The second round of matches in the Guinness PRO12 take place this weekend with four matches scheduled for Friday night, one for Saturday and one for Sunday.
Both matches involving teams from Scotland will be played on modern artificial pitches. In the first match, tonight, Edinburgh Rugby will play host to Connacht Rugby at BT Murrayfield in what will be the first match on the newly laid hybrid pitch at the National Stadium. The final fixture of the weekend will see a top four clash between Cardiff Blues and Glasgow Warriors on the 3G pitch at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
Reigning champions Leinster were toppled by beaten finalists Glasgow Warriors at Scostoun, with Stuart Hogg slotting over the winning penalty with the last kick of the game.
Warriors stormed to a 19-0 lead with tries from Peter Horne, Josh Strauss and Jonny Gray, but then Leinster staged a late revival.
Jack McGrath and Tom Denton found their way over the whitewash to put the Irish province into the lead for the first time, but ill-discipline in the dying minutes led to Hogg’s successful penalty.
With the new Guinness PRO12 season kicking off this weekend on Friday, we take a look at the prospects of each of the 12 clubs. The competition is between clubs from Ireland, Italy, Wales and Scotland. Ireland and Wales have four clubs / regions/provinces in the Guinness PRO12, while Italy and Scotland both provide two teams each to complete the twelve team line-up.
With Welsh Rugby getting ready for the competitive part of the 2014/15 season, which starts on Friday, we have a look at the big name moves, including the ins and outs at the four Welsh regions and a look at some of the player and coach movements outside the country.
Adam Jones became the biggest Welsh rugby headline-stealer with his shock signing for Cardiff Blues after being an Osprey since 2003.
But the British and Irish Lions prop’s switch after season-long speculation was not the only move to make fans sit up and take notice.
Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.
Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.
“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10’s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.
Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby side, the Chiefs.
Anscombe, who can play flyhalf or fullback, will make the move to Cardiff Arms Park later this year and join the exciting new-look squad under the guidance of new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, Cardiff wrote on their official website.
Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is poised to leave New Zealand to take up a contract in Wales with the Cardiff Blues.
Rumours that the 23-year-old would move to Wales, for whom he qualifies through his Cardiff-born mother, have been circulating since April.
The move now looks certain following reports that he had thanked colleagues and supporters at a Chiefs dinner in Hamilton ahead of his departure. Anscombe, who can play both fly-half and full-back, is expected to join the Pro12 side – where he will link up with former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett – as soon as he has completed his commitments with the Chiefs, who play the Brumbies in Saturday’s Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.
The son of ex-Ulster boss Mark Anscombe, the player has already met with Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland and reports in the Welsh press suggest he could be fast-tracked into the national setup in time for the November Tests. Although he has signed with Auckland for the NPC, Anscombe is understood to have an out-clause allowing him to go to Wales.
Wales centre Owen Williams suffered a potential career-ending injury at the weekend.
The player’s club, the Cardiff Blues have confirmed, and the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed that Williams has “significant” neck and spinal injuries – sustained during the inaugural World Club 10s in Singapore.
Williams was hurt on Sunday, while playing for the Blues in a third-place play-off match, but the club waited until Wednesday to confirm his injuries.
Cardiff Blues have appointed former New Zealand international hooker, Mark Hammett, as their Director Of Rugby.
The 41-year-old, currently head coach of the Hurricanes, replaces Phil Davies, who left the post in March.
Hammett has agreed a three-year deal and will join up with Cardiff at the end of the Super Rugby season.
Round 22 of the Pro12 promises to be a fitting finale to the regular season, with Play-Off spots and European qualification still to be settled.
As with previous seasons all 6 games will kick off simultaneously to add to the excitement and give no advantage to any team.
At the top of the table 3 teams are still in contention for the 2 home Play-Off spots and European qualification still to be settled.
The May Day weekend should provide the most intense scrutiny of the RaboDirect PRO12 table to date.
The opening fixture between Zebre and Ospreys could go a long way to answering some of the questions – a loss for the hosts would put Treviso in the driving seat for the Italian spot in next season’s European competition, whilst a loss for the visitors Ospreys, without picking up any league points, would take away their mathematical chances of making the Play-Offs .
Cardiff Blues revealed a major coup in the signing of New Zealand international forward Jarrad Hoeata, from Super Rugby outfit the Highlanders.
Hoeata, who can play second row or back row, will move to the Arms Park at the completion of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
The Tauranga-born ace has been a member of the All Blacks, Maori and All Blacks Sevens teams.
Inspirational hooker Matthew Rees admitted he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the support from the rugby world as he made his comeback in the stunning victory over Ulster Rugby.
The front row ace came on as a second half replacement to a thundering standing ovation from the Arms Park faithful as Blues shocked high-flying Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Caretaker coach Dale McIntosh says the return to the Cardiff Blues side of hooker Matthew Rees helped inspire their 28-23 Pro12 win over Ulster.
Wales and British and Irish Lions hooker Rees, 33, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2013. But he has undergone successful treatment and was named on the bench.
With the Six Nations over the club tournament of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy takes centre stage once again as round 17 kicks off this Friday.
