The Board of the Guinness PRO14 has completed a significant strategic partnership investment from CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (“CVC Fund VII”) that will allow the league to work towards its full potential – for the benefit of fans, players, clubs and unions in these key rugby nations over the years ahead.
 
Under this agreement, CVC Fund VII will acquire a 28 per cent share of PRO14 Rugby from Celtic Rugby DAC, the Unions will retain the 72 per cent majority share.
 
The partnership commitment will allow both PRO14 Rugby and the Irish, Italian, Scottish & Welsh rugby unions to continue to invest in the sport, both professional and amateur, to achieve its potential over the long term.
 
A portion of the investment will also be held centrally at PRO14 Rugby, for the Board to invest in further capabilities for the business and in upgrading league operations in line with its growth ambitions.
 
As part of this agreement, the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), will also become a member of Celtic Rugby DAC, and receive a share of the investment.
 
Martin Anayi, CEO, will continue to lead the management team at PRO14 Rugby, working closely with CVC and the unions on execution of the commercial plan. The unions will also remain independently responsible for the sporting and regulatory elements of the league, via the Sporting & Regulatory Committee.
 
In the past four years, the Guinness PRO14 has performed well both on and off the field; doubling distributions to clubs and facilitating record investment back into the sport from the league. This has been recognised by CVC, who share PRO14 Rugby’s vision for the long-term potential of the league.
CVC was selected by PRO14 Rugby and the unions as their partner due to the extensive experience of prior CVC funds investing in multiple sports businesses, such as Formula 1, Moto GP and Premiership Rugby.
 
Dominic McKay, Chairman of Celtic Rugby DAC and Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Rugby, said: “I am delighted that we have managed to welcome CVC into the Guinness PRO14 as our partner. As a Board, we have been ambitious in our outlook and have significantly developed the league in recent years. One of our key goals was to secure a strategic partner to help accelerate our plans and CVC bring a wealth of experience and great expertise in this regard.
 
“Sport, like all of society is dealing with major challenges currently that we could not have imagined just a few months ago, and it is testament to the strength of our partnership with CVC that they have committed to the game of rugby in a such a significant way.
 
“Their enthusiasm and commitment is a welcome vote of confidence in the future of the sport and the Guinness PRO14 as an international competition. Completing this partnership with CVC is testament to the hard work invested by many people who have focused to deliver a bright vision for PRO14 and enable it to realise its commercial value in the global sports market.
 
“We are also delighted that the FIR has now joined Celtic Rugby DAC as a shareholder after 10 years of participation in the league. Alongside my PRO14 Board colleagues at the Irish, Italian, Welsh and South African rugby unions I would like to warmly welcome CVC to the Guinness PRO14.”

 
Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said: “CVC’s show of faith has been impressive and is in keeping with their proven track record of success when it comes to sports investment, including Formula 1, Moto GP and Premiership Rugby. This partnership allows all of our stakeholders to plan for a sustainable period of growth, which will benefit the fans, the players and the game.
 
“We are very pleased to partner with CVC, who saw us as an ambitious, fast paced and innovative organisation, situated across a number of core rugby nations that can deliver an increasing impact.
 
“We have been clear that we believe the Guinness PRO14 is a world-class club league, that is still in its growth phase and we are confident that it will become a major standard bearer in our sport. We are excited that CVC clearly shares that ambition and we look forward to working with them to deliver on the league’s promise in the years ahead.”

The suspension of the 2019/20 season of the Guinness PRO14 is now on an indefinite basis due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
The board of Celtic Rugby DAC met by teleconference this week and agreed upon a strict list of criteria that would enable the Championship to recommence. However, no decision on a definitive re-commencement date can be made until four key criteria can be met within our respective competing territories:

  • Public Health Authorities cease to prohibit the resumption of sport and group training
  • Travel restrictions between our territories are lifted
  • No forced isolation or quarantine orders are in force when visiting our territories
  • Player welfare is safeguarded, including requirement for a suitable pre-recommencement training period, to be established in conjunction with the high-performance personnel at our participating unions and teams

Due to the evolving situation, unfortunately the board had to take the further decision to cancel the Guinness PRO14 Final at Cardiff City Stadium, set to take place on June 20. Refunds will be made automatically to all who have already purchased tickets.
 
