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International signings in line to feature in Blue and Blacks’ URC opener



Cardiff’s new signings and international contingent are in line to feature in next week’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park (Friday, September 16, KO 7.35pm).

Rhys Carré, Willis Halaholo and Lopeti Timani are all named on the bench for the final pre-season encounter against Zebre Parma on Friday, but Dai Young is set to be boosted by the presence of Taulupe Faletau, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams and Josh Adams – amongst others – for the campaign’s curtain raiser.

While Josh Navidi is set to miss out due a recent neck injury suffered in the third Test match against South Africa over the summer, the director of rugby is pleased to be able to call on a fit and firing international contingent.

Young revealed: “I’m really pleased with how the internationals have turned up for pre-season in really good condition.

“They’ve recharged their batteries but they’ve also done the work and we’re really happy with where they’re at.

“Apart from Josh Navidi they’re all – in agreement with the WRU and Wales coach Wayne Pivac – available for the Munster game and will all be involved in the 23, maybe with the exception of James (Ratti) who has a bit of a strain and probably has an outside chance of being available.

“We want to start well. It’s important after the way we ended last season that we start as well as possible. 

“Obviously, they can’t all play every game in the first block, so we will have to manage that process. But my intention would be to go as strong as we can for the first game at home.

Halaholo and new signing Timani will feature as replacements against Zebre on Friday, having recovered from recent niggles.

Young insists they will carefully manage the duo as he gave further updates on the injuries of Ellis Jenkins and fellow back row Navidi.

The former Wales prop added: “Timani has come on board, but neither him nor Willis have done too much training. They picked up little niggles and that’s why they’re on the bench.

“I don’t see them getting too much game time but we want to get them out there. 

“They’re two quality players in their own rights. They’ve had niggles, but have been training for two weeks so they’re not a million miles away.

“Ellis has had a little bit of a problematic knee or niggle during pre-season. He’s back in modified training this week but is still probably two or three weeks away from being available for selection.

“He’s dipped his toe in a little bit this week, will do more again next week and is probably three weeks away from full training if everything goes to plan.

“Josh has had two injections in his neck to settle the injury down, so the next week or so will determine where he is, because it takes a little bit of time for it to actually work.

“Realistically, even if we get the response we would like, he’s probably still around three or four weeks away. Josh could be anything from three to six weeks.”

“Everyone is confident, and he’s seen the specialist, who felt he needed two injection which had to be a week apart. Normally that takes seven to ten days to really kick in and then he can start his rehab.

“Depending on how quickly that goes will determine how quickly he comes back. But we have no reason to suggest any different.”

Another player set for his first involvement of the season is Thomas Young, who will wear the Blue and Black jersey for the first time since his summer move from Wasps.

The openside flanker starts alongside James Botham and skipper Josh Turnbull in the Cardiff back row, which kicks off his latest chapter at the Arms Park.

“It’s well documented that Thomas has been here from boy to man. When I was here before he was a ball boy, then went into the academy,” explained the director of rugby.

“That didn’t quite work out for him, but he went away and proved himself.

“The important thing, to be fair to him, was that he went to Wasps as my son but came away having scored the most tries by any Wasps forward ever.

“He’s more than made his own mark, it’s nothing to do with me.

“We’re pleased to have him back here. He’s really proud of his roots and he’s really looking forward to running out at the Arms Park again.”

Tickets are available now for Cardiff’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener against Munster at Cardiff Arms Park. Join us under Friday Night Lights at the capital on September 16 by purchasing your ticket NOW

Content & Images from – Cardiff Rugby


Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby



Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago


Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby

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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock



Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales



Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Stadium (live on ViaPlay and

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby

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