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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

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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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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