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Bristol friendly provides perfect preparation opportunity – Thomas



While mid-season friendlies have been something of a rarity in recent seasons, Cardiff coach T Rhys Thomas believes Friday’s clash with Bristol Bears provides perfect preparation time ahead of the second block of competitive fixtures.

The Blue and Blacks claimed four wins from their opening seven matches in the BKT United Rugby Championship this season. But with the international window in full swing, a total of four weeks separate the last encounter, against Edinburgh, and the next clash – a trip to Durban to take on Cell C Sharks.

Bridging the two competitive blocks is Friday’s trip to Ashton Gate, and Thomas insists there’s no better way of maintaining sharpness than a full 80-minute encounter, particularly with a tough trip to South Africa on the horizon.

The former Wales and Cardiff hooker said: “It’s really good the way it’s turned out for us. We’re going to South Africa in a few weeks and this game is a really good warm up, or build up, for that block.

“Last time round we had a bit of a break before we went out there, but Friday will be a huge challenge for us.

“Obviously they’re a quality team and a quality outfit. There’s quality throughout and we know they like to play an exciting brand of rugby, mixed with a huge physical challenge up front, which I’m sure they’ll bring.

“It’s a really good fixture for us to see where we are with a few boys who are getting their opportunity. It’s also a really good challenge for the boys who have been playing a little bit as well. 

“They’re excited by the challenge on a Friday night in Bristol before we go to South Africa.

“It’s a bit of a local derby, really. All my family will be going up there as it’s not that far and I’m also sure that the eve of Wales against England in February is going to be a huge occasion at the Arms Park.

“The team they’ve picked adds to the excitement, because they go in with quality and will want to get as many fans in there as they can.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to go up against that league. Obviously the URC is a quality league, but we do look at the English league a lot as well – well I certainly do, I can’t speak for everyone else.

“The product is quality and we’d like to see where we are against the big boys of that division/

“What people don’t usually see is that we have internal games within these blocks anyway. If not that then certainly training against the likes of Dragons and we’ve done Bath before too.

“The units are opposed and we’ve even had Zebre come over in pre-season and Cardiff Met have been brilliant for us too.

“So we wouldn’t exactly go three, four, five weeks without any contact.

“But there’s no better preparation for a game than a game. It will be a long day after a proper training week and you obviously can’t replicate the 80 minutes on the weekend in training, so it’s good.

“It’s everything – from preparations to previews and reviews and it’s great for us to have.

“All we’re able to do now is concentrate on Friday. We want to put a good performance in and then we can worry about South Africa and building on the momentum we had in the middle of the first block.

“If we can train properly, that’s the biggest thing, and by doing that hopefully the performances will follow and the result will take care of itself. We want to get some big performances out in South Africa.”

While Cardiff will remain upbeat about their early season form, with plenty of positives on show, Thomas admits the defeat to Edinburgh last time out was frustrating, particularly after an encouraging first half display.

Reflecting on the clash, the assistant coach added: “The Edinburgh game was a little bit frustrating, but obviously we’re really happy with the first block as a whole.

“To lie where we are in the league, as an organisation we’re pretty positive. We know there’s still loads to work on.

“It was about picking up, not so much the result, but the performance we wanted.

“Probably in the first half – in my area, which is the scrum and line-outs – we were happy with the way it was going. But obviously we started to concede a few penalties in a row and they scored the try. 

“As frustrating as it was to have a disappointing end to the block, on a whole if you’d said at the beginning of the season that we’d be in the position we are, going into the break, then we would’ve been happy.”

Tickets for Cardiff’s home clash against Bristol Bears, as well as upcoming European and Welsh derbies encounters, are available NOW! Click HERE to purchase

To purchase tickets for Friday’s away clash against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate – please click HERE

Content & Images from – Cardiff Rugby

Champions Cup

Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Toulouse At Thomond



The Munster squad started their training week on Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup opener against Toulouse at Thomond Park (3.15pm).

A bumper crowd will attend the fixture with tickets from €25 available here. A Family Pack of 4 tickets costs just €50.

11 Munster players were in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.

In Division 1A, Dan Goggin, Conor Phillips, Eoin O’Connor and Fionn Gibbons featured for Young Munster as they beat Shannon at Thomond Park with Phillips among the tries.

