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Young ready to unleash stars in URC kick-off

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Dai Young will unleash his new signings and international stars against Munster in the BTK United Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.

Cardiff host the Irish outfit at the Arms Park (3.05pm) in what promises to be a star-studded occasion. 

The director of rugby highlighted the “fantastic 23” at his disposal and is hoping for a bumper crowd.

It will be the first opportunity he has had to field new signings Lopeti Timani, Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams and the quartet are all in line for their Arms Park debut.

Young said: “There’s no reason why we can’t see a fantastic 23 going out on the weekend. We haven’t got too many injuries.

“It’s only Navs [Josh Navidi] that we’re missing really. It’s been well documented that he’s not available for selection.

“We will certainly see our new signings out on the pitch at some point on Saturday.

“They’ve been fantastic in training. You can obviously see the obvious quality in them in-and-around training but as well as that they’ve played in other environments and played at the top level in other environments.

“We would like to think they’re going to bring a little bit of something different off the field as well and help that leadership team grow as well.

“We’ve been really pleased with what the new recruits have shown us so far and it would be great for them to really show what they can do in a Cardiff jersey come Saturday.”

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Munster have won the last six encounters against Cardiff, including two at the Arms Park. The Blue and Blacks last victory, the 37-13 victory at the Arms Park in September 2018.

But Young has been pleased with the progress made during pre-season and believes they can boot the disappointment of the 2021-22 campaign into touch.

He expects a full-blooded encounter and he is comfortable with the team’s preparations despite last weekend’s final pre-season friendly against Zebre Parma being cancelled following the passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

He continued: “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into pre season, trying new things, new combinations, but it’s always the telling time when you play the first game. And you’re not going to get a better fixture to get excited about than Munster at home.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve pushed them close a couple of times and not actually got on the right side of the result. So it would be fantastic really.

“I expect us to be hugely competitive against them and we’re at home and I’m confident we can get the result, as long as we play something like we can play.

“I’m confident that we’ll hit the ground running. Obviously in an ideal world we would have had a game last week against Zebra but we understand why that didn’t take place and we’re fully supportive of that. 

“We had a little bit of an opposed session because they’d been training at the Arms Park all week – using our weights in the tunnel, in the Matrix Shed and been out on the pitch.

“It just made a bit of sense. Although it was two separate training sessions, we did join up and had a few scrums against each other, a few line-outs and a couple of options really. 

“It was nowhere near a game or nothing that would even look like a game really but I’d like to think we got a bit out of it.

“It’s always a little bit different, the first game, because every team will be trying to change something they’ve done.

“Where Munster have caught us in the last couple of seasons, is I think we’ve matched them right across the field until they went to Plan B. Plan B is when they become very tight and set piece orientated.

“They pretty much ground us down in that area. So I think we’re expecting them to play a little bit more of an expansive game to start off with but if things are not going to plan for them they’ll always revert back to the set piece and a kick pressure game.

“What we can expect this season and what we’re hoping for, time will tell on that. But what we want is the consistency of performances which we shown against Leinster and Glasgow.

“That’s the type of performances we need on a consistent basis. What we don’t want to see is some of the poorer performances obviously.

“We had some real highs and we had some real low lows [in 21/22] so we’ve worked hard this pre season. We know we have to be better at set piece, we know that there’s no disguising that.

“We’ve worked hard on that and we know we have to be a bit more penetrative with the ball, we can’t play too laterally and we’ve worked on that. We know we have to be better in defence so to be quite honest I wasn’t happy with any areas last season and that’s not just myself – it’s myself, the coaching team and the players.

“We know that we didn’t perform anything like we wanted to last season. We haven’t forgot that but as far as we’re concerned we got a bit of a clean slate now and it’s how we start.” 

The visit of His Majesty King Charles III to Cardiff on Friday, has seen the fixture, which was originally scheduled for that evening, moved to Saturday evening. 

That change in schedule has also resulted in a rare Arms Park double header, with the Rags opening the day when they host Merthyr (KO 11.45am) before the first team take on the visitors from Ireland later in the day.

Young believes an opportunity to enjoy both of the capital club’s sides should produce a memorable afternoon at the Arms Park, with the stars of today and tomorrow on show.

The former prop explained: “I’d like to think it [the delay to the match] hasn’t had an effect on the squad. At the end of the day it’s a 15 hour delay. That’s all it is really.

“We’ll back our prep. We haven’t changed any of the preparations this week, and we’ll go into the game fully prepared, with no excuses.

“Everyone has seen that it was a new venture last season with Cardiff RFC being our second team, for want of the better word, and a real pathway for our junior players to come through from the academy to play men’s rugby.

“To play well in that environment with good seasoned semi pros will only add to their development and hopefully come to the next step, which is stepping into the Cardiff Rugby first team. 

“We’ve seen that the likes of Theo Cabango, Jacob Beetham and Mason Grady have obviously done it and the pathway is really working. 

“They had a fantastic season last season, winning the cup, and they’re hoping for a similar season again.

“It will be good for me to see them play as well because we don’t get much time to see each other play because of the schedule. I’m looking forward to that.

“The double-header will be a great occasion for all the Cardiff supporters to come down, support Cardiff RFC first and watch the first team after that.”

Tickets For Cardiff v Munster are available now by calling 029 20 302030 or clicking here. 

Content & Images from – Cardiff Rugby


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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago

News

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.”

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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock

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Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Swansea.com Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Swansea.com Stadium (live on ViaPlay and URC.tv).

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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