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Young wants Cardiff to take another step forward against Bulls

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Dai Young has challenged Cardiff to take another step forward when they face Vodacom Bulls on Saturday night (18:00 GMT).

The Blue and Blacks go into the encounter on the back of an impressive 35-0 victory over Cell C Sharks in Durban – the first time a Welsh team had secured a BKT United Rugby Championship triumph in South Africa and the first time the Sharks or any of their predecessors at Kings Park had been nilled since 1972. 

Young hopes his players will be brimming with confidence when they run out at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and he has challenged them to deliver a consistent level of performance as they continue their progression. 

He said: “You like to think you are going to grow in confidence and belief after good performances in exactly the same way as bad performances can draw that out. 

“I thought we played really well and you can’t take that away from the players – they did an excellent job and tactically we played the conditions really well. 

“We went into the game knowing the first 25 minutes was huge and whatever team got a lead in those conditions, it was always going to be hard for the other team to turn that around. 

“But we are not going to get ahead of ourselves. It was a great performance but one that is gone now and history. Hopefully we can take some confidence and belief out of it but we know we have another massive challenge on the weekend.”

While Cardiff have now notched up victories over the Sharks and reigning URC champions the DHL Stormers in the current campaign, their Arms Park defeat to the Bulls last season remains vivid. 

Young recalls the Pretoria-based outfit as the biggest side he has ever encountered and indeed they are currently second in the URC stats for metre gained, clean breaks and point scored. That points to the Bulls balance between size and attacking prowess and Young knows his side will need to be even better this weekend. 

He continued: “I’m sure there are a few more bumps in the road but we will take that performance and it should give us a lot of belief and confidence. The realism kicks in now and we know what a formidable outfit the Bulls are. 

“They are probably in a better position than the Sharks at the moment so we know we have to be better again to get anywhere near them.

“They don’t hide the way they want to play. Most South African teams play a very similar way. They have huge physicality up front and I remember playing them at the Arms Park where it was definitely the biggest pack of forwards I’ve ever come across. They were just huge.

“They also have real pace behind. They are comfortable moving the ball and playing from deep and they are comfortable sitting behind the ball. 

“If you look back to our game at the Arms Park we had a really good first half against them, caused lots of pressure and got ourselves in a decent position but in the second half they just shut the game down. They went to their scrum and driving line out, forced penalties, won field position and just out powered us. 

“We know they can play both ways and we have to bring the performance from the weekend. The target for us as a team is to consistently put these kind of performances in and if they are enough on the day great and if we’re not, we’re not. 

“I don’t want to get involved in this emotional rollercoaster that if you lose you’re really down and if you win you’re really up. Every game has to be about individual and collective improvement and that’s what we have talked about this week.”

Content & Images from – Cardiff Rugby


Champions Cup

Academy Trio Stepping Up & Contract News

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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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URC

Squad Update Ahead Of Zebre At Virgin Media Park

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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

Tickets

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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URC

Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago

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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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