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.
New Ospreys lock De Kock Steenkamp is keen to nail his colours to the mast and break into the Welsh national team.
The deal for the South African-born star was approved by Wales Rugby Union and covers the three years it would take for him to achieve qualification through residency.
And Steenkamp admits he would relish the chance to represent the Red Dragons once he has established himself in the Guinness PRO12.
“I’d be delighted,” he said. “As far as I know, the only foreigners that can come to Wales must be eligible to play for Wales in three years’ time, so that’s why the contract is for three years.”
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.
Welsh club Ospreys have confirmed that they have signed Stormers lock De Kock Steenkamp on a three-year contract, despite the player having one more year on his contract in the Cape.
Steenkamp, 27, secured an early release from his Stormers contract and will join the PRO12 club after representing the Stormers on 49 occasions in Super Rugby and playing 59 games for the Western Province in the Currie Cup.
“Joining the Ospreys is a great opportunity for me and a challenge that I can’t wait to get stuck into,” said Steenkamp in a statement on Ospreys’ official website.
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.
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.
Wing Hanno Dirksen has signed a new three-year Ospreys contract keeping him at the Liberty Stadium until the end of the 2016-17 season.
He has been signed up ahead of the region’s final RaboDirect Pro12 clash of the season with Connacht on Saturday. Dirksen, 23, is the 13th player to re-commit to the region along with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Baker.
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 .
Ospreys have signed South African second row Rynier Bernardo on a three-year deal.
The Ospreys have turned to the 22-year-old because their British and Irish Lions lock Ian Evans is leaving for French side Toulon in the summer.
Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric is a doubt for Wales’ summer tour of South Africa, says coach Warren Gatland.
The British and Irish Lions flanker has a shoulder problem and there is a possibility he will miss the tour to have an operation.
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.
Edinburgh Rugby won the tightest of contests against the Ospreys 31-25 with the decisive contributions coming from Carl Bezuidenhout and Grayson Hart in their match in round sixteen of the RaboDirect PRO12 last night at Meggetland, Edinburgh’s temporary new home ground.
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.
Ryan Jones has been ruled out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign because of a hamstring injury. The 32-year-old back-row forward led Wales in three of their matches in the 2013 tournament as they retained the Championship title.
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.
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.
Wales and British and Irish Lions hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest player to leave Wales after signing for Gloucester.
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.
Edinburgh hooker Aleki Lutui has been given a two-week suspension for a reckless tackle on Tom Smith during Saturday’s 44-10 defeat at Ospreys.
Lutui was cited after appearing to catch Smith near the face with a swinging arm as he was brought down at a ruck.
Edinburgh Rugby front-row forwards Geoff Cross and Aleki Lutui will start their first match of the season against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium this Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm South African Time)
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.
A man who has steered his club to the most league titles in Celtic rugby has today been appointed to the position of Scotland forwards coach.
Jonathan Humphreys, the former Welsh hooker and captain, will join the Scotland management ahead of the quadrangular tournament with Samoa, South Africa and Italy in June. He will be on a two year contract.
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.
It was all change yet again at the top of the Pro12 table following Round 20, with Ulster retaking the top position, whilst Glasgow Warriors slipped to third.
And with just two rounds left, and a maximum of 10 points on offer, five teams are still vying for the four play-off places.
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.
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.
Despite their loss to Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday, Ulster remain clear at the top of the Pro12 table as we start the New Year.
Ulster have a nine-point lead over second placed Scarlets, who they welcome to Ravenhill on Friday.
The focus turns once again to the Pro12 this weekend, with Ulster leading the table courtesy of their unbeaten run so far this season. They travel to Rodney Parade on Friday night to face a Newport Gwent Dragons team who are uncomfortably sat at the wrong end of the table, although at this stage in the season there are only 5 points, or a try bonus point win, between the Men from Gwent and 5th placed Munster.
In what will be the final round of Pro12 games before the start of the European competitions, Ulster sit one point clear at the top of the table with a game in hand over their rivals. They welcome Connacht to Ravenhill on Friday night, a place where the visitors have never won in this tournament.