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.
Wales’s four major professional clubs have agreed to operate a salary cap from the start of next season despite seeing several leading players leave for lucrative deals with French teams.
With the energy, frequency and sheer number of matches in a competition like the Super 15, you almost never get a moment to sit down and reflect on issues, but I had to make the time to do just that. Continue reading