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Munster legend to retire at end of the current season

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Billy Holland has announced today that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old will call it a day on a marvellous career spanning 14 seasons that saw him become Munster’s second most capped player when coming on for his 241st appearance against Cardiff Blues in the Guinness PRO14 on Friday night.

Confirming the news, Holland said, “I have always been determined to finish my career whilst still playing well and adding value to the jersey each time I get to put it on.

“To be in a position to call time on such a fantastic experience, on my own terms, is one I am extremely grateful for.

“I believe the time is right for me, my family and for Munster Rugby to hang up my boots.

“I don’t want to reflect too much on the incredible journey just yet, as right now my focus is on performing to the best of my ability every time I’m handed that cherished red shirt. I am excited to help Munster continue to move forward and achieve our potential for the rest of the season.”

A player who has come up through the provincial pathway, playing with clubs Cork Constitution and UCC, and school Christian Brothers College, Billy joined the Munster Rugby Academy in 2005 and made his competitive debut against Scarlets in September 2007.

He went on to win Academy Player of the Year in 2008 for his breakthrough season and was promoted to the senior squad.

Holland played in the province’s narrow defeat to New Zealand in Thomond Park in November 2008, while in October 2010 he played a central role in the defeat of the touring Australia side.

In representing the next generation of players coming through the province he captained the Munster ‘A’ side to British and Irish Cup success in Musgrave Park in 2012.

Known for his leadership qualities on and off the field, Billy’s peers twice nominated him for Munster Rugby Men’s Player of the Year off the back of his performances during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons.

On the international front he secured an Ireland cap playing against Canada at the Aviva Stadium in October 2016, while he enjoyed Nations Cup and Tblisi Cup success with Emerging Ireland in 2014 and 2015.

Commenting on Billy’s announcement, Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “I only just said it recently, Billy will go down as a Munster legend in the history of the club, and rightly so.

“We all know the incredible character he is and how hard he works behind the scenes, always getting the job done.

“He has given his all to the jersey and all I can do is thank him for his service and commitment to Munster Rugby.

“We won’t dwell on it too much now, as ever the professional, Billy still has a job to do, helping to lead an ambitious group at this time.”


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Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, has named the Ulster team to take on Dragons RFC at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship (KO 7 35pm).

The province returns to URC action at home for the first time since the Interprovincial derby victory over Connacht at Kingspan Stadium before Christmas.

Ulster Rugby Academy graduate, James Hume, will captain his province from a centre partnership that sees him paired with 21-year-old Jude Postlethwaite.

Springbok and double Rugby World Cup winner, Steven Kitshoff, starts at loosehead prop and is joined by hooker, Tom Stewart, and fellow prop, Tom O’Toole, who returns to the team for the first time since being called up to Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell’s Guinness Six Nations squad.

The second row sees young talents Cormac Izuchukwu and Harry Sheridan come together as the two locks.

The back row is unchanged from last time out against Ospreys, with David McCann, Marcus Rea and Nick Timoney retaining their places.

Ulster opts for the experienced half-back partnership of John Cooney and Billy Burns.

Academy products, Mike Lowry and Ethan McIlroy, start on the right and left wing respectively.

Will Addison completes the back field as he starts at full-back.

The bench sees a welcome return to action for lock, Kieran Treadwell, who returns after an injury sustained against Harlequins in January.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reffell, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale form the replacement options from the bench.

Ulster Rugby v Dragons RFC, Origin Round 11, BKT United Rugby Championship, 7 35pm, Saturday 2 March, live on Viaplay and BBC Radio Ulster.

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby will be celebrating the important role of clubs and schools in player development with a programme of events at Saturday’s home game. For more info, visit: https://ulster.rugby/content/ulster-rugby-celebrates-urc-origins-round-against-dragons

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RUFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC), James Hume (C) (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), Billy Burns (Walcot RFC), John Cooney (Gonzaga College);

(1-8) Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy), Tom O’Toole (Ashbourne RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service NI RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock College).

