Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Americas Exports - Round 14 Wrap

Photo RaboDirect Pro 12:
Jeff Hassler scored for the Ospreys
With the Welsh rugby crisis still yet to be resolved the future of the RaboDirect Pro 12 remains in doubt. The competition, should it continue, will require a new sponsor as RaboDirect´s sponsorship will come to a close at the completion of the current season. With the future clouded the participation of Italian sides Benetton Treviso and Zebre is unknown and Treviso have stated publicly that without stability the team will not play in future seasons. The Italian Rugby Federation is also far from pleased. Amidst the uncertainty the competition must, nonetheless, go on this season. Involved in round 14 were a number of players from the Americas as the last IRB defined region to host a Rugby World Cup was again represented in The Celtic-Italian league.  

Leinster 31-19 Dragons
Irish province Leinster started the round well with a three tries to one victory over Welsh region the Newport-Gwent Dragons on Friday. The win saw Leinster retain its impressive position which has the province on target for a home Semi Final and the chance of winning both the RaboDirect Pro 12 and the Heineken Cup this season. Former Puma Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro was involved as a replacement but did not have his most memorable match as he was red carded for a reckless and dangerous tackle on Isaac Boss.

Ulster v Scarlets
Professional rugby competitions in Europe have been under the spot light in recent times with the playing conditions of fields proving to be far from reliable to provide reliable conditions for lthe purposes of elite competition. Matches in both club competitions and the Six Nations have seen questionable field conditions and numerous postponed fixtures. This continued in Northern Ireland on Friday as the best rugby venue in Belfast failed to be adequate for a Rabo Direct Pro 12 fixture. Ravenhill is expected to be an integral part of a combined Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023. 

Munster 36-8 Zebre
Zebre was no match for Munster on Saturday. The 36-8 thrashing underlined Munster´s credentials in the competition. The southern Irish province is leading the RaboDirect Pro 12 and has an eight point cushion between itself ad the third placed Ospreys which means it is well on track for a home Semi Final. Both teams were missing international players who were rested due to the Six Nations but Munster was nonetheless far too good for the Italians. Uncapped USA eligible prop Dave Ryan was on the bench for Zebre.

Cardiff Blues 20-27 Glasgow Warriors
An away win for Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors resulted in the club moving ahead of Ulster on points difference. Like the Northern Irish province Glasgow has also been impacted by postponed fixtures this season. Glasgow won without Canadian DTH van der Merwe and Argentina´s Gabriel Ascárate whose season is over. Present, though, was new signing Folau Niua. The Californian mid-fielder was on the bench for this, his first fixture as a professional player.

Connacht 11-7 Edinburgh
Edinburgh will not be joining the Glasgow Warriors in the post season. The Scottish capital side has not been playing good rugby this season in either the Heineken Cup or the RaboDirect Pro 12. With Scotland having half the number of teams as Ireland and Wales it should, in theory, have two of the better sides in the Pro 12 but it has proven to not be the case year after year. This weekends loss against lowly Connacht has resulted in the western Irish province rising up from the bottom of the standings while Edinburgh is closer to the bottom placed Zebre than it is tp the play-offs. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí was a replacement back-rower for Edinburgh. He came on in the 71st minute.

Ospreys 75-7 Treviso
With both Welsh regions and Italian sides not at all pleased with the RaboDirect Pro 12 Sunday´s match in Swansea was an occassion of note. Former Welsh Rugby Union CEO David Moffett spoke out ahead of the match by accusing the WRU of deliberately keeping the regions poor. The Ospreys, with two Canadians, nonetheless took the opportunity to lay down a marker in the competition. The 75-7 victory was a record victory that overtook the previous best of 60-7 against the now defunct Borders Reviers from 2004. Jeff Hassler started on the wing and was a try scorer while his Canadia teammate Tyler Ardron started in the back-row. Also involved was former USA junior representative Hanno Dirksen who came off the bench to score a try. Involved for Benetton Treviso were a number of Argentine players capped from Italy including Alberto di Bernardo, Franco Sbaraglini and Ignacio Fernández Rouyet.

Standings
1 Munster 53
2 Leinster 50
3 Ospreys 45
4 Glasgow 41
5 Ulster 41
6 Scarlets 28
7 Dragons 24
8 Edinburgh 23
9 Cardiff 23
10 Treviso 19
11 Connacht 17
12 Zebre 14

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