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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Leinster lose promising duo O'Connell and Hudson to Bristol

The Lansdowne loosehead prop and St. Mary’s winger will leave the province at the end of the season.

Hudson has scored three tries for Leinster this season.
Hudson has scored three tries for Leinster this season.
Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

LEINSTER HAVE CONFIRMED that the promising Jack O’Connell and Darren Hudson will both leave the province to join Bristol Rugby next season.

The south western English club are currently top of the second-tier Championship and expect to be promoted at the end of the season. With the Premiership in mind, the signatures of the Leinster duo are part of an ambitious recruitment strategy for the club.

23-year-old loosehead prop O’Connell made his provincial debut in 2012 and has gone on to make 13 appearances for Leinster in the last three seasons. The Ireland U20 international weighs in at 115kg and has greatly impressed for club side Lansdowne too.

Hudson, 23, has scored three tries already this season for Matt O’Connor’s side and has made a total of 15 appearances for Leinster in the RaboDirect Pro12. The powerful St. Mary’s winger [6ft 2ins and 100kg] is also an international at U20 level.

Both players have agree two-year contracts with Bristol, where former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson is Director of Rugby. Additionally, the Championship club has announced the impressive signature of Samoan international Jack Lam from Super Rugby side the Hurricanes for next season.

Deals to bring Harlequins hooker Max Crumpton and South African back row Nick Koster [currently on loan from Bath] to the club permanently have also been officially confirmed, while Robinson’s side have been strongly linked with moves for Leeds scrum-half Craig Hampson and Ospreys out-half Matthew Morgan.

Jack O'Connell O'Connell has impressed during 13 appearances for the province.

Speaking about the impending departures of O’Connell and Hudson from Leinster, head coach Matt O’Connor gave the duo his best wishes.

“Both Jack and Darren are two young players that I have the utmost respect and time for. They have been model professionals and I cannot speak highly enough of them. Bristol are getting two fine rugby players.”

The reality is however that we have great strength in depth at Leinster across the back three and in the front row and the guys need game time to kick on to that next level and this is a wonderful opportunity for them both.

“Darren has contributed handsomely with two recent bonus point tries and Jack for his part has also made an impact when needed in the front row but we have to be fair to the two players as well and this is an opportunity that is too good for them to turn down.”

“Everyone at Leinster wishes them well for next season and the door is always open for them.”

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