Full information on refunds will be available on https://www.pro14.rugby/final in the next 24 hours.
 
Proposals regarding how to restart the season will be reviewed in the near future. PRO14 Rugby is working with key stakeholders to carefully examine several proposals that can be implemented and delivered in order to close out the season – albeit at a later date.
 
Should any final be played as part of the 2019/20 season, it will be hosted by the team with highest ranking based upon league records from this campaign.
 
When positive indicators on the criteria listed above PRO14 Rugby will provide another update.
 
Everyone across the Guinness PRO14 would urge fans and everyone involved in the sport of rugby to heed the directions from their local health authorities regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and play their part in staying safe.

The current Guinness PRO14 season has been suspended in response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.
 
The PRO14 is an international league. Cross border travel is inevitable and that brings with it unique challenges. With governments in Italy and Ireland already putting in place clear directives and restrictions around public activities and travel, the decision to suspend the competition is appropriate. It is in the best interests of everyone that games are not played at this time. The suspension has been directed by the board of Celtic Rugby DAC and will be remain under constant review.
 
David Jordan, Tournament Director PRO14 Rugby, said: “We have made this decision with everyone’s welfare foremost in our minds. With an evolving situation in the five countries that take part in Guinness PRO14 it is important to make a clear decision that is in keeping with the advice of the various governments involved.”
 
Resumption of the 2019/20 season will now become a matter of constant review. To this point PRO14 Rugby has ensured that it has the latest information and guidance made available by the local and national authorities via our participating unions in the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.
 
This will remain the case for the duration of the suspension. This is an unprecedented action for the tournament and as such no end date to the suspension can be provided at this time.
 
In keeping with our practice during the outbreak, PRO14 Rugby will provide updates on the suspension when more information is available.

Two Guinness PRO14 fixtures due to take place in Italy in Rounds 14 and 15 have been postponed due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the northern part of the country.
 
The Italian government has now extended restrictions on sporting events until April 3 and the latest travel alerts from the Irish government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advise against non-essential travel to certain regions of Italy, including Veneto and Emilia-Romagna.
 
Consequently, PRO14 Rugby has taken this action in order to protect the well-being of our participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters, and provide some degree of certainty in an evolving situation. This decision is fully supported by the board of Celtic Rugby DAC.
 
The fixtures affected are:
 
Round 14: Benetton Rugby v Munster Rugby (originally scheduled for March 21)
Round 15: Zebre Rugby Club v Connacht Rugby (originally scheduled for March 28)
 
As none of these clubs are involved in EPCR competitions, PRO14 Rugby will aim to reschedule these matches on dates during the European weekends in April and May. PRO14 Rugby is currently engaged with EPCR to avoid any scheduling conflicts with European knock-out games.
 
Discussions are still on-going regarding the rescheduling of the postponed Round 13 fixtures – Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys, and Benetton Rugby v Ulster Rugby.
 
As indicated on February 28 (click here), PRO14 Rugby has activated a live channel of communication with each of the Chief Medical Officers for each participating union who are providing the latest information, advice and requirements from national governments and health authorities in their respective territories.

Connacht kept the pressure on the top three in Conference A with a hard-fought victory over Isuzu Southern Kings, with the side playing 65 minutes with 14 men.

Early tries from Colby Faing’a and Tiernan O’Halloran saw the visitors 14-0 up within ten minutes, before Peter Robb saw red for leading with a forearm.

Stefan Ungerer and Erich Cronjé’s brace got the hosts in contention in Port Elizabeth, but a resilient second-half performance saw Connacht take the victory, with Jack Carty scoring a crucial try after the break.

The writing looked to be on the wall within the first 60 seconds for the Kings, as Fainga’a profited from Ungerer’s fumble on halfway to run in unchallenged and get Connacht off to the perfect start.

And just five minutes later the visitors added their second, as some quick hands from Carty and Kyle Godwin on the Kings’ 22 allowed O’Halloran to break through, before sidestepping two defenders to touch down.

The game-changing moment came after 15 minutes in Port Elizabeth, as substitute Robb was adjudged to have connected with the neck of Howard Mnisi with his forearm, and was given his marching orders.

