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Champions Cup

EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 – nominees announced

Who gets your vote?

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Elite players from seven different clubs and all three European professional leagues are among the 15 nominees for the prestigious EPCR European Player of the Year award.

Last season’s winner, Leone Nakarawa, who played a key role in Racing 92’s qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, is nominated once again along with his teammates, Finn Russell and Simon Zebo, while No 1 ranked, Saracens, have two representatives in Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola following their 100% record in another impressive pool stage performance.

Toulouse, who will face Racing 92 in an intriguing all-French quarter-final at the end of March, have Antoine Dupont and the livewire, Cheslin Kolbe, in the list, and not surprisingly, Edinburgh Rugby’s, Viliame Mata, is included on the back of several outstanding displays during the pool stage.

Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong and Garry Ringrose are nominated from Heineken Champions Cup holders, Leinster Rugby, while Ulster Rugby’s try machine, Jacob Stockdale, also gets the vote of the expert panel of judges. Munster Rugby are able to match Leinster’s representation with Tadhg Beirne, Joey Carbery and club captain, Peter O’Mahony, featuring in the star-studded longlist.

The winner of one of the most prized individual accolades in the world game will receive a specially struck gold medal as well as the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy.

Voting for the award is now open at www.epcrugby.com/epoty and fans will be in the running to win two VIP tickets to the Heineken Champions Cup final in Newcastle next May with one night’s accommodation courtesy of EPCR, and a signed jersey of one of the Heineken Champions Cup finalist clubs.

The list will be reduced to five players in April following the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals by a combination of the public vote and the verdict of the judges, and players who have not been included in initial list of 15, but who make a significant impact in a quarter-final or semi-final match, can be considered for the shortlist.

The voting will then be reopened and the winner of the 2019 award will be announced following the Heineken Champions Cup final at St James’ Park on Saturday, 11 May.

EPCR European Player of the Year award 2019 nominees

Tadhg BEIRNE (Munster Rugby)
Joey CARBERY (Munster Rugby)
Sean CRONIN (Leinster Rugby)
Antoine DUPONT (Toulouse)
Tadhg FURLONG (Leinster Rugby)
Alex GOODE (Saracens)
Cheslin KOLBE (Toulouse)
Viliame MATA (Edinburgh Rugby)
Leone NAKARAWA (Racing 92)
Peter O’MAHONY (Munster Rugby)
Garry RINGROSE (Leinster Rugby)
Finn RUSSELL (Racing 92)
Jacob STOCKDALE (Ulster Rugby)
Mako VUNIPOLA (Saracens)
Simon ZEBO (Racing 92)

Judging Panel: Bryan Habana (Channel 4), Chris Jones (BBC Radio 5 Live), Matthieu Lartot (France Télévisions), Emmanuel Massicard (Midi Olympique), Brian O’Driscoll (BT Sport), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports).

Roll of Honour – 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92); 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens); 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens); 2015: Nick Abendanon (ASM Clermont Auvergne); 2014: Steffon Armitage (RC Toulon); 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (RC Toulon); 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby); 2011: Sean O’Brien (Leinster Rugby); 2010: Ronan O’Gara (Munster Rugby – best player of first 15 years of European professional club competitions)

Champions Cup

Another Fijian Heads to Scotland

Glasgow Warriors have confirmed the signing of a Fijian star only two days after Edinburgh captured the signing of Mesulame Kunavula

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Glasgow Warriors have announced the signing of Fijian hooker Mesu Dolokota on a two-year deal from Fijian Drua.

The 24-year-old was named in Fiji’s World Cup training squad last month and will join up with the Warriors following the conclusion of the tournament in Japan.

Dolokoto is happy to be signing for the PRO 14 runners-up and is excited to feature in both the PRO 14 and the Champions Cup.

“I’m very happy to be joining Glasgow Warriors and I’m looking forward to playing in two of the best rugby competitions in the world. The opportunity to learn from such an experienced coaching team and play in such a successful team is very exciting for me. The club has a strong Fijian history and I hope I can be a big part of it going forward,” he said.

