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.
Gloucester will field a reshuffled side against the Ospreys in the LV= Cup this weekend, but Backs & Attack Coach Nick Walshe stressed that it's a great opportunity for everyone on duty on Saturday and that maintaining the recent winning run is very important.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees told GRTV after the win in Brive that the game could have been a tough one to get up for, but that his Gloucester team mates did themselves proud on the night and got a big result.
Reflecting on the 31-20 victory in Brive on Thursday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys said that clinching a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final was the overall aim and duly achieved.
Gloucester may have already clinched a home European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys wants his side to finish the pool stages on a winning note in Brive on Thursday evening.
Speaking after Saturday's win, James Hudson was happy to record a bonus-point win against a hugely physical Oyonnax side as Gloucester secured their passage into the European Rugby Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Billy Burns was a try scorer on his first European start for Gloucester and, speaking after the game, admitted that it was good to get the five points although there are still things to work on before the trip to Brive.
Gloucester Rugby have added to their front row strength in depth for next season with the signings of Paul Doran-Jones, Paddy McAllister and Nicky Thomas from Harlequins, Aurillac and the Ospreys respectively.