Edinburgh Rugby’s steps to forge a championship-chasing future took another significant step today with the signing of two Welsh internationalists.
Just two days after announcing the arrival of Georgian Rugby World Cup star Dimitri Basilaia, Welsh pair John Yapp (prop) and Richie Rees (scrum-half) confirmed that they too are set to join the club’s ranks this summer.
Edinburgh Rugby head coach, Michael Bradley, believes that the latest additions to the squad are a testimony to the improvements being made on and off the park at the club, and a belief that players can achieve great things at Murrayfield.
He said: “Edinburgh Rugby have earned some landmark results this season and we’re delighted that quality players are becoming increasingly aware of the bright future being pieced together here at Murrayfield, as we seek to build on the advancements made this season.
“John [Yapp] brings a wealth of experience with this performances for Wales during a very successful period for the national side.
“He has a huge passion for the game and has expressed a desire to broaden his horizons with the challenges that rugby can offer him here at Edinburgh Rugby and by being part of the brand of rugby we play.
“Richie [Rees] is a very talented, international scrum-half. He’s a quality player who possesses a natural ability to make breaks.
He’s also a very good organiser so should be a perfect fit for the direction in which we’re looking to drive Edinburgh Rugby.
“Both players and will add a significant amount of force to our challenge in both our RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup campaigns next season.”
Yapp, a 19 stone, 6’ 2” front-row, has made 144 appearances for the Blues.
A Heineken Cup semi-finalist in 2009 and an Amlin Challenge Cup winner with Cardiff in 2010, he won the first of 21 caps for Wales in the country’s Grand Slam winning RBS 6 Nations championship of 2005.
A prop with experience at both sides of the scrum, his power, experience and versatility is a significant boost to the club’s strength in depth across a front-row that already boasts Scotland trio Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross and will welcome Free State Cheetah’s prop WP Nel in the coming season.
He said: “Edinburgh Rugby are a club going in the right direction. They’ve played some great rugby this season as we’ve all seen in the Heineken Cup, particularly in last weekend’s result against Toulouse.
“They play a strong brand of rugby in a city known for the sport and where the game has a lot of history. It’s a new challenge for me at a good club and one which I’m really excited about.
“I’m used to stiff competition in the front-row having competed with Gethin Jenkins at the Blues for a number of years. It only serves to bring out the best in the individuals, it’s good for the team to have a number strong players across all positions and I think it can help us push on to achieve great things.”
Fellow Blues scrum-half Richie Rees also comes with a wealth of experience having played alongside Yapp in the hallmark seasons of 2009 and 2010.
In five seasons he has made almost a century of appearances for Cardiff after two seasons at Ospreys and one at London Irish, winning nine caps for Wales along the way.
“I’ve spoken to Michael [Bradley] a lot about how I’d fit in and where he wants to take the team, while I also know Edinburgh well having played them a number of times over the years,” explained Rees.
“They’re a team that really excites me. Their style of play was a big factor in wanting to sign. It really suits how I approach the game and I think I can bring something to an already very talented squad that is being boosted by some quality players.”
The signing of the Welsh pair mean Edinburgh Rugby have confirmed five new recruits next season, with Nothampton Saints back Greig Tonks, Basilaia, Nel, Yapp and Rees all booked into the Edinburgh arrivals lounge, while 19 of the club’s top performers have recently extended their contracts at the capital club.
Speaking on the bright future being built at Murrayfield, Edinburgh Rugby managing director, Craig Docherty, said: “We’re delighted that the hard work being put in to make Edinburgh Rugby an attractive prospect for new players is paying off with these latest players to sign on the dotted line.
“This season’s Heineken Cup campaign has brought us and our fans a number of memorable nights this season but it doesn’t stop there.
“Our investment in recruitment and retention is targeted at mounting a strong challenge in both competitions in the seasons ahead as we seek to build a team and a club of which the city of Edinburgh, the Borders and the east of Scotland can feel part and be proud.”
The signings were also confirmed by Cardiff Blues:
Cardiff Blues can confirm that John Yapp and Richie Rees will leave the Blues at the end of the season to join Edinburgh.
Yapp burst onto the Cardiff club scene at Christmas 2002 making his first team debut against Ebbw Vale on Boxing Day at the age of 18. Since then he has gone on to make 161 appearances for the Blues and won the first of his 21 caps for Wales in the country’s Grand Slam winning RBS 6 Nations championship of 2005.
Speaking of his decision to move, John said,
“I’ve been with Cardiff and the Blues since I was 17, starting with Cardiff Youth and I’ve had a fantastic time here.”
“It’s a long time to be with one team so I felt the time was right to move on and face a fresh challenge.”
“I’ve always liked Edinburgh as a city, as it’s quite similar to Cardiff, so I’m looking forward to a new challenge and playing outside of Wales.
“Edinburgh have demonstrated what they are capable of in this year’s Heineken Cup.”
“There are many people to thank at the Blues, but David Young is the person who really developed my career and I spent most of it being coached under him.”
“There have been many highlights during my time here from the EDF and Amlin Cup wins to some big Heineken Cup games.”
“I’ve made some really good friends here as well and will miss them but I’d like to wish everyone associated with the Blues the best of luck for the future.”
“There will be a young side here next season which promises to be very exciting.”
Cardiff Blues scrum half Richie Rees who announced he would be leaving the club in March has also joined Edinburgh. Rees joined the Blues from London Irish in 2007 helping win both the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 08/09 and the European Challenge Cup in 09/10. He has made 97 appearances for the Blues, scoring 5 tries. He won the first of his 9 Welsh caps against England in the 2010 Six Nations and scored his debut international try against Australia in the 2010 Autumn Test series.
John Yapp (29)
DOB – 9 April, 1983 (Cardiff, Wales). Height – 1.88 m (6' 2"), Weight – 121kg (19st)
Honours – 21 caps (Wales)
Richie Rees (28)
DOB – 21 May 1983 (Swansea, Wales). Height – 1.80m (5' 10"), Weight – 81kg (12st 12lb)
Honours – 9 caps (Wales)