Having led Leinster to the Pro12 title last season, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt took the 6 Nations crown at the first time of asking in a tense finish to the Championship last weekend. Following on Ireland’s success it is perhaps appropriate that as the Pro12 returns to centre stage three of the top four teams are Irish Provinces.
After a round of games played in dreadful conditions during which yet another fixture fell foul of the weather, players and spectators alike must be hoping that Round 14 of the Pro12 fares better.
The round kicks off with two games in the Irish capitals on Friday night, one in Belfast and one in Dublin, both featuring Welsh opposition.
After just over a month out of the limelight, the focus returns once more to the Pro12 and the first of four successive rounds that could have a huge impact on the outcome of this season’s tournament.
Toulon (15) 43 / 20 (13) Cardiff Blues (Final Score)
Toulon and the Cardiff Blues did battle in the Heineken Cup at
Allianz Riviera at 17:40 SA Time (15:40 GMT, 16:40 Fra Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & SHD on TV in SA.
It is crunch time in Europe’s premier club tournament, as we enter Round Five of the Euro Cup. The build-up this week may have shone the spotlight on the heavyweight Anglo-French clashes – between Toulouse and Saracens, and Harlequins and ASM Clermont Auvergne – but two other French giants will also be in crucial matches. Defending European champions Toulon host Cardiff Blues in Nice on Saturday, while French champions Castres are at home to Leinster on Sunday.
The festive fixtures continue as return local derbies were scheduled to take place in Scotland, Wales and Italy during the Pro12’s Round 12.
Wales and Scotland were set to start the New Year with a game on New Year’s Day, as Cardiff Blues hosted Newport Gwent Dragons and after the Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland, Glasgow Warriors welcomed Edinburgh to Scotstoun. However, the game in Glasgow was called off less than an hour before kick off due to the field being waterlogged.
Cardiff Blues have been accused of not making an official approach for Pontypridd head coach Dale McIntosh and captain Chris Dicomidis. Stephen Reardon, Pontypridd’s chief executive officer, made the allegations on the club website.
Welsh rugby seems set to reach a new crisis point next week as the four regions are not expected to sign a new participation agreement. The Welsh Rugby Union had set a deadline of 31 December to sign a new agreement, replacing the current five-year deal that expires in June 2014.
The traditional festive season local derbies are set to take centre stage as the Pro12 Round 11 provides an exciting escape from turkey and TV. The games in Scotland and Wales take place on Boxing Day, whilst Ireland foregoes St Stephens’ Day games and sticks to the traditional Friday and Saturday slots.
The focus returns once again to the PRO12 after two weeks of European competition, with Irish Provinces topping three of the six European Cup Pools.
Round Eight of the Pro12 kicks off on Friday night with both Scottish teams in action – early season leaders Glasgow Warriors welcoming Newport Gwent Dragons to Scotstoun, whilst Edinburgh travel to Belfast to face Ulster.
The top-of-the-table clash at Thomond Park between Munster and Ospreys on Saturday headlines Round Seven of the Pro12. Munster currently lead the pack thanks to winning one more game than Ospreys, but Ospreys have garnered more bonus points in the six rounds than their hosts, so the scene is set for an epic battle.
The first round of Heineken Cup 2013/14 matches kick off this weekend in what may be the very last tournament with the European premier club rugby competition going through a much publicised meltdown.
Edinburgh Rugby will welcome the return of captain Greig Laidlaw this Sunday as they look to repeat last season’s away success against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park (6 October, kick-off 3.05pm South African Time). The 27-year-old scrum-half – who kicked the winning drop-goal on that day last year – has recovered from the knee injury that has kept him side-lined since the summer to make his first competitive outing of the season.
Leinster and Munster will look to solidify themselves as early pace-setters in Round Two of the Pro12 this weekend. These two teams were the only sides who collected maximum points from their first-round Pro12 games, between them running in ten of the 22 tries that were scored last weekend.
Ahead of the start of the RaboDirect PRO12 season on September 6, we preview the fortunes of each side.
The new season of RaboDirect PRO12 rugby is nearly upon us and despite seeing several top players leave the league and opt to take up a contract in the Top 14, the 12 sides in the Celtic competition have had a busy summer as they look to bolster their resources. Several top internationals have decided to give the PRO12 a shot and we have picked out a selection of eye-catching transfers in the latest Scrum Sevens.
Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton will miss the next four month of rugby because of his left hamstring injury.
The RaboDirect PRO12 is in line to record its best ever attendances since the competition changed to a home and away format ten seasons ago.
With a pause in the international matches, the Pro12 takes centre stage again this weekend with games in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
First up on Friday night table toppers Ulster welcome Zebre to Ravenhill. The leaders will be keen to get back to their winning ways having suffered only their second defeat in this season’s campaign at the hands of Ospreys last week.
A Welsh rugby star has had to pull out of an important match in France after his puppy chewed up his passport. Jason Tovey, 23, was all packed and ready to go to the airport to fly to Toulon to play for Cardiff Blues when he found his ruined passport. He said he was dreading telling his coach that he could not play in the Heineken Cup game on Saturday.