The three Yorkshire clubs in the RFU Championship have been active in the transfer market in the opening weeks of the close season. Here’s a rundown of whose staying and coming in to the region’s three clubs.
The big news at Leeds Carnegie is the departure of captain Andy Titterrell who has been released to chase Premiership ambitions.
Director of rugby Chris Gibson has also confirmed the exit of prop David Young, who has not been offered a contract for next season.
Tom Denton, Mike MacDonald, Scott Barrow, Lachlan Mackay and Sean Hohneck are among the high-profile names to leave Headingley Carnegie.
To offset the departures Leeds have signed David Doherty, Mike Myerscough, James Doherty and Matt Smith - all to two year contracts - from Championship rivals Cornish Pirates.
Twenty-five-year-old David Doherty rose through Leeds’ Academy ranks in 2004. Since then he has played for London Wasps, Sale, Jersey and Cornish Pirates, but has now signed a two-year contract with Leeds that will see him back on home turf. Leeds fans were given a taste of David’s calibre after he set up a spectacular try in the second-half of their final game of the season, for the Pirates.
Second-rower Matt Smith, 22, is also a former Leeds Academy star, who joined the Pirates after a spell playing for his university team.
Also moving north from Pirates is scrum-half James Doherty who is expected to compete with Craig Hampson for the No 9 jersey. The 24-year-old had an impressive career at Wharfedale appearing in the starting line-up in all but one of their 96 league games during the time he was there.
The final Cornish signing is 25-year-old second row player Matt Smith, who despite a frustrating 2011-12 season due to injury managed to appear 16 times for the Pirates.
Leeds’ head coach Diccon Edwards said: “We are delighted to be able to secure four players of the calibre of these guys for next season.
“We have always maintained that our Academy is at the heart of our club so to bring three players back home to play for Leeds Carnegie is a real boost to our squad.”
To that end, Leeds have agreed contract extensions with a number of their younger players. They are forward Richard Beck, hookers Scott Freer and Harry Hannan, centre Joe Barker, scrum-half Craig Hampson and props Mo Mustafa and Mark Tampin.
Hampson, Hannan, Freer and Tampin have all established themselves as first-team players and have signed one-year deals at Headingley Carnegie.
Twenty-year-old Barker has signed a two-year contract and will come back from the hernia operation that ruled him out at the back end of last season.
Mustafa who joined Leeds on a short-term contract last season made such an impression that he has now extended his stay into next season.
Gibson said: “It was important for us to secure our best young talent before we began our recruitment process for next season.
“Richard, Scott, Craig, Joe and Mo will have gained significantly from the amount of game time they have had this season whilst Harry has worked hard to recover from injury in mid-season after impressing at both hooker and in the back row and Mark is a developing young prop.”
Rotherham Titans have made four signings with two players coming from the squads of this year’s Heineken Cup finalists.
James McKinney arrives from Ulster and will take the place of departing fly-halves Bryon Godfrey and Cliffie Hodgson, and is tipped to be key to Rotherham’s kicking game, with an impressive 83 per cent accuracy record and a successful youth career under his belt.
Andre Bester has also signed former Ireland Under 20s international Eamonn Sheridan, a big, powerful centre from European champions Leinster.
At 6’4” and 17 stone the 23-year-old adds physicality to the Titans back line.
Bester said: “I’m really pleased we have managed to secure Eamonn for next season. I wanted to take him last year but Leinster did not want to release him and then he suffered an injury with a broken leg.
“He’s fine now and I expect him to be a stand-out player for us in the Championship.”
Twenty-year-old Alex Rieder will bolster the side’s back row after arriving from Yorkshire rivals Leeds Carnegie. Rieder is expected to bring pace and power to Clifton Lane.
Full-back/winger Ed Styles has also joined the club. The 22-year-old former Sale and Moseley player will be used primarily in the No 15 jersey for Rotherham.
The Titans have also been linked to a move for Doncaster’s Michael Noone.
Bester has more work to do after losing five of his stars from last year, as well as releasing 13 players.
Sam Dickinson, Robin Copeland, Rob O’Donnell, Sean Dougall and Semisi Taulava all moved on to bigger and better things after an impressive campaign.
Those released were Matt Rhodes, Tom Foden, Bryon Godfrey, Cliffie Hodgson, Stephen Hamilton, Ben Hooper, Ben Harris, Adrian Griffiths, Rikki Stout, Ross Noonan, Talite Vaioleti, Ed Tellwright and Elliot Brierley.
After a 2011-12 season that saw them finish seventh in the RFU Championship, head coach Bester said: “I would like to thank all the players who are leaving this summer for their efforts over the period of time they have been here and wish them nothing but the best with their future careers, they have all been a credit to the club.”
It is also all change at Doncaster Knights with the big name captures being Ulster prop Jerry Cronin and Bristol scrum-half Louis Silver.
Director of rugby Brett Davey has also signed Leeds centre James Tincknell and hooker Ben Sowery from Wharfedale.
Centres Dante Mamma and Will Simpson have also joined Doncaster.
Davey has been particularly pleased with the acquisition of Cronin, whose solid tackle rate with Ulster could see him become a regular feature in Doncaster’s set-piece.
Silver will be fighting it out with established scrum-half Chris Hallam for a starting spot in the team.
Davey has not released as many as opposite number Bester, although PJ Gidlow, Oli Goss, Fred Burton, David McIlwaine, Steve Boden, Zack Farivarz, Royce Burke-Flynn, Ben Toft, Michael Heaney, Gareth Quinn-McDonogh, Toby Berridge and Latu Makaafi are all heading out of Castle Park.
Exeter Chiefs have confirmed Alex Brown and Jack Yeandle will be stepping up into the Premiership, and Michael Bateman will be making his move to Hull permanent.