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Champions Cup

European Champions Cup Round 5 Predictions

We give our predictions on this weeks Champions Cup fixtures.

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We’ve put together our predictions for scores and possible bonus points for Round 5 of the Champions Cup. We got 90% of results correct in Round 4. Can we go one better?

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Gloucester v Munster

It’s all to play for technically in Pool 2. The tightest group on paper. Munster top the pool on 12 points, Gloucester are on the bottom with 8 points so it’s all to play for. Gloucester are boosted by the return of Danny Cipriani following a lay-off but Munster have Chris Farrell back from injury along with all their Ireland Internationals named in a strong lineup and we expect them to take the victory.

Prediction – Munster Win (+12)

RESULT – Gloucester 15 – Munster 41 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Montpellier v Newcastle

Montpellier will be looking for revenge after their loss to Newcastle in the earlier round of the competition. Newcastle have struggled in the Premiership this season and sit bottom of the domestic competition but have been strong in Europe and could technically still qualify for the next round. We do however expect Montpellier to come out on top.

Prediction -Montpellier (+20) Bonus Point Win

RESULT – Montpellier 45 – Newcastle 8 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Leinster v Toulouse

If this game is half as good as their first encounter this season, we’re in for a treat. Two teams that have been in scintillating form this season come head to head in Dublin. Toulouse pipped Leinster in France but we expect Leinster to take the spoils this weekend. Sexton will be a huge loss for Leinster but there is enough quality in the squad to see them take what we think will be a narrow victory.

Prediction – Leinster Win (+7)

RESULT – Leinster 29 – Toulouse 13 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Bath v Wasps

Both teams have little hope of progressing past the pool stages in this years competition but this dead rubber game could hopefully provide a platform for fringe players to gain some valuable European experience.

Prediction – Bath (+6) Both Team Try Bonus Points

RESULT – Bath 18- Wasps 16 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Ulster v Racing 92

On paper, this is a no brainer. Racing 92 should be firm favourites but 2 big factors come into play in this fixture. Ulster are typically very strong in Europe at home and the French don’t seem to like Belfast. Racing are in the driving seat to top the group and will remain that way even if they lose in Belfast however, Ulster’s chances of progressing further than the pools means a win is essential.

Prediction – Ulster Win (+9)

RESULT – Ulster 26 – Racing 22 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Scarlets v Leicester Tigers

Another dead rubber game with both teams effectively out. Scarlets have injury issues everywhere. Welsh Hooker Ken Owens lines up at No.8 again after making the switch last week to assist with the Scarlet’s injury crisis. Leicester Tigers have experienced a reassurance of late and we expect them to get the win.

Prediction – Leicester Tigers Win (+9) Both teams, try bonus points

RESULT – Scarlets 33 – Leicester 10 – 

Prediction – Wrong 

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Toulon v Edinburgh

Toulon are out, Edinburgh are in the mix. Toulon have had a torrid season and the Stade Mayol is not the fortress it once was. They will probably still go into the game as the bookies favourite but we expect Edinburgh to nick a win.

Prediction – Edinburgh Win (+8)

RESULT – Toulon 17 – Edinburgh 28 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Exeter Chiefs v Castres

Exeter have named a strong lineup for the clash at Sandy Park and we can’t see anything but a home win this weekend.

Prediction – Exeter Win (+18) Try Bonus

RESULT – Exeter 34 – Castres 12 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Lyon v Saracens

Lyon are out. They sit bottom of the pool while Saracens will look to bounce back from their defeat against Sale last week to continue their unbeaten run in Europe. We expect this to go one way, Saracens.

Prediction – Saracens Win (+15) Try Bonus

RESULT – Lyon 10 – Saracens 28 – 

Prediction – Correct

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Glasgow v Cardiff

Glasgow suffered a shock domestic loss last week to Benetton but their European hopes are still very much alive but a win is essential to keep their hopes alive and keep the pressure on Saracens. Glasgow to win comfortably.

Prediction – Glasgow Win (+13) Try Bonus

RESULT – Glasgow 33 – Cardiff 24  – 

Prediction – Correct

This weeks prediction score – 9/10 (90%)

No bang on score predictions this week but stuck the neck out with bold calls on Edinburgh & Ulster victories over big French opposition.

90% for consecutive rounds for our Champions Cup score predictions. Check back next week to see if we can go one better!

6 Nations

Leinster and Ireland Star Signs New Contract

One of Ireland’s key men has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU

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Cian Healy has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU to remain with Leinster and Ireland until the summer of 2021.

