Six Connacht players who were with the Ireland squad in November have come into the starting lineup for tomorrow’s interpro with Munster in Limerick (k/o 7.35pm).
 
Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Cian Prendergast, Caolin Blade and Bundee Aki are all named in the starting lineup, as the squad aim to make it three straight wins in the BKT URC.
 
Denis Buckley joins Heffernan and Bealham in the front row while Josh Murphy is selected alongside Thornbury in the second row. Prendergast is named at blindside flanker, with Conor Oliver at openside and Jarrad Butler at number 8.
 
Captain Jack Carty continues at out-half while Tom Farrell partners Aki in the centre. The side is completed by wingers Alex Wootton and Byron Ralston, and full-back John Porch.
 
On the bench there’s a notable return for Shane Delahunt, who has recovered from an 8-month injury layoff for a potential first appearance of the season. The management team have opted for a 6:2 split, meaning Niall Murray, Oisin Dowling and Paul Boyle could all be called upon.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“Everyone had ten days off after the Ospreys game which I think was needed for coaches and players. Now that we have everyone back it’s all eyes on Munster for the start of an important ten week block for us, and we’re well positioned for these games going forward.
 
Munster away at Thomond Park is never an easy task but I thought we were close last year and the previous year we won there. You can’t just rock up to Thomond and think you’re going to win, you’ve got to work your backside off and bring an element of physicality along with accuracy in what you are doing”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS MUNSTER RUGBY
Saturday 26th November, 19:35 @ Thomond Park
 
Number/Name/Caps
15. John Porch (66)
14. Byron Ralston (6)
13. Tom Farrell (83)
12. Bundee Aki (119)
11. Alex Wootton (37)
10. Jack Carty (184) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (154)
1. Denis Buckley (215)
2. Dave Heffernan (171)
3. Finlay Bealham (173)
4. Josh Murphy (5)
5. Gavin Thornbury (68)
6. Cian Prendergast (33)
7. Conor Oliver (47)
8. Jarrad Butler (100)

Replacements
16. Shane Delahunt (117)
17. Peter Dooley (5)
18. Jack Aungier (38)
19. Niall Murray (40)
20. Oisín Dowling (31)
21. Kieran Marmion (215)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (57)
23. Paul Boyle (79)

Its round 8 of the BKT United Rugby Championship as Connacht travel to Thomond Park for an interprovincial derby against Munster. 

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game.

When’s the game?

Kick-off at is at 7.35pm on Saturday 26th November.

What’s the state of play so far?

Connacht make their way to Limerick on the back of back-to-back wins against Welsh opposition. Wins against Scarlets and Ospreys saw Andy Friend’s side end block one of URC games in good form.

This is Munster’s third interprovincial derby in-a-row in the URC having lost the previous two against Ulster and Leinster. However they do come into this game on the back of an impressive win over South Africa ‘A’ during the international break.

How’s our recent record against them?

Our recent record against the Munster over the last five games have been as follows,

  • Con 20-11 Mun
  • Con 10-8 Mun
  • Mun 20-18 Con
  • Mun 20-24 Con
  • Mun 20-17 Con

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Friday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets are through Munster

What channel is it on?

TG4 and Premier Sports will have live TV coverage while Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Conor Oliver was one of the late arrivals to South Africa, which meant, missing the game on Saturday against the DHL Stormers. Fit and ready to go the back-rower is available for selection ahead of Friday’s Round 3 BKT United Rugby Championship tie against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria (k/o 5.30pm Irish time).

When on tours like this players know it’s two weeks of hard work in preparation for matches. Being with each other 24/7 this is the longest period of time the whole group will be in each others company, so what is it like to be on a tour like this?

“These tours to South Africa are tough but they are also really helpful for the team to bond more” said Oliver

“Lads get closer and learn a lot more about one another which you probably wouldn’t get in a week’s lead up to another match”

“For the new lads that have come in it gives them a real chance to get to know everyone better and I get the chance to know them better on and off the pitch which is great.

Loftus Versfeld is the venue on Friday, an iconic stadium and which Oliver and the rest of the Connacht players can’t wait to see.

