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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

Leinster v Toulouse: Line-ups revealed.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster:

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to play Toulouse in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup Semi-Final in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Head Coach Leo Cullen (Kick Off: 3.15pm – live on Virgin Media, BT Sport, Channel 4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that played last weekend against Glasgow Warriors with captain Johnny Sexton back from injury having recovered from a quad injury.

Elsewhere in the backs Rob Kearney again starts at full back, Jordan Larmour is again on the right wing but James Lowe comes in on the left.

In the centre Robbie Henshaw is again selected but is joined this week by Garry Ringrose.

In the half backs the aforementioned Sexton, is partnered by Luke McGrath.

In the pack only Devin Toner and Seán O’Brien are retained from last week with Cian Healy, Seán Cronin and Tadhg Furlong starting in the front row, with Toner and James Ryan behind them in the second row.

Rhys Ruddock is selected at blindside with O’Brien again at openside and finally Jack Conan at number eight.

Toulouse:

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Champions Cup

Saracens v Munster: Line-Ups revealed.

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens:

George Kruis will make his 50th European appearance this weekend when Saracens take on Munster in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals.
The second row made his debut in the competition back in the 2010/11 season and was instrumental in Sarries’ back-to-back successes.

Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth’s long-awaited return from injury will see him reach a century of games in Europe from the bench.

Captain Brad Barritt has recovered from an ankle injury to slot back in at inside centre alongside Alex Lozowski.

The duo, and Kruis, are three of 10 changes to the starting XV that suffered defeat at Bristol Bears last weekend.

Liam Williams comes back in on the wing while Ben Spencer and Owen Farrell are the half-back pairing.

USA international Titi Lamositele keeps his place in the front row and is joined by Mako Vunipola – his first Sarries appearance since January – and Jamie George.

Maro Itoje partners Kruis in the boiler and Billy Vunipola starts at Number 8.

Saracens team to face Munster in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final at the Ricoh Arena (KO 15H00):
FORWARDS: Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Titi Lamositele, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Mike Rhodes, Jackson Wray, Billy Vunipola.

BACKS: Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Alex Lozowski, Brad Barritt, Liam Williams, Owen Farrell, Ben Spencer.

REPLACEMENTS: Joe Gray, Richard Barrington, Vincent Koch, Will Skelton, Schalk Burger, Richard Wigglesworth, Nick Tompkins, David Strettle.

Munster:

Head Coach Johann van Graan has named the Munster side for Saturday’s record 14th Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Ricoh Arena (3pm, live on BT Sport and beIN Sports).

There are 12 changes to the side that earned an impressive win away to Benetton in Italy last weekend as Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam and Jack O’Donoghue keep their places.

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony leads the side on his 50th Champions Cup appearance. O’Mahony has started each of his 49 appearances in the competition to date, including all 23 of the province’s Champions Cup games over the last three seasons.

Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Sweetnam on either flank.

Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell form the centre partnership with Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal in the half-backs.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan pack down in the front row with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

O’Mahony, O’Donoghue and CJ Stander complete the starting XV.

Keith Earls misses out due to injury having failed to make it through this week’s training.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin.

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Champions Cup

Referees confirmed for European Cup semi-finals

Men in the middle confirmed.

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Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

This weekend, domestic rugby takes a break for the European Semi Final Showdowns.

Saracens take on Munster in the Ricoh Arena at 3pm on Saturday.

Jérome Garcès has been selected to take charge of that game with assistant referees Romain Poite and Mathieu Raynal and TMO Philippe Bonhoure completing the all French officiating team.

Saracens secured their spot in the semis with a resounding 56-27 win over Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park while Munster pipped Edinburgh with a narrow win to secure their spot.

Saturday 20th April

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
Saracens v Munster Rugby (Ricoh Arena, 3pm)
Referee: Jérome Garcès (Fra)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (Fra), Mathieu Raynal (Fra)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (Fra)

Sunday 21st April

Leinster vs. Toulouse (Aviva Stadium 3pm)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)

Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (Eng), Matthew Carley (Eng)

TMO: Rowan Kitt (Eng)

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP
La Rochelle v Sale Sharks (Stade Marcel Delfandre, 5.30pm)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wal), Ian Davies (Wal)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ire)

ASM Clermont Auvergne v Harlequins
Referee: John Lacey (Ire)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ire), George Clancy (Ire)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ire)

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