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Champions Cup

Munster Scrape Past Benetton to Reach Pro 14 Semis

Munster just about got over the line against Benetton to reach the last four of the Pro 14

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(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster survived a scare from Benetton to reach the semi-finals of the Pro 14 as they defeated the Italians 15-13 at Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon.

The win means Munster will now face a trip to rivals Leinster in the semi-finals with a place the showpiece up for grabs.

Munster dominated the majority of the match and started brightly. However, malfunctioning line-outs, knock-ons and just simple unforced errors meant they could not make the most of their early chances.

It took until the 23rd minute for them to register their first points when Tyler Bleyendaal converted a penalty, having turned down the three-point opportunity earlier in the game.

That score kicked Benetton into action as they went up the other end of the pitch straight after the kick-off and went through the phases. Munster captain Peter O’Mahony conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Tomasso Allan made no mistake with his kick to tie things up at 3-3.

Munster’s lack of attacking efficiency was punished by the visitors a minute before time when Bleyendaal sent a kicked towards touch but Monty Ioane’s quick line-out allowed full-back Jayden Hayward to run at the defence.

Following a couple of phases Marco Zanon sent Ratuva Tavunyara over in the corner for a try. Allan converted and that sent Benetton in with a 10-3 half-time lead.

Munster again started well in the second-half, with Bleyendaal knocking over a penalty early on to make it 10-6.

Benetton almost sprung another surprise on 48 minutes only for Braam Steyn to knock-on an offload that would have sent them over for a second try.

With 20 minutes remaining Benetton pushed themselves further ahead as JJ Hanrahan was caught offside. Again, Allan was perfect from the tee to make it 13-6 and an upset looked on the cards.

Hanrahan made up for his error two minutes later when he kicked a penalty to cut the lead to four.

Hanrahan made up for his error two minutes later when he kicked a penalty to cut the lead to four.

Benetton defended well right up until the 77th minute when they conceded a penalty on half-way which Hanrahan kept his nerve to kick straight through the uprights.

Benetton pushed late on and missed a couple of drop-kicks before the full-time whistle was blown and Munster’s blushes were saved.

Munster will now head to the RDS in two weeks’ time to face Leinster and will need a much-improved performance if they are to topple the reigning champions. Although Benetton couldn’t go any further, they are still the first Italian side to reach the play-off phase of the competition and have Champions Cup rugby to look forward to next season.


Champions Cup

Munster Rugby New Coaches Intro | 2022/23

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A new-look coaching team will lead Munster Rugby this season with Head Coach Graham Rowntree joined by Mike Prendergast, Andi Kyriacou and Denis Leamy.

New Attack Coach Prendergast joined from Racing 92, Forwards Coach Kyriacou was promoted from his role as Elite Player Development Officer and Defence Coach Leamy has returned from Leinster.

See profiles for the three new members of the coaching team below. Scroll down to watch Graham Rowntree’s first interview as Munster Head Coach.

Mike Prendergast – Attack Coach

Mike Prendergast has joined Munster from Top 14 side Racing 92, where he held the role of  Attack and Backs Coach since 2019.

Prendergast has a wealth of experience of coaching at the top level and in addition to Racing 92 he has held assistant coaching roles with Stade Francais, Oyannax Rugby and Grenoble FCG since making the move to France in 2013.

On completing his professional playing career in 2009 the scrum-half continued playing with his club Young Munster RFC while also progressing on the coaching front as he held Head Coach and Director of Rugby roles with the Limerick side.

On the provincial coaching front, he previously worked closely with Academy Manager Ian Costello and Team Manager Niall O’Donovan when overseeing the backline for the Munster A’s that enjoyed British and Irish Cup success in 2012.

Andi Kyriacou – Forwards Coach

Andi Kyriacou has been promoted from his role as an Elite Player Development Officer with the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, a position he held since April 2021.

From England, the former hooker lined out for the province during the 2006/07 season when on loan from Saracens and went on to represent Ulster and Cardiff Rugby before retiring from the professional game in 2013.

Over the last decade he has held numerous coaching roles in the areas of the scrum, defence, skills, and forwards working with Cardiff Rugby, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster's Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry earlier this season.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster’s Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry.

Denis Leamy – Defence Coach

Denis Leamy returned to Munster after a three-year spell at Leinster, where he first held a role as an Elite Player Development Officer before moving up to the role of Contact Skills Coach in October 2021.

