Steenson and Sturgess re-sign with Exeter Chiefs

first_imgLATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Exeter Chiefs have been handed a double boost ahead of Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Gloucester with the news that Gareth Steenson and Brett Sturgess (above) have both agreed new deals with the club.Fly-half Steenson and prop Sturgess have put pen to paper on contracts which will keep them at Sandy Park for a further two years.Leading figures in last season’s promotion-winning squad out of the Championship, the talented duo have followed the lead of team-mates Haydn Thomas and Tom Johnson in committing their futures to the Devon outfit.Dungannon-born Steenson is the second highest points-scorer in the club’s history having joined the Chiefs in 2008 from Westcountry rivals Cornish Pirates, whilst former Northampton Saints and Connacht forward Sturgess has been an ever present in the Premiership this term.Not surprisingly both men are over the moon to have secured their immediate futures with the Chiefs.Steenson (above) said: “Obviously I’m absolutely delighted to have sorted myself out for the foreseeable future at a club I know is not only ambitious, but is also looking to improve all the time. Thankfully we’ve managed to sort out the contract quickly and now I can just focus on my rugby for the rest of the season.“I’ve always said I love it here at Exeter, so to have another two years secured is absolutely great. Obviously it’s been a good start for us in the Premiership, but we now have to finish it off with a big second half to the season.”Although sidelined for three months of the current campaign through injury, Steenson has already shown in the early stages of the season that he is more than capable of producing the goods in the top flight.The hero of last season’s Championship Play-Off success over Bristol, the talented back admits the elevation of the club into the Premiership has been beneficial not only for himself, but also many of his team-mates who were here last term.“A lot of us have been at the club for a few years so it was great when we achieved that aim of getting into the Premiership,” added Steenson. “As a group of players we are all close-knit and enjoy working hard for each other, so it’s a tremendous place to be at right now. Hopefully, as I said, we can build on what we have achieved and move forward over the next few seasons.”Like Steenson, Sturgess was more than happy to prolong his stay in Devon. He added: “I’m now into my fourth season at the club and I really enjoy it down here. I’m settled in well with my wife and our little son, so to have this new deal gives me not only a bit of security, but means I can also concentrate fully on my rugby.“If I’m honest there was too much of a decision to make when the club offered me the deal, but I just wanted to sort out certain bits and bobs. Once we agreed those things, it was all fairly simple and now I just want to focus on playing and helping to take the club forward. “Having been here for a few years I know how ambitious the club are. We achieved one aim with getting into the Premiership last season, but now we want to push on further and I want to be part of that.”The decision of both players to commit to the Chiefs has been welcomed by head coach Rob Baxter, who admits he is close to securing a number of other squad members to new long-term deals.Baxter said: “I think these signings, plus all the others that we are currently in negotiations with, show that as a club we are all about moving forward. We haven’t had to wait too long for decisions from the guys we have been in conversations with. A lot of them are keen to commit their futures to us, so that is excellent news.“Obviously both Brett and Steeno played big parts in our promotion last season and it’s great to keep them on board for the next two years. I still think they are two players who have still got potential to improve and move on from where they are – which is obviously very important to us – and they are also very good members of the squad.“We feel they are the right kind of men to help move us forward and to give us some stability over the coming seasons. As I’ve said before, we want to develop and keep the same culture and beliefs that have served us well in the past, so it’s important we keep guys within the squad who know all about that.”“It’s also good that we have signed them up now. We know we have a very tough second half to the season and whilst it’s nice for people to say a lot of complimentary things about us, the truth of it is we still have a lot of league points we need to go out and try and collect and it’s nice to have focused players. By getting guys signed up like this, it will allow us to focus firmly on what we do which is playing games of rugby.”The added benefit of signing players up early is also that Baxter will not be in the same position as last season when his recruitment drive was delayed by the outcome of the play-offs.“I already feel we are a bit ahead of the game this year,” added the coach. “We haven’t got masses of recruitment to do. I feel nice and comfortable with where we are in terms of our retention of players, so once that is all sorted I think recruitment then becomes relatively easy.“What is so nice about this season is that for a lot of the guys this is their first experience of the Premiership, but I still think they will get better in time. The key is we still need to keep players who we think can push on and improve because as a team and a group of players that is the place we need to go. We are a long way from a finished Premiership team, I think Saturday showed that, but we certainly have to push forward and see where that takes us.” TAGS: Exeter Chiefs See highlights of the Chiefs beating Gloucester in the opening game of this season below:last_img read more

Editorial: The life aquatic?

