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 email@example.com.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.