Rugby Union: All Black Gardiner boosts Bath ranks
After weeks of chewing the fat, Gardiner finally closed the door on two wonderful Super 12-winning campaigns with Canterbury Crusaders by agreeing to a lucrative deal. He will stay in Christchurch until the conclusion of New Zealand's National Provincial Championship before flying to Britain in November, by which time Bath will have their World Cup contingent back on board.
With Preston, now fully fit, planning to treat the Bath faithful to a full season's activity, rather than the fleeting glimpse he gave them last season, the West Countrymen are looking formidable.
"Playing overseas is something I've always wanted to do and I'm excited by this opportunity," said Gardiner yesterday, clearly relishing the prospect of joining Ben Clarke, Eric Peters, Dan Lyle and the exciting young Welsh open-side, Gavin Thomas, in a quality loose forward set-up. His Canterbury colleagues were rather less enamoured by his decision, however. "We're sad to be losing an integral part of our success over the past few years," said the Crusaders captain and the former All Black flanker Todd Blackadder.
Having spluttered almost to a standstill last time out, Bath have been one of the more active bidders in the close season transfer market, pulling in the former Wallaby lock Warwick Waugh from Australia and tempting Clarke back from the smouldering ashes of a defunct Richmond. They have new front- rowers too, in Clem Boyd and Matt Filipo, recruited from Bedford and Fylde respectively. But the best news in the bump and grind department concerns Chris Horsman, the outstanding home-grown tight head specialist struck down by cancer last year. He was scheduled to play his first game in 10 months in a local pre-season friendly last night.
Across the Severn in Gwent, the Black and Ambers of Newport were celebrating their second Springbok signing in a week: Franco Smith, the versatile midfielder from Griqualand West who played Tri-Nations rugby for South Africa only a fortnight ago, will join his former national captain, Gary Teichmann, at Rodney Parade this season. "He's a Newport player now," beamed Tony Brown, the Newport chief executive. "Like our other World Cup players, he'll be here in November."
Newport now have six current internationals on their books and their aggressive recruitment policy underlines their determination to secure so-called "super club" status sooner rather than later. Given the prevailing view amongst the Welsh hierarchy that only four such clubs can be supported and the fact that three of the existing ones - Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli - are virtually fireproof, poor old Pontypridd are the team most likely to suffer from Newport's ambition.
Latest in Sport
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather's mouthguard costs $25,000 - enough to fly to Las Vegas and back 18 times
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...