Friday, September 2, 2011
Rabo Direct Pro 12 Ready for Kick-Off
The newly named Celtic League, the Rabo Direct Pro 12, is to start today with three first round matches taking place. There will also be two Saturday matches and the final match of the first round will be played on Sunday. The naming rights of the competition exist for comerical reasons as Magners no longer sponsrs the competition. It was traditionally a competition for the Celtic Nations as Ireland, Scotland and Wales all had teams. Last season, however, it changed to include two teams from Italy. The expansion was greeted positively despite the teams not doing as well as perhaps they would have desired. The competition featured international players from Argentina, Canada and the United States of America. Many of whom are to play at Rugby World Cup 2011 which starts in less than one week.
This years competition includes international players from Argentina and Canada with players from the Americas playing for teams from Italy, Scotland and Wales. Canada has three players in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 with Robert Barbieri playing for Benetton Treviso, DTH van der Merwe for the Glasgow Warriors and Chauncey O'Toole for Ospreys. Both players are to play in New Zealand 2011 with Barbieri, despite being frm Toronto, in the Italian squad while DTH van der Merwe and Chauncey O'Toole are key players for Canada. Argentina has eleven players in the competition with nine of them playing in italy and two in Scotland. Aironi has three players from Argentina in Matias Aguero, Luciano Orquera and Gabriel Pizarro. Orquera is to be Italy´s first choice flyhalf at the Rugby World Cup. Benetton Treviso has six players from Argentina with Alberto de Bernardo, Pedro di Santo, Gonzalo Garcia, Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, Gonzalo Padro and Diego Vidal all on the playing roster. Centre Gonzalo Garcia is in Italy´s World Cup squad. Former Argentine international secondrower, Esteban Lozada plays for Edinburgh and former international center, Federico Martín Aramburu plays for the Glasgow Warriors.
Round One Fixtures
Friday September 2 Ospreys vs Leinster, Liberty Stadium
Friday September 2 Ulster vs Warriors, Ravenhill
Friday September 2 Edinburgh vs Blues, Murrayfield
Saturday September 3 Treviso v Connacht, Stadio di Monigo
Saturday September 3 Munster v Dragons, Musgrave Park
Sunday September 4 Scarlets v Aironi, Parc y Scarlets