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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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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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