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Champions Cup

Preview: Leinster Look to Secure Top Spot in Coventry

The return of some key players is not only good for Leinster but Ireland



Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster are welcoming back some key men as they play their final Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1 game against Wasps in Coventry, on Sunday.

Ireland internationals Robbie Henshaw, Devin Toner, and Jack McGrath return to the starting line-up for Leinster, while Sean O’Brien could make an appearance from the bench after a spell out due to an injury.

Henshaw and Toner are also coming back from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively. McGrath comes into the starting XV after being on the bench last week.

The match will provide them with some much-needed game time ahead of the Six Nations.

The line-up also sees Leo Cullen stick with his back three of Dave Kearney, Jordan Larmour and Adam Byrne after their impressive displays in Leinster’s 29-13 win over Toulouse.

Ross Byrne starts at fly-half and will have to put the disappointment of not receiving a call up to the Ireland squad behind him. He is partnered by Jamison Gibson-Park at No.9 who replaces the injured Luke McGrath.

On the Wasps side there are a few changes, as Jake Cooper-Wooley replaces Will Stuart at prop, Nizaam Carr comes in for Thomas Young in the back-row, with Gabiriele Lovobalavu taking the place of Juan du Jongh in the centre.

Elsewhere Joshua Bassett switches wings to accommodate Elliot Daly on the opposite wing with Ross Neal missing out.

Wasps are out of the competition already and are sitting bottom of the pool with only four points from five games and return to the field after losing 18-16 to Bath last weekend.

On the other hand, Leinster have already qualified for the last eight thanks to Edinburgh’s win over Montpellier last night, but they still have sights on topping the group and claiming a home quarter-final.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference returning lock Toner warned of the threat Wasps pose.

“Wasps have nothing to lose coming out against us. With us, how we’ve gone last year and how we’ve been playing, we have a big target on our backs. Everyone loves coming up against us these days and it’s a great marker for them to put down a good performance against us”, he said.

Toner’s comments will remind his team mates that they are in poll position to take top spot in Pool 1, but Toulouse will be waiting in the wings for any slip-up as Wasps look to regain some pride.

Champions Cup

Champions Cup Round 1 Fixtures Confirmed

The Champions Cup opening round fixtures have been announced and there are some big games to kick-off the tournament



(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

The first round of Champions Cup fixtures has been confirmed for the 2019/20 season with the tournament to begin on the weekend of the 15th of November.

Reigning champions Saracens will begin their title defence with a tough away trip to Racing 92 in what is the last game of the weekend on Sunday November 17th.

The other game in Pool 4 sees the Ospreys host Munster on Saturday November 16th.

Elsewhere, last season’s beaten finalists Leinster open their tournament with a home game against competition debutants Benetton on the Saturday, while Northampton Saints host Lyon in the other match in Pool 1.

The first game of what is the 25th edition of the tournament is the Pool 5 clash of Gloucester and Toulouse, as the reigning Top 14 champions look to go a step further than last season’s semi-final defeat to Leinster. Connacht play Montpellier in the groups other game on the Sunday.

In Pool 2 Glasgow Warriors take on Sale Sharks on the Saturday at 13 00, followed by La Rochelle vs Exeter Chiefs later that day.

At the same time as the Warriors vs Sharks game there is the Pool 3 match of Bath against Ulster, with Clermont hosting Harlequins in the final match of the Saturday fixtures.

The pool stages are set to finish on the second and third weekends of January, while the final itself takes place in the Stade de Marseille on May 23rd 2020.

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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



(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



(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.

You can view the full Leinster Range for the up coming season here.

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