Things got even worse ten minutes later, as Godwin was shown yellow while trying to stop the unrelenting pressure on their try line, with Ungerer burrowing over from the ensuing penalty.

The hosts made the most of their time against 13 men, as Cronjé pierced the Connacht defence to level the scores three minutes later, before Carty slotted through a penalty to make it 17-14 to the visitors at the interval.

The Irish side came out after the break rejuvenated, and extended their lead through Carty as the fly-half crossed in the corner, while Cronjé went over for his second of the game on the hour mark to reduce the arrears back to three.

Connacht continued to dig deep in the last 20 minutes, with an outstanding effort at the scrum to force a penalty try to secure the bonus point, as the Kings struggled to break down the visitors’ defence.

 

Irish internationals Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have both been included in the Connacht squad to face the Southern Kings in Round 13 of the Guinness PRO14 this Sunday in Port Elizabeth (k/o 1pm Irish time, 3pm local time).
 
The pair were both released from the Ireland camp following the postponement of the Six Nations tie with Italy, and duly met up with the squad for the one-match trip to South Africa.
 
Dillane starts in the second row alongside Joe Maksymiw with Heffernan named among the replacements.
 
In all there are six changes from the side that lost to Edinburgh last weekend.
 
Paddy McAllister is drafted back into the front row alongside Shane Delahunt, while there’s also a start for prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy following an ankle injury to Finlay Bealham.
 
The back row is unchanged for the third straight game with Jarrad Butler captaining the side at number 8, with flankers Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a alongside him.
 
Caolin Blade comes back into the starting side to partner Jack Carty in the half-back positions, while there’s also a change at centre where Tom Daly is named alongside Kyle Godwin.
 
The final swap comes on the wing where Connacht’s record try-scorer Matt Healy makes up a back three with John Porch and Tiernan O’Halloran.
 
Commenting ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Andy Friend says everyone is keen to put the disappointment of last weekend behind them:
 
“We didn’t get the result we wanted in Edinburgh, so this week has been all about ensuring we get another win on the board. The Kings are a dangerous side especially at home so we will have to be at our very best.”
 
Regarding his team selection, Friend added:
 
“We’ve been able to call on two international footballers in Dave and Ultan which is a nice boost for us. This mini-block of three games is key for us so I believe we have named a squad that can get the job done on Sunday and finish on a high before the short break.”
 
CONNACHT SQUAD V SOUTHERN KINGS (SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2020 @ NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade.
(1-8): Paddy McAllister, Shane Delahunt, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (c).

Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmion, Conor Fitzgerald, Peter Robb.

The Connacht pro squad endured the West of Ireland weather for the last time this week as they stepped up their preparations for Sunday’s clash with the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
 
The squad begin their travels to South Africa tomorrow for a Thursday arrival, in what will be their third trip to the country since the inclusion of the two sides to the Guinness PRO14 in 2017.
 
Check out some of the best pics from this morning’s session here.

After a three-week break to coincide with the start of the Six Nations . . . the Guinness PRO14 is back.
 
Connacht take on Cardiff Blues this weekend at the Sportsground in a crucial Conference B clash – the first of three consecutive games in this mini-block before another break in march.
 
Here’s all you need to know about the tie.
 
When’s the game?

Kick-off is at 7.35pm this Saturday 15th February at The Sportsground.
 
What’s the state of play so far?

It’s fair to say Conference B will be as tight as everyone predicted at the start of the campaign. Connacht sit in 4th place, 5 points outside the playoff spots and 1 point ahead of their opponents at the weekend.


 
How’s our recent record against them?

The last 5 meetings between the sides at the Sportsground has resulted in 3 wins for Connacht, 1 for Cardiff and 1 draw.

Their last clash with the memorable meeting last April when Connacht came out on top 29-22, booking a place in the Guinness PRO14 playoffs and with it a spot in the Heineken Champions Cup.


 
How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht team will be named this Friday at 12pm on the Connacht Rugby social media channels and connachtrugby.ie.

Speaking last week Head Coach Andy Friend said he was hopeful a number of injured players will make their return in the coming weeks, but it’s too early to say who will be involved this weekend.
 

Are tickets still available?

Yes there are a limited number of Main Stand tickets on sale, with general availability in the Bohermore & College Road Ends.

