Jebb Sinclair’s time with London Irish has come to an abrupt close. After six seasons with the club the hard-hitting New Brunswick forward is heading back to Canadian shores to take up a coaching position with the Meraloma rugby club in Vancouver while he considers his playing future.
Citing ‘irregularities’, Sinclair says a contractual dispute with the club has seen him depart half-way through a two-year renewal signed in January 2016. After receiving offers from several other clubs he has instead opted to break away from the professional game for the time being.
The news will come as a disappointment to London Irish fans who have embraced the charismatic Sinclair since he arrived following the 2011 World Cup. His off-field persona and physical presence on the pitch made him a firm favorite of the Madejski faithful.
After struggling for game time in his initial season he spent six months in Cape Town on loan first to the Stormers in Super Rugby and then Western Province, with whom he won a Currie Cup in 2012. In doing so he became just the second Canadian to win the South African provincial competition, following the footsteps of Christian Stewart.
Once he returned he became a mainstay in the Exiles rotation, though his status as an ‘import’ player also saw him miss out at times. He was part of the squad that was relegated from the Aviva Premiership after the 2015-16 season but then returned from a long-term knee injury to play a crucial starting role in the team to close out last season and win promotion from the Greene King IPA Championship.
His international career has seen him make 42 test appearances for Canada since his debut against Portugal in 2008, 33 of them starts. Splitting his time between lock and blindside flanker, the 1.93m (6’4″) powerhouse became a media hit at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand as part of the ‘Beardos‘, along with teammates Hubert Buydens and Adam Kleeberger.
Sinclair’s most recent appearance for Canada was against Romania at the 2015 World Cup. Injury saw him ruled out of international contention in 2016 and he declined selection to the recent World Cup Qualifying series against the USA for personal reasons.