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Champions Cup

Champions Cup, Line Ups, Predictions, KO Times & TV Coverage.

We’re predicting a clean sweep for the Irish Provinces

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again, Heineken Champions Cup time!

It’s back this weekend and celebrating its 25th season!

We’ve taken a look at this weekend’s fixtures, the line ups & the refs and put together our predictions for the weekend!

Here are the fixtures for this weekend along with KO times what TV Channels will be covering the matches.

Weekend Line Ups & Predictions:

Gloucester Rugby v Toulouse

Date: Fri 15 November 2019 KO: 19:45 

Venue: Kingsholm Stadium

GLOUCESTER RUGBY

  • 15. Jason Woodward, 
  • 14. Tom Marshall, 
  • 13. Chris Harris, 
  • 12. Mark Atkinson, 
  • 11. Ollie Thorley, 
  • 10. Danny Cipriani, 
  • 9. Joe Simpson, 
  • 1. Val Rapava Ruskin , 
  • 2. Franco Marais, 
  • 3. Jamal Ford-Robinson, 
  • 4. Freddie Clarke, 
  • 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 
  • 6. Ruan Ackermann, 
  • 7. Lewis Ludlow, 
  • 8. Ben Morgan (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Corné Fourie, 
  • 17. Josh Hohneck, 
  • 18. Fraser Balmain, 
  • 19. Alex Craig, 
  • 20. Jake Polledri, 
  • 21. Callum Braley, 
  • 22. Billy Twelvetrees, 
  • 23. Matt Banahan,

TOULOUSE

  • 15. Thomas Ramos, 
  • 14. Yoann Huget, 
  • 13. Sofiane Guitoune, 
  • 12. Romain Ntamack, 
  • 11. Maxime Médard, 
  • 10. Zack Holmes, 
  • 9. Sébastien Bézy, 
  • 1. Cyril Baille, 
  • 2. Julien Marchand (c), 
  • 3. Charlie Faumuina, 
  • 4. Florian Verhaeghe, 
  • 5. Joe Tekori, 
  • 6. Francois Cros, 
  • 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 
  • 8. Jerome Kaino.

Replacements:

  • 16. Peato Mauvaka, 
  • 17. Clément Castets, 
  • 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 
  • 19. Richie Gray, 
  • 20. Selevasio Tolofua, 
  • 21. Alban Placines, 
  • 22. Pierre Pages, 
  • 23. Lucas Tauzin,

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

AR1: Gwyn Morris (Wales)

AR2: Wayne Davies (Wales)

TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Toulouse to win by 7.

Bath Rugby v Ulster Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Recreation Ground

BATH RUGBY

  • 15. Freddie Burns, 
  • 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 
  • 13. Jonathan Joseph, 
  • 12. Jamie Roberts, 
  • 11. Ruaridh McConnochie, 
  • 10. Rhys Priestland, 
  • 9. Will Chudley, 
  • 1. Beno Obano , 
  • 2. Tom Dunn, 
  • 3. Will Stuart, 
  • 4. Josh McNally, 
  • 5. Charlie Ewels (c), 
  • 6. Mike Williams, 
  • 7. Sam Underhill, 
  • 8. Zach Mercer.

Replacements:

  • 16. Jack Walker , 
  • 17. Lewis Boyce, 
  • 18. Christian Judge, 
  • 19. Elliott Stooke, 
  • 20. Josh Bayliss, 
  • 21. Chris Cook, 
  • 22. Max Wright, 
  • 23. Gabe Hamer-Webb,

ULSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Will Addison, 
  • 14. Rob Lyttle, 
  • 13. Luke Marshall, 
  • 12. Stuart McCloskey, 
  • 11. Jacob Stockdale, 
  • 10. Billy Burns, 
  • 9. John Cooney, 
  • 1. Jack McGrath, 
  • 2. Rob Herring, 
  • 3. Marty Moore, 
  • 4. Iain Henderson (c), 
  • 5. Sam Carter, 
  • 6. Matt Rea, 
  • 7. Jordi Murphy, 
  • 8. Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements:

  • 16. Adam McBurney, 
  • 17. Eric O’Sullivan, 
  • 18. Tom O’Toole, 
  • 19. Alan O’Connor, 
  • 20. Sean Reidy, 
  • 21. David Shanahan, 
  • 22. Angus Curtis, 
  • 23. Louis Ludik,

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

AR1: Manuel Bottino (Italy)

