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Champions Cup

Edinburgh v Munster: The 5 key match-ups and match preview.

Munster have welcomed back a number of stars for their trip to Edinburgh

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster have made 11 changes to the side that faced Zebre a week ago as they head to Edinburgh for their Champions Cup Quarter-Final at BT Murrayfield on Saturday at 12 45.

Among the returning players are a host of Irish internationals, however the hosts have also named a strong team as they look to continue their fine form.

While the men in red have also been handed a huge boost with fly-half Joey Carbery being passed fit to start the game.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan lock down in the front-three, with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the second-row.

Peter O’Mahony will captain the team from blindside flanker, with Jack O’Donoghue being rewarded for his recent form to start on the openside, and CJ Stander makes up the front-eight from No8.

Conor Murray comes back into the team after a poor Six Nations and will be hoping to find some form. He is joined in the half-backs by the returning Carbery who has recovered from a hamstring injury that has left him out for over a month.

Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell are the centre pairing, with Keith Earls and Andrew Conway at 11 and 14 respectively, and Mike Haley continuing at full-back.

There is strength on the bench too as players such as Rhys Marshell, Billy Holland, Arno Botha and Tyler Bleyendaal will look to make an impact if needed.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan has spoken of his sides excitement in reaching the last eight but is expecting a tough game in Scotland.

“It will be a massive challenge on Saturday and one that we are very much looking forward to. To get to a semi-final you have to get to a quarter-final, hopefully we can prepare well. Saturday will be a big battle,” he said.

The Scottish side start with Pierre Schoeman, captain Stuart McInally and WP Nel in the front-row, as Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist slotting in behind.

Last weekend’s man of the match in their win over Leinster, John Barclay, is at six, with Hamish Watson at seven and Viliame Mata at eight.

Henry Pyros begins at scrum-half alongside Jaco Van Der Walt, as Chris Dean and James Johnstone line-up in the centre.

Duhan Van Der Merwe starts on the left-wing, with Damien Hoyland on the right and youngster Darcy Graham at full-back.

The men on the bench include Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Jamie Ritchie and Mark Bennett, who are big players to be able to call upon.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill is confident that his side can make it to the final-four if they show up on Saturday.

“We’re going to go full blown into the battle and take them on. We’re going to enjoy the contest and see if we’re good enough to do it. We’ll try and out-Munster Munster, as we’re two sides that play quite similar rugby. If we get it right, we’ll beat them – we’ve got to front up in these big games. We’ll be well prepared, have a lot of belief in what we do and we’re coming here to win,” he said.

The opening quarter-final sees some massive match-ups across the pitch, and here’s some to look out for.

Niall Scannell vs Stuart McInally:

Scannell is still uncertain of a place on the Irish plane to the World Cup in Japan and knows a big performance in Scotland will catch Joe Schmidt’s eye. While McInally is capable of being up there with the best on his day and will be hoping to cement his Scottish place. The line-out will be key in this game, as will any chance of a rolling-maul for either side and if these men can be on their game, they could be the difference.

Tadhg Beirne vs Grant Gilchrist:

Beirne did little to impress during the Six Nations, but we all know what he is capable of. On the other hand, Gilchrist was one of the shining lights in the Scottish team. Both are huge players in the air and at the breakdown so this will be an individual clash to look forward to.

Peter O’Mahony vs John Barclay:

O’Mahony has been at the top for a long time but was off-form in Ireland’s game against Wales, whereas Barclay is just back from injury and won man of the match versus Leinster last weekend. Both are crucial leaders on their respective teams, this could be a real arm-wrestle at the breakdown with these two around.

Andrew Conway vs Duhan Van Der Merwe:

Conway is always up for a game, but he is coming up against an in-form Van Der Merwe, who looks as though he could score at any moment. Conway will need to not only be on his game from an attacking point of view but also in defence with the big man around. While Van Der Merwe will need to be defensively ready for the quick-minded and ever alert Conway.

Mike Haley vs Darcy Graham:

Haley has been in remarkable form over the past while and Darcy Graham showed what he is all about when called upon during Scotland’s Six Nations. Graham has been used mostly on the wing so it will be interesting to see him at full-back, as Haley will surely test him with a kicking-game. However, kicking to the young man could be a dangerous tactic as we have become aware of his deadly speed and finishing ability. It will be mind-games all the way between these two as they will look to lead from the back.

