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23rd Nov 2016

Here is everything you need to know as the PRO12 returns this weekend

Sean McMahon

The bread & butter of Irish professional rugby returns this weekend.

Relax, take a deep breath and for a few minutes take your mind off the pandemonium that has surrounded Irish international rugby over the last 3 weeks.

  • Breaking 111 year old records;
  • Being victim to one of the most overly physical performances seen by an All Blacks side (not to mention one of the worst officiating performances);
  • Trying to predict a Joe Schmidt match day squad.

It’s all a bit overwhelming isn’t it?

Thankfully, the staple of the Irish Rugby fan’s diet, the Guinness PRO12, returns this weekend to provide much needed respite.

Here we remind ourselves of the current status of each the four Irish provincial sides and what shape they are in for the weekend.


Leo Cullen’s men are currently sitting pretty at the top of the table with seven wins from eight, three points clear of their closest rivals Munster in second place.

As with most international windows, Leinster are generally hit the hardest when it comes to the absence of international players. They face the Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets this Friday (KO 19.45).

Rory O’Loughlin has returned to full training after recovering from a shoulder injury which left him out of the away trip to Zebre. Dave Kearney will continue to be assessed this week as he recovers slowly from an ankle injury he picked up against the Cardiff Blues. Mike Ross and Jordi Murphy are both ruled out with hamstring and ACL injuries, respectively.

Cathal Marsh, Fergus McFadden, Billy Dardis and Ian Fitzpatrick continue to be unavailable for selection with longer term injuries.

Scarlets, who find themselves in 6th place, are on an excellent run at the moment having won their last five PRO12 fixtures.

This is likely to be a tough game for Leinster with a large number of first team players currently in Carton House and they would do well to come away from Wales with four points.

Scarlets may be distracted however, with news breaking during the week that star player Liam Williams is set to join Aviva Premiership heavyweights, Saracens, from the beginning of next season on a two year deal.

Television: BBC Wales


Munster face Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park this Saturday (KO 14.00).

Munster currently lie in second place with six wins from eight. They are on an excellent run of form, having won their last four fixtures in all competitions since their loss to Leinster in the Aviva Stadium.

They have been recently boosted with the news that Peter O’Mahony, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Dave Kilcoyne and Darren Sweetnam have been released from Irish camp and are available for selection this weekend.

Munster should be aiming for a full five point haul here as they soon enter into a very difficult run of fixtures.

In other news, Jean Kleyn (ankle) and Dave Foley (elbow) have resumed full training and are both available for selection.

Television: N/A 


Connacht currently find themselves third from bottom with only two victories recorded so far this season. They will need to pick up wins quickly if they are to be in contention of defending their maiden PRO12 title.

Their first opportunity to do this is a home tie against Cardiff Blues in the Sportground this Friday (KO 19:45).

Pat Lam’s men have already been beaten by each of the other Welsh regions so far this season so they will be determined not to make it a clean sweep.

Connacht have eight players sidelined through injury but are boosted this week by the welcome return of Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley, Ronan Loughney, Sean O’Brien, Nepia Fox Matamua, John Cooney and Matt Healy who have all returned to full training and will be considered for team selection.

The out-half position has been a problem area so far for Connacht this season, so fans will be delighted that new South African signing, Marnitz Boshoff, is set to make his debut.

Television: TG4


Ulster are currently placed fifth in the PRO12 table.

After suffering back-to-back defeats against Munster and Edinburgh respectively, Les Kiss will be hoping to cease this worrying dip in form by claiming all five points against the Italian minnows.

Ulster can expect to be backed by a vocal crowd with news earlier in the week 15,000 tickets have already been sold for Friday nights clash at the Kingspan Stadium (KO 19:45)

Television: BBC NI

Dick Clerkin makes his GAA Hour debut to talk about a wonderful career and argue passionately with Colm Parkinson over Sky Sports GAA. Subscribe here on iTunes.

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