The rise and rise of Celtic Rugby has concrete proof – for the first time in the nine-year history of the Heineken Cup all three Celtic nations will be represented in the quarter-finals in April.
The rise and rise of Celtic Rugby has concrete proof – for the first time in the nine-year history of the Heineken Cup all three Celtic nations will be represented in the quarter-finals in April. Congratulations to Munster, Llanelli Scarlets and Edinburgh Rugby, the latter the first Scottish side to make the last eight.
But in the immediate future the Celtic League is set to resume with a bang on Friday night with a mouth watering clash between the top two sides at Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm).
Friday, 6th February.
7.05:The Dragons v Leinster Lions, Rodney Parade, Gregg Davies (S) BCW/TG4
7.15: N-S Ospreys v Glasgow Rugby, The Gnoll, TBC (I)
7.30: Edinburgh Rugby v Cardiff Blues Meadowbank, TBC (I)
7.30: Munster v The Borders, Musgrave Park Nigel Owens (W)
7.30: Ulster v Llanelli Scarlets Ravenhill, Andy Ireland (S)
Saturday, 7th February.
5.30: Celtic Warriors v Connacht, Brewery Field, Iain Ramage (S) S4C.
Former leaders Ulster will be seeking to return to the top of the table having been overtaken in the last round of league matches at the beginning of the New Year by Friday’s visitors Llanelli Scarlets, who will fly the Welsh flag in Europe come those April quarter-finals.
The Scarlets’ 28-15 home win over the Ospreys, combined with Ulster’s 32-30 defeat at Donnybrook against Leinster Lions, was enough to put the Welshmen on top.
But the Scarlets will know they face a tough task in Belfast having experienced both defeat and victory in the Celtic League at Ravenhill. In fact, Gareth Jenkins’ men are the only Welsh team to have won at the home of Ulster rugby in nine visits – and that was only by a point, 27-26, on 28 August, 2001.
Ravenhill has been turned into a Celtic League fortress by Andy Ward’s side with his team suffering only two defeats and a draw in 14 games to date. Llanelli’s triumph three years ago, thanks to a touchline conversion from Stephen Jones, was the first defeat and Edinburgh’s 19-18 victory on 6 September, 2002 was the last.
Ulster have averaged more than 7,000 fans in their home games and all the indications are that Ravenhill will be buzzing and brimful once again on Friday night after a successful home campaign in the Heineken Cup that included that amazing 31-0 drubbing of Leicester Tigers.
There will also be a fascinating duel at Rodney Parade where third plays fourth in another crucial clash. The Dragons have been one of the surprise packages in the Celtic League this season and will be putting their unbeaten home record in the league on the line against Leinster Lions in a game that will be broadcast live on BBC Wales and TG4 (kick-off 7.05pm).