English and Welsh talent looking for Lions places at the Ricoh Arena
26 March 2009 11:58
After showing signs of promise, it was an ultimately unrewarding RBS 6 Nations for both the English and Welsh sides in this year's tournament and players from both countries will be keen to impress in the next couple of months ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer.
One of the first chances to get noticed will be this weekend as the EDF Energy Cup reaches the semi-finals stage at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. For Gloucester Rugby, Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel in particular will be keen to impress; Simpson-Daniel will be buoyed by Ian McGeechan's prior form of picking players from outside the international fold.
For Northampton Saints, Dylan Hartley, Euan Murray and Ben Foden will want to stake a claim for a Lions shirt having played a part for their respective international sides during the 6 Nations.
The Welsh sides too are littered with international talent keen to make their mark. Not least the IRB World Player of the Year, Shane Williams, who will be keen to show his undoubted class for the Ospreys as well as team mates Mike Phillips, Lee Byrne, Alun-Wyn Jones and of course the enigmatic Gavin Henson. The Ospreys also boast Tommy Bowe who performed so well for Ireland and will be looking to cement a place in the Lions Squad.
For Cardiff, the stand out players include Martyn Williams, Andy Powell and Gethin Jenkins, all of whom warrant serious consideration for a place on the tour.
As well as the Lions Tour, there is an additional carrot in the form of a place in next year's Heineken Cup available to the winners of the EDF Energy Cup tournament.
With such a wealth of talent and so much riding on the two matches, it's a great opportunity to see two exciting top-class rugby matches at one great venue. The stadium will be open from 11am - The Jaguar Exhibition Hall at the stadium will be turned into a 'Fan's Village' for the day, offering live music, refreshments and entertainment. Current ticket sales are 25,000, so there will be tickets available right up to and including matchday through the following channels.
Ticketmaster click here to purchase tickets until 1pm on Thursday.
From the Ricoh Arena everyday including walk up on the match day (or call 0844 873 1883).
Car parking will be available on the day priced at £15 in car park C and in the off-site car-parks at £10. Car park tickets can be purchased in advance from www.seetickets.com and www.ricoharena.com
There are still some hospitality packages available, starting at £85 per person (+VAT). Call 0844 873 1883 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking to GRTV after the game, Backs Coach Tim Taylor was happy with the squad as they cruised to victory over Treviso. The result wasn't in doubt, but the Cherry and Whites laboured to secure a crucial try bonus point.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby centre Matt Scott is excited to take the field again as the Cherry and Whites look to build on the win in Bayonne when Treviso come to Kingsholm this Saturday.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
Gloucester made it two wins from two outings in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup as they outplayed Benetton Treviso at Kingsholm to win by 37 points to 8, the bonus point try coming with the final play of the game.