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. 

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has signed for Japanese Top League side Shining Arcs.

Laidlaw, 34, retired from international duty after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has ended his three-year association with Clermont Auvergne for a move to Japan.

The experienced scrum-half will team up with Australia flanker Liam Gill and Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi ahead of the 2021 season.

"At the Scotland Tests in Japan in 2016 and at the World Cup last year, I was able to experience the wonderful culture of Japan and meet wonderful fans," Laidlaw said in a Shining Arcs statement.

"Every time I have visited Japan, I was welcomed with a wonderful hospitality and I look forward to living in this country and becoming a member of Shining Arcs."

This year's Top League season was cancelled due to coronavirus and the 2021 campaign is not scheduled to begin until January.

Jordie Barrett returned from injury to lead the Hurricanes past the Chiefs 25-18 for their first win of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

In his first game back from a shoulder injury, All Blacks utility Barrett made an instant impact with 10 points and two try assists in Hamilton, where the Hurricanes survived a red card to Scott Scrafton on Sunday.

Scrafton was shown a second yellow card with 15 minutes remaining at FMG Stadium Waikato but the Hurricanes held on to score their first win of the 2020 campaign while ending the 0-4 Chiefs' title hopes in the 10-week round-robin tournament.

Both teams were winless heading into the contest, but the Hurricanes silenced the 15,031-strong crowd following a dominant first half on the road.

Barrett kicked two conversions and two penalties, including a 62-metre effort to help the Hurricanes take a 20-3 half-time lead.

The Hurricanes star threw a long pass to Kobus van Wyk for the first try of the match in the fourth minute before Du'Plessis Kirifi also crossed over prior to the interval.

Damian McKenzie slotted his second penalty after the restart however, Warren Gatland's Chiefs were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage during the closing stages.

Van Wyk added his second try of the match following Scrafton's dismissal, while the Chiefs' Lachlan Boshier scored off a long pass from Sean Wainui in the 77th minute.

The Brumbies nearly frittered away an 18-point second-half lead but held on to defeat the Rebels 31-21 in their first Super Rugby AU game.

The Rebels scored 17 unanswered points and Matt Toomua's third penalty with nine minutes to go brought them to within a point.

However, Will Miller scored the Brumbies' fifth try of the evening with three minutes remaining to ensure the Rebels came up short.

Two penalties from Toomua - playing his 100th game for the team - were all the Rebels had to show for their first-half efforts, with Andy Muirhead, Joe Powell and Folau Fainga'a going over to leave the Brumbies in charge.

They led 24-6 when Tom Wright crossed early in the second half, yet the Rebels came roaring back through tries from Jordan Uelese and Dane Haylett-Petty, both of which were converted by Toomua.

Yet a poor lineout from Rebels debutant Efi Maafu was seized upon by the Brumbies, and flanker Miller burrowed over to end any hopes of a comeback.

Dan Carter made his return to a rugby field in New Zealand on Saturday when he turned out for his childhood club.

The All Blacks legend, a two-time Rugby World Cup winner, played 80 minutes in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people as he helped Southbridge to a 54-14 win over West Melton.

Carter kicked six of his seven conversion attempts in his first appearance in his native country since 2015, the year he retired from international rugby.

The 38-year-old has signed with the Blues for their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign but is yet to feature due to a lack of fitness.

"If anyone saw that game today, I'd say myself that I'm a bit rusty," Carter said after a match in which he played the full 80 minutes.

"It's good to make the first step to potentially playing again. I'm not sure if I could play at Super Rugby level just yet. You leave those kinds of decisions up to the coaches."

After the match, Carter uploaded a series of images and a video from the Southbridge dressing room.

"Love his footy," he wrote.

"Great day today playing with @southbridgerugby_footballclub thanks for having me."

Carter spent 12 years playing for the Crusaders, for whom he remains the top scorer, between 2003 and 2015.

However, his Blues debut could come against his old club in Christchurch next week.

"Whether I play or not, I'm not too worried," Carter added.

"I'll leave that decision to [coach] Leon [MacDonald] and the selectors up at the Blues."

Will Jordan scored another brace of tries as the Crusaders defeated the Highlanders 40-20 to make it three wins from three at the start of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.

The wing dotted down twice in last weekend's victory over the Chiefs and he repeated the feat as the Crusaders maintained their 100 per cent start.

After Jordan's first score, the Highlanders hit back with tries from Shannon Frizell and Ngane Punivai, and despite two Richie Mo'unga penalties, a Mitchell Hunt three-pointer meant the Crusaders trailed at the break.

However, another Hunt penalty was all they had to show for their second-half efforts as the Crusaders pulled away.

