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Leinster vs Glasgow; Pro 14 Final Preview & Key Battles

Leinster and Glasgow will face off at Celtic Park on Saturday night and here’s everything you need to know ahead of the final game of the season

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Johnny Sexton has made a return to the Leinster line-up for their Pro 14 final against Glasgow in Celtic Park on Saturday at 18 30. 

The captain has taken the No 10 jersey back from Ross Byrne who played who played last weekend’s semi-final against Munster in one of three changes to the side.

Another change in the back-line sees Rob Kearney come in for his brother Dave at full-back with Jordan Larmour switching to the wing. While in the second-row Scott Fardy replaces the injured Devin Toner.

Apart from that it’s as you were with Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong knuckling down in the front-row, with Fardy joining James Ryan in the engine room.

Rhys Ruddock is at blindside flanker, with Josh van der Flier retaining his spot at openside following a man of the match comeback performance last week, with Jack Conan continuing at No 8.

Luke McGrath partners Sexton in the half-backs, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose linking up in the centre.

The ever-impressive James Lowe begins the game on the left-wing, with Larmour on the right and Kearney at 15.

Sean O’Brien has been kept out of the side meaning he won’t get to play another game for the province before his summer departure to London Irish. While Jack McGrath has been denied his chance at a final goodbye before moving to Ulster as Ed Byrne is chosen on the bench.

The visitors have strength among their replacements with Byrne being joined by the likes of twin brother Bryan, Ross Molony, Ross Bryne and Rory O’Loughlin.

Speaking ahead of the game prop Healy admitted he watched the Warriors 50-20 win over Ulster last weekend and has warned his side to be ready.

“I watched their game on Friday – they looked pretty dangerous,” he said.

While Leinster will be hoping for back-to-back titles Glasgow will want to dethrone them in front of the Scottish crowd.

For the Warriors it’s Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson are the front-three, with Scott Cummins and Jonny Gray pairing in the second-row.

In the back-row it’s Rob Harley at six, Callum Gibbins at seven and Matt Fagerson at eight to finish up the pack.

Ali Price and Adam Hastings continue their partnership in the half-backs at scrum-half and out-half respectively, while it’s Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn in the centre.

DTH van der Merwe opens at 11, with Tommy Seymour at 14 and Stuart Hogg at 15 in what will be his final appearance for the club before his move to Exeter Chiefs.

There is plenty to call upon from the bench with the Ryan Wilson, George and Peter Horne and Huw Jones among those ready to make an impact if needed.

The element of home advantage is one that flanker Harley is hoping the fans will take advantage of when the time comes.

“Celtic Park is a great stadium. We’re really looking forward to packing it out with our fans,” he said.

Key Battles:

Fraser Brown vs Sean Cronin:

This will be an intriguing battle as both will have to be spot on with the line-out and give everything in the scrum. Experience will help both but there will be a harder task for Brown in open-play as he will need to keep an eye on his opposite number who has been a lethal try-scorer this season and would love to get another in the final.

Jonny Gray vs James Ryan:

Home advantage will mean nothing to Gray as he faces up to arguably the best lock in the world at the moment. Both put in sensational tackling figures to go along with their attacking metres they gain as well as the line-out battle, this could be the place where the game is won or lost.

Ali Price vs Luke McGrath:

These two will both be out to impress their national team coaches ahead of the World Cup later this year and a strong performance in the final could earn them a ticket to Japan. Price’s pace will be a worry for McGrath, while the Leinster man’s kicking game could cause problems for the Warriors.

Tommy Seymour vs James Lowe:

A Scottish legend coming up against one of the brightest sparks of this Leinster side. You wouldn’t bet against either getting a try and the way they defend one another could be the vital component of who wins this individual war.

Stuart Hogg vs Rob Kearney:

This is a man departing his club up against a man who could be leaving his beloved blues with both out to prove a point. Hogg is a danger in any match he plays, while Kearney will be hoping to put any fans or coaches doubts about him to bed with a solid performance which could be his last for the club.

