Connacht have welcomed back a number of Irish internationals for Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener away to Racing 92 (k/o 3.15pm Irish time).
 
Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham and Kieran Marmion have all been named in the starting line-up, as well as Ultan Dillane who was released from the Ireland squad last week.
 
Heffernan and Bealham are joined by Denis Buckley in the front row, while Dillane is partnered by Eoghan Masterson to complete the tight five. Jarrad Butler captains the side from openside flanker in a back row that also includes Sean Masterson and Paul Boyle.
 
Jack Carty starts at out-half, while Tom Daly and Sammy Arnold continue to pair-up at centre.
 
In the back three Matt Healy comes on to the wing while Alex Wootton and John Porch are both retained after impressive starts to the season for the duo.
 
There’s also a return to the matchday squad for Tiernan O’Halloran, with the Clifden native recovering from injury to be named among the replacements.
 
Connacht can also confirm that due to a first positive case of Covid-19 within the Pro squad, one player and three others deemed as close contacts have been ruled out of the game. Those close contacts and all other players and management underwent a second round of PCR testing yesterday and produced no further positive results.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Andy Friend says:
 
“Welcoming back a number of our international players is a big boost for us. Sunday is the start of seven very significant games so it’s great to have them re-joining a squad which is already pretty healthy. I know they’ll all to be eager to hit the ground running.
Unfortunately we have been slightly disrupted by a positive case within our bubble, but we appreciate this is the world we are living in right now. I’ve said from the start that the team that adapts the most will be the team to succeed, and we have adapted accordingly.”

 
Regarding the game itself, Friend added:
 
“There’s arguably no bigger challenge in European rugby than what we’ve got this weekend, but it’s one we’re absolutely relishing. They’re full of talent across the field in an impressive stadium, but in the end of the day we must back ourselves from the get-go and fully believe we can get a result. If we do that and bring the level of energy and physicality that I know we’re capable of, then the result will take care of itself.”
 
CONNACHT MATCHDAY SQUAD VS RACING 92
Sunday 13th December, Paris La Defense Arena, Kick-Off 3.15pm Irish / 4.15pm local time
 
Number/Name/Caps (* denotes uncapped)
15. John Porch (24)
14. Alex Wootton (7)
13. Sammy Arnold (7)
12. Tom Daly (31)
11. Matt Healy (139)
10. Jack Carty (144)
9. Kieran Marmion (170)
1. Denis Buckley (185)
2. Dave Heffernan (132)
3. Finlay Bealham (144)
4. Eoghan Masterson (97)
5. Ultan Dillane (101)
6. Sean Masterson (5)
7. Jarrad Butler (C) (62)
8. Paul Boyle (45)

Replacements
16. Shane Delahunt (83)
17. Jordan Duggan (3)
18. Jack Aungier (7)
19. Cian Prendergast (2)
20. Conor Oliver (7)
21. Caolin Blade (115)
22. Bundee Aki (103)
23. Tiernan O’Halloran (184)

Connacht’s final home game of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup is almost upon us, and it’s set to be another memorable European affair.

Not for the first time, French Top 14 champions Toulouse visit The Sportsground as the two sides continue their rivalry on Europe’s biggest stage.

It’s win-or-bust for Connacht in the competition, so here’s all you need to know about the tie.
 
When’s the game?

Kick-off is at 3.15pm this Saturday 11th January at The Sportsground.
 
What’s the state of play so far?

Long story short, only a win will do if Connacht are to keep their hopes of a first qualification into the Champions Cup quarter-finals alive.

With Toulouse already nearly assured of top spot, Connacht are one of a number of teams aiming for one of the three best runners-up spots that would send them into the last 8 with the five pool winners.

One of those spots is likely to be filled by Ulster (17 points) or Clermont (16) in Pool 3, while in Pool 4 Munster (11) and Saracens (10) will be hoping to join them if they’re unable to catch Racing 92.

Second place in Pools 1 and 2 are filled by Northampton and Glasgow who are both on 9 points. With Connacht on 8 points there is work to be done, but a bonus-point win on Saturday would ensure a grandstand finish ahead of next weekend’s trip to an already eliminated Montpellier.
 
How’s our recent record against them?

Connacht have played Toulouse more than any other team in the Heineken Champions Cup, with Saturday’s game the eight time the two sides have met in Europe’s premiere competition.

The Western province have won two of those previous meetings. The first was that famous win in the Stade Ernest-Wallon in December 2013, and Connacht then repeated the feat in the opening game of the 2016/17 competition.

Toulouse were 32-17 victors when the sides met in November, so Andy Friend’s side will be looking to return the favour this weekend.

 
How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht squad for the game will be announced on all our channels and website shortly before midday this Friday.
 
Are tickets still available?

Yes tickets are available in both the Bohermore and College Road Ends, with all other parts of the ground now sold out. Due to the importance of the fixture, the opponents and the kick-off time we are expecting another massive crowd, so the sooner you secure your spot the better.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
 
What if I can’t make the game?

The game will be shown live on BT Sport 3 with radio commentary on Galway Bay FM. As with all our Heineken Champions Cup games it will not be shown on free-to-air TV, so the best way to experience it is at the ground.
 
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?

🗓 The official Connacht Rugby 2020 calendar will be on sale in reception, the Heineken Rugby Clubhouse and the Clan Bar. The calendar costs just €10 and this is your last chance to pick one up.
🚪 Gates open from 1.45pm.
❌ No smoking is allowed in any of our stands at The Sportsground. Thank you for your co-operation.

It’s win-or-bust for Connacht who welcome Gloucester to The Sportsground this Saturday in Round 4 of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages.

The loss at Kingsholm last Sunday means Andy Friend’s side will be looking for a bonus point win that will propel them back into quarter-final contention.

Here’s all you need to know.
 
When’s the game?

Kick-off is at 12.45pm this Saturday 14th December at The Sportsground.
 
What’s the state of play so far?

Despite a strong start, Connacht will have ground to make up if they’re to reach the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time.

They sit on 4 points after 3 games, with a win at home to Montpellier followed by disappointing defeats away to Toulouse and Gloucester.

A bonus-point win this weekend will go a long way to ensuring Connacht are right back in contention.
 
How’s our recent record against them?

It’s fair to say Gloucester have turned into a bogey team for Connacht in recent years. As well as their win last weekend, Gloucester also come out on top in the the 2014/15 and 2017/18 Challenge Cup quarter-finals as well as their Champions Cup playoff in 2015.

 
How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht squad for the game will be announced on all our channels and website shortly before midday this Friday.
 
Are tickets still available?

Yes there are a number of options available for those looking to come to the game. General admission tickets are available in the Bohermore and College Road Ends, while a Clubhouse Hospitality ticket will give you access to the Main Stand. You can also enjoy a Premium Hospitality package which, along with a Clan Stand ticket, includes a pre-match brunch with prosecco and wine.


 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
 
What if I can’t make the game?

The game will be shown live on BT Sport 2 with radio commentary on Galway Bay FM. As with all our Heineken Champions Cup games it will not be shown on free-to-air TV, so the best way to experience it is at the ground.
 
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 11.15am.
❌ No smoking is allowed in any of our stands at The Sportsground. Thank you for your co-operation.

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