first_imgAn historic medieval city, its crumbling foundations  shored up by endless restoration work and a tourist industry oblivious to its real concerns and studious preoccupations. A thousand ivory towers with their windows facing inwards. Institutions awash with subsidies and streets simply awash; sunk in its own past and reruns of Brideshead. Yet Venice is still the most compelling city in Europe.Is Oxford really going the same way? Specifically, are future LMH students really going to hail a gondola after one too many at the Bridge? Will the Joe Wellingtons of a later age have no choice but to make their way homewards by water and weir? The proposed new Bodleian building has already been cursed by modern Millenarians prophesying floods; the city’s suburbs grow damper every year; Christ Church students seem unable to step outside without toppling into the lapping waters. The Oxford Mail and the police, organisations never prone to exaggeration or the melodramatic, are already allegedly consulting leading architects about building a new Ark.These days, even the most stalwart of Republican candidates accepts that water levels are on the rise. Oxford is, after all, built on a floodplain. Oxford Waterworld may become a reality one day – but why worry? Think of the potential benefits: plenty of room for the threatened bargemen of Jericho; Oxford as the world’s leading marine research institute; enough depth for Magdalen’s sozzled toffs to jump off their bridge without breaking their legs. Scratch that last one. A valid point remains: the city will survive, it will adapt, and it’ll undoubtedly come up with a new set of winsome nautical ‘traditions’ to draw in a whole new raft of tourists. by Laura Pitel and Tom Seymour, Cherwell editorslast_img read more

Growers’ meeting

first_imgThe Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be Jan. 9 -11 in Savannah, Ga. Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and South Carolina Peach Conference, it offers classes and demonstrations designed to bring relevant information to the fruit and vegetable industry. “This year’s educational program is outstanding,” said Beth Bland, GFVA education program coordinator. “Featuring everything from methyl bromide updates to blackberry fundamentals for new growers, the 2009 conference offers something for everyone.”Friday and Saturday, there will be sessions for commodities like peach, vegetable, Vidalia onion, watermelon, muscadine, pecan, blueberry and strawberry. There will be sessions for organic production, food safety and roadside markets, too.Sparked by the tomato safety scare in 2008, a special food-safety forum will take place Friday and feature several speakers including Tom Stenzel, the president of United Fresh Produce Association, Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Commission, and Washington legislative representatives.Congressman Jack Kingston (R -GA) will speak Saturday morning at the general session.The conference includes a trade show with 180 booths, a spouse program and an industry roundtable to discuss issues of mutual concern to growers and suppliers.Continuing education credits for pesticide application license will be available.For more information, call (800) 453-3070 or send an e-mail to [email protected] . University of Georgialast_img read more

Asset owners seek to bring factor investing in-house: survey

first_imgA growing number of asset owners are bringing factor-based investment strategies in-house, according to a survey by Invesco.The asset manager quizzed 108 investors and intermediaries with more than $7trn (€6trn) in assets under management, and found nearly a quarter (23%) already managed some factor assets in-house. A further 31% stated an intention to develop internal factor capabilities.More than half of respondents were planning some degree of internal management, Invesco’s Global Factor Investing study reported.“[This] decision to build internal factor capability is based on a desire to achieve similar risk-return outcomes to those offered by external managers, at a lower cost. Also at work is a desire to exert greater control over the factor investing proposition,” Invesco said. The survey also reported that demand for factor allocations was expected to rise significantly over the next five years, as institutional investors sought out a viable “third pillar” to equity and fixed income investments amid volatile financial markets.European institutional investors increased their factor allocations to 19% in 2017 from 17% in the previous year, Invesco said, and were expected to continue increasing allocations to factor products over the coming years.Factor allocations were the largest among European insurers and sovereign wealth funds, driven primarily by blended risk management and return generation opportunities over cost. The survey found that concerns around increasing volatility of equities and fixed income were pushing investors to look beyond geographic and sector diversification to factors as a means of diversifying and managing macro or cyclical risks.Georg Elsaesser, senior portfolio manager for quantitative strategies at Invesco, said: “The growth in factor investing over the past 12 months demonstrates the value it can play in an investor’s portfolio. It is still relatively early in the adoption process for many, but our respondents make it clear that it will become more prominent over time.”European factor investors were increasing allocations to both smart beta and active quantitative strategies, reweighting from fundamental and passive equity strategies, and fixed income allocations, Invesco found.The study said that as the global adoption of factor investing increased, investors were also expanding into fixed income and multi-asset strategies.However, the majority of investors (68%) were not able to invest in their preferred types of strategy, the report found, meaning there was a growing demand for new factor products. Elsaesser said that, with central bank policies having driven interest rates down to near record-low levels, investors were increasingly aware that the quality of diversification in their portfolios was now much weaker than it used to be, driving demand for fixed-income factor strategies to reduce risk and improve diversification and performance.He added: “With only a third of investors able to allocate to their preferred factor strategies, we see these products as the next evolution post-equities, providing investors with more choice and resulting in the further strengthening of factor investing as a third pillar alongside fundamental active and passive strategies.”last_img read more