Connacht became the seventh team to claim the Guinness PRO12 title with a magnificent display at BT Murrayfield, beating Leinster 20-10 to complete a dream season
In front of a record crowd for a Guinness PRO12 Final of 34,550, Pat Lam’s team scored three tries on the biggest day in their 131-year history.
While they were nervy in the opening exchanges once they got their hands on the ball, Connacht dominated the opening 40 minutes.
Able to open up Leinster with alarming regularity, they scored two fantastic first-half tries, through Tiernan O’Halloran and Niyi Adeolokun to lead 15-0 at the break.
While Jonathan Sexton cut the deficit with a penalty early in the second half, Matt Healy’s try just before the hour stretched the lead out to 17.
That was cut to ten when Sean Cronin went over to set up a huge last ten minutes but there was to be no comeback as Connacht produced one final effort to see it out.
Glasgow Warriors flyhalf Finn Russell picked up a nasty injury very early on in the Warrior”s match against Connacht in Galway in the PRO12 semifinal on Saturday. He was involved in one of those ‘freak’ events when he and team mate Zander Ferguson ran into each other.
Current Scotland U20 tighthead prop Fagerson had to leave the field but was able to walk off although he didn’t return for the rest of the game.
For Finn Russell however the collision was more costly, as the medics rushed onto the field to treat the two it became clear that Finn had suffered a nasty injury to his face. Early on during the on-field assessment they had him standing up but then lay him on the ground. After what seemed like quite a while he was stretchered off to a sporting applause from concerned fans at the ground and taken to hospital.
Glasgow Warriors put out a short message on Sunday night confirming that Finn was still in hospital undergoing observation. Today the club put out a longer statement with the news that although he remained in hospital he didn’t require surgery and that he may be released later this week.
Connacht and Glasgow Warriors will be battling it out in today’s Guinness PRO12 semifinal in Galway for a place in the final against Leinster at Murrayfield next weekend. This after hosts Leinster pulled off a comfortable victory against Ulster last night in the first semifinal. The final score in that match was : Leinster 30 / 18 Ulster.
Connacht must surely be heading into today’s match in a very confident frame of mind as the last time they played Glasgow Warriors they ended up on the winning side with a 7 point margin of victory in a low scoring affair. That match took place 2 weeks ago in the last Round of the regular league stage and was also played at Connacht’s home ground in the picturesque Galway.
Today’s match should be played in far better conditions than the last one between these 2 teams and this could help Glasgow who like to play an attractive attacking brand of rugby. The only thing is that Connacht, under Pat Lam, have also developed into a slick unit who have the ability to run with the ball and offload smartly too and are at this stage possibly the more rounded team as they proved 2 weeks ago that they also have the ability to ‘win ugly’.
As the Guinness PRO12 clubs now turn their attention to Europe, Connacht moved to the Top of the table by recording a 5th consecutive league win for the 1st time since 2002 – beating Benetton Treviso 33 / 19 underneath the Friday night lights at the Sportsground.
Robbie Henshaw made his breakthrough at fullback and in his 1st game for Connacht since returning from the Rugby World Cup he was back in the No 15 shirt, dotting down for 1 of his side’s 3 tries as Matt Healy and Tom McCartney notched the others.
Jayden Hayward crossed twice for Treviso and Edoardo Gori grabbed another try at the death but the Italians still slipped to a 14th consecutive Guinness PRO12 defeat.
Former All Blacks star Mils Muliaina has appeared in a Welsh court to face accusations of sexually assaulting a woman.
Muliaina has been charged with 1 count of sexual assault, which the prosecution claims occurred in central Cardiff on 7 March.
Muliaina did not enter a plea at the court in Cardiff on Friday. The case will resume at Cardiff Crown Court on 7 September.
Former All Black fullback and Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina’s future hangs in the balance after he was arrested by the South Wales Police on suspicion of sexual assault.
Muliaina’s Irish club Connacht confirmed that the former All Black was assisting the Police with enquiries relating to an alleged incident in Cardiff in March of this year.
He was pictured on television being led away by police officers following his Irish club’s 14 / 7 loss at Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Friday.
Connacht and the Irish Rugby Football Union revealed that 25-year-old back Danie Poolman has signed a new deal that will keep him at the Sportsground until at least 2017.
Poolman joined Connacht in 2012 from South African franchise the Stormers and since then the former Paul Roos schoolboy from Pretoria has established himself as a key component in Connacht’s backline.
Poolman’s attacking prowess has come to the fore again this season with seven tries making him the province’s top try scorer so far this season.
The festive season continues with derby matches in Round 12 of the Guinness PRO12. Some of the matches are the return leg of derbies played around the Boxing Day period. The attention in Scotland will be focussed on BT Murrayfield on Friday night where Edinburgh will host their rivals from the west, Glasgow Warriors, in a PRO12 fixture that doubles up as the second leg of the 1872 Cup.
Glasgow Warriors go into the game with a 10-point advantage following their win over Edinburgh on Boxing Day and will be looking to retain what is said to be the oldest cup in club rugby, yet again. There was only 1 try scored in the first leg of the 1872 Cup last week and with blustery conditions likely for Friday night the game may be a low scoring battle of attrition that could go the way of the team that makes the least errors.
Considering the relative positions of the 2 teams on the PRO12 table and the fact that Glasgow go into the game with that 10- point cushion one should expect at the very least that they maintain their grip on the 1872 Cup.
Zane Kirchener’s late try at the RDS Arena made sure Leinster got revenge for their early season defeat to Connacht with a 21/11 win in the Guinness PRO12 last night.