The prop is one of the country’s most consistent performers and is delighted to have the opportunity to continue representing both province and country.

“Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get. I am delighted therefore to have extended my IRFU contract and to continue to line out for Leinster. I believe that we have built something special at Leinster and with the national team and I want to contribute as best I can to both teams in what will be a hugely exciting few months and years ahead,” he said.

Healy has faced a number of serious injuries over the years but has thanked everyone at club and national level for their support and looks forward to the future with both.

“There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury but the support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters and it’s something that I won’t forget. It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team. I hope to play my part in helping Leinster and Ireland achieve further success over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in that journey,” he added.

Having been capped by Ireland 88 times since his debut in 2009 and holding 207 Leinster caps to his name already Healy is almost ever-present and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora paid tribute to his consistency.

“Cian is performing at a very high level week in and week out. He works incredibly hard in ensuring that he is physically in the best condition to perform and has bounced back from adversity to return to the top of the international and club game. He will continue to be a leading performer for Ireland and Leinster over the coming years,” he said.

Healy has represented Ireland at two World Cups (2011 and 2015) and will be hoping to be heading to a third in Japan later this year, he also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

As well as that Healy has a host of winner’s medals to his name with three Six Nations Championships in the bag for Ireland, while with Leinster he has won four European Cups, three Guinness Pro titles and a Challenge Cup.

Healy will be hoping to end the week on a high when he has the chance to add a fourth league title to his name as Leinster head to Celtic Park to face Glasgow Warriors in the Pro 14 final.

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Champions Cup

Connacht Receive Planning Permission for Stadium Redevelopment

Connacht have announced that the Sportsground’s redevelopment has been given the all-clear and will have a couple of new features

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Connacht Rugby have been granted planning permission for the €30 million redevelopment of the Sportsground and it will some new features. 

The land is owned by the Irish Greyhound Board and will include a new greyhound racing track once complete along with a new high-performance centre.

Speaking on the redevelopment Connacht’s chief executive Willie Ruane admitted he is delighted that everything had been passed.

“There has been huge momentum behind the project since we announced last October, and we now have the final granting of planning permission. With 130 people employed throughout the province by Connacht Rugby we are extremely proud of the annual contribution of €34.4 million we are making to the regional economy,” he said

The new stadium will also have a 12,000-seat capacity, with two stands on either touchline and terrace areas behind the try-lines.

The club secured €10 million in private funding between its own funds and an approved bank credit facility. Ruane confirmed that without the State providing the other €20 million the project cannot continue.

“We have €10m in private funding to bring to the table through a mixture of Connacht Rugby funds and an approved bank credit facility. The project is now shovel ready and the remaining €20m state investment is critical to its delivery,” he added.

The redevelopment would be a massive boost to the club who are progressing season by season and have secured Champions Cup rugby for next season. It is also positive news for the Galway area as a whole as it continues to grow in popularity among tourists and this will only add to the attraction.

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Champions Cup

Saracens’ Star Duo to Miss End of Season

Two Saracens players are set to miss the remainder of the season and there is no set date for their return

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Saracens props Mako Vunipola and Titi Lamositele will miss the end of the season due to injury.

Both picked up injuries during Sarries 20-10 Champions Cup clinching win over Leinster and the club have confirmed that neither will be available as they attempt to retain their Premiership title.

Vunipola, who has been plagued by injury this year, has picked up a significant hamstring injury but Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is certain he will be available for England’s World Cup campaign.

“Mako has a torn hamstring. We’re waiting to see exactly what happens with that, but I very much doubt he’ll play again this season. Nether will Titi. Mako won’t be out of the World Cup, but he’ll be out for a while. It’s quite a significant injury. It’s disappointing to lose two players of that quality and it makes us a little bit vulnerable,” he said.

Many of the 23 that took part in the final are expected to be rested in the final regular season game of the campaign against Worcester this Saturday. However, Saracens face a semi-final a week later and a potential final to retain their crown a week after that and this is a huge blow.

Despite the losses McCall is confident that his side have the firepower to get the job done.

“Juan Figallo is just coming back from injury, which is good timing. We were really impressed with Richard Barrington and Vincent Koch did when they came on, and Christian Judge has had a really good season. So we’ve got some guys who are ready to step up,” he added.

Although McCall has said that Vunipola will be ready for the World Cup, England head coach Eddie Jones will be sweating on the match-fitness of one of his star men, who has only played twice in the past three months.

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