AR2: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Broadcasters: C4 / Virgin Media / BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Ulster to win by 9

Glasgow Warriors v Sale Sharks

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Scotstoun Stadium

GLASGOW WARRIORS

  • 15. Tommy Seymour, 
  • 14. Ratu Tagive, 
  • 13. Nick Grigg, 
  • 12. Samuel Johnson, 
  • 11. DTH van der Merwe, 
  • 10. Adam Hastings, 
  • 9. George Horne, 
  • 1. Oli Kebble, 
  • 2. Fraser Brown, 
  • 3. Zander Fagerson, 
  • 4. Robert Harley, 
  • 5. Scott Cummings, 
  • 6. Ryan Wilson, 
  • 7. Callum Gibbins (c), 
  • 8. Matt Fagerson.

Replacements:

  • 16. George Turner, 
  • 17. Alex Allan, 
  • 18. D’Arcy Rae, 
  • 19. Tim Swinson, 
  • 20. Chris Fusaro, 
  • 21. Ali Price, 
  • 22. Peter Horne, 
  • 23. Kyle Steyn,

SALE SHARKS

  • 15. Simon Hammersley, 
  • 14. Marland Yarde, 
  • 13. Cameron Redpath, 
  • 12. Luke James, 
  • 11. Byron McGuigan, 
  • 10. AJ MacGinty, 
  • 9. Embrose Papier, 
  • 1. Ross Harrison, 
  • 2. Rob Webber, 
  • 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 
  • 4. Bryn Evans (c), 
  • 5. James Phillips, 
  • 6. Jean-Luc du Preez, 
  • 7. Ben Curry, 
  • 8. Dan du Preez.

Replacements:

  • 16. Akker van der Merwe, 
  • 17. Valery Morozov, 
  • 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 
  • 19. Matthew Postlewhaite, 
  • 20. Jono Ross, 
  • 21. Will Cliff, 
  • 22. Robert du Preez, 
  • 23. Chris Ashton,

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)

AR1: Adrien Descottes (France)

AR2: Cedric Marchat (France)

TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Glasgow by 11

Leinster Rugby v Benetton Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 15:15 

Venue: RDS Arena

LEINSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Jordan Larmour, 
  • 14. Dave Kearney, 
  • 13. Garry Ringrose, 
  • 12. Joe Tomane, 
  • 11. James Lowe, 
  • 10. Johnny Sexton (c), 
  • 9. Luke McGrath, 
  • 1. Cian Healy, 
  • 2. Ronan Kelleher, 
  • 3. Andrew Porter, 
  • 4. Devin Toner, 
  • 5. James Ryan, 
  • 6. Rhys Ruddock, 
  • 7. Josh van der Flier, 
  • 8. Caelan Doris.

Replacements:

  • 16. James Tracy, 
  • 17. Peter Dooley, 
  • 18. Michael Bent, 
  • 19. Scott Fardy, 
  • 20. Max Deegan, 
  • 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 
  • 22. Ross Byrne, 
  • 23. Rory O’Loughlin,

BENETTON RUGBY

  • 15. Jayden Hayward, 
  • 14. Angelo Esposito, 
  • 13. Nacho Brex, 
  • 12. Alberto Sgarbi (c), 
  • 11. Luca Sperandio, 
  • 10. Ian Keatley, 
  • 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 
  • 1. Nicola Quaglio, 
  • 2. Hame Faiva, 
  • 3. Marco Riccioni, 
  • 4. Ira Herbst, 
  • 5. Dean Budd, 
  • 6. Giovanni Pettinelli, 
  • 7. Braam Steyn, 
  • 8. Nasi Manu.

Replacements:

  • 16. Engjel Makelara, 
  • 17. Federico Zani, 
  • 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 
  • 19. Marco Fuser, 
  • 20. Marco Lazzaroni, 
  • 21. Toa Halafihi, 
  • 22. Tito Tebaldi, 
  • 23. Tommy Allan,

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)

AR1: Tual Trainini (France)

AR2: Laurent Cardona (France)

TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS / DAZN

Prediction – Leinster by 23

La Rochelle v Exeter Chiefs

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 16:15 

Venue: Stade Marcel Deflandre

LA ROCHELLE

  • 15. Jérémy Sinzelle, 
  • 14. Vincent Rattez, 
  • 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou, 
  • 12. Levani Botia, 
  • 11. Arthur Retiere, 
  • 10. Ihaia West, 
  • 9. Alexi Bales, 
  • 1. Dany Priso, 
  • 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 
  • 3. Arthur Joly, 
  • 4. Romain Sazy, 
  • 5. Mathieu Tanguy, 
  • 6. Grégory Alldritt, 
  • 7. Wiaan Liebenberg, 
  • 8. Victor Vito (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Facundo Bosch, 
  • 17. Reda Wardi, 
  • 18. Sila Puafisi, 
  • 19. Lopeti Timani, 
  • 20. Kevin Gourdon, 
  • 21. Brock James, 
  • 22. Marc Andreu, 
  • 23. Kini Murimurivalu,

EXETER CHIEFS

  • 15. Stuart Hogg, 
  • 14. Tom O’Flaherty, 
  • 13. Henry Slade, 
  • 12. Ian Whitten, 
  • 11. Alex Cuthbert, 
  • 10. Joe Simmonds, 
  • 9. Nic White, 
  • 1. Alec Hepburn, 
  • 2. Jack Yeandle (c), 
  • 3. Harry Williams, 
  • 4. Dave Dennis, 
  • 5. Jonny Hill, 
  • 6. Dave Ewers, 
  • 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 
  • 8. Sam Simmonds.

Replacements:

  • 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 
  • 17. Ben Moon, 
  • 18. Marcus Street, 
  • 19. Jannes Kirsten, 
  • 20. Don Armand, 
  • 21. Jack Maunder, 
  • 22. Gareth Steenson, 
  • 23. Jack Nowell,

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

AR1: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

AR2: Dave Sutherland (Scotland)

TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Broadcasters: beIN SPORTS / FR2 / BT Sport

Prediction – La Rochelle by 2

Ospreys v Munster Rugby

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 17:30 

Venue: Liberty Stadium

OSPREYS

  • 15. Cai Evans, 
  • 14. Hanno Dirksen, 
  • 13. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 
  • 12. Scott Williams, 
  • 11. Tom Williams, 
  • 10. Luke Price, 
  • 9. Shaun Venter, 
  • 1. Rhodri Jones, 
  • 2. Scott Otten, 
  • 3. Ma’afu Fia , 
  • 4. Marvin Orie, 
  • 5. Lloyd Ashley, 
  • 6. Dan Lydiate (c), 
  • 7. Olly Cracknell, 
  • 8. Morgan Morris.

Replacements:

  • 16. Ifan Phillips, 
  • 17. Nicky Smith, 
  • 18. Gheorghe Gajion, 
  • 19. Bradley Davies, 
  • 20. Sam Cross, 
  • 21. Aled Davies, 
  • 22. James Hook, 
  • 23. Kieran Williams,

MUNSTER RUGBY

  • 15. Mike Haley, 
  • 14. Andrew Conway, 
  • 13. Chris Farrell, 
  • 12. Rory Scannell, 
  • 11. Keith Earls, 
  • 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 
  • 9. Conor Murray, 
  • 1. Jeremy Loughman, 
  • 2. Niall Scannell, 
  • 3. John Ryan, 
  • 4. Jean Kleyn, 
  • 5. Billy Holland, 
  • 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 
  • 7. Tommy O’Donnell, 
  • 8. CJ Stander.

Replacements:

  • 16. Kevin O’Byrne, 
  • 17. James Cronin, 
  • 18. Stephen Archer, 
  • 19. Tadhg Beirne, 
  • 20. Arno Botha, 
  • 21. Alby Mathewson, 
  • 22. Sam Arnold, 
  • 23. Dan Goggin,

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

AR1: Ian Tempest (England)

AR2: Paul Dix (England)

TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Munster by 27

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins

Date: Sat 16 November 2019 KO: 18:30 

Venue: Stade Marcel-Michelin

ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE

  • 15. Nick Abendanon, 
  • 14. Peter Betham, 
  • 13. Isaiah Toeava, 
  • 12. George Moala, 
  • 11. Alivereti Raka, 
  • 10. Camille Lopez, 
  • 9. Morgan Parra (c), 
  • 1. Etienne Falgoux, 
  • 2. John Ulugia, 
  • 3. Rabah Slimani, 
  • 4. Paul Jedrasiak, 
  • 5. Sitaleki Timani, 
  • 6. Peceli Yato, 
  • 7. Alexandre Fischer, 
  • 8. Fritz Lee.