With a place in the final-four of the competition at steak, these two in form teams will go head-to-head in what could be an absolute cracker. Whoever can overcome the opposition will be a tough team to face in the semis as they are both gaining confidence with every game they play.


Champions Cup

Sio poised for Exeter debut

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Australia prop Scott Sio is set to start for his Exeter Chiefs debut as the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners visit Gloucester Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday night.

The 31-year-old, who could get his first taste of EPCR competition when Exeter travel to Castres Olympique in their Heineken Champions Cup Pool A opener on December 10, comes in as one of five changes to the side that started last Saturday’s 22-20 defeat to Saracens.

Captain Jack Yeandle comes in at hooker, with flanker Lewis Pearson the other change in the pack, while fit-again wing Josh Hodge is handed a start along with centre Rory O’Loughlin.

Gloucester, who welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles in their first Heineken Champions Cup Pool A fixture, also on December 10, have made four alterations to the starting XV for their 22-21 win at London Irish a week ago.

Prop Harry Elrington and lock Cam Jordan are brought in, with Ben Morgan starting at No.8 as Ruan Ackermann shifts to blindside flanker. Lloyd Evans is also called up at full-back, with Santiago Carreras switching to the wing.

Leinster Rugby are the other Heineken Champions Cup side in action on Friday as they make the trip to Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship.

The Irish province are much-changed from their 27-13 victory over Munster Rugby last Saturday, with flanker Scott Penny the only player to retain his place.

Centre Charlie Ngatai, fly-half Ross Byrne, prop Ed Byrne and lock Ross Molony are all involved for last season’s Heineken Champions Cup runners-up, while Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Tector and Ben Brownlee are all potential debutants from the bench.

Content & Images from – EPC Rugby


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Champions Cup

Racing 92 v Leinster set for Le Havre

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The EPCR have this morning confirmed the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixture dates, kick-off times, venues and TV coverage, including the venue for the December clash between Leinster Rugby and Racing 92 in France.

EPCR had already confirmed this week that BT Sport, as well as RTÉ, ITV and S4C, have all agreed multi-year partnerships for the new broadcast cycle in Ireland and the UK.

BT Sport, who have been a partner since 2015, have recommitted as lead broadcaster in Ireland and the UK until the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.

In addition, RTÉ, has come on board in Ireland to provide free-to-air coverage.

RTÉ has already confirmed that it will broadcast both Leinster Rugby home games in the pool stages of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup on free-to-air on RTÉ2 television and on RTÉ Player.

The agreements with RTÉ and ITV, which will see each broadcaster cover one Heineken Champions Cup match per round in Ireland and in the UK – including the Final – on a free-to-air basis, also run until the end of the 2023/24 season.

Click HERE for the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures.

Leinster Rugby will start their campaign on Saturday, 10 December against three-time finalists, Racing 92, in Pool A and that game will be broadcast on BT Sport. The game will be played at the 25,000-capacity Stade Océane in Le Havre.

On Friday, 16 December 2022, at 8pm, Leinster Rugby will host Gloucester Rugby at the RDS Arena for the Round 2, Pool A encounter (live on RTÉ TV).

After the Christmas break, on Saturday 14 January 2023, it’s the return leg, as Leinster visit Kingsholm Stadium to take on Gloucester with a 1pm kick-off (live on ITV).

On the following Saturday, the final game of the pool stages sees Leinster welcome Racing 92 to Aviva Stadium with a 3.15pm start (live on RTÉ).

Ticketing information will be emailed to season ticket holders in the first instance with public sale thereafter.

2022/23 key dates

Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023

Round of 16 – 31 March – 1/2 April 2023

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023

Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


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Champions Cup

RTÉ To Broadcast Munster Home Champions Cup Fixtures

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RTÉ have today confirmed fixture details for both of Munster’s home Heineken Champions Cup Pool fixtures against Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

See home fixture details below with details yet to be confirmed for our away games.

Ticket details will be released shortly.

Heineken Champions Cup Fixtures

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Round 1: Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

December 16/17/18, 2023

Round 2: Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Round 3: Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

January 20/21/22, 2023

Round 4: Stade Toulousain v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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