Former Shannon centre partners England star Ben Foden in New York side’s first ever MLR fixture

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Former Shannon centre partners England star Ben Foden in New York side’s first ever MLR fixture

Former Shannon centre Will Leonard starts for Rugby United New York in their first Major League Rugby fixture on Sunday

FORMER Shannon centre Will Leonard will partner England international Ben Foden in the Rugby United New York (RUNY) midfield in the side’s first ever Major League Rugby fixture this Sunday.

Twenty three-year-old Leonard, who signed for the new York side last month, will play at inside centre for Rugby United New York in their opening round fixture against San Diego Legion at Torero Stadium, San Diego, this Sunday, 10pm Irish time.

Leonard will be partnered in the New York midfield by 33-year-old Foden who won 34 caps for England between 2009 and 2013 and who more than 250 appearances for Northampton Saints over a 10-year career at Franklin’s Gardens.

Rugby United New York is the city’s first-ever professional club who joined Major League Rugby this season.

Will Leonard has been a standout performer for Shannon RFC in the All-Ireland League since 2015.

Leonard started his rugby career at the age of eight, playing for Shannon RFC’s youth team. He went on to attend Crescent College Comprehensive, and won two Munster School Senior Cups with the Dooradoyle side.

After finishing at Crescent College, Leonard returned to Shannon RFC. He has been playing with the club for the past 5 years, helping them achieve promotion back to the first division in the All Ireland League rugby league.

In 2014, Leonard appeared for the Munster Under 20s squad, starting in matches against the Connacht and Ulster U20 sides. Leonard was nominated for the AIL Division 1B Player of the Year, as well as the All Munster Provincial Player of the Year during the 2017-2018 season. Most recently, Leonard was selected to play for the All-Irish club side this past year.

Leonard also holds a First-Class Honours Degree in economics and finance from the University of Limerick.

The RUNY side for Sunday’s game in San Diego also includes ex-Leinster out-half Cathal Marsh starting at 10.