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Pro14

Edinburgh & Cardiff each change 5.

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scrum-half Charlie Shiel is handed his first home start as Edinburgh Rugby make five changes to their starting XV for tomorrow night’s Guinness PRO14 match against Cardiff Blues at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Premier Sports

Shiel is selected at half-back alongside a revamped centre pairing that sees George Taylor and James Johnstone named in midfield for the Conference B clash.

The capital club welcome back Scotland internationalists Grant Gilchrist and Jamie Bhatti to the forward pack in the only other alterations to the side that claimed a bonus-point win over Connacht last weekend.

Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We need to make sure we’re on it. We should be well motivated since we’re on a good run, but we need to make sure we get all the basic things right.

“The weather will be a little bit better than last two weeks, but we need to be really functional and practical in how we play. We just need to go and win the game – do whatever it takes to win.

“I’m not fussy about our style. Substance, physicality and mentality should be 10 out of 10 for us, and we should go out with confidence to make sure we get our performance right.”

An unchanged back-three sees Hoyland continue at fullback with wingers Duhan van der Merwe – a try-scorer in his last five consecutive fixtures – and Eroni Sau once again named on the flanks.

Centres Taylor and Johnstone form all-new midfield pairing, with stand-off Simon Hickey – who contributed 12 points from his boot in last weekend’s win over Connacht – and the aforementioned Shiel combined at half-back.

Prop duo Bhatti and Simon Berghan are released from Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations squad and pack down alongside hooker Mike Willemse in a rotated front-row.

Scotland lock Gilchrist – who skippers the side – links-up with Lewis Carmichael in the second-row, as an unchanged back-row trio sees Nick Haining, Luke Crosbie and Viliame Mata complete the pack.

Cardiff have also made 5 changes to their starting team.

John Mulvihill’s side travel to the Scottish capital looking for back-to-back wins in the Championship, but face a tough prospect against the in-form Conference B leaders.

Summerhill, who has five tries to his name this season, suffered a hamstring injury in the Challenge Cup victory over Calvisano in January.

The wing, who replaces Ryan Edwards as the only change amongst the backline, joins Hallam Amos and Jason Harries in the back three, after the duo starred in Sunday’s bonus point win over Benetton Rugby.

Wing Harries returns to BT Murrayfield to face his former club, having scored two tries in this fixture last season as the Blues claimed a memorable victory at the Scottish capital.

Garyn Smith and Ben Thomas continue their partnership in midfield, as former Edinburgh outside half Jason Tovey links up with Lloyd Williams at half back.

There is a new-look front row, with Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey and Dmitri Arhip all returning to the starting XV.

Rory Thornton is replaces James Ratti in the second row to combine with Seb Davies, who dotted down in the win over Benetton. An unchanged back row of Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson and Josh Turnbull complete the pack.

Head coach John Mulvihill is relishing the challenge ahead and wants to finish the latest block of Guinness PRO14 games with a win before his side head into a three-week interval.

“We can take real confidence from our performance in the second half against Benetton as we travel up to Edinburgh. We were clinical in attack, solid in defence and we’ll need to maintain those standards for the full 80 minutes at Murrayfield.

“We’re fully aware of the challenges ahead against Edinburgh. They’re top of our table and have a lot of quality throughout, even with some big names missing through the Six Nations. They’re top of the table because of the depth they’ve built in that squad.

“We’ve got good form on the road this year, and that was something we spoke about before the season started. We need to pick up points on the road, and we’ve won up in Edinburgh before so we can take confidence from that.

“It’s great to have Aled back. He’s a really good player who gives us a spark and finish on the edge. He’s someone who can step up and keep some international boys out of the team because of his form.

“He’s a really good finisher, he’s quick, good on the high ball and defensively he’s one of our best.”

Another player returning from injury is Kirby Myhill who is named on the bench, and is set to feature for the first time in 2020.

Also included as a replacement is lock Ben Murphy, who could feature for the first time this season, having also impressed when featuring for Merthyr in the Indigo Group Premiership this season.

Pro14

Connacht Rugby announce signings of Ben O’Donnell and Abraham Papali’i

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Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce the signings of Australian 7s player Ben O’Donnell and Bay of Plenty Number 8 Abraham Papali’i.
 
The pair will link up with the squad before the start of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season.
 
Ben O’Donnell joins from the Australian Sevens programme, having played 95 matches for his country since he was handed his debut in 2017 under Andy Friend. The 24-year old went on to score 47 tries in that time and has been a key figure in their progression through the World Rugby Seven Series over the past three seasons.
 
O’Donnell was voted Australian Sevens Player of the year in 2018 and subsequently went on to be the first Australian player ever nominated for the World Sevens Player of the Year.
 
New Zealander Abraham Papali’i arrives from Bay of Plenty where he was a key member of the squad that won the Mitre 10 Cup Championship last year. The Auckland-born duel code player started his Rugby Union career with North Harbour before being recruited into the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pathway. In 2015 Papali’i signed a two year contract with the Sydney Roosters of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).
 
Following his time with the Roosters, Papali’i joined Lézignan Sangliers in the premier French Rugby League competition before the 6’4” number 8 returned to New Zealand and successfully restarted his Rugby Union career with Bay of Plenty.
 
Head Coach Andy Friend says today’s announcement is a significant boost ahead of the return to rugby.
 
“I am delighted to welcome Ben and Abraham to Connacht Rugby.
 
I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.
 
Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.”

 
Friend expressed his excitement about the announcement and what the squad can achieve in the upcoming season.
 
“Today’s announcement comes on the back of discussions that started a number of months ago and we are delighted to eventually be able to share this exciting news with all of our supporters today.
 
