Llanelli Scarlets host Glasgow Warriors tonight in a European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 match.
The teams met for the first of their two games in the round robin stage of Europe’s top rugby competition last week at Glasgow’s home ground, Scotstoun Stadium. Glasgow won that match comprehensively with a final score of 43/6 in their favour, picking up a bonus point in the process. The big Fijian Australian winger Taqele Naiyaravoro was in devastating form arguably putting in the performance of the weekend in scoring a hat trick of tries and having one dot down perhaps harshly ruled not a try.
The Scarlets had many players missing last week due to injury and with various of these players returning today it should be a much closer affair at their home ground, while the fact that it could be a very damp day could also help as a leveller.
Today’s game will be the 100th game for Gregor Townsend as head coach of Glasgow Warriors and also coincidently the Warriors’ 100th game in European Rugby competitions. To commemorate the milestone of Gregor Townsend (Toony) a big Glasgow Warriors fan has been running a series of articles this week with all sorts of detail about the club. This Spreadsheet Warrior is a very gifted numbers analyst who highlights all sorts of interesting facts about Glasgow Warriors and it is always very interesting to read the latest offerings on the blog. Some of the analysis this week goes into such minute detail which is great especially for the dedicated Warriors fan and highlights just how well Gregor Townsend has done with the Warriors. We bring you the final part of the “Tribute to Toony”.
Gregor Townsend has named the same starting XV to face the Scarlets tomorrow, which would have taken to the pitch last weekend against Leinster.
The Guinness PRO12 encounter last Saturday was postponed due to the adverse weather conditions in Glasgow.
The only change to the matchday 23 is amongst the replacements, with scrum-half Grayson Hart coming in for Ali Price.
BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 hooker James Malcolm will therefore make his first start for the club, after featuring twice off the bench last month against Cardiff Blues and Benetton Treviso.
Fijian second-row Leone Nakarawa will make his 50th appearance for the Warriors, after being voted the McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month for November.
South African lock, George Earle, has extended his contract with the Scarlets after joining the region from the Cheetahs in 2012.
An experienced player, Earle played previously with the Golden Lions, Western Province, Boland and the Griquas in the Currie Cup.
The lock will become Welsh-qualified in June after being with the Scarlets for 3 years.
Earle was attracted to playing rugby in Wales because of the Welsh style of play, making his Scarlets debut in a pre-season friendly against Narbonne in August 2012.
Aviva Premiership Rugby club Bath have signed Welsh international flyhalf Rhys Priestland from the 2015 / 2016 Premiership season from Welsh side the Scarlets.
Twenty-seven-year-old Priestland is closing in on 150 appearances for the Scarlets for whom he has scored over 1000 points.
Priestland, who has 32 caps for his country, burst onto the international scene in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where he steered Wales to their first semi-final since 1987.
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.
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.
The case involving Liam Williams, the Scarlets full back, was considered today by an independent Guinness PRO12 Disciplinary Committee.
Williams had been dismissed with a red card (after having received two yellow cards) in the Guinness PRO12 match between Scarlets and Ulster at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday, 6 September 2014.
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.
Wales prop Samson Lee has been banned for five weeks for a headbutt on Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe.
The incident occurred in the 55th minute of the second Test between Wales and South Africa in Nelspruit last Saturday.
South Africa won the match 31-30.
Auckland coach Wayne Pivac has become the latest in a growing number of New Zealamd mentors who are heading to Europe.
The Scarlets announced that Pivac will join them as an assistant coach at Parc y Scarlets next season, to further strengthen the set-up in West Wales.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wales and Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies has signed a two-year contract with Clermont, the French Top 14 club announced on Tuesday.
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.
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.
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.
With just four points separating the top three teams who have already qualified for the Pro12 play-offs, no-one can yet be certain of their position in the table.
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.
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 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.
This weekend sees the fifth round of the 2012/13 Pro12 competition, with four games taking place on Friday night and the remaining two fixtures in the round scheduled for Saturday.
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.
After just two rounds there are only three teams left with 100 percent winning records in the Pro12, namely, Munster, Scarlets and Ulster. One of those will go this weekend, as Ulster host Munster at Ravenhill on Friday. Whilst Munster have the better record in this fixture, Ulster have had the better of their opponents at home, so it really is anyone’s game.
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.
Various pre-season friendly matches have taken place this weekend, ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect Pro12 competitions. Furthemore, there has been news of player injuries as well as some player transfer news.
Cheetahs lock George Earle will head to the Scarlets in July in the hope of representing Wales at the 2015 World Cup.