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Champions Cup

Ulster reach Champions Cup quarter finals

Featuring James Nesbitt.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

A strong second half showing saw Ulster reach their first European quarter final since 2014, beating Leicester 14-13 this afternoon

It was a scrappy opening half at Welford Road, both sides getting turned over multiple times, and handling errors and misplaced passes the order of the day. Both sides had 5 handling errors after half an hour. Ulster struggles out of touch, several lineout throws going amiss for Rory Best.

Leicester came close to the Ulster line after around 25 minutes, after a rare break from Dan Cole, but a dropped ball saw to that chance. First points of the game went to Leicester, George Ford slotted a penalty kick after 31 minutes.

Ulster had their first sniff of the Leicester 22 shortly before half time. Stuart McCloskey smashed through the Leicester defensive line, but nobody was there to support Dave Shanahan after he took the offload, and the chance was lost, much to the dismay of some of the famous faces in the crowd.

The games first try came with the clock in the red. Quick ball from the Leicester forwards fed George Ford, who stuck a nicely weighted grubber kick through the Ulster defence, for Matt Toomua to touch down. There was a hint of Toomua being in front of the kicker but the ref awarded the try without consulting the TMO. Ford converted from the right hand touch line to make it 10-0 at half time.

The second half started with more of the same. Ulster again letting themselves down with the basics, leaving the ball unprotected at the breakdown a number of times. Leicester went 13-0 ahead after 50 mins, another kick from George Ford.

Ulster squandered a great chance not long later. A penalty well in kicking distance was put in the corner, and Ulster lost the ball in the resulting maul. Nothing was going the way of the men from the North. A pinpoint Billy Burns crosskick landed in the arms of Nick Timoney, who offloaded to Sean Reidy, but some brilliant defensive work from George Ford forced the knock on.

The introduction of John Cooney made a huge difference, his direction finally allowed Ulster to string a few phases together in attack, and look threatening. A strong lineout maul saw Marty Moore finally get some points on the board for Ulster, after 58 minutes. Cooney nailed the kick to make it 13-7.

The try put the wind in Ulster’s sails, and they began playing with real confidence. A beautiful chip from Billy Burns bounced into the hands of Robert Baloucoune who touched down under the sticks to put Ulster in front.

While Ulster got the job done today, there is cause for concern. No points until the 55th minute, and 4 lineouts lost on their own throw, they will have much to work on between now and the end of March, when they will have an away quarter final against Pool toppers Racing 92, Leinster, Saracens or Edinburgh.


Champions Cup

New Signing & Contract News

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Munster Rugby are pleased to confirm the signing of 23-year-old winger Diarmuid Kilgallen on a two-year deal ahead of the 2024/25 season.

In further contract news, hooker Eoghan Clarke has signed a one-year deal for next season after rejoining Munster in November.

Prop Keynan Knox has completed his time at the province after scoring three tries in 33 appearances and we wish him all the best for the future.

Diarmuid Kilgallen in action against Ulster in November.

Kilgallen hails from Eadestown in Kildare and has scored 12 tries in 22 appearances for Connacht to date.

He started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby for Cistercian College Roscrea on the Tipperary-Offaly border.

He joined the Connacht Academy in 2019 and made his debut against Munster in 2020.

A tall, athletic winger, he scored five tries in eight appearances last season and has five tries in six appearances so far this year.

Eoghan Clarke made his first start for Munster against Crusaders earlier this month.

25-year-old hooker Clarke has signed on for next year after impressing since returning to the province in November.

Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in 2021. He won the English Championship with Jersey last season but the club went into liquidation in October.

He has made five appearances for Munster since returning, including a debut against Bayonne in December and a first start against Crusaders at Páirc Uí Chaoimh earlier this month.

24-year-old tighthead prop Knox departs after over seven years at Munster Rugby.

He joined the Academy midway through the 2017/18 season after completing his second level education with Michaelhouse in South Africa.