“We discussed about how cool it will be to play there but we also said how cool it would be to get a win there”

“There’s real belief in the camp that we can come away with a win at Loftus and what a venue it would be to win after last weekend’s result”

“I’m buzzing and can’t wait for Friday, hopefully I’ll be named in the starting 15”

“I always want to be playing so missing last week was annoying”

Last weekend Connacht lost to the defending URC champions Stormers and will be hoping to bounce back and get their first win of the season.

“We’ve changed a lot of our attacking shapes with different principles in place compared to what we did last year”

“We know this takes a bit of time to gel but at the same time as players its up to us to put those wheels in motion quickly and get up to speed”

“From the opening two rounds we identified the amount of opportunities we’re creating especially last weekend but we didn’t take them and that’s something we need to change”

“We were a pass or two away from scoring a couple of tries, so that’s one of the main things we’ve noted as we know we’re almost there from what we are trying to do”

“Once we get past the teething stage of this its going to be very exciting”

Another man that joined Conor to South Africa late was club captain Jack Carty. The fly-half has missed the opening two games as he makes his way back to fitness, but, he may be available for Friday’s game in Pretoria.

Oliver spoke about his team mate and how he’s been around the squad since being announced captain.

“It’s his first season and its a bit of a pity that he hasn’t been involved in the first couple of games but he has been around the group for training and meetings making sure his presence is felt”

“Jack is a composed leader who is very calm in the way he delivers messages which I love from a captain”

“We have Jarrad Butler there who will guide Jack into the role and he’s another great man to have in the dressing room”

The Connacht team for Friday’s game against the Bulls will be named tomorrow at 12 midday.

Another away performance not to be for Connacht after defeat in Stellenbosch to DHL Stormers.

The defending champions of the the United Rugby Championship took advantage of Connacht going down to 14 men after Bundee Aki’s getting sent off for a dangerous clear-out, the sending off coming midway through the second half after Tom Farrell touching down before going to the TMO.

Farrell’s try would have brought Connacht to within a score of the champions but the sending off extinguished any hope of a fight back.

It was a sore defeat for Connacht to take but one of the big concerns for Andy Friend and his coaching staff is the ankle injury picked up by scrum-half Caolin Blade. Blade is named to go on Emerging Ireland tour of South Africa in the coming weeks.

Stormers back row, Evan Roos opened the scoring for the South African side. Dylan Tierney-Martin got Connacht back into the game with a try before half-time which had the score 13-8 in the home sides favour.

Through the boot of Manie Libbok, Stormers had stretched their lead out to 19-8 when Aki was shown red. Quickfire tries by Andre-Hugo Venter and Hacjivah Dayimani wrapped up the result for Stormers against the 14-men of Connacht before Marcel Theunissen earned the hosts a four-try bonus point in second-half stoppage time.

Gavin Thornbury will captain Connacht for the first time in tomorrow’s BKT URC opener against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium (k/o 7.35pm).
 
The lock will make his 64th appearance for the province in a squad that includes three debutants and a possible two more off the bench.
 
Peter Dooley, Josh Murphy and Byron Ralston have all been handed their first Connacht cap, with Shamus Hurley-Langton and David Hawkshaw also potential debutants off the bench.
 
Dooley is named in a front row with Jack Aungier and hooker Dave Heffernan, while Leva Fifita partners Thornbury in the second row. The pack is completed by flanker Conor Oliver and number 8 Paul Boyle.
 
Kieran Marmion and Conor Fitzgerald are paired together at 9 and 10, while the two Toms – Daly and Farrell – start at centre. Ralston’s first game will be on the right wing, with John Porch on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
 
Commenting on the team announcement, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“We’ve had a very positive pre-season and there’s now a huge sense of excitement among the group. There’s a genuine belief and optimism about what we can achieve in this first block of games, which all starts in Belfast tomorrow night.
 
