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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

PREVIEW: Munster V Connacht

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Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Head coach Andy Friend says that Connacht will need to play a “smart” brand of Rugby in order to earn a victory at Thomond Park in Friday evening’s GuinnessPRO14 Rainbow Cup meeting with Munster

The Westerners were narrowly defeated by the Southern province, 20-17, in the side’s last meeting in March in a keenly contested interprovincial derby.

Despite the loss, Friend says there were plenty positives to take from the performance — which he described as smart — and he says applying those traits to Friday evening’s game will be crucial to any win.

“What we brought in that game at Thomond, more so in the game here(the December meeting of the team’s at the Sportsground), was that we defensively muscled up against them,” the Australian said.

“I thought our line out worked really well against them, in both attack and defence, and I thought we played a smart brand of Rugby, in terms of what we were doing with the ball, whether we were kicking it long or kicking for contestables. They were key areas that I felt worked for us and we have to make sure we replicate that and some on Friday night.”

Friend, meanwhile, paid tribute to Quinn Roux after the Irish international announced he will leave the province at the end of the season after seven years in Connacht green.

While the second row will be missed, the head coach wished him the best of luck for the future and thanked him for his service.

“He’s given an enormous amount to this province,” the former Australian sevens coach said.

“He leaves with our blessing and our respect. We would love to keep him, of course we would, but at the end of the day, people make decisions. It was a lengthy process we went through and a decision was made at the end.

“We have already begun the process of recruiting a new second row and we will obviously make an announcement about that in due course.”

Elsewhere, second row Gavin Thornbury says that Friday’s renewal of rivalries with Munster will provide players the opportunity to put their hands up for international selection with the Irish national team.

Ireland recently announced summer tests against the USA and Japan in Dublin and Thornbury says that competing against other players in the fold for national team squad berths will give him — and every other eligible player — the platform to showcase their abilities and further their international ambitions.

“They are always big,” the 27-year-old said of the interprovincial clash.

“Every time an interpro is played, It’s played fully and 100%, no matter who is playing. It’s another chance to put yourself in the shop window. All I can do is make sure I get myself as mentally and physically in as good a position as possible to put in a performance on Friday. I’m looking forward to that.”

Irish line out coach Paul O’Connell attended Connacht training last week and Thornbury said it was a great opportunity to show a member of the national team coaching staff their qualities close up.

“It was good to get him down and show him what we’re doing here,” he said.

“He would have always been someone I looked up to, so it was nice to meet him and introduce myself and just have a conversation with him. We had a good conversation and I was pretty happy with that. Hopefully, now I just back it up with performances and that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Thornbury, who joined the Westerners in 2017 from Leinster, was superb in the last game between the teams, a 20-17 home win for Munster in March, and he said he is keen to make a similar impression on Friday and help the team go one better and claim a win.

“Yeah, it was good,” the Dublin native said when asked how he would assess his performance in his last trip to Thomond Park.

“I think a lot of things probably came off for me that mightn’t have come off on another night. Obviously, I was fully gutted with the result. I thought we put ourselves in a position where we could have won the game and unfortunately it didn’t come through.

“Personally, some stuff came off that I was really happy with but there’s a lot to keep working on.”

Source – Connacht Rugby By John O’Sullivan 

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Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Update | May 2021

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It has been a busy past month for the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

Ian Costello was appointed to the role of Academy Manager in April and will return to the province in the summer having worked in England for the past five years with Nottingham and then Wasps. See full details here.

We can confirm that former Munster player Andi Kyriacou also rejoins the province as Elite Player Development Officer (Forwards). Andi has previously coached at Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Ben Healy made a further two appearances for the senior side over the past month and has now featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games so far this season.

There have been 43 senior appearances for Academy players across the Guinness PRO14, Champions Cup and Rainbow Cup in the 2020/21 campaign.

Academy trio Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips have been training with the Ireland 7s team and have been named in their squad for this weekend’s International Rugby 7s tournament. See full details here.

