England centre to get a taste of Super Rugby in 2020_1

England centre Joe Marchant will spend the 2020 Super Rugby season with New Zealand franchise the Blues.

Marchant has been nailed down to a long-term contract with Harlequins, but the deal makes the allowance for a playing sabbatical in New Zealand.

The 23-year-old has earned three senior caps and despite missing out on the Rugby World Cup squad, should feature in England’s broader plans.

“The Blues are excited to be part of this unique arrangement,” the franchise’s high performance manager Tony Hanks said.
“New Zealand has developed innovative ways to retain and invigorate our best talent, and sabbatical clauses have become one of those tools to retain our best talent long-term. It’s fantastic to be part of a similar arrangement in reverse for such a promising young English player.
“Joe has impressed us on and off the field and we look forward to him joining us in January. We are confident that he will learn from his experience in Super Rugby and certainly our players, especially our young backs, will greatly appreciate learning from him.”

Harlequins happy to help Marchant achieve dream

The management of the Premiership club believes that the long-term benefits of allowing their player to spend time away from the club will outstrip the drawbacks.

“We pride ourselves at the Club at treating people as individuals and helping them be the best version of themselves,” Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard added.
“Joe has had a long-standing ambition to play Super Rugby and with our strong connection with NZ rugby we are pleased we can help facilitate this ambition.” 

While English players have competed in Super Rugby before, instances such as this one are rare. England loose forward James Haskell spent a season with the Highlanders in 2012, while there are also players like Willi Heinz who came through the ranks in New Zealand before switching allegiances later in his career.

The five New Zealand franchises will name their full Super Rugby squads for 2020 this week.

The 2020 Super Rugby season gets underway on 31 January with the Blues among the six teams in action on the first match day. The Blues welcome the Chiefs to Eden Park in a New Zealand derby.

Super Rugby 2020 fixtures for the opening weekend

Friday, 31 January 2020

08:05: BLUES vs CHIEFS


19:10: SHARKS vs BULLS

Saturday 1 February 2020