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markanscombe

Mark Anscombe

UlsterThe niceties dictate that the phrase ‘parted company’ is employed but effectively Ulster have sacked Mark Anscombe. The New Zealander did not know what was in the offing over the weekend and only learned of his fate yesterday.

Ireland’s defence coach Les Kiss will combine those duties with the responsibility of those as interim head coach for the province. There is no time limit placed on his dual remit.

Ulster rugby released a statement yesterday afternoon. It read: “Following the departure of director of rugby, David Humphreys, Ulster Rugby has today announced that head coach, Mark Anscombe, is to leave the province with immediate effect.”

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011We 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.

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jonnygrayGlasgow’s Jonny Gray was named ‘Young Player of the Year’ at the RaboDirect PRO12 Awards evening in the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

Jonny Gray picked up the award after not only breaking into and starting in the Glasgow side, but also into the Scottish national team.

He beat Leinster centre Noel Reid to the title and follows in the footsteps of Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) and Luke Marshall (Ulster Rugby) as the RaboDirect PRO12 ‘Young Player of the Year’.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011Round 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.

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UlsterIan HumphreysIan Humphreys is back at Ulster after the fly-half left London Irish to sign a two-year deal with his home province.

The 32-year-old former Leicester Tigers player moved from Ulster to the Exiles in 2012.

“I have loved my time at London Irish but when the unexpected opportunity to come home arose, it was a very easy decision to make,” said Humphreys. ” It’s exciting to be part of a squad that’s challenging in Europe and is at the top of the Pro12 every year.”

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011The 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 .

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EdinburghBreslerDie Skotse rugbyklub Edinburgh se Suid-Afrikaanse spens raak al hoe voller. ’n Amptelike aankondiging word eers later verwag, maar Alan Solomons (afrigter) het glo ’n sewende Suid-Afrikaner na Edinburgh gelok.

Die slot van die Haaie, Anton Bresler, sal hom glo ná die Super Rugby-reeks by Edinburgh aansluit. Bresler kan hom as plaasvervanger vir die oud-Cheetahs slot, Izak van der Westhuizen, wat op pad terug na Suid-Afrika is, daar aanmeld.

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Heineken CupThe 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.

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MathewReesInspirational hooker Matthew Rees admitted he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the support from the rugby world as he made his comeback in the stunning victory over Ulster Rugby.

The front row ace came on as a second half replacement to a thundering standing ovation from the Arms Park faithful as Blues shocked high-flying Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011With 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011After 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.

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Heineken CupAmlin Challenge CupRound 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011The 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011The 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011Round 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011The 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.

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RaboDirect PRO12 balls 5/8/2011As 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.

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glasgowrugbyStuart Hogg, Ryan Grant, DTH van der Merwe and Josh Strauss all return to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up for the game against Ulster at Ravenhill tonight, Friday 13 Septemeber, kick-off 8.05pm South African Time.

Gregor Townsend’s squad kicked off their new season with a 22-15 win over Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun Stadium last Friday and now face last season’s RaboDirect PRO12 finalists in Belfast. The Warriors were the last Scottish team to win at Ravenhill back in December 2009.

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