Amlin Challenge Cup newcomers London Welsh will go into the New Year boosted by three big name signings.
As well as securing extended playing terms with centre Hudson Tonga'uiha, who has 24 caps for Tonga, and prop Greg Bateman, the Exiles have also appointed a new CEO in the highly experienced Tony Copsey.
"Hudson has really stepped up to the mark this year and Greg has grasped his opportunity with both hands and is evolving into a decent Premiership player with the potential to go further," said a delighted London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones.
Former Welsh international second row Copsey, who played for the Saracens and the Scarlets in Europe, will begin his duties as CEO on 1 January. The Exiles host Cavalieri Prato in Round 5 of the Amlin Challenge Cup on 12 January before ending their Pool 5 campaign with an away game against unbeaten Pool leaders Stade Francais Paris.
Copsey worked as commercial manager at the Scarlets before taking on roles as managing director at both Harlequins and London Wasps. He also worked with London Scottish.
"We are delighted that Tony is joining us as our CEO. Not only does he have an excellent skill set for the job and extensive experience managing top clubs in the Premiership, but he has played the game at the highest levels," said London Welsh club chairman Bleddyn Phillips.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.