It’s been a busy few weeks at the Athletic Ground.
Following on from the arrival of Canadian international Kyle Baillie and a number of contract extensions at the beginning of the month, the new coaching staff of Jake Sharp and Director of Rugby Dave Morris have raided their former clubs to boost the Exiles ahead of next season.
Bedford duo Mike Howard and Dan George have joined incoming player-coach Jake Sharp in Richmond, and will bring plenty of experience to the Championship side.
31 year old Howard is a Bedford Stalwart, having made just shy of 240 appearances for the Blues since he arrived at Goldington Road in 2008. The 6’4 lock will join the Exiles on a part-time basis, balancing his training alongside work commitments.
Former Gloucester, Worcester and London Welsh hooker George will be joining his former team mate Sharp in the coaching set up, with the 30 year old sharing his wealth of experience while also providing an option in the front row, signing on in the role of player-coach.
After 2 years at the club, 21 year old fly half Harry Sheppard will be going in the other direction, leaving London Scottish for a new challenge at Goldington Road.
Like Sharp, newly arrived DoR Dave Morris has returned to his previous side to make a double swoop for former players, with promising young front-rowers Ben Christie and Isaac Miller arriving from Loughborough.
A Scotland Under 20 international and former Edinburgh player, 22-year-old hooker Miller has been playing for the Loughborough Student side while studying a sports science degree, captaining England Students and Loughborough during their National One campaign in 2016/17.
A regular starter alongside Miller in the Loughborough front row, 21-year-old prop Christie has also been part of the Scotland Under 20’s set up but failed to make an appearance due to injury.
The final arrival is 22-year-old back rower Ed Milne, who will make the step up to the Championship after 2 successful years with Rosslyn Park in National One. An exciting young number 8 out of the Leicester Tigers Academy, Milne already has a wealth of experience having played for Leicester, Coventry and Rosslyn Park, as well as enjoying a brief loan spell with Champions Cup finalists and Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne.
The Exiles are building a strong and balanced squad, with experienced Championship veterans and exciting young prospects arriving to boost a number of current stars who have already extended their stay as they look toward the upcoming 2017/18 season.
The club and their fans will surely be getting excited, if not quietly confident, for a thrilling season ahead.