Replacements:

  • 16. Mike Tadjer, 
  • 17. Loni Uhila, 
  • 18. Davit Zirakashvili, 
  • 19. Thibault Lanen, 
  • 20. Clement Lanen, 
  • 21. Greig Laidlaw, 
  • 22. Jake McIntyre, 
  • 23. Apisai Naqalevu,

HARLEQUINS

  • 15. Mike Brown, 
  • 14. Cadan Murley, 
  • 13. James Lang, 
  • 12. Francis Saili, 
  • 11. Gabriel Ibitoye, 
  • 10. Marcus Smith, 
  • 9. Danny Care, 
  • 1. Santiago Garcia Botta, 
  • 2. Scott Baldwin, 
  • 3. Simon Kerrod, 
  • 4. Glen Young, 
  • 5. Matt Symons, 
  • 6. Chris Robshaw (c), 
  • 7. Will Evans, 
  • 8. Tom Lawday.

Replacements:

  • 16. Elia Elia, 
  • 17. Mark Lambert, 
  • 18. Phil Swainston, 
  • 19. Tex Cavubati , 
  • 20. Renaldo Bothma, 
  • 21. Martin Landajo, 
  • 22. Michele Campagnaro, 
  • 23. Ross Chisholm,

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)

AR1: Mike English (Wales)

AR2: Gareth Newman (Wales)

TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)

Broadcasters: beIN SPORTS / BT Sport

Prediction – Clermont by 17

Connacht Rugby v Montpellier

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: The Sportsground

CONNACHT RUGBY

  • 15. Darragh Leader, 
  • 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 
  • 13. Kyle Godwin, 
  • 12. Bundee Aki, 
  • 11. Matt Healy, 
  • 10. Jack Carty, 
  • 9. Caolin Blade, 
  • 1. Denis Buckley, 
  • 2. Tom McCartney, 
  • 3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 
  • 4. Cillian Gallagher, 
  • 5. Ultan Dillane, 
  • 6. Colby Fainga’a, 
  • 7. Jarrad Butler (c), 
  • 8. Paul Boyle.

Replacements:

  • 16. David Heffernan, 
  • 17. Matthew Burke, 
  • 18. Conor Kenny, 
  • 19. Eoghan Masterson, 
  • 20. Robin Copeland, 
  • 21. Stephen Kerins, 
  • 22. Tom Daly, 
  • 23. John Porch,

MONTPELLIER

  • 15. Anthony Bouthier, 
  • 14. Gabriel N’gandebe, 
  • 13. Arthur Vincent, 
  • 12. Jan Serfontein, 
  • 11. Yvan Reilhac, 
  • 10. Aaron Cruden, 
  • 9. Benoit Paillaugue (c), 
  • 1. Mikheil Nariashvili, 
  • 2. Youri Delhommel, 
  • 3. Mohamed Haouas, 
  • 4. Nico Janse van Rensburg, 
  • 5. Paul Willemse, 
  • 6. Kelian Galletier, 
  • 7. Yacouba Camara, 
  • 8. Caleb Timu.

Replacements:

  • 16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 
  • 17. Grégory Fichten, 
  • 18. Jannie Du Plessis, 
  • 19. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 
  • 20. Enzo Sanga, 
  • 21. Julien Bardy, 
  • 22. Henry Immelman, 
  • 23. Jacques Du Plessis,

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)

AR1: Hamish Smales (England)

AR2: Simon McConnell (England)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Connacht by 5

Northampton Saints v Lyon

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 13:00 

Venue: Franklin’s Gardens

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS

  • 15. George Furbank, 
  • 14. Tom Collins, 
  • 13. Rory Hutchinson, 
  • 12. Piers Francis, 
  • 11. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 
  • 10. Dan Biggar, 
  • 9. Cobus Reinach, 
  • 1. Alex Waller (c), 
  • 2. Mikey Haywood, 
  • 3. Ehren Painter, 
  • 4. David Ribbans, 
  • 5. Courtney Lawes, 
  • 6. Tom Wood, 
  • 7. Lewis Ludlam, 
  • 8. Teimana Harrison.