Replacements: John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Kieran Treadwell (Chipstead RFC), Sean Reffell (Bromley RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC).

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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Darcy Graham injury update

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Darcy Graham injury update

Darcy Graham will be out of action for three to four months with the Scotland internationalist set to undergo surgery to repair a groin injury next week.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We really feel for Darcy [Graham] because he is a player that puts his heart and soul into rugby. He loves playing for this club while he is a proud Scotsman who takes great pride in representing his country.

“We’ve got every confidence Darcy will work his way back from next week’s surgery with the same drive and determination in which he trains and plays.”

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Match Preview: Ospreys

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Match Preview: Ospreys

Get set for Friday night’s crucial BKT United Rugby Championship clash against Ospreys at Hive Stadium (1 March, kick-off 7.35pm) with our match preview.

GET TICKETS

Tickets can be purchased right up until kick-off HERE. Gates open at 6pm ahead of a 7.35pm kick-off.

WHAT’S ON

There’s plenty on the go at Hive Stadium as match night returns to the capital!

  • Live music from Dead Sea Souls
  • Support our Services activity in the Fan Zone
  • Live URC action in the Clubhouse
  • Get a photo with the Calcutta & Doddie Weir Cups in The Clubhouse

Read our What’s on Guide HERE.

TEAM NEWS

Mark Bennett makes his 100th appearance for the club as one of four changes made to the capital XV for the visit of Ospreys.

Mark Bennett takes the place of James Lang who drops to the bench, with Matt Currie moving to the 12 jersey.

Ben Vellacott – who skippers the side – starts in place of Ali Price, with the British & Irish Lion selected on the bench.

Sam Skinner returns from Scotland camp taking the place of Marshall Sykes, who is also named among the replacements.

Tom Dodd starts at blindside flanker in place of Jamie Ritchie who is retained by Scotland.

Full team news can be read HERE.

WHAT’S BEEN SAID

Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re excited to be back home at Hive Stadium for what is a hugely important fixture for the club.

“With the log so tight and teams around us playing each other this weekend, a win is imperative in maintaining our push for a top-eight finish.

“Ospreys are playing with no fear, and they’ll travel north with plenty of confidence, but we’re at home where we love to play under the lights. It’s Friday night and the Edinburgh supporters will be out in full force – it’s set to be a brilliant occasion.”

He continued: “We’re delighted to see Mark [Bennett] make his 100th appearance for the club. He’s been a brilliant servant to Edinburgh Rugby and thoroughly deserves a start on a special night for him personally.”

THE STORY SO FAR

Its’s tight at the top…

With a 7-3 record, Edinburgh sit in fifth place in the Championship on 30 points.

With a 6-4 record, Ospreys sit in seventh place in the Championship on 29 points.

That makes Friday night’s clash at Hive Stadium massive in terms of each team’s aspirations for a top eight finish.

Ospreys are flying high having won 5-in-a-row, while Edinburgh have lost just one game at home so far this season and will be hoping for a massive win to keep momentum going heading into the business end of the year.

LAST TIME OUT

Edinburgh claimed a decisive 45-21 victory over the Welsh region in the final home game of last season – check out highlights below:

DID YOU KNOW

Edinburgh Rugby’s only two defeats in the last seven rounds of the BKT United Rugby Championship were at home to Benetton in Round 6 and away at Glasgow in Round 8.

Edinburgh’s only defeat in their last five fixtures against Welsh regions in the Championship was 14-42 at Scarlets in February 2023.

Ospreys have won their last five first team fixtures since their 5-38 defeat at Montpellier in Round 2 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Ospreys only victory outside of Wales in the BKT United Rugby Championship since October 2021 was on their visit to Zebre in January 2023.

Ospreys have won just once in Scotland since March 2017: 25-10 against today’s opponents, Edinburgh, at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in October 2020.

Edinburgh won 45-21 the last time the two sides met, at Hive Stadium in April 2023.

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Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby


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