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Teams announced as United Rugby Championship kick-off tonight

ULSTER and Connacht will share a part of rugby history tonight when they play in the first-ever fixtures of the United Rugby Championship. The teams have been named and here are all the details for Friday night’s R1 matches listed with match official and broadcast information below.
Ten Italian International Players in the Zebre Rugby XV selected for the season opener.
Emirates Lions name a strong line-up. Inside centre Megiel Burger Odendaal captains the side for the opener against Zebre. Springboks Jaco Kriel, Ruan Dreyer and Jamba Ulengo all feature in the Emirates Lions starting XV.
Rhys Priestland will make his Cardiff Rugby competitive debut on Friday, as the Blue and Blacks welcome Connacht to the capital for the United Rugby Championship opener.
Connacht new signing Mack Hansen has been handed his Pro debut with Tom Farrell starting his first competitive game since November after his serious knee injury,
Dan McFarland and his coaching team have opted for a blend of youth and experience in the match-day squad to face Glasgow Warriors at Kingspan Stadium. The Australian second row, Sam Carter will captain the Ulster side.
Duncan Weir to play his first competitive match for Glasgow since 2016. Five of the matchday 23 are in line for their Glasgow Warriors debuts (Tuipulotu, Thyer, Berghan, Dempsey, McCallum)
Friday, September 24
Zebre Rugby v Emirates Lion
Lanfranchi Stadium, Parma – KO 18:35 ITA & SA / 18:00 IRE & UK
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU, 10th league game)
AR1: Riccardo Angelucci (FIR), AR2: Federico Boraso (FIR),
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)
Live on: URC TV, SuperSport and Premier Sports 2
Zebre Rugby: Junior Laloifi, Pierre Bruno, Giulio Bisegni (CAPT), Tommaso Boni, Mattia Bellini, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Matteo Nocera, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, Maxime Mbanda’, Iacopo Bianchi, Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea Lovotti, Ion Neculai, Andrea Zambonin, Govanni Licata, Alessandro Fusco, Antonio Rizzi, Jacopo Trulla
Emirates Lions: EW Viljoen, Jamba Ulengo, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (CAPT), Rabz Maxwane, Jordan Hendrikse, Andre Warner, Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, Jaco Kriel, Pieter Jansen Van Vuren, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Ruan Dreyer
Replacements: PJ Botha, Sti Sithole, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Reinhard Nothnagel, Sibusiso Sangweni, Morne van den Berg, Eddie Fouche, Divan Rossouw.
Emirates Lions Head Coach said: “It’s an exciting new chapter for the Emirates Lions and we are really looking forward to our first match tomorrow against Zebre. The URC will test our character as a group but it’s a challenge we are up for. We believe the match-23 we’ve decided upon will be competitive on the day and hopefully establish some momentum going into the next few weeks of the tournament.”
Cardiff v Connacht
Cardiff Arms Park – KO 19.35 IRE & UK / 20.35 ITA / SA
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 15th league game)
AR1: Elgan Williams (WRU), AR2: Steff Edwards (WRU),
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)
Live on: BBC Wales, TG4 and Premier Sports 2
Cardiff: Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries; Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Matthew Screech, Josh Turnbull (CAPT), Ellis Jenkins, James Ratti
Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Carré, Dillon Lewis, Rory Thornton, Will Boyde, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Max Llewellyn
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, Matthew Burke, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler (CAPT)
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Jordan Duggan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Niall Murray, Paul Boyle, Hubert Gilvarry, Conor Fitzgerald, Sammy Arnold
Cardiff Rugby Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It’s hugely important, but no less important for Connacht. Playing at home puts in a bit of added pressure.
“There’s added pressure to get a result because the first block of games is all about building points. “You want to win games but you want to sit back after the five games and be happy with your point accumulation. “We’ve got four out of five games at home so it’s a hugely important start for us and we need to pick up as many points as possible. “I’ve got huge respect for Connacht. They play a great brand of rugby and if we’re not at our best then we’ll lose. It’s as simple as that. “But we’re confident that if we bring our ‘A-game’ on the weekend then we’ll come away with the result. It will be tough but we can come away with the result.”
Young added: “The whole 23 is hugely important, and the bench is going to play a huge role for us on the weekend. We’re in a position where we can generally put a really strong 23 out, and there’s arguments that some boys on the bench could be starting. There’s not much between them and the boys that are starting, and that puts us in a really good light. Your first selection is always tough because people have had different amount of game-time. But the important thing for us is that we’ve got a strong 23. We have a 15 that can go out and do a job, while also having some real finishers and we see these boys as ones who can come on, make an impact and put us in a stronger position”
Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “It’s been a really productive pre-season campaign so we’re all really looking forward to this URC opener. It’s a difficult opening game as Cardiff are always a formidable outfit especially at home, but we’ve prepared in the right way and are confident we can put in a really strong performance.
Mack Hansen has been very impressive since arriving so fully deserves his first start, and in Hubert Gilvarry we have another Connacht native ready to make his debut if called upon. I know his inclusion in the matchday 23 will be a very proud day for all at Sligo RFC and Sligo Grammar School.”
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast – KO 19.35 IRE & UK / 20.35 ITA & SA
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 75th league game)
AR1: Peter Martin (IRFU), AR2: Andrew Cole (IRFU),
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)
Live on: Premier Sports 1
Ulster: Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Andrew Warwick, Brad Roberts, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (CAPT), Greg Jones, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea, Nathan Doak, Mike Lowry, Will Addison.
Glasgow Warriors: Cole Forbes, Kyle Steyn, Sione Tuipulotu, Sam Johnson, Rufus McLean, Duncan Weir, George Horne; Brad Thyer, Johnny Matthews, Simon Berghan, Scott Cummings, Richie Gray, Ryan Wilson (CAPT), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Murray McCallum, Lewis Bean, Rob Harley, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Ollie Smith

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