4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
Connacht coach Michael Bradley has been forced to make two late changes to his side for Saturday's European Challenge Cup Pool 5 tie against Italian side Amatori Catania.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP: POOL 5: Saturday, October 22
Connacht v Amatori Catania, The Sportsground, 2.30pm
Hooker John Fogarty (rib cartilage) and centre John Hearty (hamstring) have been forced to cry off the team, meaning a European debut for young Galwegians hooker Joe Merrigan and a backline alteration which sees Darren Yapp move from the wing to midfield and the experienced Ted Robinson come in on the left wing.
Following last week's disheartening 18-17 Celtic League loss to the Ospreys, the westerners are sure to be in a determined mood to get their Challenge Cup campaign off and running with a home victory.
In all, there are four changes from the side which took to the Swansea Stadium last Friday - Matt Lacey and Colm Rigney return to the back row, replacing Michael Swift and Brendan O'Connor, Chris Keane is preferred to Conor O'Loughlin at scrum half while Buccaneers flyer Robinson is the fourth.
The westerners' coach Bradley, despite six losses on the bounce in the Celtic League, is expecting better things from his side in Europe.Sicilian side Catania travel on a low ebb. Jean-Michel Vuillemin's men have had a disastrous start to their Super 10 campaign, and currently sit bottom after nine rounds.
Last month's 35-18 home win against Rovigo has been their only solace after they were deducted eight points by the Italian Federation for fielding ineligible players. Benetton Treviso (55-7) and Overmach Parma (60-27) have also scored heavy five-try victories over them in recent weeks.
Notably, Connacht beat Parma 20-13 in an August pre-season friendly at the Sportsground.
Challenge Cup semi-finalists for the past two seasons, Connacht's pedigree, allied to the fact that they have played Italian sides on four previous occasions in the competition and won each, should see them chalk up win number one in Pool 5.
* Tickets for Saturday's game are available from Connacht Branch offices (Tel: (091) 561568) or online at connachtrugby.ie
CONNACHT: Matt Mostyn; Conor McPhillips, Darren Yapp, Keith Matthews, Ted Robinson; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Ray Hogan, John Fogarty, Stephen Knoop, Christian Short, Andrew Farley (Capt), John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: Dan McFarland, Joe Merrigan, Adrian Clarke, David Gannon, Brendan O'Connor, Conor O'Loughlin, tbc.
CATANIA Squad: tbc
Referee: Sean Davey (England)
"We have played well in patches but last week against the Ospreys we played better in terms of intensity for the 80 minutes. Now we are looking forward to Europe, a competition that has been good for us in terms of results and exposure," said the former Ireland scrum half.
"On Saturday I would expect a big performance from us."