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Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Update | May 2021

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It has been a busy past month for the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

Ian Costello was appointed to the role of Academy Manager in April and will return to the province in the summer having worked in England for the past five years with Nottingham and then Wasps. See full details here.

We can confirm that former Munster player Andi Kyriacou also rejoins the province as Elite Player Development Officer (Forwards). Andi has previously coached at Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Ben Healy made a further two appearances for the senior side over the past month and has now featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games so far this season.

There have been 43 senior appearances for Academy players across the Guinness PRO14, Champions Cup and Rainbow Cup in the 2020/21 campaign.

Academy trio Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips have been training with the Ireland 7s team and have been named in their squad for this weekend’s International Rugby 7s tournament. See full details here.

On the injury front, Eoin O’Connor (knee), John Hodnett (achilles), James French (hamstring), Jonathan Wren (hamstring), Cian Hurley (thumb), Scott Buckley (knee) and Thomas Ahern (knee) are continuing to rehab.

We spoke to the Academy’s Lead Physiotherapist, Shane Malone (above), for the latest update.

Current Academy crop…

“We all want to see the lads do well because we see on a daily basis how hard they work. They are exceptionally dedicated and just a really good group of characters.

“It’s great to see the nine guys [who are moving up to the senior squad next year] rewarded for their hard work and getting the opportunity to prove themselves at pro level.”

Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips involved with the Ireland 7s…

“It’s a great opportunity for guys to go up and prove themselves and gain a different skillset. They also have the opportunity to experience a different high performance environment.

“For our point of view, it’s been seamless because we have a very good relationship with the IRFU physios. We speak about the players that are involved on a weekly basis.”

Helping players to recover from long-term injuries…

“If you take John Hodnett’s injury as an example, the surgery on an Achilles rupture happens within a few days. Obviously with a severe injury like that you want to get as good a start as possible to get him back playing rugby as quickly and safely as possible.

“We gave John a bit of time away from the HPC to recuperate afterwards and leave everything settle down but we’re involved from day dot where we ring him at home to make sure he’s doing all the swelling management and all the acute care correctly.

“When he came back in here, it was full throttle from then on.

“It’s another opportunity for guys when they are injured to concentrate on other areas and John is developing his upper and lower body and he’s flying with that.

“He’s a young player so all that rehab and all that strength work is going to stand to him later in his career.”

Working with the sub-Academy players…

“Myself and Lorcan Kavanagh are the Academy physios. Lorcan also works with the sub-Academy/National Talent Squad group so we look after them if they pick up injuries.

“Academy staff look after how the sub-Academy players are developing from an athletic development point of view and also an injury prevention point of view as well.

“By the time lads get into the Academy, we usually have a very good idea of where they’re at and what they need to work on. It’s a real advantage for us to have that information as opposed to starting from scratch when they join the Academy, it’s really important.”

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

Fifteen players commenced the 2020/21 season with two additional players, Cian Hurley and Conor Phillips, joining in January 2021. See the full Academy squad here.

Nine players from the current group will advance to senior contracts ahead of the 2021/22 season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Jake Flannery, James French, Seán French, Ben Healy, John Hodnett and Josh Wycherley.

Eoghan Clarke has completed his time with the academy and linked up with Championship side Jersey Reds at the end of March.

Seven academy players made their Guinness PRO14 debuts this season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Seán French, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen and Josh Wycherley. Young prop Wycherley also made his Champions Cup debut this season.

Out-half Ben Healy leads the way with senior appearances on the Academy front this season having featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games, scoring 77 points.

66% – The future continues to be bright with an expected highest representation of academy graduates in over eight years in the squad next season.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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How to watch Ulster in the United Rugby Championship

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Ulster Rugby

Ulster Rugby will begin its exciting journey into the new United Rugby Championship this Friday night, hosting Glasgow Warriors under the lights at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).

We are delighted to be able to welcome up to 15,000 supporters at Friday’s fixture, and tickets are still available. For more information on Friday’s event, or to buy tickets, please click here.

The introduction of South Africa’s four elite teams to the URC has created a challenge unlike any other, with two hemispheres colliding as the best of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales take on the best of South Africa.

If you’re planning on following Ulster’s URC campaign from home, we have pulled together this handy guide on how to watch all the action for supporters in the UK and Ireland…

Premier Sports

Premier Sports is the only place for supporters in the UK to watch every single United Rugby Championship game live this season. You can follow Ulster home and away as Premier Sports will broadcast all 151 games, including eight games per round plus coverage of all the knock-out drama and Grand Final.

Ulster legends Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble and Paul Marshall, along with presenters Graham Little and Mark Robson, are among the talent returning to the screens this season.

Fans can tune in on Sky, Virgin TV, or online using the Premier Sports Player from start to finish – you can subscribe now at premiersports.com to watch all 151 games live for less than £1 a game.

BBC NI

Ulster Rugby returns to BBC Northern Ireland this season with live free-to-air coverage of six of the province’s home matches in the inaugural United Rugby Championship.

