Rainbow Cup: Teams up for Ulster v Connacht

Published Categorised as 2020-21, Connacht Rugby, Provincial Rugby Men, Rainbow Cup, Ulster Rugby Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Wednesday it was announced that the cross hemisphere fixtures would be unable to be fulfilled due to COVID restrictions. Now, the Rainbow Cup resorts to a dual tournament format with inter-provincial fixtures up first and the final three games to be confirmed.

Despite a Challenge Cup semi final on the horizon, Dan McFarland has named a strong side ahead of the match tomorrow.

Iain Henderson is welcomed back into the starting team while Will Addison will make his first appearance since January 2020 off the bench tomorrow night. Andrew Warwick and Tom O’Toole return to prop while Matthew Rea replaces Jordi Murphy in the back row. Stewart Moore and Ethan McIlroy are the only additions to the back line with Jacob Stockdale moving to fullback to accommodate the latter.

The opposition

Connacht were the only Irish side to lose multiple games to non-Irish opposition in the regular PRO14 season this year and finished second to Munster in Conference B with eight wins and eight defeats. They were knocked out of the Challenge Cup in the round of 16 in a high scoring game against Leicester Tigers, who Ulster will meet in the semi final next weekend.

Alex Wootton is their top domestic try scorer so far this season with nine, tied at the top of the standings with Marcell Coetzee and Scott Penny. He’s also in the top three for metres made, clean breaks and defenders beaten and signed on a permanent deal last month having initially been in Galway on loan from Munster.

Wootton is just one of many on a lengthy Connacht injury list but it’s still a decent team that will lineup at Ravenhill tomorrow night. Caolin Blade and Jack Carty have an interesting battle with John Cooney and Billy Burns, and all four have aspirations of the green jersey. Conor Oliver has been very impressive so far this season and he starts with captain Paul Boyle and Eoghan Masterson in the back row.

Since 1995, Ulster have won 36 out of 46 matches against the western province with four of the nine losses coming in the last five years. Details of the last six matches between the sides are below.

05 OCT 18PRO14RavenhillAndrew Brace1522
28 DEC 18PRO14The SportsgroundMarius Mitrea1221
04 MAY 19PRO14RavenhillAndrew Brace2113
27 DEC 19PRO14RavenhillSean Gallagher353
23 AUG 20PRO14Landsowne RoadFrank Murphy2026
27 DEC 20PRO14The SportsgroundSean Gallagher3219

The man in the middle

Andrew Brace will take charge of this third Ulster match this season tomorrow night having previously officiated the 24-12 defeat at the RDS to Leinster and the 49-3 win over Zebre in the final PRO14 match.

Most notably, Brace gave Matthew Rea his marching orders in 2018 when Connacht defeated Ulster at Ravenhill for the first time since 1960. Out of the 13 Ulster games he’s officiated, seven have gone the way of the men in white while the other six have been defeats.

04 MAY 19PRO14ConnachtRavenhill2113
12 SEPT 20PRO14LeinsterLansdowne Road827
08 JAN 21PRO14LeinsterRDS1224
19 MAR 21PRO14ZebreRavenhill493


Jacob Stockdale15John Porch
Robert Baloucoune14Ben O’Donnell
James Hume13Sean O’Brien
Stewart Moore12Tom Daly
Ethan McIlroy11Matt Healy
Billy Burns10Jack Carty
John Cooney9Caolin Blade
Andrew Warwick1Jordan Duggan
Rob Herring2Dave Heffernan
Tom O’Toole3Finlay Bealham
Kieran Treadwell4Ultan Dillane
Iain Henderson (C)5Gavin Thornbury
Matty Rea6Eoghan Masterson
Sean Reidy7Conor Oliver
Nick Timoney8Paul Boyle (C)
John Andrew16Shane Delahunt
Eric O’Sullivan17Matthew Burke
Ross Kane18Dominic Robertson-McCoy
Alan O’Connor19Niall Murray
Greg Jones20Abraham Papali’i
David Shanahan21Kieran Marmion
Michael Lowry22Conor Fitzgerald
Will Addison23Peter Sullivan

The FRU Predicts: Both sides have the ability to play running rugby and considering the conditions are to be dry tomorrow night, we’ll see a few tries scored. Ulster to win by 12 points.

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