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Thornbury excited for new season

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This Saturday Connacht Rugby begin their BKT United Rugby Championship away to Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium (k/o 7.35pm).

It’s the beginning of a new season which brings plenty of excitement and opportunities for players to build on the previous season, one of those players being Gavin Thornbury.

The big second-row underwent shoulder surgery in the summer of 2021 and was only expected to be sidelined for a period of up to 12 weeks. However, a series of setbacks delayed his return to competitive action and it wasn’t until the start of April against Benetton when he made that return to action.

After a full preseason under his belt, Thornbury spoke about how he’s feeling ahead of the new season kicking off.

“I feel really good and it was great to get the full preseason under my belt”

“After the season I had last season, just to be out on the pitch and training every day is what I want”

“Preseason has been really productive but at the same time long, but we all can’t wait to get the season started now”

Seven new players have come to The Sportsground this season, one of those being Josh Murphy from Leinster, a player Thornbury knows well and hopes to see bring the aggression and skill to Connacht which he produced so many times while playing for Leinster.

“I’ve played with and against Josh, he’s a very good athlete, extremely intelligent and has that edge about him”

“A few weeks ago against Sale Sharks he showed what he’s about and no doubt will want to build on that”

This summer saw Irish Rugby create history with a historic series win in New Zealand against the All Blacks. Connacht Rugby were represented by Bundee Aki, Cian Prendergast, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Mack Hansen, Pete Wilkins and Robbie Fox on that winning tour. Thornbury spoke of the impact that win has had on the whole squad.

“You get an energy from seeing them do well but its the learning what they bring back that’s the biggest thing”

“Pete going over and getting to see how the international side coach is a huge benefit for us and you can see he’s grown as a coach from it”

“When the lads came back they started drip feeding information straight away as to how we can improve, a brilliant experience for them but now as a group we’re gaining from that”

It’s an interprovincial test in Belfast to start the 2022/23 season and one every Connacht player is looking forward to.

“Its a tough opener for any team playing in Belfast, but it’s an exciting challenge going up there and one we can’t wait for”

“We believe in ourselves, our coaches and our style of play so its time to show what we’re about”

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby


URC

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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