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Ulster ready for the roar of the Lions

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Ulster ready for the roar of the Lions

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The Ulster men are in Johannesburg primed and ready for what they will face against the Emirates Lions this Saturday (KO 1pm, UK/Ireland time) at Emirates Airline Park in Round 5 of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

Following a smooth journey to South Africa, and a number of days training in the heat and at altitude, Ulster’s travelling contingency have put in the hard yards ahead of facing a side that is on a three-game winning run.

A year to the day since the two teams faced each other in the inaugural season of the URC at Kingspan Stadium, with Ulster coming away with a 26-10 victory, the province will face a somewhat different prospect. This time round, both clubs sit with three wins and one loss to their names, with Ulster ahead in the league table, thanks to picking-up bonus points in all their games so far this season.

With a number of new signings for the Emirates Lions, and a much better start out of the blocks, Dan McFarland’s side will be in no doubt as to the challenge that lies ahead on Saturday in one of South Africa’s most iconic rugby venues, which played host to the legendary 1995 Rugby World Cup, Ellis Park.

Ulster Forwards Coach, Roddy Grant, said:

“It’s so competitive now in the URC, home and away. With the South African teams, they have some really good packs, and the travel is also exciting. This week, just like every week, we are preparing to play and win.”

Emerging Ireland contingency return to the Ulster match-day squad

Following a hat-trick of wins in Bloemfontein, the young Ulster players involved in the winning Emerging Ireland tour have joined-up with the wider travelling squad in South Africa.

Rob Baloucoune, who scored a try against the Griquas in a 7-54 victory for the Irish side, is joined in the starting back three by Michael Lowry, a man with four offloads to his name in Ulster’s recent home win over Ospreys, and winger, Rob Lyttle.

In a strong centre partnership, Luke Marshall will be looking to add to his three-try scorecard this season alongside Stuart McCloskey, otherwise known as the ‘Bangor Bulldozer’, who also crossed the whitewash last weekend.

Leading points scorer in the URC this season, scrum-half John Cooney, is paired with Billy Burns in the half-back positions.

Springbok, Duane Vermeulen, will be on home soil when he pulls on the number eight jersey for Ulster. 25-year-old Marcus Rea and Dave McCann, also identified as a young talent to watch by the Ireland set-up, will pack down alongside him.

Skipper, Alan O’Connor, forms the second row with Wallaby, Sam Carter, one of two players last week who contributed a brace of tries to the seven-try win over Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium.

The pack is completed by Johannesburg-born tight-head prop, Gareth Milasinovich, along with fellow South African native, Rob Herring, and Ulster Academy graduate, Eric O’Sullivan.

Forwards cover will come from John Andrew, a try-scorer in the last two rounds; Emerging Ireland players, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, and Cormac Izuchukwu; along with Nick Timoney, who made more tackles last season than any other player.

Nathan Doak, who played against his childhood rugby hero Ruan Pienaar in the Emerging Ireland game versus the Toyota Cheetahs; Stewart Moore, whose time with Emerging Ireland saw him score an impressive try against the Griquas, set-up by fellow Ulster men, Nathan Doak and Rob Baloucoune; and Ethan McIlroy who also go the call-up for Emerging Ireland, provide the backline cover.

Ulster team to play Emirates Lions, Vodacom United Rugby Championship Round 5, Saturday 15 October at Emirates Airline Park (KO 1pm, UK/Ireland time), live on Premier Sports & URC.tv.

(15-9): Michael Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8): Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Gareth Milasinovich, Alan O’Connor (Captain), Sam Carter, Dave McCann, Marcus Rea, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Cormac Izuchukwu, Nick Timoney, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


Champions Cup

Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Toulouse At Thomond

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The Munster squad started their training week on Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup opener against Toulouse at Thomond Park (3.15pm).

A bumper crowd will attend the fixture with tickets from €25 available here. A Family Pack of 4 tickets costs just €50.

