Saturday 24 March 2018

Cardiff to host European finals


Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the 2014 Heineken Cup final, tournament organiser European Rugby Cup has announced.

The Welsh Rugby Union launched a bid to stage the showpiece event after the French Rugby Federation (FFR) withdrew Paris as the host city due to uncertainty over the availability of the Stade de France.

It means Cardiff – where Leinster beat Northampton in the 2011 final – will stage the fixture for the seventh time since the tournament's inception in 1996. ERC also confirmed the final of the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup will be played at the Arms Park, home of Cardiff Blues.

Meanwhile, Leicester have appealed against the nine-match suspension given to director of rugby Richard Cockerill for his exchange with fourth official Stuart Terheege during last season's Aviva Premiership final.

IRELAND'S Chris Bryan finished seventh in the 10km Open water event at the World University Games in Kazan.

The Ennis man was with the leading pack right up until 1,500m from home, when he dropped off the pace, finishing in one hour 57 minutes and two seconds. Gold went to Italian Matteo Fulan in 1:56.12.

The Irish team has had an impressive tournament, with top-eight finishes from silver medallist Fiona Doyle, Andrew Meegan and Bryan, who will now head to the World Championships in Barcelona.

Swim Ireland National performance director Peter Banks said: "We have had a very successful World University Games. Fiona's silver medal was great and with four top-eight finishes from Fiona, Andy and Chris plus five Irish records, we can be very happy.

"The quality of our athletes has shown and it is clear that we can compete with the best in the world."

Versatile Clare camogie star Naomi Carroll has been called into the Irish hockey squad for next month's European championships.

The young Banner woman, also an accomplished Gaelic footballer, has won her place in the 18 for Antwerp at the expense of more experienced contenders such as Katie Mullan and Nikki Evans.

National coach Darren Smith will be relying on a panel overwhelmingly dominated by Dublin-based players. Carroll, who plays her club hockey with Catholic Institute, and Ballymoney's Megan Frazer are the exceptions.

Smith has also opted to bring goalkeeper Grace O'Flanagan from national champions Railway Union on the trip to Belgium. She has been preferred to the more experienced Pamela Smithwick, though Emma Gray is likely to be first-choice between the posts.

The Irish face a tough task in Antwerp, drawn in the same pool as the Netherlands, hosts Belgium and Belarus.

Irish Independent

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