Here is a quick preview of what’s to come on the opening weekend with some interesting fixtures taking place.
First up is the clash of the Cheetahs and last season’s runners-up the Glasgow Warriors. With a host of Glasgow players away on international duty this could be a chance for the South African side to get their competition off to the perfect start. However, Glasgow have recruited well over the last couple of months and some new faces will want to impress as they take to the field on Friday.
The only other game on Friday sees Ulster host the Ospreys as the Irish province will look to start their season well following a mixed season last time around. Meanwhile the Ospreys will want to improve on what was a poor season for them.
Saturday is filled with the remaining five games of the round as Munster open their campaign against the Dragons. Munster are without the likes of Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander, among others, but will still be confident they can claim a win.
At the same time the Kings will play host to the Cardiff Blues, another team that failed to hit top form last season. The Kings have struggled badly in the past two seasons and will want to take advantage of a weakened Blues side in order to build points while the big name players away.
Later on Saturday the Scarlets will welcome Connacht in what is possibly the standout game of the round. Connacht will have to cope without stars Jack Carty and Bundee Aki but otherwise they have a strong team that could prove too much for the Scarlets.
Last season’s surprise package Benetton take on two-time reigning champions Leinster in Italy at 17 15. However, despite this looking like a great match-up due to last season, both teams are severely weakened as their key men are currently in Japan. Leinster have had a strong pre-season and will still have names such as Ross Byrne, James Lowe, Devin Toner and Scott Fardy available as they begin their hunt for three in a row.
Whatever happens, what is certain is that players have a chance to impress while the stars are away and expect the season to start off with a bang as teams look to kick-start their campaign in perfect fashion.
Check Out the Full List of Fixtures Below:
Cheetahs vs Glasgow Warriors
Ulster vs Ospreys 19:35
Munster vs Dragons 15:00
Kings vs Cardiff Blues 15:00
Scarlets vs Connacht 17:35
Benetton vs Leinster 17:35
Edinburgh vs Zebre 19:35
Ospreys Sign Super Rugby Star
Ospreys have had a difficult start to the season, missing a host of players due to the World Cup but they have now signed a man that they hope will help them turn the tide
The 27-year-old, who can play at fly-half or full-back has played for Super Rugby franchises the Blues, the Crusaders and most recently the Chiefs, but failed to be handed a new deal for the 2020 season and has taken the opportunity to come overseas to play.
Ospreys general manager Dan Griffiths is delighted to have signed a player of McKenzie’s quality and confirmed he will take the place of the injured Gareth Anscombe.
“It was disappointing to lose Gareth, but our focus was to bring the right quality of player into the squad for the remainder of the season,” Ospreys general manager Dan Griffiths said in a statement. It’s been a challenging start with World Cup representation and a series of injuries having a significant impact, particularly to backline resources. With the addition of Marty we have recruited a player who has been a regular feature for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, playing with and against some of the world’s top players on a weekly basis. He will bring experience, creativity and a fresh perspective on and off the field. We are looking forward to seeing him in an Ospreys jersey,” he said.
McKenzie is the older brother of All Blacks ace Damien, who has been suffering from a ruptured ACL since April, the same injury Anscombe picked up ahead of the World Cup.
The Ospreys have also secured the signings of South African pair Marvin Orie and Shaun Venter and will be hoping that the addition of McKenzie will take them up the PRO14 table, where they currently sit in second-last in Conference A.
Glasgow Confirm Rennie Replacement Already
Dave Rennie was revealed as the new head coach of the Wallabies last night, but current club Glasgow Warriors have taken little time to find his replacement
Glasgow Warriors have announced that Danny Wilson will replace Dave Rennie as head coach come the end of the current season.
It was confirmed last night that Rennie will leave the Scottish giants at the end of the season to take up the role as Australian head coach, after Michael Cheika left the role following their Rugby World Cup exit.
However, the PRO14 outfit have moved swiftly to fill the vacancy with current Scotland assistant coach Wilson set to take the reins once the season concludes.
The 43-year-old forwards coach is delighted to be given the opportunity to work with the Warriors.
“The opportunity to coach such an attractive club as Glasgow Warriors was too good to miss. I’ve been extremely impressed with the Scottish system in recent years and I’m looking forward to working with an exciting and talented squad of players at Warriors. I want to build on the high-tempo style of play that I know the fans love and pay to see week in, week out. The club has been challenging at the top end of the Guinness PRO14 on a regular basis and as a coach, it is that type of environment and culture you want to be involved in,” he said.
Wilson comes into the role with a wealth of experience already to his name having coached the Cardiff Blues to a European Challenge Cup crown during a three-year stint, as well as roles with the Scarlets, the Dragons and with Wales’ U20 team, before his move to the Scottish national side.
Speaking on the appointment Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson believes that Wilson’s prior experiences will help him in his new role.
“We’re very pleased Danny has accepted this important role at Glasgow Warriors as it retains an excellent coach within the Scottish professional game. Danny has worked hard to develop Scotland’s set-piece into a real area of strength and his technical expertise, aligned with his working knowledge of many of the Warriors’ players, will be key to maintain the club’s progression in the coming years. He has a depth of experience from previous roles with PRO14 teams and we feel this, alongside his recent international coaching, makes him the right person for the club at this time. I’d like to thank Danny for his contribution to the Scotland team and wish him well as we continue our ambitious plans to make both Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh as competitive and successful as possible in their respective competitions,” he said.
Wilson will continue to work with the national side through their upcoming Six Nations campaign as they look to put a disappointing World Cup behind them, before he moves on to his new position with the Warriors.
Ulster secure another key man for 2 more years.
1 new contract and a bad injury update.
Ulster Rugby is delighted to announce that fly-half Billy Burns has signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at Kingspan Stadium until at least the summer of 2022.
Burns began his professional career as a 17-year-old at Gloucester, where he went on to make over 100 senior appearances for the Cherry and Whites before making the move to Ulster in the summer of 2018. Since then, he has cemented his place in the squad, amassing 28 appearances to date and contributing 54 points for the Province.
An exceptionally talented player, Burns quickly struck up a strong partnership with scrum-half John Cooney as Ulster’s first choice half-back pairing, and have already started together on 20 occasions. This season, Burns has started four of Ulster’s six games, including the home win over Cardiff when he captained the side for the first time.
Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said of the deal, “It is great news that Billy has committed to Ulster. He is still a young man who is desperate to keep learning and developing both as a player and athlete. He has already contributed hugely on the pitch throughout last year’s campaign and has demonstrated an excellent ability to lead a team. We’re all looking forward to Billy being a driving force in our group into the future.”
Burns commented on the extension,
“Since joining Ulster last summer, I’ve made it my home and have really enjoyed my time here. The support I’ve had has been incredible and we have a great group of players, so it was a no-brainer for me to extend my contract. Kingspan Stadium is a great place to play rugby and I’m really pleased that I’ve got at least another couple of years of that to look forward to.”
In injury news, it’s a bad update from the Ulster Medical department with several players set to spend time on the sidelines.
Jack McGrath is also due to undergo surgery for a thumb injury, and his availability to play will be monitored over the coming weeks.
Rob Lyttle sustained a shoulder injury, which will sideline him for an estimated 6-8 weeks.
Marcus Rea suffered a fractured jaw playing for Ballynahinch RFC. It is anticipated that he will return to play in approximately 6 weeks.
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