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Leo Cullen on the return to pre-season



Pre-season training ahead of the 2022/23 season began this week with the Leinster Rugby squad having their first pitch session at Energia Park on Monday.

Leinster Rugby Head Coach, Leo Cullen says that the entire group is looking forward to the new season. “Everyone is very excited to get back in. I think for all of us watching the Ireland games over the last three weeks, seeing how well so many of the guys did out there, in achieving something incredibly special, it was great to see that.

“So, for a lot of the players here, some guys were very close to going on that tour and narrowly missed out. So, they want to get back and get working and try to improve.

“We also have a host of younger players here with us as well. So a lot of academy players that would have strong aspirations to go on and achieve great things in the game. So, first day back and it’s good to see the guys in pretty good shape overall.”

There were also a number of new faces at the first training session of the year and Cullen is looking forward to seeing what they can add to the group. “It’s great to welcome the new players as you need that bit of energy.

“Charlie Ngatai is a player that’s played for the All-Blacks and he’s been in France with Lyon for the last few years. He’s a player that we have followed quite closely. He’s a more mature player, which I think is good for the group that we have here at the moment.

“He can pass on some of his experience, and hopefully he’ll be able to deliver some big performance to the team as well. I think it was a great acquisition for us to be able to get Charlie in.”

“Jason Jenkins has played for South Africa in the past. A huge, physical man. So we’re looking forward to him getting up and running as well.

“We’ve also had a few guys coming in from AIL clubs, which I think is important because some guys have gone well during the club season. So we’ve a couple of guys in to help boost numbers and it’s also a great opportunity for them to showcase what they can do as well.

 “We also have the young guys coming into the academy, as is normally the case, but we have a number of those Academy players still to return because they were away with the Irish U-20’s over the summer.

“So it’s a very nice mix that we have. Every year you’re here, you’re a year older. But, the players seem to stay at the same age!”

There was also a well known face back in the blue of Leinster as Sean O’Brien began his new role as Contact Skills Coach.

“It was great to see him deliver his first coaching session, and hopefully he has a bright future in coaching as well.” Says Leo Cullen.

“He had such a great career as a player, and hopefully he will be able to transfer some of the great knowledge that he has accumulated in the game and he’ll be able to pass that onto the younger guys, but some of the older guys as well who would have such great respect for him.

Hopefully he goes on to have a great career in coaching. We’re looking forward to see what he can add to the group.”

Leinster Rugby will play Harlequins in London in a pre-season friendly on Friday, 2 September, with a 7.30pm kick-off time.

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby


Vodacom URC and CVC shining a light on Community Upliftment Projects



The Vodacom United Rugby Championship are launching the URC Unity Awards on Tuesday, to recognise the great work done by players and teams within their communities and for charitable causes.

Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens will be part of the judging panel that will consider the candidates and come up with two worthy winners.

The Unity Awards, which are sponsored by the CVC Foundation, are associated with Vodacom URC’s Take on Tomorrow campaign, which looks to inspire change through the power of rugby and acknowledge the impact players and teams from the 16-side league make off the field.

The programme oversees projects aimed at engaging directly with communities across the five Vodacom URC territories – Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

To shine a light on the work players and teams are doing to uplift their communities and support their chosen charities, the Vodacom URC has now introduced the following Unity Awards.

  • The Difference Maker Award – presented to the player who has been recognised for outstanding commitment to a charitable or social cause.
  • The Community Impact Award – presented to the team whose community programme has been recognised for its impact in their region/province.

The winners of these awards will receive £5,000 from CVC Foundation to donate to their cause of choice (player) or to invest in their community programme (team).

As well as Nigel Owens, the independent judging panel is a dedicated group that also features Jane Howard, CSR Manager at CVC, Sports Broadcaster Emma Dodds and URC Head of Operations Amy Monaghan.

CVC CSR Manager Jane Howard said: “The CVC Foundation is delighted to be able to support the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in their efforts to shine a light on the incredible work the clubs and players are doing to make an impact in their communities.

“As a member on the Judging Panel, I have read through the submissions and have been so impressed by the incredible work being done. CVC applauds the Vodacom URC clubs and players in their efforts.”

The nominees for the awards will be announced on Tuesday, 6 December, with the winners to be revealed on Wednesday, 21 December. The award presentation to the winning club and player will then take place ahead of Christmas derby games in Round 10.

United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi said: “We are acutely aware of the fantastic community programmes that our clubs have established locally and the deserving causes that our players contribute to as well. As a league, our mission is to celebrate and highlight their successes across our platforms so that our fans can appreciate their impact away from the pitch.”

About Take On Tomorrow

The Take on Tomorrow programme is inspired by the mission to celebrate the diversity and national cultures of the URC while using the league’s platform to champion for a healthier, stronger, unified next generation. 

The programme will advance and celebrate the power of URC rugby as a tool for social change by using our international platform to support the efforts of clubs, players, fans and leading charities as they change lives of young people across the five territories in which we play.

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby

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Hooker Roberts joins tour in South Africa



Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts has officially linked up with the Dragons RFC tour party in South Africa.

Roberts, who featured for Wales in the international Test with Georgia this autumn, flew out to link-up with the Men of Gwent on Monday.

Dragons have now travelled south as they prepare to face reigning champions the DHL Stormers in Round 9 of the BKT United Rugby Championship this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 12noon UK).

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Bradley met up with the squad in Johannesburg and joined us on the flight to Port Elizabeth. He will be around the match day squad.

“It’s great to have him with us. The more quality players we can have around the group the better and we expect a few more to join us for the European game.

“Several boys were involved in three or four games for Wales so it’s important they get some down time.

“With the intensity of international rugby, we must manage them for the rest of the season.

“It’s the mental stress and expectation that takes it out of you so they will go away and take some time before they come back into the group in the coming weeks.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby

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Squad Update | Preparations Begin For Edinburgh Away



The Munster squad started preparations at the HPC today ahead of Friday night’s URC round 9 game away to Edinburgh at the Dam Health Stadium.

Along with the 23-man squad involved in the win over Connacht, there were 10 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.

Patrick Campbell, Conor Phillips, Eoin O’Connor, Dan Goggin and Fionn Gibbons featured for Young Munster in their win over Dublin University with Phillips scoring the match-winning try.

Ethan Coughlan and Kieran Ryan helped Shannon defeat UCD with Ryan touching down in the victory.

Jack Oliver was in action for Garryowen as they were defeated by Lansdowne.

In Division 1B, James French lined out for Highfield in their loss to Malone.

In Division 2A, Evan O’Connell was in action for UL Bohs as they were defeated by Blackrock College.

On the injury front, Mike Haley failed his HIA on Saturday night and will enter the graded return to play protocols.

Peter O’Mahony passed his HIA but was removed due to a facial/blood injury and will return to training this week.

Jack Crowley will go for a scan today for a lower leg/calf complaint.

Continuing to rehab: Conor Murray (groin), Stephen Archer (ankle), Tom Ahern (shoulder), RG Snyman (knee), Fineen Wycherley (shoulder), Paddy Kelly (head), Jack Daly (knee), Jack O’Sullivan (knee), Andrew Conway (knee), Keynan Knox (knee).


Champions Cup Round 1

Sunday, December 11

Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 10

Monday, December 26

Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 12

Friday, January 6

Munster v Emirates Lions, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Champions Cup Round 3

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 14

Friday, February 17, 2023

Munster Rugby v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 15

Friday, March 3, 2023

Munster Rugby v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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