10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
TROPHY-TASTIC: This season, the team that wins the Triple Crown - beating the three other home nations - will claim a 'physical' trophy for their efforts. Brian O'Driscoll and his charges could come face to face with the new trophy on Saturday evening as they seek their second victory at Twickenham in three seasons.
Tournament sponsors RBS celebrated their four-year sponsorship extension by commissioning, with the 6 Nations Committee, the very first Triple Crown Trophy for 2006. The new trophy is a silver dish mesuring 42cm wide and 5cm deep and weighing a sizeable three kilos. Produced by Hamilton and Inches of Edinburgh, rugby's newest piece of silverware took over four months to make.
O'Driscoll said: "When we won the Triple Crown in 2004, it was a fantastic occassion and certainly one of the most memorable days in my career so far - but to have been handed a trophy would have been the icing on the cake! I think it is a great idea to recognise the historical importance of winning the Triple Crown."
2004 marked Ireland's seventh Triple Crown, which was first won by Wales back in 1893. The Welsh top the list of Triple Crown triumphs with 18 - England (13) and Scotland (10) follow.
ROSCREA DATE FOR PROVINCES' "A" TEAMS: If you are in the Tipperary area today, why not get down to Roscrea RFC for the meeting of the Munster "A" and Leinster "A" teams (kick-off 2.00pm).
Munster have yet to confirm their side, but the Leinster outfit will be captain by Lansdowne player-coach Brian O'Meara, who will line out at out-half with UCD's Brian O'Riordan as his half-back partner.
There are a number of AIB League players included by Leinster - Clontarf duo Niall O'Brien and Robert Sweeney, who both played for Ireland in last Friday's AIB Club International with O'Brien scoring a late try - start while their club mate Derek Keane, Division One's top try scorer (11 tries), in amongst the replacements.
Greystones full-back David McKechnie and lock Richard Leyden of Old Belvedere are also notable starters, amongst the Leinster squad regulars.
**Former Ireland coach and Leinster "A" Manager Gerry Murphy will be conducting a coaching clinic for Under-16s in Cistercian College, Roscrea at 10.30am today and at Roscrea RFC post-match**
LEINSTER "A": David McKechnie (Greystones); Niall O'Brien (Clontarf), Greg Stafford, Eoghan Hickey, Brendan Burke; Brian O'Meara (capt), Brian O'Riordan; John Lyne, David Blaney, Robert Sweeney (Clontarf), Ben Gissing, Richard Leyden (Old Belvedere), Simon Crawford, Niall Ronan, Kevin McLaughlin.
Replacements: Alex O'Sullivan, Nick Duffy (Greystones), Ciaran Potts, Alex Dunlop, Diarmuid Laffan, Darragh Geraghty (Clontarf), Ken Kennedy (UCD), Derek Keane (Clontarf).
4VICTOR RACE NIGHT: Following on from the success of the bucket collections for injured Longford RFC player Victor Connell at last weekend's RBS 6 Nations clash between Ireland and Scotland, the 4VICTOR Committee are arranging a Race Night for Saturday, April 22.
The event, which will take place at Longford Rugby Club, will benefit the 4Victor Trust Fund. If you would like to sponsor a race, or indeed sponsor a horse - which is only EURO30 for the naming rights, please contact: Tommy Butler (Tel: 086 3143968) or Fran Deffew (Tel: 087 9417020).
Victor suffered a serious spinal injury while playing for Longford firsts in October 2005, which will leave him requiring assistance for the rest of his life. The Trust Fund is arranging numerous fundraising events throughout the next year.
If you would like to make a donation - Cheques can be made payable to the Victor Connell Trust Fund and sent to Tony Headon, Longford Rugby Club, C/O Ulster Bank Ltd., Main Street, Longford. Or if you wish to do a Credit Transfer, the Account is at Ulster Bank Ltd., Main Street Longford. The Account Number is 54437094, Sort Code 986030. Please support generously.
CONNACHT CONTRACT EXTENSION FOR MOSTYN: Former Ireland international Matt Mostyn has extended his stay out west by signing a new two-year deal with Connacht.
The 31-year-old, whose sixth and last cap for Ireland came in the 1999 World Cup defeat to Argentina in Lens, has been one of Connacht's most consistent performers in recent seasons. The news of Mostyn's contract extension comes just a few days after the confirmation of Connacht captain Andrew Farley's own two-year extension.
The province's vice-captain this season, Mostyn has started all 21 of Connacht's games this season, scoring tries against Catania and Worcester Warriors in their run through to the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The Sydney-born full-back/winger said: "I am really enjoying my rugby at the moment. All our focus is now on the Challenge Cup quarter-final clash with Newcastle Falcons later this month."
...Former Munster and Ireland team mates Rob Henderson and Mick Galwey are pictured at Cheltenham before the festival's second day of racing begins...
LAST EIGHT SCRAMBLE FOR FIRST TRUST ULSTER SENIOR CUP: Little quarter will be given in this Saturday's First Trust Bank Ulster Senior Cup quarter-finals with plenty on inter-club bragging rights on the line.
Holders Ballymena, who are bidding for a fourth successive Ulster Senior Cup title, take on Dungannon in a mouth-watering tie at Eaton Park (kick-off 2.30pm). The two sides shared the 2005/06 Ulster Senior League crown, and are due to meet on the last day of the AIB League Division One season on April 29.
It is honours evens between the two northern giants so far this season - Ballymena won their Senior League clash (25-17) at Eaton Park in September, while the annual Kyle Cup duel on December 26 finished in a 17-8 win for Dungannon at Stevenson Park.
Home advantage could be key for the Braidmen, who beat Belfast Harlequins 22-20 in last season's Senior Cup final.
Saturday's other quarter-final fixtures see high-flying Harlequins, who sit sixth in Division One, at home to Division Three outfit City of Derry (Deramore Park, kick-off 2.00pm). Elsewhere in the last eight, Division Two's Ballynahinch travel to meet their County Down rivals Banbridge (Rifle Park, kick-off 2.30pm), while Malone, who are struggling in Division Two, entertain Ards, who sit fourth from bottom in Division Three (Gibson Park, kick-off 2.30pm).