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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Ex-Ireland hooker reveals the club that Rory Sutherland is joining

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Lions prop Rory Sutherland has reportedly found himself a new club in the URC, but it isn’t with any of the teams he was initially linked with after Worcester played their final match in the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season before their suspension.

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The Scotland loosehead was last week linked with potential moves to Glasgow and Cardiff in the URC, as well as Bath in the Premiership and Lyon in the Top 14.

However, having officially become a free agent on Wednesday following the liquidation of the subsidiary company that held all the player contracts at the stricken Worcester, Sutherland is now said to have sealed a deal with Dan McFarland’s Ulster.

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Former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman tweeted: “I understand that Ulster have signed former Worcester loosehead prop Rory Sutherland. Be a great addition to their squad and also lovely to see these players left high and dry get employment as quickly as possible.”

If Jackman’s tweet is on the money, it would mean that Sutherland has become the third player to quickly find alternative employment since the announcement on Wednesday that all the players at Worcester were free to go.

Within hours of that insolvency court decision, Duhan van der Merwe had rejoined Edinburgh, the club he left in the summer of 2021 to link up with Worcester. Forward Joe Batley has also secured his future, the lock/back row forward rejoining his old club Bristol with immediate effect on Thursday night. And now it appears that Sutherland has also sorted out his next move.

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If so, he will become the latest Lions loosehead to be recruited by McFarland as Jack McGrath, who played off the bench in all three Test games versus New Zealand in 2017, was signed by the Belfast-based club in 2019 after he quit Leinster. He was released at the end of last season following an injury-hit spell.

Sutherland, who featured off the bench in the 2021 Lions second Test against South Africa, played 14 times in his one-season-and-a-bit-stay at Worcester, whom he joined after seven seasons at Edinburgh. His agent is John Andress, the former Ulster and Exeter prop who runs Edge Rugby Management Ltd.

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