You could also treat yourself to a Platinum Hospitality package which includes a main course meal and three complimentary drinks along with a Clan Stand ticket and plenty more extras.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
 
What if I can’t make the game?

TG4 will have live TV coverage from 7.15pm while Galway Bay FM will also provide radio commentary.
 
How can I get there?

There is plenty of car parks within walking distance to The Sportsground, all of which are listed below. Please note that local restrictions will be in place so please respect our neighbours at all times.


 
Anything else I should know?

🚪 Gates open from 6.05pm.
❌ No smoking is allowed in any of our stands at The Sportsground. Thank you for your co-operation.

Connacht Scrum Half Caolin Blade is set to captain Connacht as they travel to Kingspan Stadium to take on Ulster in the Pro14 on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
Blade has been a central figure for Connacht of late having taken part in all of the province’s 12 games of the current campaign. The 25 year old Monivea man will continue his half back partnership with Conor Fitzgerald for the trip to Belfast.
 
Elsewhere in the back line, Peter Robb has returned from injury to partner Tom Daly in midfield while Tiernan O’Halloran starts at full back in a back three that includes John Porch and Matt Healy on the wings.
 
Up front, Paddy McAllister is another to return from injury in time for the interpro clash. The loosehead prop joins a front row with hooker Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.
 
With Quinn Roux picking up a hand injury against Munster that will likely keep him out of action until the end of January, Andy Friend has been forced to make a change to his second row. Ultan Dillane will line up with Joe Maksymiw who came off the bench last weekend with 20 year old Roscommon man Niall Murray named among the replacements.
 
In the back row, Robin Copeland comes into the starting team at number 8. He will be flanked by Eoin McKeon and Paul Boyle at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We have had a short turnaround from the Munster game, and with Christmas in the middle of that, there isn’t a huge volume of training the squad can get through. We are boosted by the return of Paddy McAllister, Matt Healy and Peter Robb, and those fresh legs are important as we head into the tenth weekend in a row of Pro14 and Champions Cup action”.
 
“Ulster have a fantastic record at home and are unbeaten in Kingspan since we defeated them some 14 months ago. So, we’re looking forward to another competitive interpro game in front of a passionate home crowd.”

 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Ulster (Fri 27 Dec, 7:35pm)
 
(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Tom Daly, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (Capt) (1-8): Paddy McAllister, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Paul Boyle, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Niall Murray, Eoghan Masterson, Stephen Kerins, Kyle Godwin, Stephen Fitzgerald.

Connacht have been boosted by the return of a number of players for tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 meeting with the Southern Kings at The Sportsground (k/o 5.15pm).
 
Bundee Aki is named at inside centre having missed last week’s Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Toulouse, and he plays alongside Kyle Godwin. There’s also a return from injury for Niyi Adeolokun who joins a back three with John Porch on the opposite wing and Matt Healy at full-back.
 
The backs are completed by Caolin Blade and Conor Fitzgerald who continue their half-back partnership.
 
In the pack there’s an all-new front row from the side that started in Toulouse last week. Denis Buckley has recovered from an illness to start at loosehead with Finlay Bealham at tighthead and the in-form Tom McCartney as hooker.
 
Quinn Roux continues to captain the side from the second row alongside Ultan Dillane, while a back row of Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a and Paul Boyle completes the side.
 
Meanwhile club captain Jarrad Butler is likely to see some game time after missing the opening two games in Europe due to injury. The back row is named among the replacements.
 
Commenting on today’s squad announcement, Head Coach Andy Friend said:
“We were very disappointed not to come away with anything from France last week, so this is a good opportunity for the squad to bounce back. Bundee Aki, Niyi Adeolokun and Jarrad Butler are all back in the squad so we’re improving on the injury front.”
 
Speaking on the challenge posed by the Kings, Friend added:
“It’s important to keep our discipline in games like this. The Kings have had two weeks without a game, so all their focus has been on us, and they’ll be looking to build on their win away to the Ospreys as well. We’re heading into a few crucial games against Gloucester so it’s important we keep building our performances.”
 
CONNACHT SQUAD V SOUTHERN KINGS
(15-9): Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade. (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux (C), Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Jarrad Butler, Angus Lloyd, Jack Carty, Peter Robb.
 
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