Munster Rugby and the IRFU confirmed today that BJ Botha, Niall Scannell and Kevin O’Byrne have all signed contract extensions with the province.
The front row players have all put pen to paper with BJ Botha signing a six-month contract extension, Niall Scannell advancing to a two-year full contract and Kevin O’Byrne signing a one-year development contract.
South African Botha has been with the province since the start of the 2011/12 season, making 93 appearances to date. He made his debut against the Scarlets in September 2011 in Cork and went on to make his European debut two months later against Northampton Saints at Thomond Park.
The 35-year-old has represented his country on 25 occasions and he was a member of the South African squad that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
The latest contract extension will see him remain with the province until December 2015 and in referring to the six-month contract period, Munster head coach Anthony Foley said: “BJ’s contract is up at the end of this season but after working closely with the IRFU we have thankfully secured the services of a player of his calibre for a further six months.
“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the scrum and front row and it is a huge boost to the squad to have him available during the World Cup window when our squad numbers will be reduced.”
Hooker Scannell moved in to the senior squad as a development player at the start of the 2013/14 season and he will now advance to a full contract at the start of the 2015/16 season.
The former Ireland Under-20 captain is a graduate of the Munster Rugby Academy. He made his league debut in December 2013 against the Scarlets in Cork, and has six Munster caps so far. The 24-year-old has also featured for Munster ‘A’ on 14 occasions in the British & Irish Cup.
Fellow hooker and Corkman O’Byrne has a signed a one-year development contract that will see him stay with the province until at least June 2016. The UL Bohemians clubman joined the squad on a training contract at the start of this season.
The 23-year-old has gone on to make 11 appearances for the province to date. He was the starting hooker when making his PRO12 debut against Edinburgh at Thomond Park last September.
Commenting further on the latest contract signings, Foley added: “This season alone has shown us how critical it is to have a number of options available at hooker. Out of a possible six hookers we had two, max three, available for most of the season through various injuries.
“With (Damien) Varley’s retirement confirmed and Mike Sherry out since November 2013, it is great to see these young players, both Kevin and Niall, taking their opportunities and committing their futures to the province.”
It has also been confirmed this week that development prop Alan Cotter will leave Munster at the end of the current season. Cotter is set to join French Federale 1 side Le Parc Pays d’Aix who are currently in pursuit of Pro D2 qualification.
The Limerick man has made five senior appearances for the province and played on 18 occasions in the British & Irish Cup. The 28-year-old previously went on loan spells to English Premiership clubs London Irish and Bath.