Six more sign up for Welsh

Date published: June 11 2014

London Welsh have signed a further six players, taking their total to ten in the week since clinching Premiership promotion.

London Welsh have signed a further six players, taking their total to ten in the week since clinching Premiership promotion.

Taione Vea, Ricky Reeves, Shane Cahill, Jack Gilding, Nathan Taylor and Jimmy Litchfield – all front-row players – have pledged their futures to the Oxford outfit.

Tongan international tighthead Vea, 25, tips the scales at nearly 20st and joins Welsh from London Wasps.

He made his Wasps debut against Rugby Viadana in October 2013 in the Challenge Cup and went on to make 15 appearances for the club – his last coming in Wasps' European play-off 1st leg win over Stade Francais.

Capped six times by Tonga, all of Vea's international appearances came last year in the Pacific Nations Cup and Tonga's autumn international series fixtures against Wales and France.

A cousin of Leicester Tigers lock Steve Mafi, New Zealand-born Vea also has three years of ITM Cup experience under his belt with North Harbour.

He'll be joined at Welsh next season by Wasps team-mate Ricky Reeves, who arrived at Adams Park from Bedford Blues in 2013.

Reeves, 32, helped the Blues reach the Championship final in 2012/13 before making the switch to Adams Park, with his first-team debut coming off the bench in a 90-17 victory away to Viadana in October 2013.

A Lance Corporal in the 33 Engineer Regiment bomb disposal unit, who has served in Afghanistan, Reeves helped the Army to victory over the Navy at Twickenham in 2013.

The loosehead prop has previously also played for Cambridge and impressed Blues coach Mike Rayer during a trial with the club. As part of a reciprocal relationship between Saracens and Bedford, he was called up by Mark McCall for the club's 2012/13 LV= Cup campaign.

Loosehead prop Shane Cahill, 26, spent two seasons at Rotherham Titans before joining Cornish Pirates in 2013.

He made 13 appearances for the Pirates last season, scoring one try, and impressed in the Pirates' clash with Welsh at Mennaye Field in March.

He signed for Doncaster Knights in 2010 only for injury to curtail his opportunities, but Titans offered him a further chance to establish himself in the Championship and it was an opportunity he grasped with both hands.

Previously, Cahill scored the winning try as Blackrock College beat St Michael's 14-12 to win the 2006 Leinster Schools Cup Final at Lansdowne Road, despite having only started playing rugby in his last year at Blackrock.

He also represented Leinster Colleges and Ireland Colleges in 2008, and also played for Blackrock RFC.

A product of the Worcester Academy, Gilding joins Welsh after spending the last two seasons at Italian club Viadana.

The tighthead prop, 26, marked his debut season in Italy by helping Viadana to second place in the Super 10 league and being named 'Player of the Year' by highly respected Italian rugby magazine Lameta.

Plymouth born, Gilding attended Hartpury College before being signed by the Worcester Warriors Academy in 2007. He earned a senior contract for the 2009/10 season and made his Warriors debut at the age of 20 against London Wasps at Adams Park.

During his time at Sixways he also enjoyed loan spells at both Moseley and Stourbridge.

Scottish qualified, Gilding spent two years at Edinburgh Rugby, where he gained Heineken Cup experience. He was also called in to the Scotland Training Squad during the 2012 Six Nations, although he remains uncapped.

Taylor, 22, captained the Hartpury College side which were last season crowned National League Two champions by eight points from Ampthill.

The hooker had earlier led Hartpury to a fifth BUCS Championship with a pulsating 28-24 victory over Leeds Metropolitan University at Twickenham.

Litchfield, 22, is another product of Hartpury and like Taylor played a leading role in the college's National League Two South and BUCS Championship triumphs last season.

In 2013 he also lined out for National League One side Cinderford as well as Gloucester United in the Aviva Premiership A League.

“What's exciting about all six of these new signings is that they may have different levels of experience but they all fit in to what part of London Welsh is about,” said head coach Justin Burnell.

“They all possess that same determination, resilience, team spirit and ethos which has proved so critical to the team's success this past season. They're also quite big, physical, boys.

“The demands of the Premiership compared to the Championship are going to be huge so strength in depth absolutely paramount to us. Therefore we are still actively looking to recruit more players.”