Monday, September 3, 2012

Rabo Direct Pro 12 - Round 1 Wrap

Tommy Seymour
The Celtic-Italian season is underway following and with a bang as the first round of the 2012-2013 Rabo Direct Pro 12 dished up some unpredictable results. The competition has come under fire from French and English officials who claim it is a substandard tournament due to the regular lack of top line players from a number of teams. Many use the tournament to rest players knowing that they can keep them fresh for the Heineken Cup and international duty. Unlike in the Top 14 and Aviva Premiership there is no system to reward the competitions top sides. In France and England the top six qualify for the Heineken Cup while in the Pro 12 it is nation based not tournament which sees Italy and Scotland´s two sides both guaranteed a birth in the Heineken Cup. This season Zebre will play while Stade Français will not. 

Zebre are the new comers to the Rabo Direct Pro 12. The Parma based side replaces Aironi who had a miserable two years as a professional franchise. The team struggled to win matches but overall the experiment worked as Italy has more players playing at the top level and it gave the Italian test side more players to choose from than previously. This coincided with Italy´s historical win over France in Rome in 2011 and also the teams win over Scotland in 2012.

Newport-Gwent Dragons 37-6 Zebre
Not the dream debut Zebre were looking for as the Italians were well and truly demolished at Newport.   The Italians had three Argentine players. Gonzalo Garcia started the match at inside centre and Luciano Orquera was flyhalf. Orquera scored all his teams points as he landed two penalties. USA prop Dave Ryan started in the frontrow  and was replaced by Argentine prop Luciano Leibson. The result puts the Dragons in the unfamiliar position of first in the standings.

Benetton Treviso 12-6 Ospreys
A great win for the Italians whose defeat over the reigning champions is very encouraging. Argentine flyhalf Alberto Di Bernardo started at pivot for Treviso. He was joined by fellow Argentine-Italian´s Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Franco Sbaraglini. Canada´s Robert Barbieri also started for the Italians. Former USA age grade representative Hanno Dirksen started for the Welsh side.

Ulster 18-10 Glasgow Warriors
USA born prop Callum Black started for Ulster while USA winger Tommy Seymour started for the Glasgow Warriors. Both players are potential World Cup players for the United States of America at Rugby World Cup 2015. Canada´s Taylor Paris did not feature for the Scots.

Edinburgh 18-23 Munster
A hattrick from The Dutch-Scotsman, Tim Visser was not enough to claim victory against Munster. USA born Ronan O´Gara did not lpay for Munster.

Connacht 9-13 Cardiff Blues
The Blues completed an ugly away win in Galway in a match featuring only one try. The Irish province is likely to be a contender for the wooden spoon alongside Zebre this season. 

Scarlets 45-20 Leinster
A weakened Leinster side were hammered in Llanelli. By virtue of resting so many players Leinster are starting the competition at the bottom of the standings. Los Pumas secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli will debut for the Welsh region after the completion of The Rugby Championship. 

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings
1 Dragons 5
2 Scarlets 5
3 Ulster 4 
4 Treviso 4
5 Munster 4
6 Cardiff 4
7 Connacht 1
8 Edinburgh 1
9 Ospreys 1 
10 Glasgow 0
11 Leinster 0
12 Zebre 0

Edinburgh v Munster

Scarlets v Leinster

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