London Welsh have today confirmed the signing of New Zealand World Cup winning scrum half Piri Weepu.
Capped 71 times by the All Blacks during an international career spanning 2004-2013, Weepu, 30, joins the Exiles from Super 15 side the Blues.
Weepu scored 103 points in his 71 appearances for the All Blacks and played a leading role in New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup success, particularly in their knockout victories over Australia and Argentina, when he was man of the match.
The hugely talented and experienced number nine joined the Blues for the 2012 Super 15 campaign, after eight seasons with the Hurricanes. At provincial level he played for Auckland and Wellington, as well as representing New Zealand Maori and the All Blacks at Under 21 level.
He made his senior New Zealand debut in 2004 against Wales at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, with cap number 71 coming against France in June 2013.
Weepu will join up with London Welsh at the end of the current Super 15 campaign and could form an exciting half back partnership at the Exiles in next season’s Aviva Premiership with England international fly half Olly Barkley.
Commenting on joining London Welsh, Piri Weepu said: “I’m hugely excited by the opportunity of joining London Welsh and at the challenge of playing in the Aviva Premiership – consistently one of the best leagues in world rugby.
“London Welsh is an iconic and globally recognised brand in the rugby world and I’m looking forward to linking up with head coach Justin Burnell and my new London Welsh teammates, and helping the Club re-establish itself in the top flight and in Oxford.”
London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: “It doesn’t get much better than being a World Cup winner with 71 caps for the All Blacks – it’s a signing that speaks for itself.
“It’s massive statement of intent from the Club in regard to its drive to be able to compete in the Aviva Premiership next season, and not just survive.
“It’s also going to be a fantastic opportunity for the younger players within our squad to mix and learn from a player of Piri’s experience and ability. As a player, his skill set is unbelievable; his kicking game and tactical appreciation are tremendous.
“After meeting with him in Singapore at the Club 10s, his personality and aura is such that it will be second nature for him to fit in to the environment we’ve created at London Welsh.
“It also goes to show just how worthwhile our participation in the Club 10s in Singapore was, with the signings of both Piri and Lachlan McCaffrey.
“A big thanks must go to Steve Lewis who spent many long hours in dialogue with Piri’s European and New Zealand agents at unearthly hours to land this deal.”
The 2014/15 Premiership season will see Sunday afternoons at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford (kick-off 2:30pm) become synonymous with London Welsh (unless on occasions when dictated otherwise by television), with the club having committed to playing its home games at the Kassam Stadium for the next three years