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Rugby Union

Leicester sign Tournaire and Tierney to bolster title defence

Leicester unveiled three new signings and a sponsorship deal worth more than £1m yesterday. The Premiership champions have signed the French prop Franck Tournaire from Toulouse while Munster's Tom Tierney and the Welsh hooker Rhys Williams have also agreed contracts at Welford Road.

Tournaire, capped 49 times with Les Bleus, was part of the France squad which reached the final of the 1999 World Cup. The 29-year-old tight head, however, has struggled to hold down a place in the national squad since.

The Irish scrum-half Tierney, who has eight caps, has also been out of favour with his national side since Ireland's 50-18 hammering against England two years ago. A shoulder injury prevented the 25-year-old from playing for Munster against the Tigers in last season's European Cup final.

Leicester have also signed the former Wales under-19 international Williams, who spent the last nine months playing for Kowloon in Hong Kong.

The Tigers also confirmed that they have agreed a three-year contract with the landscaping company Bradstone.

The former New Zealand Maori full-back Jarrod Cunningham has been diagnosed as suffering from motor neurone disease. The 33-year-old, who has spent the last three and a half seasons at London Irish, underwent a series of tests at London's Charing Cross hospital after consulting a neurologist and other specialists.

Cunningham first felt changes to his body early in the year but the full extent of his illness only became clear last month.

Motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of related diseases affecting the motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord. Degeneration of the motor neurones leads to weakness and wasting of muscles and is a steadily progressive disease for which there is no known cure.