been linked with a move to France or a code switch to rugby league after failing to agree terms to extend his stay with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion will be eligible to continue his England career, though, after joining Sale on a deal until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Tuilagi could end the 2019-20 campaign as a Premiership champion, with the Sharks second in the table as they prepare to return to action on August 14, more than five months since the coronavirus crisis brought the season to a halt.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "We contacted Manu's agent and Leicester Tigers last week to discuss the player's current position.

"After discussions on Friday, all parties – Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi and Sale Sharks – agreed that the player was a free agent and was able to enter into negotiations with another club.

"Manu will be a fantastic commercial and playing addition to our squad and I am looking forward to seeing him join up with the lads at Carrington this week."

Tuilagi's brother, Andy, spent three seasons with Sale from 2008 to 2011.

Sean Maitland has signed a new two-year contract with Saracens despite the club's relegation to the Championship.

Premiership and European champions Saracens will play in England's second tier next term following their relegation due to salary cap breaches.

A number of the club's star names have been linked with moves away while the season is suspended due to coronavirus.

One player who will not be leaving is Scotland wing Maitland, with the 31-year-old – who has scored 29 tries in 73 appearances – agreeing to stay on until at least 2022.

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Sean has made an outstanding contribution to our club over the last four years both on and off the field.

"He has taken his game to a new level during that time and has had a great influence on some of our younger players.

"To have a player of Sean's quality and experience commit his future to the club is a huge boost."

Maitland's contract follows Manu Vunipola agreeing a new deal on Wednesday.

Ben Youngs, George Ford, Ellis Genge and Jaco Taute have all signed new contracts with Leicester Tigers.

The Premiership club confirmed the new deals for England internationals Youngs and Ford at Welford Road were "long-term".

Along with England team-mate Genge, who has reportedly extended his contract by a year, scrum-half Youngs and fly-half Ford had each signed previous terms in January.

South Africa centre Taute, who joined from Munster last year, has also committed his future to the Tigers.

It means 17 Leicester players have now signed fresh terms despite reports of disputes during talks due to the reduction of the salary cap for the 2021-22 season, with Manu Tuilagi and Telusa Veainu among those to depart.

Director of rugby Geordan Murphy said seeing the likes of Ford "showing a belief in what we are building here and the vision we have for Leicester Tigers is exciting".

He added of Youngs: "Ben loves Leicester Tigers and, like all of us at this club, wants to see it get back to where it belongs.

"He knows there is a tough journey ahead which will take a lot of hard work, on and off the pitch, and has expressed throughout this process that he is committed to whatever it takes."

Leicester were 11th in the table, with four wins from 13 matches, when the Premiership season was suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only Saracens keeping off them bottom as they were deducted 105 points for breaching salary cap regulations.

The competition is due to resume from August 15.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Montpellier have confirmed the signing of South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach on a three-year deal.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was reported to be bound for France when he announced he would leave Northampton Saints at the end of this season back in January.

With the Premiership not resuming until August at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and Reinach's contract expiring at the end of June, the 30-year-old has played his last game for Saints.

Montpellier on Friday announced that Reinach will showcase his talents in the Top 14.

"Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities," said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.

"He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing."

Reinach, who spent three years with Northampton, has been capped 14 times by the Springboks and made two appearances in their World Cup triumph in Japan last year.

The Rugby Players Association (RPA) has vowed to continue to fight for its members over contract problems as a result of Premiership clubs voting to lower the salary cap.

Premiership teams agreed unanimously to cut the cap by £1.4million to £5m, plus the existing £600,000 of academy credits, from the 2021-22 season to help alleviate the financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The reduction is to stay in place until the end of the 2023-24 campaign, while from the beginning of the 2022-23 term clubs will be allowed only one marquee signing dispensation as opposed to two, except in cases where teams already have two contracts in place with excluded players.

However, the RPA has expressed its concerns over the handling of the situation and said it remains opposed to permanent pay cuts, promising to take further action if a compromise is not found.

RPA chairman Mark Lambert said: "Most of the players have already had temporary 25 per cent pay cuts since March and April as a result of the unprecedented financial challenges exposed by COVID-19. 

"PRL [Premiership Rugby Limited] have been seeking agreement to reduce players' wages permanently by 25 per cent across all PRL clubs. This was unanimously rejected by the Players' Board.  

"The RPA has been working diligently over the last 12 weeks to seek to avoid a repeat of the damaging situation the game found itself in when the clubs imposed temporary wage cuts on a unilateral basis in mid-March. 

"This latest situation could have been entirely avoided with a collaborative and transparent approach and we now find ourselves heading towards a significant legal dispute unless meaningful and genuine dialogue takes place urgently.

"In the meantime, the RPA position remains unequivocal: the RPA is opposed to permanent cuts for our members.