Ethan Coughlan, Kieran Ryan and Darragh McSweeney lined out for Shannon.

Cian Hurley and Jack Oliver lined out for Garryowen as they were defeated by Ballynahinch at Dooradoyle.

In Division 1B, James French helped Highfield defeat UCC at Woodleigh Park.

In Division 2A, Ruadhan Quinn was a try-scorer for Old Crescent as they defeated Ballymena.

Evan O’Connell featured for UL Bohemian as they were beaten by Navan.

On the injury front, Conor Murray returns to training this week after recovering from the groin injury he sustained on his 100th Ireland cap against South Africa last month.

Mike Haley is expected to complete his return to play protocols this week with a view to returning to full team training.

Simon Zebo sustained a low-grade knee injury against Edinburgh and will begin rehabilitation with the medical department. He will be unavailable for the coming weeks.

Continuing to rehab: Stephen Archer (ankle), Tom Ahern (shoulder), RG Snyman (knee), Fineen Wycherley (shoulder), Paddy Kelly (head), Jack Daly (knee), Jack O’Sullivan (knee), Andrew Conway (knee), Keynan Knox (knee).


Champions Cup Round 1

Sunday, December 11

Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 10

Monday, December 26

Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 12

Friday, January 6

Munster v Emirates Lions, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Champions Cup Round 3

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 14

Friday, February 17, 2023

Munster Rugby v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 15

Friday, March 3, 2023

Munster Rugby v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Rowlands to leave at end of season



Dragons RFC can confirm that Wales international second row Will Rowlands will leave the club at the end of the current season.

The 31-year-old, who joined the Men of Gwent ahead of the 21/22 season and has made 16 appearances for the club, has agreed terms with a club outside of Wales for the 23/24 season.

Dai Flanagan, Head Coach of Dragons RFC, commented: “We’re obviously disappointed to be losing a player of Will’s quality, but despite the best efforts of ourselves, Will’s representative and the WRU over the last 12 months or so, we were unable to reach agreement on terms for the future.

“Since arriving in Gwent, Will has been a hugely positive influence on our group, captaining the side and being named Wales’ player of the year.

“We know that he’ll continue to give his absolute all to the club for the remainder of his time with us and he will always be welcome at Rodney Parade.”

Will Rowlands also commented: “I am sad to be leaving Dragons RFC at the end of this season but would like to thank everyone involved with the club for their support over the past 18 months.

“It has been a pleasure to play at Rodney Parade and I know that the future is bright for this club. It’s home to some truly talented players and I really believe in the vision of Dai and the other coaches. I have no doubt that we are just beginning to see the seeds of that in the performances of the team, and that they will go from strength to strength.

“It is still my great hope that I will be able to represent my country in the World Cup 2023, if called upon.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby

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Owen Williams agrees deal with Ospreys as injury replacement



Today, the Ospreys announced that Owen Williams will join the team as an injury replacement in a deal that will see the ex-Worcester man join the club as cover for Gareth Anscombe, who was regrettably injured on international duty.

With the injury to Gareth Anscombe and Stephen Myler also currently out injured, the agreement will give the Ospreys much needed depth at the fly-half position.

Capped three times at international level, Williams provides invaluable experience and leadership qualities that will contribute massively to the team as the second half of the season approaches.

Head Coach Toby Booth said: “For us to compete at the highest level, it is hugely important that we have quality depth where we need it. Signing Owen not only provides injury cover for us, but also improves us a group.

“Jack Walsh has done a great job stepping up at 10 in some huge games for us over the last few weeks, but ultimately with Gareth’s injury, we needed to reinforce in that area. Owen can play 10 or 12 and brings a wealth of experience with him from his time in Premiership. I have no doubt that he will make a positive impact in a variety of areas for us.”

Excited about the prospect of joining the Ospreys, Owen Williams said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started here, the Ospreys have a rich history and a great squad that are capable of going on and becoming a real force.

“I spoke with the coach before making my decision, and it was clear to me that he had a plan for how I will fit in to the wider vision for the team going forward. It’s been a while since I’ve played my rugby in Wales, but I can’t wait to be back in the region where it all started for me.”

The Ospreys are set for their first Heineken Champions Cup fixture against Leicester Tigers on Sunday, the same team where Williams made over 100 appearances and scored over 600 points during his time there.

Image & Content Source – Ospreys Rugby

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