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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


Goosen and Carr return as Vodacom Bulls travel to Griffons



The Vodacom Bulls have welcomed back the services of Johan Goosen and Nizaam Carr for round 4 of the 2023 Currie Cup campaign. The Pretoria outfit travels to the Down Touch Investments Stadium, where they will take on the Novavit Griffons on Friday [31 March 2023] afternoon.

Kick-off for the clash is set for 15h00pm.

Flyhalf, Goosen was sidelined due to shoulder surgery whilst Carr (flanker) nursed a hamstring niggle. The pair are the only two changes made by coach, Edgar Marutlulle to the starting XV that did duty against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, a week ago.

Carr will line up alongside Phumzile Maqondwana and Muller Uys in the back row, in an otherwise unchanged forwards pack that includes captain Lizo Gqoboka, Jan Hendrik Wessels, Robert Hunt, Jacques Du Plessis and Reinhardt Ludwig. Goosen will join Keagan Johannes to combine as the two halfbacks in Welkom whilst Lionel Mapoe and Wandisile Simelane combine at centre. Kabelo Mokoena (left) and Quewin Nortje (right) will burn the gas burners from the wing with Franco Knoetze serving at fullback.

On the bench, Jacques van Rooyen and Simphiwe Matanzima have swapped locations, as van Rooyen joins the European squad with Matanzima reuniting with the South African camp, for family reasons. JP Alberts and Adriaan Joubert are the only other two changes made to the bench.

Marutlulle said that having Johan and Carr return was a welcomed boost for the club.

“If anyone offers you Goosen for your Currie Cup game, you take him at the blink of an eye. He is a world-class player who has travelled the world, represented the Springboks and played really amazing rugby in his career and so we are excited to have him with us for the Currie Cup,”

“I think when some people call you a prodigal interms of sport, where Johan has been earmarked since the age of 16,17 and there has always been that pressure of performance which he has shown at times. He has gone on to win two ‘Player of the Year’ awards during his time at the Top14 in France,”

“As a new coaching staff, we have the ability to give Johan freshness, the opportunity to give him space and a new voice where this team becomes the place where he can relax because he knows this is not the penultimate of rugby.”

On Nizaam moving between blind-side, open-side and eighth man, the Currie Cup mentor said: “We know Nizaam can play all around [6, 7, 8], he has enough adequate skills that bring us the all-important balance that we need in that back row. Supported by the likes of Phumzile who has done well in the opportunities he has gotten,”

On the challenge that awaits in Welkom, Marutlulle said: “I think this is the first time we have been able to put together a similar team together for two weekends in a row, and this is always the challenge of a franchise team. Finding consistency in selection and match-to-match performance. So we are hoping to begin seeing that cohesion and those relationships building through, continuing our momentum from the game last week,”

“We expect a difficult challenge from the Griffons in terms of what they offer physically, they have a 10 that can kick well and a 9 that can also kick for posts. They really have a mixed bag in terms of the style that they bring to the Currie Cup but we are excited for the challenge and we are really looking forward to growing and improving on last weeks performance where we were really good for 60 minutes of the game.”

1. Lizo Gqoboka (c), 2. Jan Hendrik Wessels, 3. Robert Hunt, 4. Jacques Du Plessis, 5. Reinhardt Ludwig, 6. Phumzile Maqondwana, 7. Nizaam Carr, 8. Muller Uys, 9. Keagan Johannes, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Kabelo Mokoena, 12. Lionel Mapoe (vc), 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Quewin Nortje, 15. Franco Knoetze

16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Joe Van Zyl, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. JP Alberts, 20. Mihlali Mosi, 21. Bernard van der Linde, 22. Chris Barend Smit, 23. Adriaan Joubert

MANAGEMENT: Edgar Marutlulle – Head Coach, Sean Everitt – Defence & Breakdown, Hugo van As – Backline, Gert Smal – Forwards, Justin – Technical Analyst, Dr. Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Mike Prevoo – Strength & Conditioning, Darryn Berry – Physiotherapist, Claudette Eckard – Physiotherapist, Andries Kabine – Logistics Manager, Yusuf Vahed – Team Manager

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby

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Champions Cup

Munster Name Travelling Squad For Sharks Clash



A 28-man Munster travelling squad has been named ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup round of 16 clash against the Sharks in Durban (12.30pm Irish time/1.30pm local).

Preparations for the game started on Monday, see today’s best training pics from Thomond Park here.

Players and management will fly out tonight and arrive in Durban tomorrow evening (Wednesday) ahead of the game.

16 forwards and 12 backs will make the trip with Munster’s 23-man matchday squad to be named at 12pm on Friday.

On the injury front, Niall Scannell (shoulder) has returned to full team training and has been selected in the travelling group.

Antoine Frisch is also included after recovering from a low-grade leg injury.

On the club front, there were seven Munster players in AIL Division 1A action at the weekend.

Daniel Hurley helped Cork Constitution to a 36-19 victory over a Shannon side that included Darragh McSweeney and Daniel Okeke.

Dan Goggin, Patrick Campbell and Shay McCarthy started for Young Munster in their win over UCD.

Tony Butler was in action for Garryowen as they were beaten by Terenure College.

Munster Travelling Squad

Forwards: Dave Kilcoyne, Josh Wycherley; Diarmuid Barron, Scott Buckley, Niall Scannell; Stephen Archer, Keynan Knox, Roman Salanoa; Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Fineen Wycherley; Gavin Coombes, John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony.

Backs: Craig Casey, Conor Murray, Paddy Patterson; Joey Carbery, Jack Crowley, Ben Healy; Malakai Fekitoa, Antoine Frisch; Shane Daly, Mike Haley, Calvin Nash, Simon Zebo.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Champions Cup

Leinster give update on Sexton injury



Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen has issued an injury update ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup match against Ulster in Aviva Stadium.

Over 48,000 tickets have already been sold for the match. You can buy the last remaining tickets for the Round of 16 clash here.

Johnny Sexton will see a specialist on Tuesday and have a procedure on the groin injury picked up in Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations game against England which will likely keep him sidelined for the remainder of the Leinster Rugby season.

Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris will continue to follow the Graduated Return to Play Protocols this week.

Ed Byrne came through the game at the weekend with no issues after his return from a knee injury.

There are no further updates on:
Jamie Osborne (knee), Rónan Kelleher (shoulder), Joe McCarthy (ankle), Cormac Foley (hamstring), Martin Moloney (knee) and  Charlie Ngatai (hamstring)

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby

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