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Cardiff Blues Face Losing Key Man as Extension Blocked by Wales Rugby Union

Gareth Anscombe may not be the only player leaving the Blues as the end of the season as team-mate could be forced out

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cardiff Blues influential loose forward Nick Williams could be forced to leave the club as the Welsh Rugby Union have blocked a one-year contract extension. 

Williams, who is a New Zealand native has been at the club since 2016, was offered a new contract by the club only for the WRU to block the extension. They are said to believe his presence in the squad will prevent the development of a homegrown player.

The 35-year-old is still at the peak of his powers as seen during his man of the match performance in defeat to the Ospreys over the weekend.

After that game Blues’ head coach John Mulvihill spoke of his desire for Williams to remain at the club.

“I am keen to have him stay and play and he’s keen to do that as well. We will just have to wait and see what the next few weeks bring. He was good. He was our heart and soul,” he said.

The news is a massive blow to the well-travelled Kiwi, who has spent 12 of his 15 years as a professional in Europe as he has expressed plans to reside in Wales permanently.

“I won’t be returning to New Zealand. My wife and I will be settling in Cardiff with our three girls. We have decided to set our roots here in Barrybados,” he said when speaking to Wales Online.

If all else fails for Williams, he has expressed an interest in getting a job in security following his retirement which may come earlier than he had hoped.

Pro14

Ringrose to captain Leinster v Ulster

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the Final of the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport, TG4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster Rugby in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain of the senior side for the first time.

The back three is the same that started against Munster last week with Jordan Larmour selected at full back having come through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week and Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left.

Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with captain Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Ringrose made his Leinster debut in September 2015 on the wing against Cardiff Blues and tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Final will be his 75th appearance in a Leinster jersey. In that time he has scored 25 tries and has 29 Ireland caps to his name.

The half back partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.

In the pack there is no change in the front row with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. In winning his 219th cap, Cian Healy joins Leo Cullen and Rob Kearney as the joint 4th most capped player in Leinster history.

James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Devin Toner.

Finally in the back row, Guinness Player of the Match from last week Caelan Doris is again selected at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan is selected in the number eight jersey.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jordan Larmour (48)
14. Hugo Keenan (16)
13. Garry Ringrose (74) CAPTAIN
12. Robbie Henshaw (46)
11. James Lowe (45)
10. Ross Byrne (87)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (91)
1. Cian Healy (218)
2. Rónan Kelleher (13)
3.Andrew Porter (64)
4. Devin Toner (247)
5. James Ryan (37)
6. Caelan Doris (31)
7. Josh van der Flier (82)
8. Jack Conan (91)

16. James Tracy (109)
17. Ed Byrne (55)
18. Michael Bent (138)
19. Scott Fardy (60)
20. Will Connors (18)
21. Luke McGrath (125)
22. Johnny Sexton (165)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (69)

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Press Release from Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster make big changes for Leinster Final

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Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has confirmed the match-day squad for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Final versus Leinster (Aviva Stadium, 7.35pm).

The Ulster men will be boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.

Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the second row, while the front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The back row sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.

The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at full-back is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey – who, along with John Cooney, was named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team earlier this week – continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. All Black scrum-half, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at fly-half.

McFarland has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench where John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney will offer the forward backup, and the backline cover is provided by John Cooney and Ian Madigan.

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Final, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 12 September (7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson.

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.

Press Release from Ulster Rugby

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Pro14

Leinster ring the changes for Ulster clash

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(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium in Round 15 of the Guinness PRO14 has been announced by Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport & RTÉ Radio).

Ed Byrne will captain the side for the first time in a competitive fixture, starting in the front row with Irish internationals Seán Cronin and Michael Bent.

Carlow native Byrne made his debut in February 2014 against Zebre and will win his 54th Leinster cap tomorrow when he leads out his province for the first time.

Devin Toner starts in the second row with Ross Molony, while Josh Murphy, Will Connors, and Max Deegan complete the starting pack.

In the backs, Cullen has selected a back three of Rob Kearney, Hugo Keenan, and Cian Kelleher.

Ciarán Frawley and Rory O’Loughlin is the centre partnership, while in the half backs Jamison Gibson-Park wins his 90th cap for Leinster Rugby and is joined by Ross Byrne.

Leinster Rugby Academy player Tom Clarkson is in line to make his senior debut from the bench.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets)

15. Rob Kearney (218)
14. Hugo Keenan (14)
13. Rory O’Loughlin (67)
12. Ciarán Frawley (25)
11. Cian Kelleher (14)
10. Ross Byrne (85)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (89)
1. Ed Byrne (53) CAPTAIN
2. Seán Cronin (182)
3. Michael Bent (136)
4. Devin Toner (245)
5. Ross Molony (95)
6. Josh Murphy (32)
7. Will Connors (16)
8. Max Deegan (63)

16. James Tracy (108)
17. Michael Milne (8)
18. Tom Clarkson (0)
19. Rhys Ruddock (172)
20. Scott Penny (13)
21. Rowan Osborne (4)
22. Harry Byrne (9)
23. Jimmy O’Brien (17)

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

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