We have reached the knockout stage of the 2013 / 2014 RaboDirect PRO12 season with the semi-finals to be played this weekend. The first game takes place in Glasgow tonight (Friday) and will see Glasgow Warriors, who finished in second spot on the log host third placed Munster. This is the first time that Glasgow Warriors have hosted a semi-final game in the PRO12.
The second game, to be played tomorrow (Saturday) will be an all Ireland affair with first placed Leinster hosting fourth placed Ulster. Johan Muller, in his last season at the club, will be captaining Ulster and will be hoping for a win to make it one more game before the curtain falls on what has been a very good time for him at the Belfast club.
Crusaders and Canterbury flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal has become the latest high-profile New Zealand player to head abroad to continue his career.
He announced he will move to Ireland to play for the Munster at the end of this 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.
Tom Court, the Ulster prop forward, appeared today before an independent PRO12 Disciplinary Committee in Neath, South Wales, having been dismissed with a Red Card in the RaboDirect PRO12 match between Ulster and Leinster at Ravenhill on Friday 2 May 2014.
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 .
Reigning champions Toulon will have a shot at becoming only the third team in Heineken Cup history to defend their title after they overcame Munster 24-16 in the second semi-final at Stade Velodrome, Marseille.
The only try of the game may have come in the second half from Munster wing Simon Zebo, but Toulon were never behind in a game which saw Jonny Wilkinson end with 21 points and Delon Armitage smash over a 55 metre penalty.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said “it does not really matter” who they face in the Heineken Cup final after a record-breaking win against Clermont Auvergne.
They set new semi-final marks for most points scored (46), most tries scored (six) and biggest winning margin (40), as they romped home 46-6 on Saturday.
The European Cup draws towards the Final with two french giants battling against the cream of the Irish and English leagues in the semifinals.
Reigning European Cup champions, Toulon, are aiming for a fourth European final in five seasons.
And although they are on the opposite side of the semifinal draw from French compatriots Clermont, successes for both of these teams could see a repeat of last years Final.
Last year’s Final saw Toulon just pip Clermont by a solitary point.
James Coughlan, who captained Munster to their 5-22 defeat at the hands of Glasgow Warriors last Saturday, was left infuriated by the display.
Munster’s shock defeat is their first at home in the competition and comes after a quarterfinal victory in the European Cup against Toulouse.
The tug of war regarding the premier club competition in European rugby has been conducted very publicly for a long time and a week ago it was reported that an announcement on the structure of future competitions was imminent. However, it all seems to have gone quiet and no final announcement has been forthcoming.
There are rumours that the Italian clubs and their representative bodies were needing to discuss a few details of what should otherwise be a done deal. Furthermore there is the question of the broadcasting battle between Sky and BT Sport which is apparently in the process of being sorted out with a joint broadcast agreement likely for next season. The final rumour is that the parties involved may not have wanted to make any announcements this week in the lead up to the quarter finals of the current Heineken Cup competition.
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.
Former Bulls flank CJ Stander has committed to a long-term goal of playing Test rugby for Ireland by signing a two-year contract extension with Munster that will see them stay with the province until June 2016.
Stander joined Munster in October 2012 from Super Rugby side the Bulls and made his debut as a substitute against Scarlets that November at Musgrave Park.
Sometimes it seems you have only to say things are going better for events to make you look a fool. Last Saturday I wrote that Edinburgh’s coaches had successfully tightened up their defence, and then their team concedes six tries to Munster.
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.
Round 6 of the European Cup, which includes the Heineken Cup (Premier Competition) and Amlin Challenge Cup (secondary Qualification Competition) happened this past weekend and there was high drama and lots of action!
Sunday evening the full puzzle of who plays where in the Play-Off’s of both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge cup was revealed.
In the Heineken Cup, Ulster will host Saracens, ASM Clermont Auvergne will host Leicester Tigers, whilst the defending champions Toulon will host Leinster and Munster will host Toulouse at Thomond Park. The Quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of 4 to 6 April.
In the Amlin Challenge Cup Northampton Saints, Harlequins and Gloucester have booked their spots in the Quarter-finals along with the amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners Bath, London Wasps, Stade Francais, Sale Sharks and Brive.
Bath will host Brive, London Wasps will host Gloucester, Stade Francais host Harlequins and Sale Sharks will host Northampton Saints.
The race to these Cup winners will be interrupted by the Six Nations tournament, which takes place from 1 February 2014.
If the qualification picture for the European Cup quarterfinals is now significantly clearer following last weekend’s Round Five games, the closing series of pool matches in Europe’s premier club tournament retains its customary intrigue.
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.
Perpignan (9) 17 / 18 (3) Munster (Final Score)
Perpicnan and Munster did battle in the Heineken Cup at
Stade Aime Giral at 17:40 SA Time (15:40 GMT, 16:40 France Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & CSN on TV in SA.
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.
RaboDirect PRO12 log leaders Glasgow Warriors face second-placed Munster in a tantalising top-of-the-table clash at Scotstoun on Friday.
As the competition gets back into full swing with Round Six this weekend after a successful European double header, it’s clear that the Pro12 is going from strength to strength.
Perpignan’s strong second-half showing overwhelmed Heineken Cup opponents Edinburgh at Stade Aimé Giral. Tim Visser’s converted try helped the visitors into a deserved 7-3 lead at the interval. But they were undone by two tries early in the second half as Joffrey Michel and Wandile Mjekevu crossed.
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.
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.
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.
Two of the Stormers regular wings of the last few seasons have confirmed their moves to go play overseas. They are Bryan Habana, who will move to Toulon and Gerhard van den Heever (Shadow), who will be playing for Munster.
The draw for the pools for the group stage of the 2013/14 Heineken Cup took place on Wednesday. Reigning champions Toulon will be in Pool Two along with RaboDirect Pro12 semifinalists Glasgow Warriors, as well as Cardiff Blues and Exeter.
English champions Leicester are in Pool Five with Ulster and Montpellier.
Munster have announced that current squad captain Doug Howlett will retire from professional rugby at the end of this season.
Favourites Clermont qualified for their first ever European Cup Final after ousting twice former winners Munster 16-10 in a bruising semifinal at Montpellier on Saturday.
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.