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.
CONNACHT 'A' ARE ENNISKILLEN BOUND: A Connacht 'A' squad, coached by former player Nigel Carolan, will travel to Enniskillen RFC on Tuesday to take on Ulster 'A'. The game has a 4pm kick-off.
Carolan has included two Academy players - centre Aidan Wynne and hooker Conor Muldoon - in his starting line-up as well as recent signing Ryan Strudwick, the former London Irish lock/back row. Strudwick, 33, will combine with Michael Swift and Matt Lacey in a formidable-looking back row unit.
The 19-year-old Wynne, who helped Blackrock College win the Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup last March, is an excellent prospect and has shown his versatility this season by lining out at both out-half and scrum half for Buccaneers.
Props Michael Diffley and Stephen Knoop, who are both returning from injury, are also included in the westerners' 24-man squad, which contains 15 Galwegians players and nine from Buccs.
Meanwhile, Ulster have announced a strong-looking side for the Enniskillen encounter. Team captain Neil McMillan is just one of 12 players included who have appeared for Ulster in the Magners League this season. Again, the back row combination of former Ireland Under-19 captain David Pollock, McMillan and Ballymena's in-form number 8 Chris Henry looks exciting.
Terry McMaster and Gary Longwell coach the Ulster 'A' selection, which has once-capped Wallaby Mark Bartholomeusz at number 10. Admission for the tie at the Mullaghmeen ground is free so get along and support your province!
Ulster: Scott Young (Ballymena); Andrew Maxwell (Ballymena), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins), Stuart Megaw (Ballynahinch), Paul McKenzie (Belfast Harlequins); Mark Bartholomeusz, Kieran Campbell (Dungannon); Niall Conlon (Belfast Harlequins), Paul Shields (Ballymena), Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon), Tim Barker (Dungannon), Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon), David Pollock (Queen's University), Neil McMillan (Ballymena) (capt), Chris Henry (Ballymena).
Replacements: Tom Court (Ballymena), Nigel Brady (Dungannon), Mark Wilson (Instonians), Thomas Anderson (Dungannon), Paul Marshall (Belfast Harlequins), Mark McCrea (Malone), Michael Pehi (Dungannon).
Connacht: Peter Durcan (Galwegians); Ted Robinson (Buccaneers), Simon Rolleston (Buccaneers), Aidan Wynne (Buccaneers), Conor McPhillips (Galwegians); David Slemen (Galwegians), Mark Bruce (Buccaneers); Michael Diffley (Buccaneers), Conor Muldoon (Galwegians), Ross Davies (Galwegians), David McGowan (Buccaneers), Andrew Browne (Galwegians), Michael Swift (Galwegians), Matt Lacey (Galwegians), Ryan Strudwick (Galwegians).
Replacements: Garrett Halligan (Buccaneers), Killian O'Neill (Buccaneers), Stephen Knoop (Galwegians), Luke Hanvey (Galwegians), John Mullen (Galwegians), Conor Hartigan (Buccaneers), Luke Stringer (Galwegians), Colin Mbongwa (Galwegians), James Wakley (Galwegians).
MUNSTER WOMEN GAIN INTERPRO REVENGE: Munster got their IWRFU Interprovincial Championship campaign off to a winning start at Naas RFC on Saturday when they beat title holders Leinster, the team they lost to in last year's final.
Munster, with a new coach in Fergus O'Donoghue, claimed a 12-0 success with tries from loose forward Helen Jones and winger Mairead Kelly. Centre Helen Brosnan took the player-of-the-match honours with a superb display in both defence and attack.
At the Sportsground in Galway, Ulster secured a 12-7 win over Connacht with tries from debutant out-half Cathy Craig and winger Harriet Parke and a conversion from Lucy Fagan. Parke's effort, after the hosts had gone 7-5 ahead, was an excellent try and saw both the Ulster backs and forwards show some sublime handling skills.
