A day after Tim Visser confirmed he had signed a new deal taking him through to 2015, his fellow winger Lee Jones was unveiled as the latest Edinburgh player to agree new terms. He has signed an extension through to 2014 which rewards the 23-year-old for his consistent performances for Edinburgh and Scotland in this his first RBS Six Nations Championship.
In Glasgow, Sean Lineen has followed the signings of Rory and Sean Lamont, and Tongan back row Viliami Ma’afu, and re-signing of 12 current players, with Tim Swinson, a 25-year-old second row from the Falcons. Swinson has made 82 appearances since his Newcastle debut in 2007 and in 2010/11 was named Newcastle Player of the Season. Originally from London Swinson played in the Australian Grand Final while studying at Sydney University, and is eligible to play for Scotland through a maternal grandmother from Glasgow. The 6ft 4in, 16-stone forward has signed a two-year deal through to May, 2014.
Jones is preparing to face France with Scotland, but the grounded Borderer took time out yesterday to state how thrilled he was with the contract extension.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have secured an extended contract,” he said. “The last couple of seasons have been incredible. It really is a dream come true to play professional rugby for club and country.
“It has snowballed for me since the start of the season, where I started just wanting to play consistently for Edinburgh. To go from that to playing international rugby has been a big jump, but I’m enjoying it and I’ve certainly improved as a player.”
Michael Bradley, the Edinburgh coach, paid tribute to Jones’ work ethic as well as a strength and speed that surprises opponents. Jones is a great role model for aspiring rugby players in Scotland, through his refusal to be bowed after the professional teams ignored him running in tries as part of Selkirk’s return to Scotland’s top club division.
He went to Heriot-Watt University to study instead, kept playing for Selkirk and took on a gruelling daily gym regime to try and keep pace with others his age in the pro game. He believes that is what has helped him to perform well in the Heineken Cup and Six Nations, and insisted that other club players were capable of making the same progression.
“I like to challenge myself and never sit at the same level,” he added, “and that really helps when it comes to new challenges and being able to step up to that next level.
“A couple of seasons ago I was playing club rugby, but I worked hard on my strength and conditioning and the Scotland sevens helped me, and I had a lot of help at Heriot-Watt to make the transition. It is very hard, but if guys believe they can do it and are willing to put the work in then guys can definitely keep coming through from club rugby.”
As for Glasgow’s new recruit, coach Lineen said: “We see this as a very positive step in our planning for next season. Tim is a player who has consistently stood out in one of the toughest testing grounds for a second row forward, the English Premiership.
“He’s a battle-hardened competitor who relishes the physical side of the game, and he’s not one for taking a backward step when the pressure’s really on. He’ll give us another great option in an area of the team where we’ve already got a good number of guys challenging for jerseys, and it’s another strong piece in the jigsaw for what should be a really exciting chapter in the club’s history.”
Meanwhile, Worcester have signed England international scrum-half Paul Hodgson on a three-year deal from London Irish which will start next season. The 29-year-old has made over 200 appearances for the Exiles but has decided to join former England lock Nick Kennedy in leaving the club this summer.
Worcester head coach Richard Hill said: “Paul is a hugely competitive, positive and enthusiastic player who has a fantastic attitude. he has huge drive to win at absolutely everything he does. He is a scrum-half who is lively around the park, knows how to control a game and puts his body on the line for the good of the team.
“He is a great character to have on the field and I know his enthusiasm will be infectious and will impact on those around him.
“We are determined to only bring people to the Warriors who will give 100 percent in every game they play and will improve our squad. Paul will do just that and has the work ethic and winning mentality to push the club forward.”
Hodgson, who has won nine England caps and is currently a member of the Saxons squad, said: “I am excited by the rest of the season at London Irish and totally focused on helping the team move forward in the Aviva Premiership and make the end of season play-offs.”