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Champions Cup

Leinster Change Five for Saints Clash

Leinster have made a total of five changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s game with Northampton Saints



(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has decided to make five changes to his starting XV for his side’s Champions Cup game with the Northampton Saints at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow at 17 15.

Following last weekend’s impressive 43-16 victory away to the Saints Cullen was left with a couple of injuries that have forced his hand, with captain Johnny Sexton and Ronan Kelleher suffering with knee and hand injuries respectively are replaced by Ross Byrne and James Tracy. 

Elsewhere in the pack Tadhg Furlong makes a return to the front-row, while Scott Fardy starts the game as captain, while the only other change sees Luke McGrath come in to partner Byrne in the half-backs. 

With those changes it means that in the front-row Cian Healy is the only one retained from last weekend and is joined by Tracy and Furlong, with Fardy slotting into the second-row alongside James Ryan. 

There are no changes to the back-row as Rhys Ruddock lines-up as blindside-flanker, with Josh van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris continues at No 8. 

As mentioned above it’s McGrath and Byrne at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, and they have Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose outside them in the midfield pairing. 

It’s also an unchanged back-three with James Lowe on the left-wing, Dave Kearney on the right and Jordan Larmour finishes up the XV from full-back. 

Cullen has plenty of experience to call upon from the bench if needed with the likes of Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Jamison Gibson-Park and Rob Kearney among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game centre Ringrose, who has been in brilliant form since returning from the Rugby World Cup, knows how big the game is and knows that some of the squad played in the same fixture back in 2013 when Leinster lost and will want to right that wrong. 

“Some of the guys were involved in the 2013 loss to Saints at the Aviva. That will serve as a reminder this week,” he said. 

Leinster know that a win would put them in pole position to not only make the knock-out stages but finish as winners of Pool 1. A fourth win from four in the competition would be perfect for the boys in blue, however, they will be all too aware that Northampton will want revenge after last week’s trashing and will be tough opponents. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. Jordan Larmour (42)

14. Dave Kearney (142)

13. Garry Ringrose (68)

12. Robbie Henshaw (40)

11. James Lowe (37)

10. Ross Byrne (80)

9. Luke McGrath (117)

1. Cian Healy (212)

2. James Tracy (102)

3. Tadhg Furlong (104)

4. Scott Fardy (51) (c)

5. James Ryan (34)

6. Rhys Ruddock (165)

7. Josh van der Flier (76)

8. Calean Doris (24)


16. Bryan Byrne (44)

17. Ed Byrne (49)

18. Andrew Porter (57)

19. Devin Toner (240)

20. Max Deegan (55)

21. Jamison Gibson-Park (80)

22. Ciarán Frawley (16)

23. Rob Kearney (213)

Champions Cup

Leinster name team to face Montpellier



(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)


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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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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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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