English and Welsh talent looking for Lions places at the Ricoh Arena
26 March 2009 11:58am
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.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.
After a tense opening half hour in Parma, the game turned just before half time as the home team had David Odiete red carded and Gloucester took full advantage, running in three second half tries to secure the bonus point and the victory over Zebre by 32 points to 16.