On the injury front, Eoin O’Connor (knee), John Hodnett (achilles), James French (hamstring), Jonathan Wren (hamstring), Cian Hurley (thumb), Scott Buckley (knee) and Thomas Ahern (knee) are continuing to rehab.

We spoke to the Academy’s Lead Physiotherapist, Shane Malone (above), for the latest update.

Current Academy crop…

“We all want to see the lads do well because we see on a daily basis how hard they work. They are exceptionally dedicated and just a really good group of characters.

“It’s great to see the nine guys [who are moving up to the senior squad next year] rewarded for their hard work and getting the opportunity to prove themselves at pro level.”

Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips involved with the Ireland 7s…

“It’s a great opportunity for guys to go up and prove themselves and gain a different skillset. They also have the opportunity to experience a different high performance environment.

“For our point of view, it’s been seamless because we have a very good relationship with the IRFU physios. We speak about the players that are involved on a weekly basis.”

Helping players to recover from long-term injuries…

“If you take John Hodnett’s injury as an example, the surgery on an Achilles rupture happens within a few days. Obviously with a severe injury like that you want to get as good a start as possible to get him back playing rugby as quickly and safely as possible.

“We gave John a bit of time away from the HPC to recuperate afterwards and leave everything settle down but we’re involved from day dot where we ring him at home to make sure he’s doing all the swelling management and all the acute care correctly.

“When he came back in here, it was full throttle from then on.

“It’s another opportunity for guys when they are injured to concentrate on other areas and John is developing his upper and lower body and he’s flying with that.

“He’s a young player so all that rehab and all that strength work is going to stand to him later in his career.”

Working with the sub-Academy players…

“Myself and Lorcan Kavanagh are the Academy physios. Lorcan also works with the sub-Academy/National Talent Squad group so we look after them if they pick up injuries.

“Academy staff look after how the sub-Academy players are developing from an athletic development point of view and also an injury prevention point of view as well.

“By the time lads get into the Academy, we usually have a very good idea of where they’re at and what they need to work on. It’s a real advantage for us to have that information as opposed to starting from scratch when they join the Academy, it’s really important.”

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

Fifteen players commenced the 2020/21 season with two additional players, Cian Hurley and Conor Phillips, joining in January 2021. See the full Academy squad here.

Nine players from the current group will advance to senior contracts ahead of the 2021/22 season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Jake Flannery, James French, Seán French, Ben Healy, John Hodnett and Josh Wycherley.

Eoghan Clarke has completed his time with the academy and linked up with Championship side Jersey Reds at the end of March.

Seven academy players made their Guinness PRO14 debuts this season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Seán French, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen and Josh Wycherley. Young prop Wycherley also made his Champions Cup debut this season.

Out-half Ben Healy leads the way with senior appearances on the Academy front this season having featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games, scoring 77 points.

66% – The future continues to be bright with an expected highest representation of academy graduates in over eight years in the squad next season.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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O’Brien and Doris back training ahead of Ulster test

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen has issued an injury update ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup game against Ulster Rugby at the RDS Arena (KO 8.15pm – live on eir Sport and RTÉ Radio).

Both Jimmy O’Brien (hamstring) and Caelan Doris (calf) hope to resume full training this week after recovering from their respective injuries and, provided all goes well, both hope to be available for selection for Friday’s game.

Jamison Gibson-Park will continue to be managed this week with his hamstring injury while Jack Conan, who went off for a Head Injury Assessment against Connacht Rugby, will follow the Graduated Return to Play Protocols this week.

Unfortunately, Ciarán Frawley injured his shoulder and his hamstring against Connacht Rugby and will be unavailable for selection this week with further assessment required on his injuries.

There was no new update on a number of players: Rhys Ruddock (calf), Harry Byrne (hamstring), Johnny Sexton (concussion), Will Connors (knee), Jack Dunne (ankle), Adam Byrne (quad), Dan Leavy (knee), Conor O’Brien (knee) and Max Deegan (knee)

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby

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