"From the outset of this crisis there has been an absolute disregard for the players and the values of the game. 

"Players at some clubs are now being served with ultimatums and being put under undue pressure to sign amended contracts through the manufactured deadline of June 18. 

"To be clear, this is a totally unacceptable way to operate. Players are the lifeblood of the game and should be treated with respect. Players should not engage with this approach. The RPA will continue to fight for our members throughout this crisis."

It was announced last week the Premiership hopes to resume its suspended 2019-20 season by August 15.

England prop Joe Marler has signed a new long-term contract with Premiership club Harlequins.

The 29-year-old has made over 200 appearances for Quins since making his debut in 2009 and there should be many more to come.

One-club man Marler has earned 71 England caps and toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions three years ago after making his presence felt at The Stoop before he was a teenager.

Marler said: "I am a Harlequin, and I love the club. Growing up with Harlequins as my boyhood team.

"I remember getting thrown out of The Stoop as a fan when I was 12 because I had tried to run on the pitch. Now I get the chance to continue my journey with great friends, team-mates, coaches, and fans, without getting thrown out... yet!

"I'm immensely proud to have played for Quins over 200 times so far, I even managed to convince one of the previous bosses [Conor O'Shea] to make me captain once. 

"Even more so during this [coronavirus] pandemic affecting every single one of us, I cannot wait for my next opportunity to pull on the jersey, run out at The Stoop and welcome back the Quins family."

News of Marler's new deal on Friday came after it was announced that the Premiership Rugby are planning for the season to resume on August 15, five months after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Marler was banned for 10 weeks for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales in March, but that suspension has now been wiped as a result of the hiatus.

The 2019-20 Premiership season is set to return on August 15, five months after it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week Premiership and Championship clubs were given permission to return to non-contact training, provided they observe social distancing measures.

While no further information was given regarding the format for the remainder of the campaign, Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs stressed it was vital that clubs had a target return date to work towards.

"Nothing will happen until it is safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019-20 Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday 15 August," Childs said.

“We won't take risks with people's health, and rugby has unique challenges due to levels of proximity and impact, but with a number of clubs moving to Stage 1, it is important for us to give players, coaches and clubs clarity on when they can look to return.

"Bearing that in mind, we look forward to the restart of the season."

Each of the 12 Premiership clubs had played 13 fixtures prior to the campaign being halted, meaning they all had nine matches remaining.

Exeter Chiefs were top of the table, five points clear of Sale Sharks, while Saracens were bottom of the table and have already been relegated following a points deduction due to salary cap breaches.

Saracens have been assured they will be able to complete their European Champions Cup defence even if they are relegated to the Championship first.

The reigning English and European champions will be demoted from the Premiership to the second tier for next term following salary-cap breaches.

The club were deducted 105 points, guaranteeing their relegation, but have continued to progress in the Champions Cup.

The season's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic throws up some difficulties, however, as sport is set to return behind closed doors in England before some other European countries.

The Champions Cup may therefore not be concluded until after the next domestic campaign has started in England, with Saracens by then in the Championship.

But European Professional Club Rugby chairman Simon Halliday insists the team's European challenge will not be impacted.

"Saracens have qualified for the quarter-finals and I'll defend their right to complete the Champions Cup campaign no matter what," Halliday said, quoted in the Mirror.

"As long as we can complete the tournament, they should be allowed to participate for as long as they keep on winning."

Saracens have won the Champions Cup in three of the past four seasons and defeated Leinster in the 2018-19 final.

They will face the Irish province again in the last eight of this term's competition.

Premiership and Championship rugby sides have been given permission to return to non-contact training.

The Professional Game Board (PGB) confirmed on Tuesday that teams are now allowed to hold individual conditioning sessions provided social distancing measures are maintained.

The top flight in England was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is hoped the season can be resumed, despite all levels from the Championship and below seeing their campaigns cancelled.

"The clubs will need to satisfy a number of requirements to start Stage 1 as we continue the huge amount of work being undertaken to enable a safe return to training," Chris Booy, PGB Chair, said in a statement.

"The welfare of the players, management and staff is our only priority, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so."

Premiership clubs have also given unanimous backing to an overhaul of salary-cap regulations.

A review led by Lord Myners put forward 52 recommendations last month as part of a comprehensive assessment of the cap rules.

Although neither the level of the salary cap nor the issue around marquee player allowances have yet been addressed, all 52 recommendations put forward have won the support of clubs.

The suggested changes include increasing the severity of sporting sanctions on clubs in breach of the rules to include relegation, suspension, stripping of titles and the return of prize money.

The review followed the decision to relegate reigning champions Saracens at the end of 2019-20 due to repeated breaches of the salary cap.

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