Replacements:

  • 16. James Fish, 
  • 17. Francois van Wyk, 
  • 18. Owen Franks, 
  • 19. Api Ratuniyarawa, 
  • 20. Jamie Gibson, 
  • 21. James Mitchell, 
  • 22. Matt Proctor, 
  • 23. Ahsee Tuala,

LYON

  • 15. Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 
  • 14. Josua Tuisova, 
  • 13. Pierre-Louis Barassi, 
  • 12. Charlie Ngatai, 
  • 11. Noa Nakaitaci, 
  • 10. Pato Fernandez, 
  • 9. Jonathan Pélissié (c), 
  • 1. Raphael Chaume, 
  • 2. Jeremie Maurouard, 
  • 3. Clément Ric, 
  • 4. Killian Geraci, 
  • 5. Loann Goujon, 
  • 6. Liam Gill, 
  • 7. Patrick Sobela, 
  • 8. Carl Fearns.

Replacements:

  • 16. Mickael Ivaldi, 
  • 17. Hamza Kaabèche, 
  • 18. Demba Bamba, 
  • 19. Hendrik Roodt, 
  • 20. Virgile Bruni, 
  • 21. Baptiste Couilloud, 
  • 22. Jonathan Wisniewski, 
  • 23. Thibaut Regard,

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

AR1: George Clancy (Ireland)

AR2: Robert O’Sullivan (Ireland)

TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Broadcasters: BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Prediction – Lyon by 4

Racing 92 v Saracens

Date: Sun 17 November 2019 KO: 16:15 

Venue: Paris La Defense Arena

RACING 92

  • 15. Brice Dulin, 
  • 14. Teddy Thomas, 
  • 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 
  • 12. Henry Chavancy (c), 
  • 11. Juan Imhoff, 
  • 10. Finn Russell, 
  • 9. Maxime Machenaud, 
  • 1. Eddy Ben Arous, 
  • 2. Camille Chat, 
  • 3. Cedate Gomes Sa, 
  • 4. Donnacha Ryan, 
  • 5. Boris Palu, 
  • 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 
  • 7. Baptiste Chouzenoux, 
  • 8. Antonie Claassen.

Replacements:

  • 16. Teddy Baubigny, 
  • 17. Hassane Kolingar, 
  • 18. Ali Oz, 
  • 19. Dominic Bird, 
  • 20. Yoan Tanga, 
  • 21. Teddy Iribaren, 
  • 22. Ben Volavola, 
  • 23. Simon Zebo,

SARACENS

  • 15. Matt Gallagher, 
  • 14. Sean Maitland, 
  • 13. Alex Lozowski, 
  • 12. Nick Tompkins, 
  • 11. Roti Segun, 
  • 10. Manu Vunipola, 
  • 9. Ben Spencer, 
  • 1. Rhys Carre, 
  • 2. Jack Singleton , 
  • 3. Titi Lamositele, 
  • 4. Will Skelton, 
  • 5. Callum Hunter-Hill, 
  • 6. Nick Isiekwe, 
  • 7. Ben Earl, 
  • 8. Jackson Wray (c).

Replacements:

  • 16. Joe Gray, 
  • 17. Sam Crean, 
  • 18. Vincent Koch, 
  • 19. Joel Kpoku, 
  • 20. Sean Reffell, 
  • 21. Tom Whiteley, 
  • 22. Damian Willemse, 
  • 23. Duncan Taylor,

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

AR1: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland)

AR2: Paul Haycock (Ireland)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Broadcasters: FR2 / beIN SPORTS / BT Sport

Prediction – Racing by 10

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Champions Cup

Leinster name team to face Montpellier

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Leinster Rugby squad, proudly sponsored by Bank of Ireland, has been named by Leo Cullen ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup game against Montpellier at the RDS Arena (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport and Newstalk).

The side will be captained by James Ryan and it will be the first time that the team has played since the fixture against Bath in Aviva Stadium on 11 December.

Hugo Keenan will wear the number 15 jersey, with Jordan Larmour and Jimmy O’Brien on the wings. O’Brien made his European debut against Montpellier last season.

In the centre, Ciarán Frawley and Garry Ringrose are selected, while Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne are the half-backs selected by Cullen.

In the pack, Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong start in the front row with Ross Molony and James Ryan an all-St. Michael’s College second row.

Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan complete Cullen’s starting XV.

On the bench, Rhys Ruddock is in line to win his 50th Champions Cup cap for Leinster Rugby should he be introduced.