The Young Munster clubman made his senior debut against Dragons in September 2019 and moved up to the senior squad in 2020.

Knox featured in eight games last season as Munster clinched the URC title. In total, he scored three tries in 33 Munster appearances.

We wish Keynan all the best with his next move.

Keynan Knox at training last month.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Northampton

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The Munster squad started preparations on Monday ahead of Saturday’s vital Investec Champions Cup clash against Northampton at Thomond Park (5.30pm).

There are a limited number of tickets remaining here.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the match here.

There were no new injuries to report after the win over Toulon on Saturday.

Following a consultation last week, Jack O’Donoghue will not require surgery on his knee injury and will be managed conservatively by the medical department. He is unavailable for three to four months.

Oli Jager is continuing to follow the return to play protocols and his availability for the Northampton game will be determined later this week.

There is good news for Jack Daly (ankle) as he returns to training this week.

Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles) and Mike Haley (hip) are increasing their training demands and will target a return to play in the coming weeks.

Continuing to rehab: Jack O’Donoghue (knee), Dave Kilcoyne (shoulder), Diarmuid Barron (foot), Jean Kleyn (eye/knee), Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles).

There were eight Munster players in AIL action at the weekend.

Academy out-half Tony Butler kicked two penalties and a conversion for Young Munster as they were beaten 23-13 by Cork Constitution at Temple Hill. Chris Moore started at hooker for the Cookies.

Academy scrum-half Jack Oliver kicked two penalties and a conversion for Garryowen in their 23-10 win over UCC at the Mardyke. Colm Hogan scored a try for Garryowen with Academy prop George Hadden also featuring.

Jack O’Sullivan started at no.8 for College.

Evan O’Connell was in action for UL Bohs as they were beaten 34-7 by Old Crescent.

Video | Graham Rowntree Interview

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Saturday, February 3

Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; SOLD OUT

URC Round 11: Friday, March 1

Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30

Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1

Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

All You Need To Know | RC Toulon v Munster

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Munster are away to RC Toulon this weekend in a huge Investec Champions Cup clash.

Find out all you need to know about the game below.

Our final Pool game is against the Northampton Saints at Thomond Park on Saturday, January 20, with tickets available here.

Where?

Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

When?

3.15pm Irish time, Saturday, January 13

Munster News

Squad Update 

Gallery | This Week’s Best Training Pics

Did You Know?

This will be the first meeting of Munster and Toulon since the 2018 Champions Cup quarter-final at Thomond Park.

Munster’s last visit to Stade Felix Mayol was back in January 2011 with the French side securing a 32-16 victory to end Munster’s hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

A draw at home to Bayonne and a defeat in Exeter leaves Munster fifth in Pool 3 with Toulon sixth after a home loss to Exeter and away defeat to Northampton.

The top four qualify for the next round and there are two rounds of games still to play.

Remaining Pool 3 Fixtures

Kick-offs in Irish time

Round 3

Friday, Jan 12: Northampton v Bayonne, Franklin’s Gardens, 8pm;

Saturday, Jan 13: Exeter Chiefs v Glasgow Warriors, Sandy Park, 1pm;

Toulon v Munster, Stade Felix Mayol, 3.15pm;

Round 4

Friday, Jan 19: Glasgow v Toulon, Scotstoun, 8pm;

Saturday, Jan 20: Munster v Northampton, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Sunday, Jan 21: Bayonne v Exeter Chiefs, Stade Jean Dauger, 5.30pm;

Teams

Both sides will be named at 12pm on Friday.

Match Officials

Referee: Nika Amashukeli

AR1: Saba Abulashvili

AR2: Shota Tevzadze

TMO: Ben Whitehouse

Broadcast

Live on TNT Sports, beIN Sports, France TV, FloRugby & SuperSport.

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here

Saturday, February 3

Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; SOLD OUT

URC Round 11: Friday, March 1

Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30

Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1

Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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