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Rowlands confident over new-look Dragons

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Will Rowlands is confident that new-look Dragons RFC can make strides in the BKT United Rugby Championship this season.

Rowlands, 30, was an impressive figure for the Men of Gwent during his first season after moving from Wasps last summer.

The big second row – back in training after his exploits with Wales in South Africa – has been impressed by the new recruits and the addition of head coach Dai Flanagan.

Despite pre-season losses to Bristol and Wasps, Rowlands believes the signs are positive with the countdown to the new campaign fast approaching.

“I’ve been really encouraged so far. I’ve been back in for the last couple of weeks, and we’ve had pre-season games at the end of them,” said Rowlands, speaking at the official BKT United Rugby Championship launch in London.

“The new signings have all been involved and have gone really well.

“They have brought a bit of experience for us in certain positions as well as good depth.

“I am really excited about the contribution that they are all going to have this year. Dragons kick off their URC campaign at Edinburgh on Saturday, September 17.

Before that The players have a final chance to stake a claim for a spot in Scotland when they head to the Scarlets on Friday (kick-off 7pm).

Rowlands will sit out the game as he looks to build his way back in after the Wales tour.

He said: “I was happy to not be involved in these first games so that I could get up to speed with the few changes that have gone on. “I am looking forward to getting on the pitch as soon as possible.”

And looking at the season ahead, Rowlands is ready to play a big part in helping the club kick on and bring success to Rodney Parade.

“There is only room for improvement from last year,” he said. “The signings that we have made as well as some coaching changes will put us in good stead to start to deliver on a few areas that have been holding us back.

“If we do that, I am confident we will be much improved from last year and we can start to compete, both in the Welsh Shield and the URC in general.

“With the improvements that I know have been put in place, we are going to win a few more games, I am sure of it.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


URC

Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing

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The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.

Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.

The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.

This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.

Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.

“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”

“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”

“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”

Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”

“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”

Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”

“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.

The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.

VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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All You Need To Know | Benetton v Munster

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Munster travel to Italy this weekend for another big game in the URC as the province, who lie seventh in the table, take on sixth-placed Benetton.

See the URC table here and Munster’s remaining fixtures here.

Both sides will be named before 12pm on Friday.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the game below.

Where?

Stadio Monigo, Treviso

When?

Saturday, 2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm local

Broadcast

Live on TG4, Premier Sports, Eurosport, Discovery +, Viaplay, SuperSport & URC TV.

Munster News

Squad Update

Gallery | Training Pics

Did you know?

Munster have six games remaining in the regular season of the URC with a number of teams jostling for position in the race for the knock-out stages and the battle for Champions Cup rugby next season.

Benetton are one place and one point above Munster having also played 12 games in the URC to date.

The Italian club are on a six-game winning streak and qualified for a home Challenge Cup round of 16 game thanks to a 35-32 victory over Stade Francais at the weekend.

Glasgow Warriors, Dragons, Scarlets, Edinburgh, Zebre, Ulster and Bayonne have all been beaten by Benetton at Stadio Monigo this season.

Their most recent URC game saw Benetton beat Ulster 31-29 thanks to a late Rhyno Smith penalty.

Press Pass

Hear from Forwards Coach Andi Kyriacou and Roman Salanoa ahead of the game.

Match Officials

Referee: Ben Blain

AR1: Federico Vedovelli

AR2: Franco Rosella

TMO: Sam Grove-White

Musgrave Park & Thomond Park Fixtures

Friday, February 10

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v France, Musgrave Park, 8pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Friday, February 17

URC: Munster v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Friday, March 3

URC: Munster v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Sunday, March 19

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v England, Musgrave Park, 5pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Saturday, March 25

URC: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Saturday, April 1

6 Nations: Ireland Women v France, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Saturday, April 22

6 Nations: Ireland Women v England, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

11 minutes ago

Match Previews

Head Coach Dan McFarland has named his Ulster squad that will take on current BKT URC Champions, DHL Stormers, at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

With Ulster currently sitting fourth in the URC table, the province will be hoping to build momentum from last weekend’s crucial win against Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup, which was sealed in front of a boisterous home support.

A win could see the Ulster Men leapfrog the Vodacom Bulls into third place. The match is also important for the Stormers, who sit in second position, as they hope to close the gap to Leinster at the top of the table.

Match tickets are still available and can be found at ulster.rugby/buytickets.

Ulster Assistant Coach, Jonny Bell, says the province know just how big a threat the Stormers pose:

“They are going to be a very difficult animal to what we faced last week. They are powerful, but move really fast around the pitch, so we need to control the ball well when we have it and make sure that we are smart defensively.”

Ulster make one change to the front row, with loosehead prop Eric O’Sullivan coming in alongside Tom Stewart and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

Alan O’Connor will lead the side once again, with club captain Iain Henderson in camp with the Ireland squad ahead of the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

Sam Carter retains his place at lock alongside O’Connor, with Academy product Harry Sheridan keeping his place at blindside flanker after an impressive home debut last weekend against Sale Sharks. Last weekend’s Heineken Star of the Match, Nick Timoney, continues at openside alongside Duane Vermeulen at Number 8.

Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are also rewarded for their performances last week as they pair up again at 9 and 10 respectively.

James Hume retains his place at outside centre, and he is joined by Stewart Moore at inside centre, who comes in for Ireland-bound Stuart McCloskey.

The back three has just one change, with Academy graduate Ben Moxham coming in for Jacob Stockdale. Winger Rob Lyttle will hope to continue his try-scoring form and Mike Lowry completes the starting XV.

On the bench, John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy provide the forward cover, with John Cooney, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the backline options.

Ulster team to play DHL Stormers in the BKT United Rugby Championship on Friday 27 January at Kingspan Stadium (Kick-off 7.35pm)

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Jeff Toomaga Allen, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Harry Sheridan, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements:

(16-23) John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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