18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
This weekend's only fixture in the Magners League sees Connacht travelling to Cardiff looking for only their second win in seven clashes with the Blues.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, November 18
CARDIFF BLUES v CONNACHT, Arms Park, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports)
**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from Cardiff**
Team News: Cardiff boss David Young has made four changes to the side that beat Edinburgh 23-13 two weeks ago for the visit of Connacht.
With Ed Fairhurst on international duty with Canada, Wayne Evans comes into the back line to start at scrum half.
The three other switches are all up front with Bradley Davies coming into the second row for James Goode, Scott Roberts taking Tafa'ao Filise's place as tighthead prop - Tongan Filise is away with the Pacific Islands - and Duane Goodfield replacing Gareth Williams at hooker.
The Cardiff bench includes the 20-year-old loosehead Rhys Gill, fit-again flanker Mark Lewis and Glamorgan scrum half Gareth Williams. The Blues are without the Wales-tied Tom Shanklin, Mike Phillips, Martyn Williams, Rob Sidoli, Rhys Thomas and Gethin Jenkins.
The Connacht line-up, meanwhile, shows five changes to the side that fought back to earn two bonus points in a 39-34 defeat at Glasgow on November 3.
Coach Michael Bradley has slotted Adrian Flavin and Brett Wilkinson back into the front row with Paul Warwick switching from centre to out-half.
There is also a new and youthful midfield partnership in Keith Matthews and John Hearty, while Brendan O'Connor is a new inclusion in the back row with John Mudloon switching to number 8.
Mark McHugh, John Fogarty and Ray Hogan, who were part of the 22-man squad for Ireland 'A' midweek, are listed amongst the replacements.
Joining them is new signing Ryan Strudwick, the former London Irish lock and captain who made his first appearance in a Connacht jersey last Tuesday when the westerners' 'A' team was beaten by Ulster 'A' in Enniskillen.
With Fogarty and McHugh benched, Australian-born lock and former skipper Andrew Farley will captain Connacht for the second time this season.
Scrum half Tom Tierney (knee), props Michael Diffley (ankle), Stephen Knoop (back) and Ronan Loughney (knee), and hooker Joe Merrigan (leg) are all unavailable due to injury.
Cardiff: Ben Blair; Mosese Luveitasau, Jamie Robinson, Marc Stcherbina, Chris Czekaj; Nick Robinson, Wayne Evans; John Yapp, Duane Goodfield, Scott Roberts, Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones, Scott Morgan, Rhys Shellard, Xavier Rush (capt).
Replacements: Rhys Gill, Gareth Williams, James Goode, Mark Lewis, Gareth Williams, Nick Macleod, Tom James.
Connacht: Daniel Riordan; Matt Mostyn, John Hearty, Keith Matthews, Darren Yapp; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Brett Sturgess, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), Brendan O'Connor, Ray Ofisa, John Muldoon.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Ray Hogan, Ryan Strudwick, Colm Rigney, Conor O'Loughlin, Mark McHugh, Conor McPhillips.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Neil Ballard, Keri Evans (both Wales)
Coach Speak: David Young (Cardiff) - "Connacht are an honest team who are always difficult to play against. They do not have as many disruptions from international call-ups that other teams may have and seem to do well against Welsh opponents.
"Having said that, I think we can take confidence from our home form this season.
"One my key aims this season was to build strength in depth, and the performances over the last weeks have given us a selection headache which is a nice problem to have."
Michael Bradley (Connacht) - "The attitude in training has been very good this week - the players are all very focused and we took a lot of heart from how we came back against Glasgow last time out.
"We might be paying the Blues a visit at just the right time - they've a fair few players away with the Welsh national team and the likes of Rhys Williams and (Robin) Sowden-Taylor on the injury list.
"But we're focusing on our own performance. The Arms Park is a tricky place to go and get a result - we've never beaten them there but we'll give it a right go this weekend."
Match Odds: Paddy Power - To Win: Cardiff 1/4, Connacht 5/2; Draw: 22/1
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
September 2003 - Cardiff 33 Connacht 17, Arms Park
February 2004 - Connacht 18 Cardiff 21, Dubarry Park
September 2004 - Cardiff 31 Connacht 6, Arms Park
January 2005 - Connacht 8 Cardiff 18, The Sportsground
September 2005 - Connacht 13 Cardiff 9, The Sportsground
April 2006 - Cardiff 30 Connacht 12, Arms Park
- The Blues won 23-13 against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on November 3 and have been victorious in their last seven home games in the Magners League since last January when Edinburgh won 13-9 at the Arms Park
- Connacht have won just one of their last six league encounters. They beat the Dragons 16-9 on October 13, whilst the westerners have not won in Wales since beating the Ospreys 10-9 at the Gnoll in November 2004
- The two sides have met on six previous occasions with Connacht winning just once. The province came out on top last September, securing a 13-9 victory at the Sportsground
- Connacht have, however, won at the Arms Park in the league against Cardiff RFC - it was 6-3 to the visitors back in August 2001
- Connacht are sixth in the league table, three points above Cardiff but David Young's men have two games in hand on the Irishmen. Mark McHugh is the league's second top scorer with 88 points (1 try, 7 conversions, 21 penalties and 2 drop goals). McHugh has a kicking success rate of 80% (28 out of 35 kicks). Matt Mostyn is Connacht's top try scorer with three in eight league outings
- Cardiff's leading scorer is New Zealand full-back Ben Blair who has tallied up 34 points (1 try, 4 conversions and 7 penalties) in just three appearances. He is also their top kicker with a success rate of 73.33% (11 out of 15)