Brent Pope's Rugby Preview
Friday, 30 April 2010
Three Irish provinces are in European semi-finals this week.
In the Heineken Cup:
Toulouse vs Leinster (The match is on in Toulouse)
Saturday 1st May 2010, 15:45
Biarritz vs Munster (The match is on in San Sebastian)
Sunday 2nd May 2010, 15:15
In the Amlin Challenge Cup:
Connacht vs Toulon (The match is on in Galway)
Friday 30th April 2010, 19:45
We'll be meeting Brent Pope who'll be talking us through the three teams' chances!
New Zealand born rugby player, coach and TV commentator Brent Pope played rugby with top New Zealand side Otago University before finally settling in Ireland in 1991 and lining out for three seasons with St Marys RFC. Later Brent coached Clontarf RFC for two seasons, leading them to promotion to Division One of the AIL. Brent has worked as a TV rugby pundit for nine years and can regularly be seen on RTE with George Hook & Tom McGurk. Brent is also a children's author having published his fourth children's book, Arnold the Anteater last Christmas the proceeds of which went to Children's Hospice Homecare.
Current odds to win the Heineken Cup:
Toulouse - 11/10 (favourites)
Munster - 11/4
Leinster - 9/2
Biarritz - 9/2
The final of the Heineken Cup will be on the 22nd May in Paris
Leinster are the current Heineken Cup champions and are playing Toulouse. They have two key players that they hope will be fit to play but might not be: Johnny Sexton had a plate inserted in his jaw a few weeks ago after fracturing it in the last Heineken Cup match. Leinster are more confident about having British & Irish Lions full back Rob Kearney back in his starting line-up following his quarter-final injury. He is also hopeful that Shane Horgan, Girvan Dempsey and Fergus McFadden will all have shrugged off knocks.
Toulouse are an extremely tough side who are favourites to win the Heineken Cup. Some key players include Ellisalde who is a scrum-half and Vincent Clerc who is a winger.
Munster were champions in 2006 and 2008. Unfortunately, captain Paul O Connell has been ruled out of the match due to injury. However, there was some good news for coach Tony McGahan with the inclusion of the fit again Keith Earls, Doug Howlett, Ian Dowling and Nick Williams in the squad for the trip to San Sebastian.
Paul O'Connell is the only notable absentee from the squad.
Biarritz would be seen by many to be quite an easy draw, especially with them missing Imanol Harinordoquy, seen by many as the best number 8 in the world.
Connacht are Ray Ofisa looks certain to miss Connacht's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Toulon on Friday after suffering a recurrence of 'vertigo' in the Westerners' nine-try defeat to the Scarlets on the weekend. Toulon will be a difficult side with players like Jonny Wilkinson and Tana Umaga who famously spear tackled Brian O' Driscoll