Tom Christie crossed twice, either side of a Sevu Reece try, and Jordan capped off the victory with a brilliant breakaway score as he collected his own chip and went over for his second try in the final minute.

James O'Connor's late double with his boot gave the Reds a long-awaited win over rivals the Waratahs in the Super Rugby AU opener.

The Australia-based competition has replaced the usual Super Rugby tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, kicking off on Friday.

The curtain-raiser certainly delivered as the Reds ended a seven-year, 11-match win drought against the Waratahs.

The two teams were neck and neck for much of the contest at Suncorp Stadium, with Will Harrison's kicking keeping New South Wales in touch as the Reds scored three first-half tries.

Liam Wright touched down early on, before Harry Johnson-Holmes responded for the Waratahs.

Filipo Daugunu burst through for Queensland and then it was the influential Tate McDermott's turn to score, while Angus Bell was sent to the sin bin for repeated scrum infringements.

The Reds were less impressive after the interval and Jack Maddocks crossed for a brilliant try to give the Waratahs the lead for the first time.

But Harry Wilson soon went through and, although Taniela Tupou was shown a yellow card for a late tackle, O'Connor kept his nerve with two penalties in the closing stages to settle the clash.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has signed with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath and will miss next year's Super Rugby season.

Barrett, 29, signed a four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Blues in 2019, but will head to Japan in 2021 before returning for the international season.

The star playmaker will play under Kiwi coach Milton Haig, while England head coach Eddie Jones is a consultant for Suntory Sungoliath.

"For me it made sense to go next year and then have two years back with the Blues and hopefully the All Blacks in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup," Barrett said.

"My wife and I are excited to head to Japan next year. It is an appealing place for a young family and comparatively safe in health terms.

"The Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa competition has been an amazing experience. It's been brutal and demanding which is what you expect when New Zealand teams play each other.

"I'm loving every minute of it and having such big crowds turning out has been fantastic. I am loving the move to the Blues and we still have a job to do this season. It is an excellent environment with great coaching and an awesome bunch of dedicated players.

"While the excitement about heading to Japan will build closer to the time, I'll also be looking forward to being back later in 2021 and then into the 2022 Blues season."

All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock have had similar agreements to play in Japan this year.

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said he was planning for next year without Barrett.

"Our focus is fully on the current campaign but we have plans for next year without Beaudy," he said.

"He will be a big loss but that is countered with what he is doing on and off the field this year, and that we get him for two more years.

"We have Otere Black playing terrific rugby, and Harry Plummer who has been coming off the bench, while we will have Stephen Perofeta back next season from injury."

Former South Africa hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has been given an eight-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance. 

The 33-year-old tested positive for the anabolic agent Zeranol in an out-of-competition sample taken in January 2019. 

Ralepelle, who also failed tests in 2010 and 2014 - the first was ruled a 'no-fault' case and he received a reprimand, challenged the latest charge, but the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has banned the player until 2027. 

The ex-Sharks, Bulls and Toulouse forward, who won 25 caps for the Springboks, has three weeks to lodge an appeal.  

A statement from SAIDS sent to Stats Perform News read: "The Independent Doping Tribunal Panel handed down its decision in two parts this week on the doping charge against former Springbok and Sharks rugby player, Mahlatse 'Chiliboy' Ralepelle.  

"The player tested positive for the banned anabolic agent Zeranol during an out-of-competition test on January 17, 2019. 

"The athlete challenged the doping charge and was afforded the opportunity to seek legal counsel to present his case and version of events to the tribunal panel. The hearings were adjourned multiple times and were held over a period of six months. The panel reached a decision first on the merits of the case where they found the player guilty of a doping offence. 

"Ralepelle had previously tested positive on two separate occasions while playing overseas. The Zeranol positive case was his third positive dope test during his playing career within a 10-year period, however the player's first positive case was ruled a 'No Fault' decision and he then received a reprimand. 

"The panel had to refer to sports jurisprudence to determine the appropriate sanction which they ruled to be the player's second doping offence. 

"The Independent Doping Tribunal Panel ruled that Mr Ralepelle must serve an eight-year ban for doping. The ban will expire on January 27, 2027. The player has 21 days within which to file an appeal against the sanction."

Melbourne-based franchise the Rebels are exploring alternative venues for their upcoming game against the Reds due to quarantine restrictions in Queensland.

The Rebels open their Super Rugby AU campaign on Saturday when they take on the Brumbies, with 50 players and staff already relocating to Canberra ahead of the clash at GIO Stadium.

However, new provisions imposed by the Queensland government amid a rise in coronavirus cases means the planned round two fixture against the Reds on July 10 is to be moved.

