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.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).
Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.