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Pro14

Ospreys Turn to Ruddock for Morale Boost

The Ospreys have suffered a terrible start to the season but they have turned to a former Grand Slam winner to help change their fortunes

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Six Nations Grand Slam winner Mike Ruddock has been brought in by the Ospreys on a short-term contract to try and get their season off the ground.

The former Wales international, who won the Grand Slam in 2005, has joined the Welsh outfit on a temporary basis, for now, with a contract until the end of December. 

Ospreys managing director Andrew Millward is delighted to have him on board. 

“We are delighted to have Mike join us for a month. The coaches and players have all welcomed the decision to draft him in to offer his support and having him play a key role in our review of our rugby operations,” he said. 

Ospreys are currently looking to part ways with head coach Allen Clarke in a legally correct manner. Clarke joined on a three-year contract in April 2018, but the results have been below par since and coaches Matt Sherratt and Carl Hogg will come in to take charge on an interim basis which Ruddock will oversee. 

However, despite the Ospreys claim that Ruddock will come in on a short-term deal, the feeling is that he will take full control once Clarke’s situation is sorted out, with his club Lansdowne adding to that feeling by tweeting that he could stay on after the initial deal. 

“With regret but with our full support, we announce that with immediate effect Mike Ruddock has taken a position with Ospreys to become initially a consultant for a month but may turn into a longer commitment. Mike and Ospreys have kept us fully informed at all times,” the tweet read. 

Ospreys say they are reviewing their whole rugby operation and figuring out what coaches will stay on for the future to try and improve the club. 

The club currently sit joint-bottom of Conference A with Zebre, only being separated by points difference, but Ruddock’s first task will be in the Champions Cup, when the Welsh side face the daunting visit of Racing 92 to Swansea, before the reverse fixture the following week.

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.

In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.

Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”

Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.

With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.

Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.

A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the  back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.

Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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