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Vodacom Bulls maintain squad consistency for Exeter clash



The Vodacom Bulls have made minimal changes to the side that will take on Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday 17 December 2022, for round two of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup. BBCo Director of Rugby, Jake White maintained consistency to personnel as he only makes four changes to the matchday 23 that triumphed over Lyon a week ago.

Both Janko Swanepoel and Chris Barend Smit come into the starting xv from the bench, with Swanepoel slotting in at 5 as Reinhardt Ludwig shifts to 4 in place of Jacques du Plessis. Smit comes in at 12 in place of injured Marco Jansen van Vuuren. Muller Uys and Wj Steenkamp swap jerseys whilst Joe van Zyl, Cameron Hanekom and Carlton Bannies join this week’s impact squad.

Speaking on the squad selection, White said: “I needed them to also play away because it would have been unfair to have a different squad travel to play just the one game. It is only fair for me to give them the opportunity to have a run away from home, an opportunity to back up the performance from the previous week,”

“We have some young guys here, the likes of Cameron Hanekom and Carlton Bannies who come from the under-20s, will be playing for the first-time tomorrow and it’s obviously fantastic for our youngsters to measure themselves against such an experienced team,”

“It is a completely different test for these youngsters, a completely different test for us as a group. Sometimes when you get opportunities you don’t always get them when you want them and you don’t always get them in the environment you want them but that is what makes rugby such a fantastic game.”

Asked about the challenges of travelling, the Vodacom Bulls mentor replied: “There are positives to having our squad in one place 24/7 because we can assemble quicker and chat about the game, versus being at home. So, staying together in a hotel has its advantages that we can make good use of.”

Speaking about what his herd expects from Exeter and the reality of a young side, White commented: “I don’t think anyone gave us a chance last week and we got five points against Lyon at home and now we are going to face a star-studded team in Exeter. Having to play in front of sold-out crowds, so the challenge is completely different but having said that, I am fully confident that these guys understand it and they will give it their best.”

White went on to say, “Exeter are a great side, they won this tournament two years ago, in fact, I think they won the double. They have a great squad, great coaches and a great environment here. That means it is going to be tough for us, but that is all part of growing as a group,”

“If I look at their team, they have internationals almost across the field. They are extremely efficient and they can hold onto the ball for 20 phases at times and they will put your defence under huge amounts of pressure. So, I think we got to either hold onto the ball as long as we can and not give it to them, which comes with the risk because if you don’t hold onto the ball with accuracy you can give them the ball and maybe concede penalties which makes it easy for them to enter into your 22,”

“They are a very dangerous team in the 22m, the most efficient in the whole competition so it’s going to be a challenge for us but I have full faith in the guys, playing for the Vodacom Bulls who are a proud rugby club and there are expectations from our supporters and that is why we have got to do our best. I have no doubt they will give more than 100% and hopefully that will be good enough to get the result” White concluded.

The Pool A clash is scheduled to kick-off at 13h00 local time (15h00 South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.


1. Dylan Smith, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Jacques van Rooyen, 4. Reinhardt Ludwig, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Nizaam Carr, 7. Muller Uys, 8. Wj Steenkamp, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Morne Steyn (c), 11. Stravino Jacobs, 12. Chris Barend Smit, 13. Stedman Gans, 14. Sibongile Novuka, 15. Wandisile Simelane


16. Lizo Gqoboka, 17. Joe van Zyl, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Cameron Hanekom, 20. Phumzile Maqondwana, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Carlton Bannies, 23. Juan Mostert

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist


Saturday, 10 December 2022: Vodacom Bulls 42-36 Lyon

Saturday, 17 December 2022: Exeter Chiefs vs Vodacom Bulls

Saturday, 14 January 2023: Vodacom Bulls vs Exeter Chiefs

Friday, 20 January 2023: Lyon vs Vodacom Bulls

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby

Champions Cup

Academy Trio Stepping Up & Contract News



Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Academy trio Tony Butler, Ethan Coughlan and Mark Donnelly will be promoted to the senior squad in the summer.

We can also confirm that hooker Scott Buckley, who graduated from the Academy to the senior squad in 2022, has signed a contract extension.

