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Gilchrist and Ritchie unveiled as 22/23 co-captains

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The forward duo will share the role for the new campaign, which gets started in three days’ time, as the capital side host Dragons RFC in their BKT URC opener on Saturday evening (17 September, kick-off 7.35pm) at DAM Health Stadium.

Back-row Ritchie, 26, is named co-captain for the very first time in his Edinburgh career and joins Gilchrist, 32, in a joint leadership role, with the experienced lock and club centurion appointed co-captain for the third consecutive season and fourth overall (2016, 2020, 2021, 2022).

The pair are two of Edinburgh’s longest tenured stars, with Gilchrist (175 Edinburgh appearances) entering his 12th season in the capital and Ritchie (85 Edinburgh appearances) his ninth, while both have previously been named in captaincy roles at international level during their respective Scotland careers.

Gilchrist (55 caps) was named Scotland captain during the recent Summer Tour to South America, while Ritchie (32 caps) was chosen to captain Scotland for the 2021 Summer Tests in Georgia and Romania – with both games cancelled due to the impact of the covid pandemic – but the back-row did co-captain his country alongside Ali Price in last Autumn’s Test match against Tonga.

Both players have been at the club their entire careers and now gear up to co-captain their boyhood team on the eve of BKT URC season kick-off.

Gilchrist said: “I’m really proud to have been named co-captain alongside Jamie this year. It’s hard for me to put into words what Edinburgh Rugby means to me.

“It’s been such a big part of my life. Living in Edinburgh with my family, we have such a connection to the people and the city – so to be named as co-captain is such an honour.

The lock continued: “I look at the list of captains who’ve come before me in both the amateur and pro eras and there are so many guys there that I look up to.

“Building that connection with our past is something that I’m really passionate about it and motivates me to play – it’s such a great feeling to be up there as co-captain.”

Former Howe of Fife RFC, Madras College and Strathallan School standout Ritchie has been one of the club’s most consistent performers since signing a senior deal straight out of high school aged just 17-years-old.

The former Scotland U20 captain came off the bench to make his senior team debut in Dublin against Leinster in October 2014 and has never looked back.

The back-row was named in Gregor Townsend’s Scotland squad for the 2018 Summer Tour to Canada, USA and Argentina and made his international debut at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

Ritchie was one of Scotland’s standout performers during the 2019 Six Nations campaign and that form continued into Rugby World Cup 2019, where an impressive showing in defeat to Japan rubber-stamped his status as one of World Rugby’s up-and-coming stars.

Ritchie then committed his long-term future to the club in January 2021.

Ritchie said: “I’m extremely proud to be named as co-captain. Edinburgh Rugby is a club that means so much to me. It’s been a massive part of my entire adult life, as I’ve been here since I was 17 years old.

“I’m hugely excited to be working with Gilco [Grant Gilchrist]. We have a great relationship. We share lifts into training in the morning and he’s been here for my entire time at the club.

“His experience will be invaluable for me to learn from. He’s a real Edinburgh Rugby legend and I’m massively excited to be named co-captain alongside him.

“It’s a true honour to be selected as captain with Gilco and I’m absolutely buzzing to get going.”

Head Coach Mike Blair – who captained the club in both 2009 and 2010 – added: “We’re delighted to appoint Grant and Jamie as our 22/23 co-captains – they both epitomise what it means to play for Edinburgh Rugby.

“They are two of the most consistent and committed players we have at the club, while they command respect across the dressing room because of the way they lead by example.

“I’d like to also mention Stuart [McInally] alongside our co-captains. Although he doesn’t have an official captaincy title this season, he will continue to play a significant role in our leadership group – he’s an outstanding player and man.

“It’s a massive season for the club as we celebrate our 150th anniversary and our proud heritage has so often been exemplified by the captains that have never wavered in their pride to play for Edinburgh.”

Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby


URC

Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing

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The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.

Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.

The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.

This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.

Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.

“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”

“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”

“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”

Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”

“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”

Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”

“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.

The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.

VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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All You Need To Know | Benetton v Munster

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Munster travel to Italy this weekend for another big game in the URC as the province, who lie seventh in the table, take on sixth-placed Benetton.

See the URC table here and Munster’s remaining fixtures here.

Both sides will be named before 12pm on Friday.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the game below.

Where?

Stadio Monigo, Treviso

When?

Saturday, 2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm local

Broadcast

Live on TG4, Premier Sports, Eurosport, Discovery +, Viaplay, SuperSport & URC TV.

Munster News

Squad Update

Gallery | Training Pics

Did you know?

Munster have six games remaining in the regular season of the URC with a number of teams jostling for position in the race for the knock-out stages and the battle for Champions Cup rugby next season.

Benetton are one place and one point above Munster having also played 12 games in the URC to date.

The Italian club are on a six-game winning streak and qualified for a home Challenge Cup round of 16 game thanks to a 35-32 victory over Stade Francais at the weekend.

Glasgow Warriors, Dragons, Scarlets, Edinburgh, Zebre, Ulster and Bayonne have all been beaten by Benetton at Stadio Monigo this season.

Their most recent URC game saw Benetton beat Ulster 31-29 thanks to a late Rhyno Smith penalty.

Press Pass

Hear from Forwards Coach Andi Kyriacou and Roman Salanoa ahead of the game.

Match Officials

Referee: Ben Blain

AR1: Federico Vedovelli

AR2: Franco Rosella

TMO: Sam Grove-White

Musgrave Park & Thomond Park Fixtures

Friday, February 10

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v France, Musgrave Park, 8pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Friday, February 17

URC: Munster v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Friday, March 3

URC: Munster v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Sunday, March 19

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v England, Musgrave Park, 5pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Saturday, March 25

URC: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Saturday, April 1

6 Nations: Ireland Women v France, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Saturday, April 22

6 Nations: Ireland Women v England, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

11 minutes ago

Match Previews

Head Coach Dan McFarland has named his Ulster squad that will take on current BKT URC Champions, DHL Stormers, at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

With Ulster currently sitting fourth in the URC table, the province will be hoping to build momentum from last weekend’s crucial win against Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup, which was sealed in front of a boisterous home support.

A win could see the Ulster Men leapfrog the Vodacom Bulls into third place. The match is also important for the Stormers, who sit in second position, as they hope to close the gap to Leinster at the top of the table.

Match tickets are still available and can be found at ulster.rugby/buytickets.

Ulster Assistant Coach, Jonny Bell, says the province know just how big a threat the Stormers pose:

“They are going to be a very difficult animal to what we faced last week. They are powerful, but move really fast around the pitch, so we need to control the ball well when we have it and make sure that we are smart defensively.”

Ulster make one change to the front row, with loosehead prop Eric O’Sullivan coming in alongside Tom Stewart and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

Alan O’Connor will lead the side once again, with club captain Iain Henderson in camp with the Ireland squad ahead of the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

Sam Carter retains his place at lock alongside O’Connor, with Academy product Harry Sheridan keeping his place at blindside flanker after an impressive home debut last weekend against Sale Sharks. Last weekend’s Heineken Star of the Match, Nick Timoney, continues at openside alongside Duane Vermeulen at Number 8.

Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are also rewarded for their performances last week as they pair up again at 9 and 10 respectively.

James Hume retains his place at outside centre, and he is joined by Stewart Moore at inside centre, who comes in for Ireland-bound Stuart McCloskey.

The back three has just one change, with Academy graduate Ben Moxham coming in for Jacob Stockdale. Winger Rob Lyttle will hope to continue his try-scoring form and Mike Lowry completes the starting XV.

On the bench, John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy provide the forward cover, with John Cooney, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the backline options.

Ulster team to play DHL Stormers in the BKT United Rugby Championship on Friday 27 January at Kingspan Stadium (Kick-off 7.35pm)

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Jeff Toomaga Allen, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Harry Sheridan, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements:

(16-23) John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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