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.
As the Pro12 enters Round Four, Glasgow Warriors – the last remaining team with a 100 percent winning record – are in action in Parma on Friday night when they face Zebre.
Having waited so long for their first win in the competition, the Italian outfit will have their work cut out to make it back-to-back victories as table-topping Warriors have already defeated champions Leinster and last season’s runners up Ulster so far this season.
The RaboDirect PRO12 is back and so is our weekly PRO12 preview, which takes the spotlight off the capital club and pans across the division.
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.
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.
Round 17 of the Pro12 kicks off with five games on Friday, with both contenders for the top spot in action.
Leaders Ulster, who have been at the top since round five, welcome Benetton Treviso to Ravenhill whilst Glasgow Warriors host Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun.
Connacht and Leinster have become embroiled in angry exchanges following Ireland lock Mike McCarthy’s decision to move to the Heineken Cup champions.
Two-time defending European Cup champions Leinster host Clermont in the fourth round of the competition this weekend in the knowledge that they will have to dig deep for a “vital” bonus-point victory.
The fifth round of the RaboDirect Pro12 started with four matches on Friday night and the remaining two fixtures in the round being played on Saturday. This round yielded numerous surprise results, so much so that we only managed to correctly predict one out of the six results.
As Round Four of the PRO12 opens, a Welsh Region still tops the table, however it is not last season’s winners, Ospreys, but their opponents on Friday night, Scarlets, setting the pace.
The second round of the RaboDirect Pro12 competition is scheduled for this weekend. Four of the games will be played on Friday night with the remaining two games taking place on Saturday.