Friday 15 November 2019

Jones named captain, as new era dawns for rugby in Cork

Munster's Felix Jones will have the honour of captaining the Ireland Wolfhounds side against England Saxons in tonight's official opening of Irish Independent Park in Cork (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)
Munster's Felix Jones will have the honour of captaining the Ireland Wolfhounds side against England Saxons in tonight's official opening of Irish Independent Park in Cork (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)

John Fallon

A new era for rugby in Munster will begin this evening with the opening of the revamped Irish Independent Park when Ireland Wolfhounds take on England Saxons.

And with Paul O'Connell leading Ireland into battle in defence of their Six Nations crown, Munster full-back Felix Jones will skipper the Wolfhounds for this evening's historic encounter.

Jones will be joined by Munster colleague Keith Earls in the starting XV for the clash with the Saxons, with players on both sides battling for inclusion for the start of the Six Nations next weekend.

The redevelopment of Musgrave Park, which will be known as Irish Independent Park for the next ten years, has been hailed as a major boost for rugby in Cork and Munster.

Munster Rugby CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said it was the start of a new era for rugby in the city and region.

"It is great that the new Irish Independent Park will play host to Ireland Wolfhounds and England Saxons.

"It will be great to showcase the great work which has taken place at the venue and we look forward to providing an enhanced match-day experience for fans and players alike," he said. The ground at Ballyphehane was purchased by the Munster Branch of the IRFU in 1938 and opened two years later.

It has been home to the Dolphin and Sunday's Well clubs since then.

The stadium has staged some of Munster's most memorable fixtures, including a 3-3 draw with the All Blacks, when New Zealand snatched a draw in the dying moments.

Munster defeated Australia there three times, with the first win in 1967 when they triumphed 11-8. The second victory was in 1981 when Munster prevailed by 15-6, while in between the Wallabies scored a 15-13 win in 1976.

Australia came to Musgrave Park as world champions in 1992 but Munster again came out on top by 22-19.

Now a new era has begun for the famed ground which hosted hundreds of major representative, club and schools games.

Felix Jones will have the honour of leading the first side out at the redeveloped ground and the Munster full-back will be hopeful of finally making his Six Nations debut in the coming weeks, having impressed in November.

Irish Independent

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