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Munster and Connacht Name Strong Sides for Provincial Derby

Munster and Connacht will send out strong teams for the final regular season game



Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Neither Munster nor Connacht have rested too many players ahead of their match at Thomond Park on Saturday at 19 35.

The game is the final regular season match for both sides, with the two having already claimed play-off spots in Conference A.

Munster have named Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer in the front-three, with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne opening at four and five respectively.

Peter O’Mahony captains the team from blindside flanker once more, with Chris Cloete at openside and CJ Stander completing the pack at No 8.

Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal continue their half-back partnership in the absence of Joey Carbery, as Dan Goggin and Chris Farrell line-up outside them in the centre.

Calvin Nash begins the game on the left-wing, with Andrew Conway on the right and the ever-present Mike Haley at 15.

The visitors have a large number of experienced players to call upon from the replacements with the likes of John Ryan, Billy Holland, Arno Botha and JJ Hanrahan among them

Speaking before the game Munster head coach Johann van Graan has called on his team to bounce back from their Champions Cup semi-final loss to Saracens during the inter-provincial derby on Saturday.

“We as a group, as a coaching group, as players, we all win together, and we all lose together. We want to improve, and it starts again on Saturday night against Connacht,” he said.

The hosts start with Matthew Burke, Tom McCarthy and fit again Finley Bealham in the front-row, with Joe Maksymiw and James Cannon in the second-row.

Eoin McKeon, captain Jarrar Butler and Robin Copeland conclude the pack at six, seven and eight respectively.

The experienced Kieran Marmion is at scrum-half, alongside debutant Conor Dean at fly-half. Tom Daly and Bundee Aki are paired in the centre after Aki was cleared of any wrongdoing for mistakenly “liking” Israel Falou’s anti-LGBT post that has dominated the headlines recently.

Stephen Fitzgerald and Niyi Adeolokun are on the wings with Tiernan O’Hallaron at full-back.

There is a chance to impress from the bench for the eight replacements with Caolin Blade among them, who is looking for game-time to try and sneak into Joe Schmidt’s World Cup squad.

Connacht coach Andy Friend is looking forward to facing Munster and knows his side face a tough challenge on Saturday.

“Munster are an outstanding side. We saw that when we played them at home earlier in the season and they have been even better since. There is still a huge incentive for our players. We know that these interpro fixtures always bring out the best in our boys and we know that going to Thomond Park is a massive challenge,” he said.

Munster are still in with a chance of securing top-spot in Conference A and a home semi-final with it, however, they need to beat Connacht and hope that Edinburgh defeat Glasgow. On the other hand, Connacht are guaranteed third in the conference and are looking toward a quarter-final showdown with Ulster next weekend.


Dan McFarland extends stay with Ulster for a further two years



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Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has renewed his commitment to the province by signing a new two-year contract extension.

Since joining the club in August 2018, Ulster has regularly competed at the knock-out stages of both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup, including at the most recent Guinness PRO14 final – a first for the province in seven years. 

Of his contract renewal, Dan McFarland, said:

“I’m delighted to be signing again with Ulster. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two and a half years working and learning with some really good people, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help drive on our improvement as a group and as individuals.

“As a group, we are extremely ambitious in our aim to be consistently competing for championships. With exciting young talent continuing to emerge out of our Academy system, joining forces with the proven talent within our squad – many of whom have been recently recognised at international level – I look forward to what the weeks and months ahead hold as we take on our next challenges in the domestic league and in Europe this season.”

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, added:

“I’m extremely pleased to see Dan extend his commitment to Ulster Rugby, giving us the opportunity to continue to build on the fantastic work that he has done in his time here so far.

“It is plain to see, both on and off the field of play, the ethos that he has instilled in the group, and that is being borne out both in our performances and our results – a team of which the people of Ulster can be rightly and fiercely proud.  

“I’m looking forward to working with Dan in the coming years, to see where we can take this. It’s an exciting prospect.”

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Ulster & Leinster announce teams for huge Inter-Pro Clash



Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad has been named to face Leinster at the RDS Arena tomorrow evening (7.35pm kick-off).  

The team sees six changes to the side that defeated Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back and is joined on the wings by Matt Faddes and last weekend’s Player-of-the-Match, Ethan McIlroy. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and in the half-backs, John Cooney will partner Billy Burns.  

Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore are named at loosehead and tighthead prop, with Rob Herring completing the front row at hooker. Alan O’Connor comes in to pair with captain Sam Carter in the second row. Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee make up the starting back row forwards.  

John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney will provide forward reinforcements off the bench. David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham will offer back line cover.   

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 11, Friday 8 January at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney. 

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.  

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.  

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the RDS Arena in Round 11 of the Guinness PRO14 has been announced by Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm live on eir Sport and RTÉ Radio).

Johnny Sexton will captain the team as a number of players return from injury for the top of Conference A clash.

Hugo Keenan is selected at full back with Jordan Larmour back after a shoulder injury to start on the right wing and Dave Kearney selected on the left.

Robbie Henshaw starts in the inside centre jersey with Ross Byrne starting outside him in the number 13 jersey for the first time in his Leinster senior career.

In the half-backs, Jamison Gibson-Park is joined by captain Johnny Sexton.

Cian Healy starts at loosehead prop with Andrew Porter at tighthead, while Seán Cronin makes his first start of the season at hooker after recovering from a thumb injury.

Former Australian international Scott Fardy is joined by James Ryan in the second row while, in the back row, fit-again Rhys Ruddock starts with Josh van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at number eight.

On the bench, Harry Byrne returns from a back injury picked up in the warm-up before the Northampton Saints game.

Team News from Ulster Rugby & Leinster Rugby

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Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash



(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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