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Munster Name Much Changed Side to Play Dragons

Munster will be hoping to stay top of conference A with a in over the Welsh outfit

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Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster are looking to continue their recent winning streak when they face the Dragons in Rodney Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Irish province head into the match sitting top of conference A with 44 points, two ahead of Glasgow Warriors. While the Dragons lie in sixth in conference B with only four wins in 13 games and only 18 points.

When the two sides met earlier in the season Munster were comprehensive 49-6 winners.

However, this time around, both teams are without some key men due to 6 Nations duties, with Munster changing 13 players from last weekend’s win over Exeter.

The much changed starting XV sees Tyler Bleyendaal start at inside centre and captain the side. He is joined in the centre by Dan Goggins, with a back three of Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony.

Alby Mathewson and Bill Johnston start in the half-backs pairing.

Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshell, and Stephen Archer come into the front-row. While Jean Kleyn, the only man other then Haley to retain his place, is partnered by Billy Holland in the second-row.

The pack is completed by Fineen Wychorley, Conor Oliver, and Arno Both in the back-row.

The Dragons are missing six first team players that were called up by Wales including Ross Moriarty and Hallam Amos.

Former Leinster utility player Zane Kirchner is on the bench after starting at full-back last weekend in their 49-7 loss to Clermont, in the European Challenge Cup.

Richard Hibbard captains the side in a mostly unchanged pack from that match.

Munster No 8 Arno Botha has told his team mates that the level cannot drop now that the Irish internationals are gone and that the team must perform.

“We have Munster standards, and Munster isn’t just some guys, it’s the team. We remind ourselves that the Munster standards remain whole in the team,” he said.

While head coach Johann van Graan reiterated Botha’s comments and has warned his team of the chasing pack that includes the likes Glasgow and Connacht.

“We have got to keep performing week in and week out,” he said.

A win at the weekend would see Munster record five wins in a row in all competitions and ensure that they remain top of the conference. While a win for the Dragons could be a timely reminder to fans that there is hope.

Pro14

Ospreys to help set up ‘field hospital’

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Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

The Ospreys training base at Llandarcy Academy of Sport is to be transformed into a field hospital in a bid to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Work has already started at Llandarcy (which is part of NPTC Group of Colleges) and will be completed in the next three to four weeks.

The beds would be used for COVID-19 patients and other patients who need medical care, but they will be nursed in separate areas.

“The Ospreys have always been rooted in the community and region and we were happy to help in any way to ease the pressure on the NHS and to assist in dealing with coronavirus,” said Andrew Millward, Ospreys managing director.

“Allowing our training base at Llandarcy to be used in this way is the least we could do as we all come to terms with dealing with this virus at this time.”

There are no plans to provide any intensive care beds in Llandarcy as most seriously ill patients will be treated and cared for in the main hospitals in the region.

The College which runs the Llandarcy Academy of Sport has offered its premises for use as a field hospital with 340 hospital beds available for use.

The public, health and private sector, along with further education, are working closely together in an unprecedented response aimed at safeguarding the health and wellbeing of people living in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Llandarcy Academy of Sport is normally used by thousands of students as well as keep fit enthusiasts. The Ospreys also use the state-of-the-art facilities as their training ground.

Mark Dacey, CEO and Principal of NPTC Group of Colleges said the College would do everything it could to help in the current situation.

“These are difficult times for everyone,” said Dacey.

“We all need to pull together and do whatever we can to help tackle the ongoing COVID-19 emergency that we are all caught up in. The College will do whatever it can to help support our communities and its people during this very difficult time.”

Wyn Evans, Managing Director of the facility thanked everyone involved for coming together and backing the move to provide a field hospital on the site.

“Our users, which include the Ospreys, Swansea Ladies Football, members and lots more are fully supportive. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but we all realise measures have to be taken in order for this situation to be over as quickly as possible,” said Evans.

Tracy Myhill, Chief Executive of Swansea Bay University Health Board, paid tribute to the Ospreys for the willingness to allow Llandarcy to be used at this time and said she was “grateful and proud’” of how communities have come together.

Stadiums, leisure centres and a holiday park are being converted into field hospitals across Wales to help with the response to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Welsh Rugby Union have already confirmed both Principality Stadium and the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan will be used as emergency venues to help with treating coronavirus.

Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli – the home of the Scarlets – is also acting in the same way.

Courtesy of Welsh Rugby

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6 Nations

Rodney Parade to help in fight against coronavirus

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Rodney Parade has become the latest sporting venue to open its doors to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Newport stadium has been provided free of charge as a base for front-line NHS staff to check if they have the virus and are able to continue working. At this stage only NHS staff are eligible to be tested at Rodney Parade to see if they have COVID-19. Dragons managing director Mark Jones said: “The health service and care workers are doing an incredible job in such difficult circumstances so we are happy to offer our help and support in any way we can.

“Playing our part in the local community is at the heart of what we’re about at the Dragons and in times of crisis people stick together. We would urge everyone to follow the latest NHS advice on protecting themselves from the virus, particularly to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.”

A statement from Aneurin Bevan Health Board read: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is essential for delivering services for the people of Gwent. It is fundamental during this time when the most vulnerable people need us most.

“We have set up a drive-through facility to test staff for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and help us get our teams back in to work on the front line. The testing site is located at Rodney Parade in Newport and we ask that everyone practises the stay-at-home guidance and does not visit the site.

“Everyone at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board would like to thank the team at Rodney Parade for their community-focused approach and accommodating us during these difficult times.”

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Pro14

Ulster Star Commits Future to Province

Ulster have announced that one of their key men has signed a contract extension with the northern province

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster have announced that Ireland prop Jack McGrath has committed his future to the club after signing a contract extension.

The 30-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal that will see him remain with the province until 2022. 

Having joined Ulster from Leinster before this season McGrath is delighted to have his future sorted. 

“On arriving at Ulster, I was welcomed with open arms and I have very much settled here since joining at the start of this season. It’s a fantastic set-up in terms of the players, coaches and support staff that I get to work alongside every day – and I look forward to what the future holds for the province over the course of the next two years,” he said. 

The 56-cap Ireland international and a British and Irish Lion McGrath has a huge amount of experience behind him and head coach Dan McFarland thinks he has a big role to play in the future of the province. 

“Jack’s reliably strong performances and vast international experience make him a great asset to Ulster – so I’m delighted that he is chosen to continue his career here with us. By renewing the contracts of players such as Jack, we are continuing to strengthen our squad now, and also into the future, given the important leadership he provides for our young talent starting out in their careers. I’m confident that Jack will play an important role in Ulster’s successes in the years ahead,” he said. 

It is a huge boost for Ulster to have his services to rely upon over the coming seasons as they look to continue to build on their brilliant season to date.

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