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Big names return for Ulster v Cardiff clash

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to face Cardiff Rugby at Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening has been named (7.35pm kick-off).

Jordi Murphy returns to the starting XV, having returned from injury to make his first appearance this season. He is named at blindside flanker alongside Marcus Rea at openside, with Nick Timoney returning from Ireland camp to take the Number Eight jersey. Iain Henderson has been released from international duties to captain the side and will partner Alan O’Connor in the second row. Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore have been selected at loosehead and tighthead prop, with John Andrew retaining his starting berth at hooker.

Stewart Moore will line out at full-back, with Robert Baloucoune and Ben Moxham taking up the right and left-wing positions. James Hume returns from Six Nations duties to partner Stuart McCloskey in the centre. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns will once again start at scrum-half and out-half respectively.

Tom Stewart and John Cooney have both recovered from injury to be named among the replacements. Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter and Duane Vermeulen will provide the other forward options; Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton are the back line reinforcements.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Rugby, United Rugby Championship Round 13, Friday 4 March at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off, live on BBC Northern Ireland, Premier Sports, andRTÉ 2:

(15-9) Stewart Moore Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Duane Vermeulen, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Aaron Sexton.

Josh Navidi returns from injury to start in Cardiff’s United Rugby Championship clash against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (KO 7.35pm).

Dai Young’s Blue and Blacks return to competitive action for the first time in five weeks, having claimed a dramatic win over defending champions Leinster last time out.

Academy product Navidi, who was selected for the British and Irish Lions last summer, has been sidelined since October after suffering a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the league encounter with Vodacom Bulls.

Navidi is part of an all-international homegrown back row, with James Botham handed the number eight jersey. Ellis Jenkins is named on the blindside, having been released from the Wales squad for this weekend’s action.

Matthew Screech also returns from the sidelines to partner Josh Turnbull in the boiler room. Club captain, Turnbull, will draw level with Ian Keatley in second place in the league’s all-time top appearance makers.

Loosehead prop Brad Thyer is set for his first Cardiff appearance of the season, forming the front row alongside Kirby Myhill and Dmitri Arhip.

Lloyd Williams and Jarrod Evans link up at half back with Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo reunited in midfield.

A back three of Aled Summerhill, Owen Lane and Hallam Amos complete the starting line-up.

Looking ahead to the clash, director of rugby Young said: “When you have players of equal quality, you can rotate a little bit, while not losing the performance you’re looking for.

“We want to make sure that we’re looking after the players so that when we go to South Africa we’ve got enough bodies.

“The league table isn’t pretty reading when you look at it, because we’re in twelfth place.

“But when you start scraping through the ceiling, you see that we’ve played the least amount of games.

“But the message to the players is that it’s in our hands. We’ve got the ability to go out to play and perform and if we pick up points along the way there’s no reason why we can’t climb the table rapidly.”

Young added: “Going to Belfast is a massive challenge, but it’s a great place to play rugby, and that’s the first thing.

“It’s a cauldron of rugby and the supporters there are fantastic. For me, it’s a venue you want to play at.

“People talk about daunting places to play, and yes it’s a tough place to go but it’s a fantastic atmosphere, whether it’s with you or against you. So yes it is somewhere you want to go to play.

“Hopefully a part of our upward trend is going to places and getting results. But Ulster’s form this season has shown how tough it’s going to be for us.”

Keiron Assiratti comes onto the bench to cover as hooker, while Jamie Hill could make his first appearance of the campaign.

James Ratti and Rhys Carré are also named amongst the replacements, joining Jenkins and Halaholo in being released from the Wales squad for the trip to Belfast.

Cardiff currently sit in 12th place in the table, but have up to five matches in-hand, with Friday’s encounter set to kick off an intense run-in for Young’s men.

Cardiff Rugby: Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Matthew Screech, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, James Botham

Replacements: Keiron Assiratti, Rhys Carré, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, James Ratti, Jamie Hill, Ben Thomas, Matthew Morgan


URC

Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, has named the Ulster team to take on Dragons RFC at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship (KO 7 35pm).

The province returns to URC action at home for the first time since the Interprovincial derby victory over Connacht at Kingspan Stadium before Christmas.

Ulster Rugby Academy graduate, James Hume, will captain his province from a centre partnership that sees him paired with 21-year-old Jude Postlethwaite.

Springbok and double Rugby World Cup winner, Steven Kitshoff, starts at loosehead prop and is joined by hooker, Tom Stewart, and fellow prop, Tom O’Toole, who returns to the team for the first time since being called up to Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell’s Guinness Six Nations squad.

The second row sees young talents Cormac Izuchukwu and Harry Sheridan come together as the two locks.

The back row is unchanged from last time out against Ospreys, with David McCann, Marcus Rea and Nick Timoney retaining their places.

Ulster opts for the experienced half-back partnership of John Cooney and Billy Burns.