The hooker has nine international caps for Fiji as well as having experience in Super Rugby with the Brumbies in 2015 and Glasgow assistant coach John Dalziel is delighted to add more experience to the squad.

“Mesu is an exciting talent who will bring even more international experience to our front row. He isn’t your traditional front-row forward, he likes to bring a bit of Fijian flair to his game, but he can also do the basics very well and we’re excited to work with him when he shows up following international duty,” he said.

Dolokoto follows the footsteps of fellow Fijian Mesulame Kunavula, who joined Edinburgh only a couple of days ago and the PRO 14 can look forward to some Fijian flare next season.

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Champions Cup

Leinster Unveil New European and Alternative Jerseys

Leinster have revealed their European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have unveiled their new Adidas European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season.

The European jersey is an alteration on the traditional blue home jerseys worn by the reigning two-time PRO 14 champions.

Leinster have revealed that the jersey has been inspired by meteorites that were once used to create iron spears and will be worn by the club for the next two seasons.

“The pattern of the Leinster Rugby European jersey takes inspiration from meteorites that fell from the sky and were used by the Laighin people to create their iron spear. These meteorite formations form the graphic design of the jersey paying homage to the tale of the metal of the Gods, providing bold and vibrant energy for Leinster Rugby’s European campaign,” they said on their official website.

The alternative jersey is a shade of purple with black strips horizontally across the shirt.

They have said that this jersey is inspired by the purple skyline that is seen across the east coach of Ireland.

“The Alternate jersey embodies the electric energy of Ireland’s east coast at night. The iconic purple skyline forms the colour inspiration for this season’s kit. Incorporating a twist on the traditional hoop design, the kit harnesses the vibrant energy of the province, whilst maintaining a classic look and feel,” they added.

As well as the two new jerseys Leinster will continue to wear their Adidas home jersey from the 2018/19 season for the season ahead.

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Champions Cup

Ulster Confirm Squad for 2019/20 Season

Ulster have announced their 44-man strong squad ahead of next season

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster have confirmed their 44-man panel for the 2019/20 season with a total of 41 Irish-qualified players among the squad.

As well as having 41 Irish-qualified players the northern province have 27 players that have progressed from their academy.

The club have handed nine players that started last season in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy new contracts and have six new players joining them

Leinster’s Jack McGrath makes his move up north along with Munster’s Bill Johnson. While former Leinster academy player David O’Connor, whose brother Alan is already a second row at the club, also comes in.

Matt Faddes joins from the Highlanders, with Gareth Milasinovich and Sam Carter as joining.

Head coach Dan McFarland is delighted to have kept such a large number of home-grown players in the squad ahead of the new season.

“It is important that we retain the best of our home-grown talent, many of whom receive attractive offers from other clubs, and we have managed to do that once again with some key re-signings. Combined with this core group of Ulster men is the vital input of our overseas players. Having players like Marcell Coetzee in the group has delivered tangible benefits both on and off the field, and I’m confident that Sam Carter and Matt Faddes will also have big impact,” he said.

McFarland is also happy to have the likes of McGrath come in and is confident of the direction in which the club is heading.

“We will also welcome the experience and quality of Jack McGrath, and the potential of Gareth Milasinovich, Bill Johnston and David O’Connor into the squad, and I’m looking forward to working with them all. The squad is developing nicely. We need to have quality throughout the squad; sometimes that’s down to recruitment, a lot of the time it’s down to bringing the young guys through. Getting a healthy mixture of the two is really important,” he added.

Ulster begin their pre-season training on the 1st of July with everyone bar the players involved with the Rugby World Cup expected to start preparing for the new season.

Check out the Full Squad Below.

Will Addison, John Andrew, Robert Baloucoune, Billy Burns, Sam Carter, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, James Hume, Bill Johnston, Greg Jones, Ross Kane, Angus Kernohan, Michael Lowry, Louis Ludik, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Zack McCall, Stuart McCloskey, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovic, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Tommy O’Hagan, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Clive Ross, David Shanahan, Jonny Stewart, Jacob Stockdale, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Andrew Warwick

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