The inaugural Celtic Cup blasts off this weekend with just two Irish sides, Connacht and Leinster Lions involved, Munster and Ulster both have byes
The inaugural Celtic Cup blasts off this weekend with just two Irish sides, Connacht and Leinster Lions involved, Munster and Ulster both have byes to the quarter finals.
Connacht travel to Scotland for a game with the Borders while Leinster Lions are home to Neath/Swansea Ospreys in Donnybrook on Friday.
Llanelli Scarlets – the undisputed cup kings of Wales with 12 domestic knock-out titles in 32 years – and fresh from their victory in Thomond Park take on the Gwent Dragons for the second time in three weekends while League leaders
Celtic Warriors the only other side besides Llanelli to record back-to-back wins in the first two weekends of the new look Celtic League, have home advantage in the sudden death, knock-out Celtic Cup, over Glasgow Rugby.
“We are delighted with the start we have made in the Celtic League,” said Scarlets team manager Anthony Buchanan.
The youngsters went to Munster, the reigning Celtic League champions and one of the most fancied sides in the tournament, and got a 19-12 result. That was the first time that Munster have lost at Thomond Park in a competitive non Inter Provincial game of any kind, and we are looking to keep rolling the ball rolling in the first round of the Cup.
“It looks as if we will be without Scott (Quinnell) for a week or two with a trapped nerve in his neck but we have to move on and prepare for the Gwent Dragons.”
The match guarantees at least two Welsh sides in Saturday night’s quarter-finals draw – Cardiff Blues have a bye – with Scarlets coach Gareth Jenkins obviously sensing a feeling of dij` vu.
The sides played against each other in the last Welsh Cup final contested by Wales’ professional sides and now they have this quick-fire sudden death return.
Back on May 3rd it was Llanelli against Newport, Llanelli winning 32-9, and although it will be the Llanelli Scarlets against Gwent Dragons come Saturday evening, Jenkins wants the Stradey Park club to start building a similar knock-out record on the Celtic stage.
“We will certainly wholeheartedly embrace the Celtic Cup and, most importantly, be competitive and try and create a history on the lines of the one we enjoyed with the Welsh Cup,”said Jenkins.
“This is the beginning of the way forward, the first game in an exciting new competition. The luck of the draw has given us home advantage and it is ironic that we played Newport in the last Welsh Cup final and now we meet Gwent Dragons in Round 1 of the Celtic Cup.