Academy products, Mike Lowry and Ethan McIlroy, start on the right and left wing respectively.

Will Addison completes the back field as he starts at full-back.

The bench sees a welcome return to action for lock, Kieran Treadwell, who returns after an injury sustained against Harlequins in January.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reffell, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale form the replacement options from the bench.

Ulster Rugby v Dragons RFC, Origin Round 11, BKT United Rugby Championship, 7 35pm, Saturday 2 March, live on Viaplay and BBC Radio Ulster.

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby will be celebrating the important role of clubs and schools in player development with a programme of events at Saturday’s home game. For more info, visit: https://ulster.rugby/content/ulster-rugby-celebrates-urc-origins-round-against-dragons

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RUFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC), James Hume (C) (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), Billy Burns (Walcot RFC), John Cooney (Gonzaga College);

(1-8) Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy), Tom O’Toole (Ashbourne RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service NI RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock College).

Replacements: John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Kieran Treadwell (Chipstead RFC), Sean Reffell (Bromley RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC).

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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Darcy Graham injury update

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Darcy Graham injury update

Darcy Graham will be out of action for three to four months with the Scotland internationalist set to undergo surgery to repair a groin injury next week.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We really feel for Darcy [Graham] because he is a player that puts his heart and soul into rugby. He loves playing for this club while he is a proud Scotsman who takes great pride in representing his country.

“We’ve got every confidence Darcy will work his way back from next week’s surgery with the same drive and determination in which he trains and plays.”

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Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby


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Match Preview: Ospreys

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Match Preview: Ospreys

Get set for Friday night’s crucial BKT United Rugby Championship clash against Ospreys at Hive Stadium (1 March, kick-off 7.35pm) with our match preview.

GET TICKETS

Tickets can be purchased right up until kick-off HERE. Gates open at 6pm ahead of a 7.35pm kick-off.

WHAT’S ON

There’s plenty on the go at Hive Stadium as match night returns to the capital!

  • Live music from Dead Sea Souls
  • Support our Services activity in the Fan Zone
  • Live URC action in the Clubhouse
  • Get a photo with the Calcutta & Doddie Weir Cups in The Clubhouse

Read our What’s on Guide HERE.

TEAM NEWS

Mark Bennett makes his 100th appearance for the club as one of four changes made to the capital XV for the visit of Ospreys.

Mark Bennett takes the place of James Lang who drops to the bench, with Matt Currie moving to the 12 jersey.

Ben Vellacott – who skippers the side – starts in place of Ali Price, with the British & Irish Lion selected on the bench.

Sam Skinner returns from Scotland camp taking the place of Marshall Sykes, who is also named among the replacements.

Tom Dodd starts at blindside flanker in place of Jamie Ritchie who is retained by Scotland.

Full team news can be read HERE.

WHAT’S BEEN SAID

Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re excited to be back home at Hive Stadium for what is a hugely important fixture for the club.

“With the log so tight and teams around us playing each other this weekend, a win is imperative in maintaining our push for a top-eight finish.

“Ospreys are playing with no fear, and they’ll travel north with plenty of confidence, but we’re at home where we love to play under the lights. It’s Friday night and the Edinburgh supporters will be out in full force – it’s set to be a brilliant occasion.”

He continued: “We’re delighted to see Mark [Bennett] make his 100th appearance for the club. He’s been a brilliant servant to Edinburgh Rugby and thoroughly deserves a start on a special night for him personally.”

THE STORY SO FAR

Its’s tight at the top…

With a 7-3 record, Edinburgh sit in fifth place in the Championship on 30 points.

With a 6-4 record, Ospreys sit in seventh place in the Championship on 29 points.

That makes Friday night’s clash at Hive Stadium massive in terms of each team’s aspirations for a top eight finish.

Ospreys are flying high having won 5-in-a-row, while Edinburgh have lost just one game at home so far this season and will be hoping for a massive win to keep momentum going heading into the business end of the year.

LAST TIME OUT

Edinburgh claimed a decisive 45-21 victory over the Welsh region in the final home game of last season – check out highlights below:

DID YOU KNOW

Edinburgh Rugby’s only two defeats in the last seven rounds of the BKT United Rugby Championship were at home to Benetton in Round 6 and away at Glasgow in Round 8.

Edinburgh’s only defeat in their last five fixtures against Welsh regions in the Championship was 14-42 at Scarlets in February 2023.

Ospreys have won their last five first team fixtures since their 5-38 defeat at Montpellier in Round 2 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Ospreys only victory outside of Wales in the BKT United Rugby Championship since October 2021 was on their visit to Zebre in January 2023.

Ospreys have won just once in Scotland since March 2017: 25-10 against today’s opponents, Edinburgh, at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in October 2020.

Edinburgh won 45-21 the last time the two sides met, at Hive Stadium in April 2023.

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Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby


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