Former Leinster scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan joins Newcastle with Limerick lock Frank Bradshaw Ryan back in France

Hugh O'Sullivan in action for London Irish in the English Premiership© Getty Images

Cian Tracey

Former Leinster and Ireland U-20s scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan has joined Newcastle Falcons ahead of next season.

The 25-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Newcastle, having just left London Irish following a two-year stint.

O’Sullivan won 10 caps for the Ireland U-20s in 2018, while he was part of Belvedere College’s back-to-back Senior Cup success.

An underage footballer with Meath, O’Sullivan opted against playing for his county’s minor team in favour of pursuing his rugby career, whereas his brothers Mark and Cillian have played hurling and football respectively for the Royals.

O’Sullivan made 20 appearances in his two years with the Exiles, starting and scoring a try in March’s impressive home win over Premiership finalists Sale Sharks before going on to earn another start a fortnight later when they defeated semi-finalists Northampton.

Scoring a further two tries for London Irish in cup action, his Leinster exploits included Heineken Champions Cup outings against Exeter, Toulouse and Wasps as well as a further 34 appearances in the URC and Rainbow Cup.

O’Sullivan is the second former Leinster player to join Newcastle this summer, as Carlow hooker Bryan Byrne is also on his way to the club from Bristol.

“I played at Kingston Park back in March when London Irish won up there, and the chance to stay in the Gallagher Premiership was a big thing for me,” O’Sullivan said.

“I’ve really fallen in love with the league, and compared with the URC, it just feels like there’s a lot more jeopardy with anybody being able to beat anybody week to week. Every game feels like it’s a big one, and in terms of Newcastle in particular, it just feels like a good time to join.

“The club’s got a really proud history – I saw their social media post the other day about being the first club to win the Premiership title 25 years ago when they’d just been promoted – and there are loads of legendary players you’d associate with the Falcons over the years.

“I’ve watched Newcastle over the past couple of seasons and there’s massive potential there. Everyone understandably goes on about the incredible wingers like Radwan and Carreras, but there’s talent right throughout the squad if we can start moving the ball around and playing a bit of rugby.

“I know the new head coach Alex Codling from when he coached my Ireland Under-18s team, and it’s an exciting time to be working with a guy like him. There’s obviously a lot of change with a number of new signings coming in, and it’s a time for the club to turn a page and move forward by trying some new things.

Asked what supporters can expect from him, O’Sullivan added: “Having come through the Leinster academy and been coached by Stuart Lancaster, there’s been a huge emphasis on playing a quick style of rugby, and London Irish have been very much in the same mould.

“I’d be looking to try and bring that kind of tempo to the game, playing at pace, and having had some more regular Premiership game time with London Irish towards the end of the season, I believe my control of the game has also been developed quite a bit.”

Meanwhile, Limerick-born lock Frank Bradshaw Ryan has returned to France following a disappointing season with Ulster, where he struggled to earn an opportunity to impress.

The 27-year-old Munster academy graduate had arrived in Belfast on the back of strong form in France with Auch and Nevers. However, he only made one senior appearance under Dan McFarland.

Bradshaw Ryan has linked up with Montauban, who currently sit 13th in the Pro D2 table.

Elsewhere, ahead of his impending retirement this summer, Jordi Murphy has been called up to feature for the World XV in Sunday's clash against the Barbarians at Twickenham. Murphy is set to bring the curtain down on his career, having featured in the back-row for Leinster, Ulster and Ireland.

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