Following a hugely successful playing career with Munster and Ireland Leamy’s coaching career saw him work with several sides across the province over seven years including Young Munster RFC, Rockwell College, Clonmel RFC, Cashel RFC and Garryowen FC.

On the provincial front the Tipperary native also worked at various stages with Munster’s age-grade players and the ‘A’ team before making the move to Leinster.

He joined the Ireland U20s team as Assistant Coach for the 2021 Six Nations campaign.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

Video | Graham Rowntree Interview

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

Video | Graham Rowntree’s 1st Interview As Head Coach

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We spoke to Graham Rowntree about his new role as Munster Head Coach ahead of the pre-season training programme.

Graham spent three years as Munster Forwards Coach before stepping up to become Head Coach.

He leads a new-look coaching team including Attack Coach Mike Prendergast, Defence Coach Denis Leamy and Forwards Coach Andi Kyriacou.

The new campaign kicks off in one month with Munster taking on Gloucester and London Irish in two pre-season games at Musgrave Park. Click here for fixture details and ticket news.

Watch Graham Rowntree’s first interview as Munster Head Coach below.

Pre-Season Fixtures

Buy a discount two-match pack here.

Friday, August 26

Munster Rugby v Gloucester, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm; Buy tickets here

Friday, September 2

Munster Rugby v London Irish, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Champions Cup

2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup pool stage fixture schedules announced

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Stade Rochelais, who won a first Heineken Champions Cup in such dramatic fashion in May, will launch the defence of their title at Stade Marcel Deflandre against another former tournament winner, Northampton Saints, when the 2022/23 EPCR season kicks off on the weekend of 9/10/11 December.

The Anglo-French clash in Pool B will be one of a host of mouthwatering match-ups, which include the landmark participation of South African clubs, following today’s (Thursday, 21 July) announcement of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup fixture schedules.

URC winners, the Stormers, will have a first competitive outing on French soil when they take on ASM Clermont Auvergne in the Stade Marcel-Michelin cauldron, while the Pretoria-based Bulls and the Sharks from Durban will be at home against Lyon and Harlequins respectively in Round 1 on the weekend of 9/10/11 December.

Click HERE for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures

Reigning Gallagher Premiership champions, Leicester Tigers, will open their campaign against the Ospreys at the Swansea.com Stadium, and last season’s TOP 14 winners, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, will also be on the road when they face London Irish, who are making a return to the top flight for the first time since 2012, at Brentford Community Stadium.

Two of the tournament’s heavyweights, Munster Rugby and Stade Toulousain, who met in a memorable quarter-final last season, will renew rivalries in Round 1 in early December at what is certain to be a packed-out Thomond Park.

At this stage, EPCR are only announcing the fixtures by round for the pool stages, with exact dates, kick-off times and TV coverage in both the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup to be announced as soon as possible following the conclusion of negotiations with broadcasters for the new cycle across each market.

The 2020 winners, Bristol Bears, will be hoping for a repeat performance when they start their EPCR Challenge Cup Pool A campaign against USAP at Stade Aimé Giral on the weekend of 9/10/11 December, while last season’s defeated finalists, RC Toulon, travel to Zebre Parma in Round 1.

Click HERE for the 2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup pool stage fixtures

The Lions from Johannesburg will make their debut in the tournament against Worcester Warriors at Sixways, while the Cheetahs, who will play their two ‘home’ matches in Pool B at Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma, go head-to-head with Section Paloise at Stade du Hameau in the south-west of France in Round 1.

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP

24 elite clubs (nine tournament winners with 36 EPCR titles between them)
Two pools of 12
Four pool stage rounds
Eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool qualify for the knockout stage
Knockout stage: Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final
Ninth and 10th ranked clubs from each pool qualify for the EPCR Challenge Cup

Click HERE for the Heineken Champions Cup pools

EPCR CHALLENGE CUP

20 clubs (seven tournament winners with 14 EPCR titles between them)
Two pools of 10
Four pool stage rounds
Six highest-ranked clubs from each pool qualify for the knockout stage
Knockout stage: Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final

Click HERE for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools

2022/23 key dates
Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023
Round of 16 – 31 March – 1/2 April 2023
Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023
Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Content & Images from – EPC Rugby


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