Pro 14 Rugby

Sean O’Brien

Scrum as you are, maul together now, and get ready to ruck...OK, we’re sorry. For the puns, at least; you won’t hear us apologising for how excited we are that rugby is back on our screens, though!

 

It’s been five long months since the sport has been playing in the Northern Hemisphere, but the wait is almost at an end; this weekend sees the resumption of the Guinness Pro14 – and while official curtain raising duties fall to the Italian derby on Friday night, all eyes will be on the titanic tussle at the Aviva as Leinster welcome Munster to get things back underway with a bang! Come Saturday evening, eir Sport, Virgin TV 410, is the place to be...

 

So why are we coming down with full-on rugby fever? Well, let’s start with the basics…

 

IT’S BEEN AWHILE

 

Staind said it better than we ever could – because it’s more than five full months since we’ve seen a pass, kick or tackle in anger on this side of the world. There’ve been times during this summer when we’d have given our right arms to see a sloppy knockabout between a pair of club 2nd XVs; now, we’ve got the real thing to look forward to again. It’s not starting half badly, either…

 

THE PURPLE PATCH

 

When blue meets red, good times lie ahead – for neutrals, at least! Because while either Leinster or Munster will leave defeated, with bragging rights lost for a while, there’s no escaping the fact that the domestic dust-up remains one of the biggest games in European rugby. Under normal circumstances, the battle between the rivals would be appealing; after the drought of recent times, it’s positively mouthwatering! And there’s more where that came from, too…

 

KEEPING IT LOCAL

 

While we’re all getting a little bit sick of restrictions these days, they haven’t half served us well on this front; rather than teams travelling here, there, and everywhere, we instead find ourselves with two full slates of local derbies to guarantee some spice from word go! Ulster and Connacht square off on Sunday, before the merry-go-round rotates to line up Leinster v Ulster and Munster v Connacht for the following weekend. The Welsh, Scottish and Italian ties look tasty too, of course – and while the global situation has left the South African clubs sidelined for now, we’ll still get our fix of Springbok talent…

 

RING IN THE NEW

 

The reshuffled calendar has led to some seismic mid-season changes – the prospect of Liam Williams returning to Scarlets, with compatriot Rhys Webb back at Ospreys – but it’s a pair of World Cup winners that everyone will be looking at. Damien de Allende and RG Snyman arrive at Munster with sterling reputations, as well as gold in their pockets. Could they be the pieces of the puzzle that finally land some silverware down south? Well, the answer will arrive shortly…

 

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

 

OK, so we’re not exactly looking to rush things – truth be told, we’ll savour every minute we get! – but it’s important to remember that we’re not gearing up for a new season here. In fact, just four weeks is all it will take to see a new champions crowned; after the final two sets of fixtures, we’ll be straight into the semi-finals! Early form will matter, injuries could make or break a side’s chances, and it’s going to be helter-skelter from the first whistle; now tell us you’re not excited too!

 

For Virgin Media Sport customers, the remainder of the Pro14 is just the start, with every UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League game live, along with a whole lot more. Click here to find out what’s in store!