These signings bring our squad up to 43 players for next season. We have freshened up and added depth to our squad in a number of key areas, having signed a healthy blend of young exciting players who have come through our Academy system as well as bringing in some additional quality and experience from further afield.
 
We are an ambitious group and I firmly believe we have all the tools we need to kick on to the next level and achieve success in what is going to be a really exciting season.”

Press Release from Connacht Rugby

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Pro14

Connacht raid Provincial rivals. 4 new signings confirmed.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Connacht Rugby have today confirmed the signings of Munster duo Sammy Arnold and Conor Oliver, and Leinster pair Jack Aungier and Oisin Dowling.

The quartet will become Connacht Rugby players from July 1st with Arnold, Dowling and Aungier penning two-year deals.

Irish international Sammy Arnold has made 44 appearances for Munster since joining the province from Ulster in 2016, scoring 8 tries in the process. The 24-year-old centre has been named both Ulster Academy Player of the Year and Munster Young Player of the Year, and made his International debut against USA in the 2018 Autumn Internationals.

Back row Conor Oliver has featured 28 times for Munster since making his debut in February 2016 and was named Munster Academy Player of the Year the following season. The 24-year-old can play on either flanks or as a number 8, expanding the coaching team’s options heading into the new season.

Oliver and Arnold both featured for Ireland in the 2015 World Rugby U20 Championship, who were then coached by current Connacht Attack Coach Nigel Carolan.

Jack Aungier made his Leinster senior debut last November and has gone on to make 5 appearances for the side in the current Guinness PRO14 season. The prop has also impressed at underage level, featuring for the Ireland U20s and U18 Clubs squad.

Oisin Dowling arrives from the Leinster Rugby Academy having played 6 times for the senior squad in the past two seasons. The 6’5’’ lock has also been capped at Irish U20 level.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Head Coach Andy Friend says all four players can make significant contributions to the squad ahead of the new season.

In Sammy, Conor, Oisin and Jack we have secured the signings of four very talented and promising young Irish rugby players. They each have unique skillsets which will enhance our squad for next season and beyond, and will allow us to continue to grow as a program. We’re all looking forward to welcoming them to The Sportsground and integrating them into our playing squad.

Press Release from Irish Rugby

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Pro14

Glasgow Warriors & Scottish Star to retire

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(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Glasgow Warriors centurion Ruaridh Jackson has announced that he will retire from rugby union at the end of the 2019/20 season.

The 32-year-old has made 163 appearances over two spells with the club, having made his Glasgow Warriors debut against GRAN Parma back in 2006.

He returned to the club in the summer of 2017 following stints at English Premiership sides Wasps and Harlequins, becoming a key component of Dave Rennie’s squad during his first season at the helm.

Equally comfortable at fly-half and full-back, Jackson’s experience and versatility made an instant impression upon his return as his form saw him voted as the club’s Players Player of the Season at the end of his first season back with the Warriors.

His tally of 499 points makes him one of the sharpest shooters in club history, with the former Robert Gordon’s College pupil sitting fifth in the club’s all-time points charts.

A confident operator both with the boot and with ball in hand, Jackson enjoyed a dream international debut back in 2010; the replacement fly-half held his nerve to kick a last-gasp penalty against Samoa in his hometown of Aberdeen, handing Scotland a narrow victory over the Pacific Islanders.

32 further caps for his country followed, a tally that included an appearance at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Jackson also had the distinction of representing Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, helping Scotland 7s to a sixth-place finish on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The centurion has made 12 appearances to date for the Warriors this season, scoring a brace of tries Leinster at Scotstoun back in November.

“It has been one hell of a ride,” Jackson told glasgowwarriors.org.

“From school and mini rugby coaches, Sean Lineen giving me the opportunity to sign my first pro contract, all the other coaches, medical teams, back room staff that I have worked with throughout the years, I want to say thank you – you have all played a huge part in my career.

“I’ve been so fortunate to live out my childhood dream of playing rugby, not just professionally but for my country. It’s been a journey that has allowed me to travel the world, make some incredible friends and without doubt has given me some of the happiest days of my life.

“It is not the fairytale ending I may have dreamt about, but I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of my 14-year journey as it has truly been an incredible one. I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, but it is now time to embrace a new challenge.”

Speaking following the announcement, Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “Ruaridh is a top man whose contribution to our club has been immense.

“While most of his footy had been played at 10 historically, his impact at fullback for us over the past three seasons was impressive. He led our Creck, a group dedicated to driving our counter-attack, turnover and exit policies, where his composure and innovation created opportunities to attack from deep, whilst his ability to kick well off either foot was a real strength.

“An environmentally and community minded individual, Jacko has been a great role model for our squad regarding planning for life beyond rugby.

“We wish Ruaridh, Kirsten and their expected arrival all the best for the next stage in their lives.”

Glasgow Warriors Managing Director Nathan Bombrys said: “Ruaridh is one of our all-time great Warriors and has had an outstanding career with the club.

“In his two stints over his nine years with the Warriors he has played in some of our biggest games, finals and Semi-Finals at both fly-half and at full-back, and hangs up his boots with his name fifth in our all-time points scoring chart.

“He has always been an exciting player who gives everything he has to the club, and it was so impressive when he returned to the club in 2017 and had an outstanding season that saw him recognised as Player’s Player of the 2017/18 Season.

“Ruaridh has been such a tremendous servant to our club, on and off the field, and we hope he will stay connected to the club in the years to come.We wish Ruaridh and his wife Kirsten all the best for the next chapter in their lives.”

Press Release from Glasgow Warriors

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