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Leinster Hammer Connacht Once Again

Leinster have made it 14 wins from 14 so far this season with another commanding performance at the RDS

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have continued their 100% record so far this season with another dominant display running out winners over Connacht at the RDS this evening. 

A brace of tries each from Max Deegan and Garry Ringrose as well as further five-pointers from Dave Kearney, Ciaran Frawley, Joe Tomane and Luke McGrath helped the home side to a comfortable victory. 

Leinster got off to a perfect quick-start as Connacht made a mess of an early line-out which led to Peter Dooley breaking through the defensive line before offloading to Deegan, who barged over for the opening try. Ciaran Frawley split the posts with the conversion to make it 7-0 after just two minutes. 

The hosts had their second try just under ten minutes later as Connacht eventually collapsed under the pressure they were under. Leinster went through the phases in the Connacht 22 before unleashing their back-line as Garry Ringrose sent a looping pass out left to Kearney, who burst a couple of tackles to go over for the score. Frawley failed to convert this time around. 

Leinster had number three two minutes later as they went from their own 22 all the way up the other end of the pitch. Frawley was on the end of the brilliant move by the home side, with Deegan darting through the Connacht defence before passing to his fly-half who ran under the posts. Frawley made no mistake this time around with the kick to push Leinster 19-0 ahead with less than a quarter of an hour on the clock. 

They had the bonus-point wrapped up on 20 minutes as they fed the ball to Deegan from a line-out close to the Connacht try-line, he in turn sent it to Tomane who burst over for the fourth try of the game. Frawley kicked the extras to push the hosts further in front. 

On 34 minutes the boys in blue were over for another five-pointer, as they went through the phases inside the opposition 22 before scrum-half McGrath had a quick pick and go from the back of a ruck close to the try-line and touched down for the try. Frawley converted once again to make it 33-0. 

Three minutes on and Deegan scored his second of the evening and his team’s sixth after another break through the Connacht defence led to some phases in the 22 before the try. Frawley knocked over his fifth two-pointer of the night from the tee to leave it at 40-0 to the hosts come the half-time whistle. 

It took a few minutes for the game to really get going in the second period, but Leinster hit top form once more eight minutes in as Deegan produced another sensational break through the defence before offloading to Ringrose, who raced over for the try. Frawley kicked the extras again to make it 47-0. 

The visitors dominated possession and territory over the next 25 minutes or so and were rewarded with 10 minutes remaining as Tom McCartney barrelled over off the back of a line-out maul. Conor Fitzgerald knocked over the extras to cut ever so slightly into the lead. 

However, Leinster came roaring back and from a cross-field kick by replacement Jamison Gibson-Park, Ringrose picked the ball out of the air and charged over the line in the right-hand corner. Harry Byrne converted the score to make it 54-7 and that was the result come the whistle. 

The win means Leinster have a perfect 10 from 10 record in the PRO14 so far this season and head into next weekend’s Champions Cup game against Lyon full of confidence with a further four wins from four in Europe too. Meanwhile, it’s a disappointing result for Connacht who will need a much improved result if they are to cause any form of upset when they host Toulouse next weekend.  

Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Jordan Larmour (7), Fergus McFadden (7), Garry Ringrose (8), Joe Tomane (8), Dave Kearney (7), Ciaran Frawley (8), Luke McGrath (9); Peter Dooley (7), Sean Cronin (7), Tadhg Furlong (7), Ross Molony (7), James Ryan (6), Rhys Ruddock (9), Will Connors (7), Max Deegan (9)

Replacements (7)

Champions Cup

Graham Rowntree Confirmed As Next Munster Head Coach

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Graham Rowntree will be promoted from Forwards Coach to the role of Head Coach from July 1, 2022.

Rowntree will commence the role of Head Coach at the start of the 2022/23 season after signing a two-year deal.

The former England prop made the move to Limerick in October 2019 on completion of his Rugby World Cup coaching duties with Georgia Rugby.

In his third season as Forwards Coach Graham and family have settled well into Limerick life, noting earlier this year, “I have made my thoughts about this club widely known throughout my time so far, and for me and my family it really has been an easy decision, a non-decision if truth be told.

“We’ve put down roots here and have no desire to move anywhere else.”

With an impressive coaching CV and vast experience, Rowntree previously held coaching roles with the British and Irish Lions, England Rugby, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers.

Working closely with the IRFU, the province will advance with next steps in securing the backroom team that will work with Graham from next season as Head Coach Johann van Graan, Senior Coach Stephen Larkham, and Defence Coach JP Ferreira depart the province at the end of June.

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented, “I would like to thank the Munster Professional Game Committee for their work and diligence during this process.

“It is important that Munster have someone who understands the unique history and culture of the club and has the experience to maximise the talent in the squad.

“Graham was very impressive throughout this process and demonstrated he has the capabilities to spearhead the next chapter of Munster Rugby.”

On confirmation of the promotion, Graham Rowntree added, “I am hugely honoured to be taking over the role of Head Coach for a club of this calibre, one that means so much to me and my family.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment here and I fortunately get to work with an incredible group of staff and players who share a common goal each day in striving for success for this club.

“I’ve talked about our fantastic supporters before and again at the weekend we stepped off the bus to a huge red welcome in Exeter. Who doesn’t want to be part of that, that’s special!

“I believe we have the established structures in place with the resources and facilities to match and that it will be a smooth transition for the coaching ticket we assemble in ensuring continued development and success for this club.

“Before then I have a role to complete this season and working closely with Johann, Steve, and JP is the immediate focus and priority for now.”

Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “Graham’s extensive coaching experience and knowledge for the game makes him the perfect candidate to lead this squad forward.

“With Graham stepping up at the start of the new season it will be a seamless and natural progression from the work that has been carried out to-date.

“For now, we will continue our focus on the remainder of this season with Graham supporting Johann and the coaching staff in achieving our goals.”

Munster Rugby Home Fixtures

Saturday, April 16

Champions Cup Round of 16: Munster v Exeter Chiefs, Thomond Park, 3pm; Buy tickets here

Friday, April 29

URC: Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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URC

Ulster squad selected for Vodacom Bulls clash

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to face Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon has been named.

Andrew Warwick will make his 150th appearance for the province as he has been named to start at loosehead prop and will be joined in the front row by Brad Roberts and Marty Moore. Iain Henderson comes into skipper the side at second row, and will partner fellow Irish international, Kieran Treadwell. Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney come in to start at blindside and openside flanker, with Duane Vermeulen at the base of the scrum at Number Eight.

Mike Lowry is selected to start at full-back, with Ben Moxham and Ethan McIlroy named on the wings. Luke Marshall and James Hume will form the centre partnership while Ian Madigan and Nathan Doak make up the half-back pairing.

The Ulster coaching team has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench, with Tom Stewart, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea and Marcus Rea selected as forward reinforcements. John Cooney and Stewart Moore provide the back line cover.

Ulster team to play Vodacom Bulls, United Rugby Championship Round 14, Saturday 2 April at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 1pm kick-off (UK / IRE time), live on SuperSport, Premier Sports & URC TV:

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham, James Hume, Luke Marshall, Ethan McIlroy, Ian Madigan, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Brad Roberts, Marty Moore, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea, John Cooney, Marcus Rea, Stewart Moore.  

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