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Pro14

Peel Praises Hundred-Cap Hero McCloskey

Ton.

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Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Stuart McCloskey put in a man of the match performance as Ulster edged out Ospreys 8-0 at Brewery field in Bridgend.

After 47 minutes, it was McCloskey who broke the deadlock with a crucial try, beating two defenders before finding full-back Pete Nelson with a clever off-load out of the back door. Nelson was stopped just short of the line but the ball was spread wide and McCloskey was in the right place to touch down in the corner.

Speaking after the game, Ulster backs coach, Dwayne Peel, heaped praise on McCloskey’s performance – his 100th cap for the province.

“He’s huge – a great leader for us. Anyone who watches us knows how big he is for us. He never takes a step backwards and he carries a lot of ball for us. He’s probably battered after every game but fair play to him. He’s key for us.”

Peel was quick to emphasise it is not only McCloskey’s physical presence, but his skill with ball-in-hand that makes him so dangerous in attack.

“If you watch him in training, his catch-pass stuff is excellent. He can pass a ball as well as anyone. Showing that in games, people are surprised but they shouldn’t be. He’s one of the best ball-players in our squad, definitely.”

Michael Lowry also earned plaudits from Peel, starting his first game at out-half for Ulster, having previously been primarily deployed at full-back.

“I actually thought he was excellent in his first start at 10. He’s played a lot at 15 but I thought he controlled the game really well. I’m really pleased with him. He’s brave. I thought defensively he was excellent.”

Following his impressive display pulling the strings for Ulster, unfortunately, Lowry was forced to leave the field early following a head injury.

Overall, Peel was happy with his team’s defensive performance but acknowledges his side could have been more clinical.

“It wasn’t a classic but held onto the ball well in that first half especially. We were disappointed not to finish in the corner but we created enough. We held onto the ball and we put a good Ospreys defence under pressure. They play a difficult style to break down.”

“We’re a bit disappointed not to score a few more tries but in terms of making chance, we’re pretty happy.”

“We were disappointed after the Treviso draw at home because we felt we didn’t fire any shots. Tonight we fired shots and that’s the biggest thing for me.”

Ulster now find themselves in 4th place in the Pool B table of the PRO 14. With an important block of games against Zebre, Dragons and Southern Kings to come during the Six Nations window, McFarland’s men will be hoping to pick up more crucial points as they look to secure an all-important top-three spot.

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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