Leinster – who were beaten 10-9 at the Sportsground on the opening day of the season – were in control from the off but struggled to kill off a spirited Connacht side who made the home team sweat.
The hosts went into the final stages ahead but a late try from George Naoupu moved the visitors to within three points, setting up a nervy finish.
But Kirchner showed quick thinking to steal in and dot down with moments left to ensure Leinster picked up their sixth win of the season.
This weekend sees action in Round 6 of the Guinness PRO12 and is the last round of action before a few weeks break as we head into the initial stages of the European Professional Rugby Cup competitions – with the Champion and Challenge Cup matches kicking off next weekend.
There has already been two Round 6 PRO12 matches this weekend (Friday night) while there will be a further three on Saturday and the last match of the Round is due to be played on Sunday.
Leinster’s indifferent start to the season continued as they slipped to a second loss of the campaign away at Connacht, going down 10-9.
The defending champions had led 9-3 at half-time thanks to three Ian Madigan penalties but Kieran Marmion’s solo try ensured Connacht – who had lost their previous 11 all-Ireland clashes – preserved their 100 per cent start to the season.
At the Liberty Stadium, Ospreys ran in nine tries against Edinburgh to consolidate their one point lead at the top of the table.
The third round of matches in the Guinness PRO12 take place this weekend with three matches scheduled for Friday night, two for Saturday and one for Sunday.
Welsh outfit the Ospreys, who are unbeaten in the PRO12 this season, will head into round 3 at the top of the table with nine points. The only two other unbeaten teams are Glasgow Warriors and Connacht who are in 2nd and 3rd position respectively. Ulster are the other team in the top 4, courtesy of a draw and a win in their first two fixtures and they are the only team who have two bonus points for scoring four tries or more. Ulster top the try scoring list at this early stage in the competition having scored nine tries in their two matches. However, they have conceded the most tries, a handful, of the teams in the top four.
Connacht continued their winning start to the season with another tight triumph, this time a 14-13 victory over Edinburgh Rugby thanks to Willy Faloon’s last-gasp try.
Tom Heathcote’s boot and a try from Cornell du Preez gave Edinburgh a 13-6 lead at half time; Connacht’s points coming from two Darragh Leader penalties.
Faloon was sent to the sin bin with 16 minutes left on the clock, but returned to touch down the winning try in the dying minutes.
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.
Former Scotland international flyhalf Dan Parks has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby after retiring from international rugby in 2012.
Australian born Parks played for Scotland over an eight year period in which he won 67 caps.
The Irish Rugby Football Union, Connacht and Leinster have agreed a loan deal that will see two high-profile players swap provinces.
Scrumhalf John Cooney and lock Quinn Roux will play at Connacht next season.
Roux will move to Connacht on an initial deal until December 31 and will link up with coach Pat Lam’s squad next month for the beginning of the pre-season period.
Meanwhile, Cooney, whose terms have been agreed for the full 2014/15 season, will continue his shoulder rehab with Leinster during the off-season before departing for Galway.
Glasgow’s Jonny Gray was named ‘Young Player of the Year’ at the RaboDirect PRO12 Awards evening in the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.
Jonny Gray picked up the award after not only breaking into and starting in the Glasgow side, but also into the Scottish national team.
He beat Leinster centre Noel Reid to the title and follows in the footsteps of Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) and Luke Marshall (Ulster Rugby) as the RaboDirect PRO12 ‘Young Player of the Year’.
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 Rhino Collision Kings Award is awarded each year to the team in the RaboDirect PRO12 which has shown most improvement at the breakdown throughout the regular season.
The trophy is a replica of the groundbreaking Collision King machine invented by Richie Gray, Rhino skills consultant and brand ambassador who was recently appointed breakdown coach to the Springboks through to next year’s World Cup.
The selection panel for the Award is chaired by Galashiels-based Gray, who in addition to other duties has been a BBC Radio Scotland commentator throughout much of the PRO12 season.
Former All Black stalwart Mils Muliaina has signed for Connacht for next season, the Irish province announced on Monday.
The 33-year-old fullback, capped 100 times by New Zealand, has signed a one-year contract with the Irish club to become the first ever All Black to play with Connacht.
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 .
Tom McCartney has decided to swap Super Rugby for the Pro12 by signing a three-year contract with Irish side Connacht.
McCartney has been a consistent performer for the Blues since he made his Super Rugby debut in 2008 against the Chiefs.
He has since accumulated 64 appearances in the competition.
Connacht captured a major overseas signing for the 2014 / 2015 season to further strengthen the midfield.
New Zealand-born centre Bundee Aki, 24, a member of the two-time defending Super Rugby champion Chiefs, has signed a three-year deal with the Irish province, Connacht, and the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Connacht Loosehead prop Brett Wilkinson has been forced into retirement due to a serious neck injury sustained in the last game he played for the club.
The 30-year-old South African has been with Connacht since 2006 and has played 183 times for the province.
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.
Winger Lee Jones has been added to the Glasgow Warriors squad for the forthcoming RaboDirect PRO12 matches, to provide injury cover until the end of the season.
The 25-year-old returns from Scotland 7s duty in New Zealand following his agreed loan from Edinburgh Rugby and will be available for this Sunday’s game against Connacht at Scotstoun Stadium.
Edinburgh loose forward Cornell du Preez and Connacht duo Kieran Marmion and Nathan White have been cited after the weekend’s final round of the European Cup pool stages.
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.
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.
Saracens survived a scare but held on to beat Connacht 17-23 in the Heineken Cup at the Sportsground in Galway on Friday.
Connacht, coached by former Samoa No 8 Pat Lam – a European Cup winner with Northampton in 2000, held Saracens at 17-17 at half-time.