The Round Two fixtures will take place on Saturday week (November 25), with Leinster facing off against Ulster under the floodlights in Naas (kick-off 5pm) and Munster and Connacht clashing at Musgrave Park (kick-off 2.30pm). This will be only the second ever Women's Interpro game to be played at the Cork venue.
The final will be staged at Musgrave Park on Saturday, December 16.
CANADIAN UNDER-21S WIN TOUR OPENER: Canada's Under-21s proved too strong for an Ulster Colleges side captained by Belfast Harlequins centre Mike McKeever on Friday. The visitors bagged a 32-0 win at City of Derry RFC.
The Canadians are due to play the Irish Colleges 'A' team on Tuesday at Old Belvedere RFC (kick-off 6.30pm) and the Irish Colleges XV at Thomond Park on Friday (kick-off 6.30pm) as they wrap up their three-match tour.
Coached by Tim Murdy, the Canadian U-21 squad and management attended a gathering over the weekend at the Derry War Memorial to remember those who sacrified themselves in past conflicts. A trip was also made the Guild Hall where the tourists received a town plaque from the Deputy Mayor.
Many thanks to Moss Dineen, a former City of Derry player and the current PRO of the Irish Colleges Rugby Union, who has done a sterling job as the Canadians' Irish liaison officer. Tickets have been arranged for the tourists to watch the Ireland 'A' v Australia 'A' clash at Thomond Park on Wednesday.
...Ronan O'Gara at Ireland training...
SAY WHAT?: "There should be a massive amount of credit given to Rog (Ronan O'Gara). He controlled the game. He's a vastly improved player on last year and was absolutely outstanding out there.
"He created a lot of the openings for myself and Gordon D'Arcy to run into holes and it was always him deciding to take quick tap penalties which had the South Africans on the back foot."
- Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll praises out-half Ronan O'Gara for his role in Saturday's 32-15 dismissal of the Springboks
"It is a privilege to be working with so many outstanding people and watching the youngsters develop through the system. I know come Croke Park next year I will be in for a fair bit of ribbing from both sides but I am extremely excited by the job I have."
- Former Ireland full-back Conor O'Shea on his role as the English Rugby Union's Academy Director
"It looked as if the hosts had all but run out of puff and there was nowhere near as many exciting breaks after the interval. But by then the job had been complete and on this showing, Ireland are a storm force in world rugby."
- The London Independent's David Llewelyn offers his opinion on Ireland's four-try defeat of South Africa
BAA-BAAS OUTING FOR ULSTER TRIO: Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions winger Tyrone Howe will make his debut for the Barbarians in Tuesday's Remembrance match against the Combined Forces at Newbury RFC (kick-off 7.30pm).
Howe's Banbridge team-mate Albert Finney will also line out for the tourists, as will former Ireland centre Jonny Bell, who is player/assistant coach at Dungannon this season.
The Remembrance match is the ninth in the series between the sides with the Baa-Baas leading 6-2. Twelve months ago, Dungannon star Richard McCarter, who was then a City of Derry player, was the only Irish representative as the Barbarians beat the Combined Forces 45-6.
Barbarians (v Combined Services): Neil Hallett (Esher); Tyrone Howe (Banbridge & Ireland), Albert Finney (Banbridge), Jonny Bell (Dungannon & Ireland), Kenny Bingham (Newbury); Arwel Thomas (Neath & Wales), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh); David Maddocks (Newport Gwent Dragons), Andy Dalgleish (Newbury), Cai Griffiths (Ospreys), Mark Cornwell (Pertemps Bees), Arthur Brenton (Bedford Blues), Jason Forster (Doncaster & Wales), Jonathan Edwards (Llanelli), Richard Morris (Aberavon).
Replacements: Tom Davies (Newbury), Chris Ritchie (London Welsh), Brett Luxton (Launceston), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Dave Scully (Doncaster), Dafydd Lewis (Cambridge City), Chris Malherbe (Wharfedale).