Out-half Butler, scrum-half Coughlan (both 21) and 22-year-old prop Donnelly have all signed on for the next two seasons after impressing over their three years in the Academy.

Butler and Coughlan become the first Ennis RFC players to earn senior Munster contracts.

As previously confirmed, Academy lock Edwin Edogbo (21), who also came up through the Munster Youths system with Cobh Pirates, will graduate from the Academy to the senior squad on a two-year deal next season.

Buckley, Butler, Coughlan and Donnelly all made their Munster debuts in the famous Champions Cup win over Wasps in December 2021.

Tony Butler in action against Dragons.

Tony Butler in action against Dragons.

Ennis out-half Tony Butler has earned his first senior contract after a very productive three years in the Academy.

He has made six senior appearances to date, including two starts so far this season against Dragons and Connacht.

A Grand Slam winner with the Ireland U20s in 2022, Butler now plays his AIL rugby with Young Munster having previously lined out for Garryowen.

He captained Ennis at underage level, teaming up with Coughlan in the half-backs as they enjoyed success in the Munster U16 and U18 Clubs competitions.

Scrum-half Ethan Coughlan is enjoying an excellent campaign with three starts so far this year and eight senior appearances in total since joining the Academy.

He enjoyed great success alongside Butler with Ennis RFC at underage level before captaining the Ireland U18 Clubs team.

He also won a Grand Slam with the Ireland U20s in 2022 and plays his AIL rugby with Shannon.

Prop Mark Donnelly has already made nine senior appearances for Munster after coming up through the ranks at Midleton RFC, Midleton College and CBC.

He was a Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup winner with CBC in 2019 and featured for the Ireland U20s in the 2021 Six Nations.

He joined the Academy that summer before making his Munster debut along with Buckley, Butler and Coughlan against Wasps in December 2021

Along with his nine senior Munster appearances, Donnelly has also played regularly for Garryowen in the AIL over the past three years.

Mark Donnelly at Munster training.

Mark Donnelly at Munster training.

Hooker Scott Buckley (23) has signed a one-year contract having made 25 appearances for Munster to date.

A product of the Munster Rugby Academy, Buckley started out with Kinsale RFC before captaining CBC to the Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup in 2019.

He was Player of the Match against Wasps on his Munster debut and made nine appearances last season as Munster won the URC title.

A UCC clubman, he scored the match-winning try against Crusaders at Páirc Ui Chaoimh earlier this month.

Scott Buckley scores a try against Leinster in pre-season.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Squad Update Ahead Of Zebre At Virgin Media Park



The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Friday night’s URC Round 11 clash against Zebre at Virgin Media Park (7.35pm).

There are a limited number of tickets available here.

25 players lined out in the thrilling encounter against Harlequins on Friday night, including eight Academy players and two young club players. Scroll down for match highlights.

The squad is boosted by the return of Tom Ahern, Craig Casey and Jeremy Loughman from international duty ahead of Friday night’s clash in Cork.

On the injury front, Academy back-row forward Ruadhán Quinn has completed the return to play protocols and is available for selection.

Following the game against Harlequins on Friday night, Academy duo Shay McCarthy (ankle) and Daniel Okeke (elbow) will go for scans and are unavailable this week.

Continuing to rehab: Simon Zebo (knee), Patrick Campbell (shoulder), John Hodnett (finger), Paddy Patterson (knee), Jack O’Donoghue (knee), Dave Kilcoyne (shoulder), Diarmuid Barron (foot), Jean Kleyn (eye/knee), Liam Coombes (shoulder), Roman Salanoa (knee).

Video | Harlequins v Munster Highlights


URC Round 11: Friday, March 1

Munster v Zebre Parma, Virgin Media Park, 7.35pm; Buy final tickets here

U20s 6 Nations Round 5: Friday, March 15

Ireland v Scotland, Virgin Media Park, 7pm; Buy final tickets here

URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30

Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Women’s 6 Nations Round 3: Saturday, April 13

Ireland v Wales, Virgin Media Park, 4.45pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11

Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1

Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby



Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago


Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby

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