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2020 PRO14 Final Destination Confirmed

Next season’s PRO14 final will take place in a stadium it has never been before but there is one notable question mark surrounding the announcement

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The Cardiff City Stadium has been announced as the destination for the 2020 Guinness PRO14 final, in what is a first for the Welsh capital.

The game will take place on the 20th of June next year and Wales international Sam Warburton is delighted it will take place in his home-place.

“Rugby has always been a sport at the heart of Wales and having another world-class rugby event in our capital city is very exciting. I have seen a couple of matches in Cardiff City Stadium and the atmosphere can be electric with the right crowd – it’s going to be a great final whichever of the teams make it. Being a Cardiff boy myself, I could be biased, but it really is a great city with a great community. As the crow flies, the Cardiff City Stadium is under a mile from the city centre, so it makes a great location for fans wanting to make a day or a weekend of the event,” he said.

Although the announcement comes as good news for the club and local fans, the wider public have noted that the stadium is smaller than previous ones to have hosted the showpiece.

In fact, there has been record-breaking attendances over consecutive years since 2016 with this season’s final in Glasgow topping the lot with 47,128 people heading to Celtic Park to watch Leinster retain their crown.

However, PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi has confirmed that the decision to head to the 33,280-capacity stadium next season is to hopefully see a sell-out crowd unlike in the past number of years.

“Choosing Cardiff City Stadium as the location for next year’s final allows us to aim for a sell-out event after four successive years of setting new attendance records. Bringing the final to Wales is another move in making the decider about supporters of rugby, not just fans of the teams involved, and we know from experience that Welsh supporters are the most vocal. Cardiff City Stadium also brings us to a football venue for the second year in a row after the tremendous success of our most recent final in Glasgow’s Celtic Park,” he said.

Whatever the thoughts are Cardiff is the place to be next June, the question is what two teams will be battling it out when the time comes?

Pro14

Scotland Ace Signs Contract Extension

One of Scotland’s key men has decided to put pen to paper on a new deal with his current club

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland lock Ben Toolis has signed a new contract with current club Edinburgh ahead of the Six Nations with the national side.

The 27-year-old is included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad and has 22-caps to his name at the moment. Meanwhile at club-level Toolis has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh since his debut in 2013. 

Speaking on the new deal Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill admitted he is delighted to have the Brisbane-born lock on board for the foreseeable future. 

“Ben is one of the most athletic locks in the league, while his ability and leadership at the lineout is key to the way we play. We are delighted to see him re-sign, and I’ve got no doubt that he will continue to be a big player for this club in the years to come,” he said to the club’s website. 

The length of the deal have not been announced, but it is a boost for both club and country as his stock continues to rise. 

Toolis will be hoping that he can continue his partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the upcoming Six Nations with the squad currently preparing to face Ireland in their opening game on February 1st.

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Pro14

Former Welsh Ace to Hang Up Boots

One of Wales’ former stars has confirmed that he will retire from rugby come the end of the current season

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(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Former Wales back James Hook has announced that he will be calling time on his professional rugby career come the end of the current season.

Hook is contracted to the Ospreys, but with his deal set to end at the end of the campaign he has decided the time has come to pull the curtain on a professional career spanning 16 years. 

“It’s sad but something I’m really looking forward to. It comes to everyone at some point and now it’s time for me. I’ve had lots of highlights, winning Grand Slam titles and Six Nations and going on the Lions tour in 2009. Then signing my first professional contract was a big moment for me. Growing up I always aspired to be a professional rugby player. You never think it’ll actually happen so when it did it really was amazing,” he said in a post on social media. 

The 34-year old picked up a total of 81-caps for Wales to go along with his 148 appearances for the Ospreys. 

As well as his time with the Welsh region Hook had spells at both Top 14 side Perpignan and English Premiership outfit Gloucester between his stints at the Ospreys. 

Hook has admitted he hopes to continue his rugby journey off the pitch, but that he is also looking forward to having more time to spend with his family after such a long time on the playing field. 

“I want to stay involved in the game, particularly working on the skills, like I do now with the young kickers and the age-grade sides, and I’m hoping to finish my level three coaching qualification. It’ll be nice to spend time with my family, my three young boys and my wife. It’s going to be sad not playing at the end of the season, but you’ve got to be positive and look on the bright side and I’m looking forward to what’s next,” he added. 

As well as his rugby career Hook has also written a series of children’s books that are set to be released later this year and that could provide him with something else to venture into if they are successful. 

However, for now he will be hoping that he can help the Ospreys turn around their disastrous season to date before he hangs his boots up for good. 

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Champions Cup

Connacht Set to Lose Big Star

Connacht look set to without one of their key men next season according to reports as he appears set for a move

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Connacht look as though they will have to deal without flanker Colby Fainga’a next season as he appears to be set for a move to French side Lyon according to Irish outlet the42.

They are reporting that the former Rebels man is the Top 14 side’s preferred replacement for the departing Liam Gill, who will leave at the end of this season. 

Connacht were keen to keep their players’ player of the year from last season and had entered contract talks to extend his deal past the original two years, but with talks stalling Lyon have come in with a reported offer of 300,000 euro a season which would be hard to refuse. 

The 28-year-old would be a huge loss to the western province having been such a massive influence since his arrival in 2018. 

However, more positive news for fans is that the back-rower is set to return from a knee injury this weekend against Toulouse, to help Connacht during a period where injuries have severely hampered them. 

It is understood that Connacht would like to replace Fainga’a with another overseas star, but for now they will hope to get the most out of the Aussie between now and the end of the season.

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