Ulster are a quality side and our battles against them are always hard fought. We’re really looking forward going head-to-head with them in what should be a great season opener for us both.”
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY SQUAD VS ULSTER RUGBY
Saturday 17th September 2022, 19:35 @ Kingspan Stadium
 
Number/Name/Caps ( * denotes uncapped)
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (206)
14. Byron Ralston *
13. Tom Farrell (79)
12. Tom Daly (61)
11. John Porch (59)
10. Conor Fitzgerald (53)
9. Kieran Marmion (209)
1. Peter Dooley *
2. Dave Heffernan (165)
3. Jack Aungier (31)
4. Gavin Thornbury (63) (C)
5. Leva Fifita (15)
6. Josh Murphy *
7. Conor Oliver (41)
8. Paul Boyle (73)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (6)
17. Denis Buckley (208)
18. Sam Illo (2)
19. Niall Murray (35)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton *
21. Caolin Blade (150)
22. David Hawkshaw *
23. Oran McNulty (9)

After a long season, the BKT URC is *back*.
 
We begin our campaign this weekend with a hugely exciting trip to Belfast to face Ulster, before we head to South Africa for games against both of last season’s finalists.
 
Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend.
 
When’s the game?
 
Kick-off at Kingspan Stadium is at 7.35pm on Saturday 17th September.
 
What’s the state of play so far?
 
With it being the opening round there’s nothing to report so far!
 
How’s our recent record against them?
 
After a 58-year wait to win in Belfast, our recent record away to Ulster has been decent. The historic victory in October 2018 was followed by another win in the Rainbow Cup in the summer of 2021. Ulster were the victors the last time we made the trip, winning 32-12 back in February.
 
How will the two teams line up?
 
The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Friday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
 
How do I get tickets?
 
Tickets are available through Ulster Rugby.
 
What channel is it on?
 
TG4 and Premier Sports will have live TV coverage while Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Following the release of fixture details last week, the URC have now confirmed exact dates and kick-off times for all 18 rounds for the season ahead.
 
Connacht will start the campaign with an interpro trip to Ulster on Saturday 17th September with a 19:35 start.
 
The first home game of the season follows three weeks later, when Munster are the visitors on Friday 7th October, also at 19:35. Leinster then make the trip to The Sportsground on Friday 14th October at the same time.
 
The Christmas fixtures will see Connacht host Ulster on Friday 23rd December, followed by a New Year’s Day trip up the M6 to Dublin against Leinster. Both games also kick-off at 19:35.
 
Full fixture details are below.
 

Connacht Rugby will kick off the new United Rugby Championship season away to Ulster with the fixtures for the 2022-23 campaign being officially announced today.

The season begins on the weekend of Friday 16 September up in Belfast which is then followed by Round 2 and 3 trips away to South Africa.

The second away game of the URC season we take on DHL Stormers in Cape Town before making the trip North to take on the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.

After the opening three away trips our next three matches are at home on our brand new pitch with two massive Inter-pro games back-to-back in Round 4 and 5 with Munster and Leinster coming to The Sportsground.

Dates, times and TV coverage are to be confirmed.

Connacht Rugby season ticket memberships are on sale now by clicking HERE, guaranteeing entry into every home game, plus a range of great benefits.

Connacht Rugby 2022-23 FIXTURES

SEPTEMBER

Sep 16 v Ulster (A)

Sep 23 v DHL Stormers (A)

Sep 30 v Vodacom Bulls (A)

OCTOBER

Oct 7 v Munster (H)

Oct 14 v Leinster (H)

Oct 21 v Scarlets (H)

Oct 28 v Ospreys (A)

NOVEMBER

Nov 25 v Munster (A)

DECEMBER

Dec 2 v Benetton (H)

Challenge Cup Dec 9 v Newcastle Falcons (H)

Challenge Cup Dec 16 v CA Brive (A)

Dec 23 v Ulster (H)

Dec 30 v Leinster (A)

JANUARY

Jan 6 v Cell C Sharks (H)

Challenge Cup Jan 13 v CA Brive (H)

Challenge Cup Jan 20 v Newcastle Falcons (A)

Jan 27 v Emirates Lions (H)

FEBRUARY

Feb 17 v Zebre (A)

MARCH

Mar 3 v Dragons (A)

Mar 24 v Edinburgh (H)

APRIL

Apr 14 v Cardiff (H)

Apr 21 v Glasgow Warriors (A)

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