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Dragons vs Benetton to Go Ahead

The PRO14 have confirmed that despite disruption to fixtures due to the outbreak of the coronavirus the Dragons game with Benetton will be played

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

The PRO14 have released a statement to confirm that tonight’s game between the Dragons and Benetton will proceed as scheduled despite the recent outbreak of the coronavirus.

Four matches in the competition have been called off so far that were set to take place in Italy due to the large number of people affected by the virus in Italy to date. 

Along with that the Italian men’s, women’s and U-20’s games with Ireland and England in the Six Nations over the next two weeks’ have been postponed due to the virus. 

However, the competition organisers released a statement this morning to ensure that the game this evening will be played. 

“Protecting the well-being of participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters is an absolute priority for PRO14 Rugby which has been carefully monitoring the situation in relation to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. It is satisfied that allowing the fixture to proceed this evening as scheduled is consistent with the very latest guidance from the UK government and specific recommendations received from Public Health Wales. There is currently no direction from the UK government that prohibits travel from Italy in relation to the outbreak. However, in keeping with the UK government guidance and on the advice of Public Health Wales, relayed to via the Welsh Rugby Union (current arrangement with all participating unions), PRO14 Rugby has requested and received written assurances from Benetton Rugby that (among other things) nobody in their travelling party has presented any symptoms associated with the virus, knowingly been in contact with any person with the virus and/or lived in or travelled to any of the so-called ‘lockdown’ areas in northern Italy since February 19. Benetton Rugby have been also instructed to, and have, actively discouraged its supporters from travelling to this fixture. PRO14 Rugby has taken these actions in order to protect the well-being of our participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters,” the statement read. 

Despite tonight’s game going ahead there are growing concerns that more games will be postponed or even cancelled due to the virus with the number of people infected becoming larger each day. 

As seen with the Six Nations it could cause a major fixture pile-up or games being classed as 0-0 draws, but what happens next remains to be seen.

Pro14

Joey Carbery set for return this weekend for Munster

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(Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Munster team has been named for Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff Arms Park (8pm).

There are six changes to the starting XV that defeated Edinburgh last time out, while in the replacements there is the welcome return of Joey Carbery who is named in his first match-day squad since January 2020.

The opening try scorer in Murrayfield last weekend, Jack O’Donoghue captains the side for Friday night’s encounter as he and Chris Cloete are joined by Jack O’Sullivan in the back row.

Fineen Wycherley scrums down next to Jean Kleyn in the engine room with Kevin O’Byrne stepping into the front row in between James Cronin and John Ryan.

Shane Daly returns from Ireland camp to retain his position on the left wing with Calvin Nash named on the opposite flank as Mike Haley completes the back three at full-back.

The centre partnership sees Rory Scannell lining up next to Damian de Allende and Nick McCarthy joins JJ Hanrahan in the half-back pairing.

If sprung from the bench Billy Holland will move ahead of Ronan O’Gara for all-time Munster appearances and become the second most capped player for the province for his 241st appearance in red.

Paddy Patterson is in line to make his Munster debut as he provides the scrum-half cover.

Find out you need to know ahead of the game here.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Rory Scannell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Nick McCarthy; James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, Roman Salanoa, Billy Holland, Gavin Coombes, Paddy Patterson, Joey Carbery, Darren Sweetnam.

Player News: Academy lock Thomas Ahern was unavailable for selection after picking up a knock in training this week.

Video | Press Pass

Hear from Defence Coach JP Ferreira and Liam O’Connor ahead of the game.

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6 Nations

Huge boost for Ulster & Ireland as Henderson signs new deal

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster captain, Iain Henderson, who has represented the province on 116 occasions, has secured his future with the club for the next two years.

Craigavon-born Henderson, who took up the role of Ulster captain in 2019, has progressed through the Ulster development system. Starting with mini rugby at Academy RFC, his early playing career saw him reach the final of the Danske Bank Schools Cup in 2010 with Belfast Royal Academy, represent Queen’s University Belfast as well as Ireland at Age-Grade level, before quickly rising through the ranks of senior professional rugby in the province.

Iain, who captained Ireland for the first time against France in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, made his international debut against South Africa in November 2012 and has won 60 caps to date for his country. 

A Lions tourist in 2017, Iain succeeded Rory Best as Ulster captain in 2019.  

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Over the past few seasons Iain has really developed into a leader within both the Ireland and Ulster squads. He is part of the national leadership group, captaining Ireland recently for the first time and we are delighted to have ensured that he continues his career in Ireland.”

Iain Henderson, commented,

“It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times. Irish rugby is in a good place despite the disruption the sport has experienced during the pandemic. As professionals, we have been in a privileged position to be able to continue playing and I know we all hope to see supporters back in the Aviva and Kingspan in the near future.”

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Pro14

Ulster issue positive update on Coetzee injury

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Many Ulster fans feared they may have seen the last appearance of Springbok Marcell Coetzee in an Ulster shirt after he was helped from the field on Friday night but a medical update has been issued which appears to be more positive than what was initially feared.

Update below:

The Ulster Rugby Medical Performance Team has issued a squad update ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 13 fixture against Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium.

Marcell Coetzee suffered a thigh muscle contusion in Ulster Rugby’s Guinness PRO14 Round 12 match against Glasgow Warriors. His availability for selection for the upcoming game against Ospreys will be assessed through the coming week.

There are no other new injury concerns arising from Friday night’s game at Scotstoun Stadium.

Squad updates in association with The Ulster Independent Clinic.

Update ends.

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