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Champions Cup

Munster Fall to Seventh Straight Semi-Final Defeat

Munster have been knocked out of the Champions Cup at the semi-final stage once more with defeat to Saracens

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Hopes of an All-Irish Champions Cup final are over after Munster lost 32-16 to Saracens in the semi-final stage at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

The loss is Munster’s seventh semi-final defeat in a row and means the nations hopes now lie with Leinster as they face Toulouse on Sunday for a place in the final.

The huge physical battle was kicked off by Owen Farrell, who knocked over a penalty after only two minutes to put the hosts 3-0 up.

On nine minutes Munster struck level thanks to a Tyler Bleyendaal penalty.

Farrell kicked a further two penalties without reply by the 26th minute as Saracens went 9-3 ahead.

Bleyendaal slotted home his second penalty of the afternoon, before Conor Murray stepped up to score a monster long-range penalty to bring the sides level.

On the stroke of half-time Farrell finished as he started with his fourth penalty of the game to bring the home side 12-9 up at the whistle.

The visitor’s massive defensive effort in the opening half told only two minutes into the second half as Saracens kept the ball well before Michael Rhodes got in for the first try of the game. Farrell converted to stretch their lead out to 19-9.

By the 53rd minute they were further in front when Farrell kicked his fifth and sixth penalties of the day to make it 25-9.

With 20 minutes remaining Munster got themselves back into the game as they worked the ball out to Darren Sweetnam who raced over to touch-down. JJ Hanrahan converted to make it 25-16.

Billy Vunipola got the next score with 10 minutes left when he broke through for his sides second try. Farrell was on hand once more to add the extras.

Saracens were reduced to 14 men when Vincent Koch was sin-binned, but it made little difference as Saracens held on for a 32-16 win.

After the game a fan wearing a Munster jersey confronted Billy Vunipola following his support for Israel Folau’s anti-LGBT comments on social media recently. Which left a soar taste to the tie.

In the post-match press conference Munster head coach Johann van Graan admitted his side were second-best on the day.

“We weren’t good enough on the day, we got beaten by the better team so no excuses from our side,” he said.

Saracens march on to the final in Newcastle now where they will face either Leinster or Toulouse. While Munster now look towards their next game with Connacht as they look to pip Glasgow to top spot in Conference A of the Pro 14.

Player Ratings:

Saracens = Alex Goode (7), David Strettle (7), Alex Lozowski (6), Brad Barritt (6), Liam Williams (7), Owen Farrell (9), Ben Spencer (8); Mako Vunipola (7), Jamie George (7), Titi Lamositele (8), Maro Itoje (8), George Kruis (7), Michael Rhodes (8), Jackson Wray (7), Billy Vunipola (7)

Replacements (7)

Munster = Mike Haley (6), Andrew Conway (6), Chris Farrell (6), Niall Scannell (7), Darren Sweetnam (7), Tyler Bleyendaal (6), Conor Murray (7); Dave Kilcoyne (7), Niall Scannell (6), John Ryan (5), Jean Kleyn (7), Tadhg Beirne (6), Peter O’Mahony (6), Jack O’Donoghue (6), CJ Stander (8)

Replacements (6)

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Champions Cup

Sio poised for Exeter debut

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Australia prop Scott Sio is set to start for his Exeter Chiefs debut as the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners visit Gloucester Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday night.

The 31-year-old, who could get his first taste of EPCR competition when Exeter travel to Castres Olympique in their Heineken Champions Cup Pool A opener on December 10, comes in as one of five changes to the side that started last Saturday’s 22-20 defeat to Saracens.

Captain Jack Yeandle comes in at hooker, with flanker Lewis Pearson the other change in the pack, while fit-again wing Josh Hodge is handed a start along with centre Rory O’Loughlin.

Gloucester, who welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles in their first Heineken Champions Cup Pool A fixture, also on December 10, have made four alterations to the starting XV for their 22-21 win at London Irish a week ago.

Prop Harry Elrington and lock Cam Jordan are brought in, with Ben Morgan starting at No.8 as Ruan Ackermann shifts to blindside flanker. Lloyd Evans is also called up at full-back, with Santiago Carreras switching to the wing.

Leinster Rugby are the other Heineken Champions Cup side in action on Friday as they make the trip to Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship.

The Irish province are much-changed from their 27-13 victory over Munster Rugby last Saturday, with flanker Scott Penny the only player to retain his place.

Centre Charlie Ngatai, fly-half Ross Byrne, prop Ed Byrne and lock Ross Molony are all involved for last season’s Heineken Champions Cup runners-up, while Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Tector and Ben Brownlee are all potential debutants from the bench.

Content & Images from – EPC Rugby


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Champions Cup

Racing 92 v Leinster set for Le Havre

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The EPCR have this morning confirmed the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixture dates, kick-off times, venues and TV coverage, including the venue for the December clash between Leinster Rugby and Racing 92 in France.

EPCR had already confirmed this week that BT Sport, as well as RTÉ, ITV and S4C, have all agreed multi-year partnerships for the new broadcast cycle in Ireland and the UK.

BT Sport, who have been a partner since 2015, have recommitted as lead broadcaster in Ireland and the UK until the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.

In addition, RTÉ, has come on board in Ireland to provide free-to-air coverage.

RTÉ has already confirmed that it will broadcast both Leinster Rugby home games in the pool stages of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup on free-to-air on RTÉ2 television and on RTÉ Player.

The agreements with RTÉ and ITV, which will see each broadcaster cover one Heineken Champions Cup match per round in Ireland and in the UK – including the Final – on a free-to-air basis, also run until the end of the 2023/24 season.

Click HERE for the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures.

Leinster Rugby will start their campaign on Saturday, 10 December against three-time finalists, Racing 92, in Pool A and that game will be broadcast on BT Sport. The game will be played at the 25,000-capacity Stade Océane in Le Havre.

On Friday, 16 December 2022, at 8pm, Leinster Rugby will host Gloucester Rugby at the RDS Arena for the Round 2, Pool A encounter (live on RTÉ TV).

After the Christmas break, on Saturday 14 January 2023, it’s the return leg, as Leinster visit Kingsholm Stadium to take on Gloucester with a 1pm kick-off (live on ITV).

On the following Saturday, the final game of the pool stages sees Leinster welcome Racing 92 to Aviva Stadium with a 3.15pm start (live on RTÉ).

Ticketing information will be emailed to season ticket holders in the first instance with public sale thereafter.

2022/23 key dates

Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023

Round of 16 – 31 March – 1/2 April 2023

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023

Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


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Champions Cup

RTÉ To Broadcast Munster Home Champions Cup Fixtures

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RTÉ have today confirmed fixture details for both of Munster’s home Heineken Champions Cup Pool fixtures against Toulouse and Northampton Saints.

See home fixture details below with details yet to be confirmed for our away games.

Ticket details will be released shortly.

Heineken Champions Cup Fixtures

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Round 1: Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

December 16/17/18, 2023

Round 2: Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Round 3: Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;

January 20/21/22, 2023

Round 4: Stade Toulousain v Munster Rugby, TBC;

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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