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Pro14

Pienaar Makes PRO 14 Return

Ruan Pienaar will be playing PRO 14 rugby once again next season

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(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Former Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar will make a return to the PRO 14 next season after signing a two-year deal with the Cheetahs.

The 88-cap Springbok left his Montpellier contract a year earlier than expected and there was rumour among fans that a return to Belfast might be on the cards.

However, the Toyota Cheetahs have confirmed that the scrum-half will be continuing his career with them.

“The skilful player represented the Springboks in 88 test matches. Ruan experience in Guinness PRO14 will be valuable for the Toyota Cheetah as he represented the Irish side from Belfast in 141 matches between 2010 and 2017. Pienaar was named at scrum-half in the Magners League Team of the Year for the 2010/11 season and also scooped the Magners League player of the Year award which was voted for by his peers. Pienaar was again selected at scrum-half for the RaboDirect Pro12 Dream Team for the 2011/12 season and was also named captain of the side,” a club statement read.

Pienaar will bring plenty of experience with him as the statement mentions, having played for the Sharks 32 times in the Currie Cup and 67 times in Super Rugby before his move to Ireland.

During his stay with Ulster he became a fan-favourite and played in their 2012 Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster as well as their 2013 PRO 12 defeat to the same opposition.

The Cheetahs will be hoping that he can recreate some of his best form once more and provide them with a spark that they lacked at times last season.

Pro14

Zebre Star Receives Small Ban for Biting

Zebre might have claimed a famous away win in the PRO14 last weekend, but it’s not all rosy for the Italian team after one of their players has been handed a ban for biting, although it’s shorter than most would expect

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Zebre No 8 has received a six-week ban after being found guilty of biting an opposition player during last Saturday’s PRO14 clash with the Ospreys.

The 24-year-old was expected to be handed a lengthy ban for an act of foul play that is seriously frowned upon in the sport, but after initially being given a 12-week ban it was cut in half due to his previous disciplinary record, his admission of guilt and his conduct throughout the process. 

All of which means that he will be free to play for the Italian minnows, who enjoyed a memorable away win in Wales, come the 12th of January. 

The four-time capped Italian’s ban comes only a week after the exact same ban that was handed down to La Rochelle’s Pierre Bourgarit, who was caught eye-gouging Sale’s Tom Curry in a Champions Cup fixture. 

Another one of the worst offences in the game and it was reduced from 12 to six weeks, much for the same reasons as Giammarioli. 

Some fans and ex-players will criticise the decision, as it appears a much softer result than in days gone by for offences that could have caused serious harm to opponents.

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Pro14

Dragons Prop Forced to Retire Early

The Dragons have confirmed that one of their players has been forced to retire due to a freak training ground injury

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Dragons prop Jack Cosgrove has decided to retire from rugby due to injury the club have confirmed.

At only 25-years of age Cosgrove has been forced to retire early due to an eye injury that he sustained during a training session back in October. 

Having only joined the Welsh outfit in the summer it is a big blow to Cosgrove and the club wished him all the best in a statement.  

“Everyone at the Dragons wishes Jack every success in his future and he will continue to receive professional help and support from the region as he makes the transition from playing,” the statement read. 

The player had been through specialist treatment and had medical advice which helped him come to his decision.

Cosgrove came through the Worcester Warriors academy in England before he moved on to Edinburgh in 2015. A move to Bristol in 2017 followed, where he won the Championship on his return to England, before a return to Worcester ahead of his final switch to Dragons. 

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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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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.

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