11 Munster players were in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.

In Division 1A, Dan Goggin, Conor Phillips, Eoin O’Connor and Fionn Gibbons featured for Young Munster as they beat Shannon at Thomond Park with Phillips among the tries.

Ethan Coughlan, Kieran Ryan and Darragh McSweeney lined out for Shannon.

Cian Hurley and Jack Oliver lined out for Garryowen as they were defeated by Ballynahinch at Dooradoyle.

In Division 1B, James French helped Highfield defeat UCC at Woodleigh Park.

In Division 2A, Ruadhan Quinn was a try-scorer for Old Crescent as they defeated Ballymena.

Evan O’Connell featured for UL Bohemian as they were beaten by Navan.

On the injury front, Conor Murray returns to training this week after recovering from the groin injury he sustained on his 100th Ireland cap against South Africa last month.

Mike Haley is expected to complete his return to play protocols this week with a view to returning to full team training.

Simon Zebo sustained a low-grade knee injury against Edinburgh and will begin rehabilitation with the medical department. He will be unavailable for the coming weeks.

Continuing to rehab: 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).

Tickets

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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URC

Rowlands to leave at end of season

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Dragons RFC can confirm that Wales international second row Will Rowlands will leave the club at the end of the current season.

The 31-year-old, who joined the Men of Gwent ahead of the 21/22 season and has made 16 appearances for the club, has agreed terms with a club outside of Wales for the 23/24 season.

Dai Flanagan, Head Coach of Dragons RFC, commented: “We’re obviously disappointed to be losing a player of Will’s quality, but despite the best efforts of ourselves, Will’s representative and the WRU over the last 12 months or so, we were unable to reach agreement on terms for the future.

“Since arriving in Gwent, Will has been a hugely positive influence on our group, captaining the side and being named Wales’ player of the year.

“We know that he’ll continue to give his absolute all to the club for the remainder of his time with us and he will always be welcome at Rodney Parade.”

Will Rowlands also commented: “I am sad to be leaving Dragons RFC at the end of this season but would like to thank everyone involved with the club for their support over the past 18 months.

“It has been a pleasure to play at Rodney Parade and I know that the future is bright for this club. It’s home to some truly talented players and I really believe in the vision of Dai and the other coaches. I have no doubt that we are just beginning to see the seeds of that in the performances of the team, and that they will go from strength to strength.

“It is still my great hope that I will be able to represent my country in the World Cup 2023, if called upon.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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URC

Owen Williams agrees deal with Ospreys as injury replacement

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Today, the Ospreys announced that Owen Williams will join the team as an injury replacement in a deal that will see the ex-Worcester man join the club as cover for Gareth Anscombe, who was regrettably injured on international duty.

With the injury to Gareth Anscombe and Stephen Myler also currently out injured, the agreement will give the Ospreys much needed depth at the fly-half position.

Capped three times at international level, Williams provides invaluable experience and leadership qualities that will contribute massively to the team as the second half of the season approaches.

Head Coach Toby Booth said: “For us to compete at the highest level, it is hugely important that we have quality depth where we need it. Signing Owen not only provides injury cover for us, but also improves us a group.

“Jack Walsh has done a great job stepping up at 10 in some huge games for us over the last few weeks, but ultimately with Gareth’s injury, we needed to reinforce in that area. Owen can play 10 or 12 and brings a wealth of experience with him from his time in Premiership. I have no doubt that he will make a positive impact in a variety of areas for us.”

Excited about the prospect of joining the Ospreys, Owen Williams said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started here, the Ospreys have a rich history and a great squad that are capable of going on and becoming a real force.

“I spoke with the coach before making my decision, and it was clear to me that he had a plan for how I will fit in to the wider vision for the team going forward. It’s been a while since I’ve played my rugby in Wales, but I can’t wait to be back in the region where it all started for me.”

The Ospreys are set for their first Heineken Champions Cup fixture against Leicester Tigers on Sunday, the same team where Williams made over 100 appearances and scored over 600 points during his time there.

Image & Content Source – Ospreys Rugby


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