Both teams finished top of their respective conferences and there is no doubt that the two best teams have reached the final showpiece. With only a day to go until kick-off there is still no separating the two sides as they seek the domestic crown once again.

Pro14

Guinness PRO14 make exciting statement regarding SA Rugby

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Getty Images - Sportsfile - Brendan Macken

The Guinness PRO14 this morning made the below statement regarding SA Rugby and the PRO14 which contains exciting news for the competition and South African Rugby.

Statement begins.

“On August 25, PRO14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness PRO14 fixtures until 2021.

PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.

SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”

Statement ends.

The board of SA Super Rugby (Pty) Ltd – which trades as the Southern Kings placed the insolvent company into voluntary liquidation to secure the longer-term financial future of rugby in Eastern Province.

The shareholders – the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby – took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55m, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.

The loss of the Southern Kings will not be seen as a huge loss to the competition with them rarely upsetting the Betway odds.

Active discussions are ongoing with other South African teams to fill the void left by the Kings and also the potential of adding further franchises to expand the league.

PRO14 confirmed in August that the South African based sides will not play in the PRO14 for the rest of this calendar year, missing the start of the 2020-21 season, but PRO14 are still hopeful they will be able to compete in the 2020/21 season.

The remaining 12 teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy will begin the new campaign in early October with the first round of 11 fixtures not involving the South African sides. It’s no surprise who the bookies favourites are for next season, and surely this will drive many fans to place bets on Rugby at Betway hoping for their side to come out on top.

As a result of COVID-19 and the impact it is has had and will have on rugby’s global competition structures, the PRO14 is the most likely home for more South African teams.

Over the last few months New Zealand Rugby has plans for their future club pathway did not include the Bulls, Lions, Stormers or Sharks.

An interesting few months certainly ly ahead.

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Pro14

Ringrose to captain Leinster v Ulster

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the Final of the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport, TG4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster Rugby in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain of the senior side for the first time.

The back three is the same that started against Munster last week with Jordan Larmour selected at full back having come through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week and Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left.

Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with captain Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Ringrose made his Leinster debut in September 2015 on the wing against Cardiff Blues and tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Final will be his 75th appearance in a Leinster jersey. In that time he has scored 25 tries and has 29 Ireland caps to his name.

The half back partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.

In the pack there is no change in the front row with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. In winning his 219th cap, Cian Healy joins Leo Cullen and Rob Kearney as the joint 4th most capped player in Leinster history.

James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Devin Toner.

Finally in the back row, Guinness Player of the Match from last week Caelan Doris is again selected at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan is selected in the number eight jersey.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jordan Larmour (48)
14. Hugo Keenan (16)
13. Garry Ringrose (74) CAPTAIN
12. Robbie Henshaw (46)
11. James Lowe (45)
10. Ross Byrne (87)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (91)
1. Cian Healy (218)
2. Rónan Kelleher (13)
3.Andrew Porter (64)
4. Devin Toner (247)
5. James Ryan (37)
6. Caelan Doris (31)
7. Josh van der Flier (82)
8. Jack Conan (91)

16. James Tracy (109)
17. Ed Byrne (55)
18. Michael Bent (138)
19. Scott Fardy (60)
20. Will Connors (18)
21. Luke McGrath (125)
22. Johnny Sexton (165)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (69)

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Press Release from Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster make big changes for Leinster Final

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Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has confirmed the match-day squad for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Final versus Leinster (Aviva Stadium, 7.35pm).

The Ulster men will be boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.

Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the second row, while the front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The back row sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.

The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at full-back is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey – who, along with John Cooney, was named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team earlier this week – continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. All Black scrum-half, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at fly-half.

McFarland has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench where John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney will offer the forward backup, and the backline cover is provided by John Cooney and Ian Madigan.

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Final, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 12 September (7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson.

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.

Press Release from Ulster Rugby

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