In a statement, the Rebels confirmed they are looking into options in New South Wales but, following consultation with Rugby Australia and Queensland Health, the match will be allowed to go ahead as the group will have been out of Victoria for 14 days beforehand.

The players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 ahead of the new domestic competition organised following the suspension of the Super Rugby season.

"We thank all state governments for their open collaboration and working with us throughout these unique circumstances," the statement read.

"The ongoing base of the Melbourne Rebels squad following this July 10 fixture is currently also being determined, with a bye scheduled for Round 3.

"Not unlike other teams and codes domestically and abroad, the short-term relocation of the Melbourne Rebels away from Australia's sporting capital has been a challenging and evolving situation.

"It is a sacrifice from our club, players and staff which provides for the commencement and continuation of the 2020 Super Rugby AU competition, and illustrates our commitment to the future prosperity of rugby in Australia."

The Crusaders made it back-to-back wins to start the Super Rugby Aotearoa season with an 18-13 victory over the Chiefs on Sunday.

Will Jordan scored tries either side of half-time for the Crusaders at a rainy Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

It marked the Crusaders' second win in as many games this season, while the Chiefs fell to a 0-3 record.

The wet conditions made for a tricky opening and Richie Mo'unga and Damian McKenzie traded penalties in the first 24 minutes.

Jordan went over seven minutes before half-time for the Crusaders, Sevu Reece taking a high kick on the wing before throwing a pass inside.

The Crusaders caught the Chiefs off guard early in the second half, a quick play seeing Jordan cross again to make it 15-3.

Mo'unga's penalty had the Crusaders up 18-3 with 20 minutes to go, but the Chiefs threatened a late comeback.

Sean Wainui crashed over before McKenzie converted and then kicked a penalty, although the Crusaders were largely untroubled in the closing stages.

The Highlanders were unable to snatch another late win in Super Rugby Aotearoa as the Blues held on for a nail-biting 27-24 victory at Eden Park on Saturday.

Bryn Gatland's late drop goal had seen the Highlanders defeat the Chiefs, coached by his dad Warren, in their opening fixture but, following a bye week, they were unable to repeat the feat in Auckland.

Mitchell Hunt missed a 73rd-minute penalty and then a drop goal as he failed to tie things up for Aaron Mauger's side, who could not make the most of late pressure in the Blues' 22.

Tries arrived in the opening 11 minutes from the Blues' Caleb Clarke, whose grandfather passed away hours prior to kick-off, and the Highlanders' Ash Dixon.

Scott Gregory's kick was then charged down by Hoskins Sotutu and Dalton Papalii took advantage to cross.

Rieko Ioane made it 22-10 to the Blues before half-time but the same player was sent to the sin bin after the break for an offside infringement. Shannon Frizell added to an impressive try from Hunt to give the Highlanders the lead.

Papalii put the hosts back in front in the 58th minute and Hunt's late miss from the tee spared James Parsons' blushes after he lost the ball while attempting to dive over the ruck to score.

The Blues held firm with some excellent defence, particularly from Sotutu at a late Highlanders line-out, to ensure they retained their 100 per cent record.

European rugby chiefs are pushing ahead with plans for Marseille to stage the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, after new dates were revealed on Thursday.

Both competitions had their quarter-finals line-ups confirmed before the coronavirus pandemic forced rugby to be put on hold.

The Premiership is expected to resume in England in August, as is the Pro14 featuring teams from Wales, Scotland, Italy, Ireland and South Africa. France's Top 14 2020-21 season is due to start in September.

There is now clarity on when the delayed European competitions will get back under way, with the quarter-finals to be played across September 18-20 and the semi-finals on September 25-27.

The Champions Cup final will take place on October 17, a day after the Challenge Cup showpiece, said European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR).

New venues for each match may need to be found if teams and supporters are not allowed to travel to the south of France.

An EPCR statement said: "EPCR remains committed to staging the matches in Marseille, however, the situation is under review in light of public gathering and international travel restrictions which might be in place at the time of the finals."

France is due to ease coronavirus restrictions and allow up to 5,000 spectators to attend sporting events from July 11, with the possibility of that number being raised depending on the success of reopening.

Marseille's Stade Velodrome, the venue for each final, can seat over 67,000 fans.

Exeter Chiefs, Northampton Saints, Clermont Auvergne, Racing 92, Leinster, Saracens, Toulouse and Ulster are in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The remaining Challenge Cup sides are Bordeaux-Begles, Edinburgh, Toulon, Scarlets, Leicester Tigers, Castres, Bristol Bears and Dragons.

Page 1 of 52
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.