In addition to televising live the home fixtures against Benetton, Emirates Lions, Connacht, Cardiff, Munster and the Cell C Sharks, every Ulster URC fixture will be available on BBC iPlayer 24 hours after each round.

A new weekly TV programme – ‘The Ulster Rugby Show’ – featuring a line-up of special guests and pundits will take a light-hearted look at the latest news and talking points from the province and across the new tournament. The first episode will air this Thursday 23 September at 10.00pm on BBC2 NI.

RTE / TG4

RTE and TG4 have also picked up broadcast rights to show ten games on free-to-air TV this season.

Among the fixtures being covered live by the Ireland-based broadcasters are the three away interprovincial derbies against Connacht, Leinster and Munster.

URC TV

New for the 2021/22 season, URC TV is an online streaming service giving fans the opportunity to watch every game live and on demand.

A free service showing a range of highlights, archive matches and snackable videos, will be available in all countries including the UK and South Africa (fans in these countries can watch all games live on Premier Sports and Super Sport respectively).

Fans watching in Ireland, Europe (excluding UK), US and a number of other territories, URC TV will also offer a range of subscription packages including a Season Pass (all games), Ireland Pass (all games featuring Irish Clubs), Weekend Passes (all games within a round) and individual games passes.

For more information, or to sign up, visit www.urc.tv.

Source – Ulster Rugby

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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Sharks name squad of 34 for URC trip to Europe, Pienaar included.

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Sean Everitt has picked two, and sometimes three, players in each position given the COVID-19 protocols around international travel and proper isolation and quarantine practices, as well as accounting for any injuries that may be picked up within this four match period.

Ruan Pienaar and Tian Meyer have both been included in the squad, having signed loan agreements with the Cell C Sharks from the Toyota Cheetahs, while there are welcome returns from injury for the lock pairing of Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews.

Phepsi Buthelezi continues to lead a settled and experienced squad of players in the absence of Lukhanyo Am, who will take over the captaincy on his return from Springbok duty.

“The boys are up for the challenge, we have some experienced players who have played in the Pro16 before and have had a taste of European conditions, and we have coaching staff who have coached at the highest level; we’re all confident that we can do well overseas,” said Everitt.

“We’ve taken a young squad mixed with some older heads with experience and it will be exciting to see what these guys can deliver against opposition that we don’t see too often, nor play against.”

The Cell C Sharks kick off their campaign against Munster next Saturday, and in round two (Saturday 2 October) travel to Scotland to take on Glasgow Warriors before heading to Wales for rounds three and four, against the Ospreys (Friday 8 October) before rounding off the month-long tour against Cardiff (Saturday 16 October).

“The boys are excited about experiencing a new competition, the URC is a tough tournament that brings in new challenges and different opposition but the guys are up for the challenge after a very good Currie Cup and a good year,” added Everitt.

The Cell C Sharks touring squad:

Forwards: Dan Jooste, Dylan Richardson, Fez Mbatha, Gebrandt Grobler, Henco Venter, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu, Khwezi Mona, Le Roux Roets, Lourens Adriaanse, Mpilo Gumede, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), Reniel Hugo, Ruben van Heerden, Thembelani Bholi, Thomas du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst.

Backs: Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Marnus Potgieter, Murray Koster, Ruan Pienaar, Rynhardt Jonker, Sanele Nohamba, Thaakir Abrahams, Tian Meyer, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe.

Source – South Africa Rugby

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Ulster sign World Cup winner Vermeulen

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Ulster Rugby have today signed one of the biggest names in world rugby, Duane Vermeulen, who will join the club following the Autumn Tests in November.

Nicknamed the Thor of rugby, the 6ft 4in 18 stone Springbok will pull on the famous white jersey at Kingspan Stadium until 2023.

In 2019, Vermeulen was crowned Player of the Match as South Africa stormed their way to World Cup victory, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.

The 35-year-old brings with him experience gained in both Super Rugby and the Top 14 and will join the United Rugby Championship in November once he has completed international duties during the Autumn Tests.

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:

“Duane is clearly a world class player who, as the current World Champions’ starting 8 and MVP from the last RWC Final, is set to bring depth and experience to our really talented group of back rowers.

“As well as being an undeniable talent on the pitch, I know Duane will play an important role going forward in strengthening the winning mindset we are building as a squad.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise Bryn Cunningham’s brilliant work in orchestrating this deal from start to finish. It was always going to be a difficult ask to find a difference-making 8 but Bryn has definitely achieved that.”

Duane Vermeulen added:

“Ulster and myself had detailed discussions about the club’s values, expectations and the potential role I can play going forward. It appealed and resonated with me to a point where I got very excited and decided to commit myself to this Ulster journey. I cannot wait to become part of the Ulster family and to serve as best I can.”

Ulster Rugby has been actively seeking a world class addition to the squad following the planned deal with Leone Nakarawa falling through in June.

Source – Ulster Rugby

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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