#3. Chandler Cunningham-South
Harlequins have confirmed the signing of former London Irish back-rower Chandler Cunningham-South.
Cunningham-South is well equipped to play across both flanks and at number eight, making him a valuable asset for Harlequins. It is great to see that the promising young player will continue in the Premiership, after the 20-year-old’s future was uncertain after the financial collapse of London Irish.
The 20-year-old, who grew up in New Zealand playing for North Harbour, Canterbury and Lincoln University, joined the London Irish Academy last year, before making his Premiership debut against Bath Rugby in May 2022.
Last season Cunningham-South made 19 Premiership appearances, proving a handful in attack and defence, with 73 carries, 91 tackles and three tries. He also played a key role for the Exiles in their Champions Cup campaign, playing all four pool matches against Montpellier and DHL Stormers.
Cunningham-South has gained international recognition, as he was called up for the England U20s squad. He has featured in the 2022 and 2023 U20s Six Nations, and is in the squad for the U20 World Championships.
Speaking ahead to the Harlequins website, Cunningham-South said: “I’m excited to be starting a new opportunity at Harlequins and extremely grateful for the chance to join the Club. I want to thank everyone at London Irish for the special memories and support. I loved my time playing for Irish and want to thank the supporters for the encouragement and thank my coaches and teammates for believing in me and helping me grow as a player and person.”
Director of Rugby Billy Millard added: “It’s pleasing to welcome Chandler to Quins and provide him with an opportunity to continue his career in the Premiership. I know how much the London Irish supporters loved watching him play last season, he’s an excitement machine with plenty of power and versatility. We’re excited for his continued development in Quins colours.”
Get your tickets to the Rugby World Cup matches at viagogo, the world’s leading ticket marketplace. Find out how by clicking here.
#4. Joe Launchbury
Quins have signed the former Wasps second row on a multi-year deal. The England lock will join the Club this summer ahead of the 2023/24 season following a stint in Japan.
The 70-times-capped, 6ft5in and 126kg England lock returns to Harlequins having originally joined the Harlequins Academy as a 15-year-old playing for affiliate clubs Worthing and Horsham, staying with Quins until the age of 18 when he moved to Wasps.
Earning his Premiership debut as a teenager, Launchbury was named the Premiership’s Young Player of the Year award for the 2012/13 season.
The 31-year-old went on to establish himself as one of the premier locks in the country, becoming one of the most capped second rows in English history and going on to be named Wasps’ Club captain.
Commenting on his return to the Club, Launchbury said: “I’m glad to sign on with Quins. I have fond memories of my time here in the academy. I grew up playing with and against a number of the first team squad, so it has a somewhat familiar feel to come back to Harlequins.”
“I’m looking forward to my time in Japan for the rest of this season, but am very excited for the new start with Harlequins over the summer.
“Quins have some of the richest history in the game and it’s been fascinating to hear how this group have tapped back into that Harlequins DNA of old over the last few seasons.
“With the style of rugby this squad plays, I know it will be an exciting setup to be a part of.”