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Sian Williams becomes first Welsh female professional rugby player

Sian Williams has become Wales' first full-time professional female rugby player.

Williams hopes others follow in her footsteps. Credit: wru.co.uk

The 25-year-old flanker, who was born in Wrexham and plays for Worcester and Newport Gwent Dragons, has been awarded elite athlete status by the Royal Air Force to play rugby professionally.

It means that Williams, who joined the RAF eight years ago and is based at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, will be able to train full-time as a rugby player.

Williams has won 20 caps and also represented Wales at sevens. She made her Test debut in 2011.

"I am at a point in my rugby career where I want to keep learning and keep getting better," she said.

"Achieving elite athlete status gives me time before the next Women's Rugby World Cup in 2017 to strive for excellence and do everything in my power to become a world-class rugby player."

London Irish secure deal for Edinburgh captain Coman

London Irish have announced the signing of Edinburgh captain Mike Coman on a three-year deal. Back-row forward Coman, 28, will move to Irish for next season.

Coman is heading to London Irish. Credit: PA

The New Zealander joined Edinburgh in 2013, leading them to last season's European Challenge Cup final, when they were beaten by Gloucester.

Irish's head of rugby operations Glenn Delaney said: "The addition of Mike to our squad for next season is a huge coup for London Irish.

"He is a proven leader and will bring plenty of physicality to our pack." Irish are currently bottom of the Aviva Premiership after collecting just eight points from 10 games, and they host 10th-placed Worcester next weekend.

Coman said: "Having spoken to (Irish head coach) Tom Coventry, who I know well from New Zealand, and seeing where he wants to take the club, I was happy to sign.

"Everything looks to be in place off the field to ensure the side are successful on it, and I look forward to being part of a squad working hard to achieve that."

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Wasps announce Tommy Taylor capture from Sale

Wasps have announced the signing of hooker Tommy Taylor from their Aviva Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.

Tommy Taylor is moving from Sale Sharks to Wasps. Credit: Reuters

Taylor, 24, will move to Wasps for next season. He made his Sale debut in 2011 and is closing in on 100 first-team appearances for them.

Taylor was also part of England squads for games against the Barbarians at Twickenham in 2014 and 2015.

Wasps rugby director Dai Young said:

We are really pleased to be able to add Tommy to the squad for next season. He is a really exciting English prospect who has impressed in the Premiership and in Europe this season with his dynamic physicality.

At 24, he is a young front-row forward who has a bright future ahead of him, with huge potential to develop and push his international ambitions.

– Wasps rugby director Dai Young

Munster convince Simon Zebo to ditch France move

Munster have convinced Simon Zebo to abandon plans for a switch to France, with the Ireland flyer committing his future to Thomond Park until June 2018.

Zebo has scrapped plans to move to France. Credit: PA

Zebo's new two-year deal ends his serious and prolonged flirtation with a move to France's Top 14, and further boosts Munster after last week's new terms for Keith Earls and Conor Murray.

The 25-year-old had been locked in negotiations over a new contract for months, and his decision to remain on home shores is also another boon for Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt.

Last week centre Earls rejected Saracens' advances and scrum-half Murray sealed a new deal to boot, both men completing three-year dual deals with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

Munster head coach Anthony Foley said:

Simon's record speaks for itself and keeping a player with his experience and versatility is key to our plans going forward.

We are delighted that he has committed his future to Munster. It's great to have even more good news on the contract front.

– Munster head coach Anthony Foley

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Rhys Webb could return from injury in late February

Wales international scrum-half Rhys Webb could be back in action by the end of next month.

Webb suffered the serious injury in September 2015. Credit: PA

The Ospreys number nine suffered a serious foot injury during Wales' final World Cup warm-up game against Italy in Cardiff four months ago.

It ruled Webb out of the tournament, with Gareth Davies taking over scrum-half duties in impressive fashion as Wales reached the quarter-finals before bowing out to South Africa.

Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Dublin on February 7, and it looks as though Webb will be playing again at some stage during the competition.

In a statement issued by the Ospreys, their medical performance manager Chris Towers said:

His recovery is going well and we are now concentrating on getting him to the physical level he needs to be in order to perform as we want.

He has begun running again, starting doing some skills work, and the focus is on getting him available for selection at the end of February, which would be five months post-op.

– Ospreys medical performance manager, Chris Towers
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