Leinster Rugby team v Montpellier (caps in brackets):

15. Hugo Keenan (36)
14. Jordan Larmour (67)
13. Garry Ringrose (92)
12. Ciarán Frawley (42)
11. Jimmy O’Brien (38)
10. Ross Byrne (111)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (106)

1. Andrew Porter (82)
2. Rónan Kelleher (30)
3. Tadhg Furlong (118)
4. Ross Molony (123)
5. James Ryan (53) CAPTAIN
6. Caelan Doris (45)
7. Josh van der Flier (104)
8. Jack Conan (107)

Replacements:

16. Dan Sheehan (19)
17. Cian Healy (238)
18. Michael Ala’alatoa (7)
19. Rhys Ruddock (196)
20. Max Deegan (71)
21. Luke McGrath (158)
22. Johnny Sexton (176)
23. James Lowe (57)

Referee – Wayne Barnes (RFU)

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Champions Cup

Ulster team named for away clash against Northampton Saints

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland international, Robert Baloucoune, will make a welcome return from injury to join Ulster’s match-day squad travelling to cinch Stadium on Sunday to face Northampton Saints (Sunday, 3.15pm kick-off).

The winger has been named on the right wing with Mike Lowry and Ethan McIlroy taking up the full-back and left wing starting positions. Stewart Moore comes in to partner James Hume in the centre. Billy Burns has been selected at out-half with Nathan Doak, who is set to make his first European start, joining him at scrum-half.

Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore will pack down either side of Rob Herring in the front row. Alan O’Connor will once again captain the side, and joining him in the second row is Kieran Treadwell. Marcus Rea will start at blindside flanker, with Nick Timoney named at openside and Duane Vermeulen at Number Eight.

John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter and Greg Jones are named as forward replacements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing back line cover.

Ulster team to play Northampton Saints, Heineken Champions Cup Round 3, Sunday 16 January at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, kick-off 3.15pm, live on BT Sport:

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor (Capt.), Kieran Treadwell, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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Champions Cup

Scarlets forfeit Champions Cup opener v Bristol

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Picture Credit: Getty Images

Scarlets are disappointed to announce that we have forfeited our round one Heineken Champions Cup match against Bristol Bears, due to be played on Saturday, December 11.

Following discussions between Scarlets management, coaches, players and medical and conditioning staff, the overwhelming feeling was that it would be a physical risk to select any of the 32 front-line squad members who are currently in quarantine in a hotel outside of Belfast.

Since returning from South Africa, the travelling party have been in a strict 10-day quarantine, confined to their rooms with limited outdoor time a day without having been able to train as a group. That isolation period is due to end on Friday, December 10 – just a day before the Bristol fixture.

At present, we have 14 fit Scarlets players training at Parc y Scarlets – seven senior players and seven development players. 

We would like to thank the Ospreys and Dragons for their offer of assistance, but, unfortunately, we have been unable to put together a match-day squad that can safely take the field against the Bears.

“It is a decision we haven’t taken lightly,” said Scarlets Executive Chairman Simon Muderack.

“This is a great fixture between two great clubs, which supporters, players and staff on both sides were all looking forward to.

“Ultimately, though, the welfare of our players has to be our priority and following discussions with our staff it was felt that there was too much risk to ask the players currently in quarantine to play a game of this magnitude and intensity just a day after coming out of quarantine. You have to remember, the squad have been in isolation since the news of this Omicron variant first emerged when they were still in Durban so it will be something like 15 days in all. Also, a lot of the players haven’t played since the Benetton game on October 22. As a club we have a duty of care to our players.

“With only 14 squad members training at the Parc, half of them young development players, we did look into the possibility of registering players from other regions and we have been grateful for the positive response from Ospreys and Dragons. But, any players we did loan would effectively be ‘cup-tied’ which has made that option a challenge as well.

“With the integrity of the competition in mind, we felt we were unable to put together a match-day 23 that would safely be able to take the field against the Bears.

“We are all disappointed. I know a lot of fans had booked accommodation in Bristol and have been looking forward to this game for some time. But I am sure everyone will understand the situation we have found ourselves in through no fault of our own. 

“I would also like to stress that we have returned no positive Covid-19 cases in all the rounds of PCR testing prior to leaving and since arriving in South Africa and Northern Ireland.

“We would like to thank everyone at Bristol Bears and EPCR for their understanding of our predicament and look forward to welcoming Pat Lam and his side to Parc y Scarlets for the return fixture in January.”

For those supporters who have purchased tickets and official coach travel for the game, further details will be published shortly.

Source – Scarlets Rugby

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