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PRO14 Confirm Postponement of Two Games

The PRO14 have announced that two fixtures that were set to take place this weekend have been postponed due to the Coronavirus

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The PRO14 have confirmed that two fixtures scheduled to take place in Italy this weekend have been postponed due to the Coronavirus.

There has been an outbreak of the virus in Italy over recent days and the PRO14 have decided to postpone Zebre’s clash with the Ospreys and Benetton’s game against Ulster

In a statement by the tournament organisers they confirmed that they will reschedule both games for later in the season. 

“Both Guinness PRO14 fixtures set to take place in Italy this weekend have been postponed due to the restrictions enforced by national and local authorities dealing with the threat posed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Contingency-planning around the rescheduling of the Round 13 games – Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys (14:00 local) and Benetton v Ulster (16:00 local) – are currently underway. The restrictions on public gatherings and sporting events put in place by the Italian authorities apply in the Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto regions and have already seen a Women’s Six Nations game and four Serie A football fixtures postponed over the weekend. Fixtures in Italy’s national rugby championship, Top 12, and all domestic rugby activities have also been postponed ahead of this weekend,” the statement read. 

As mentioned in the statement there have been several key sporting fixtures cancelled over the last weekend with Serie A games cancelled in football, while in rugby the women’s Six Nations game between Italy and Scotland was chalked off too. 

The statement went on to say they were happy to go along with the calls being made in Italy and the World Health Organisation. 

“The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest report has listed 78 countries with confirmed cases of the Corona virus. To ensure the safety of our players and spectators PRO14 Rugby fully supports the preventative measures taken in Italy and will adhere to the directives from the WHO and local authorities. The current restrictions are in place until Sunday, March 1, 2020 and PRO14 Rugby will remain in contact with the FIR (Italian Union), Zebre Rugby Club, Benetton Rugby and World Rugby to monitor situation on a daily basis,” it finished. 

It remains to be seen what effect this could have over the coming weeks in the PRO14 calendar, while the Italian national team are set to take on Ireland in the Six Nations in a couple of weeks and will hope there are no changes to their schedule come then.

Pro14

Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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Pro14

Bad news on the injury front for Munster back-rower

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Munster medical department have issued the latest player update with Liam Coombes, John Hodnett and Alex McHenry all ruled out due to respective injuries.

The young trio sustained knocks in different training sessions and will not be available for this weekend’s clash.

Alex McHenry underwent surgery for a thumb injury and will not be available for the coming weeks, while Liam Coombes has sustained a minor hamstring injury.

Unfortunately, it is a longer-term outlook for John Hodnett who sustained an achilles tendon injury.  The Academy back row will undergo surgery early next week before commencing his rehabilitation programme.

A fourth player is already self-isolating after returning a positive test result from Monday’s PCR testing.  The player remains well, and no other players have been identified as close contacts.

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Pro14

Rea to win 50th cap v Cardiff

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Matty Rea is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance in the Guinness PRO14 Round 4 clash against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Monday (kick-off 6pm).

The 27-year-old Ballymena man made his Ulster debut against the Toyota Cheetahs in September 2017, and has already shown some excellent form this year when collecting the Player of the Match award in the season opener versus Benetton.

Rea will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy being retained at openside and Nick Timoney coming in to start at number eight. Adam McBurney will make his first start this season at hooker and is joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan – who scored his first Ulster try last week – and Marty Moore. Alan O’Connor retains his starting berth in the second row, and will be partnered with Kieran Treadwell, who is also making his first start this season.

Billy Burns will make his return from injury to captain the side at fly-half, alongside John Cooney – who has been released from the Ireland Six Nations squad – at scrum-half.

Burns is one of four changes to the back line, with Stuart McCloskey also being released from international duties to start alongside Stewart Moore in midfield. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back, and he will be joined on the wings by Louis Ludik and the returning Craig Gilroy.

Luke Marshall is set to make his return from injury to make his first appearance this season as he is included among the replacements. Alby Mathewson and Academy back three prospect Ethan McIlroy will cover the backline along with Marshall. John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, and Sean Reidy provide the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Blues, Guinness PRO14 Round 4, Monday 2 November 2020, at Rodney Parade (kick-off 6pm, live on Premier Sports):  

Issued by Ulster Rugby

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