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Category: Celtic League

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Ryan Wilson: Glasgow Warriors still top dogs over Edinburgh in Scotland

• Flanker promises backlash in 1872 Cup second leg after first-leg loss
• Defeat for Pro12 champions ‘was gutting but there will be a reaction’

The Glasgow flanker Ryan Wilson does not believe Edinburgh are ready to topple Warriors off their perch just yet. The Murrayfield men can make it three wins in a row over Warriors if they succeed in Saturday’s 1872 Cup second leg. Wilson, however, reckons his team remain top dogs in Scotland after winning last year’s Pro12 title.

Related: Northampton Saints put the squeeze on Exeter Chiefs to earn tight win

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Leinster extend Munster’s losing run with Keith Earls injury added blow

• Munster 7-24 Leinster

Munster fell to their fifth straight defeat in all competitions after Zane Kirchner’s last-minute try sealed a 24-7 win for Leinster at Thomond Park.

Related: Harlequins and Gloucester in mighty finish to Twickenham classic

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Glasgow’s Gregor Townsend the leading light among native coaches | Robert Kitson

The Scottish coach is looking to make his mark on Europe when Glasgow Warriors play the Scarlets in back-to-back European Champions Cup matches over the next two weekends

Locally reared top-level coaches are, increasingly, a breed under threat. Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England each have a southern hemisphere leader at the helm. In this season’s Premiership – with the notable exception of Exeter’s Rob Baxter – non-English coaches such as Mark McCall, Aaron Mauger, Conor O’Shea and Dai Young are showing the way. Over in the Pro12 the top two sides, Scarlets and Connacht, are both being guided by Kiwis: Wayne Pivac and Pat Lam.

All hail Glasgow’s Gregor Townsend, therefore, as he strives to buck the trend, not for the first time in his rugby life. No wonder his decision this week to sign a contract extension, keeping him at Scotstoun until the summer of 2017, was greeted with widespread relief within Scottish rugby. “It was only natural Gregor’s talents would be of interest to other clubs,” acknowledged Mark Dodson, the SRU’s chief executive, making little effort to disguise his delight. And why not? The Warriors’ Pro12 triumph last season was a remarkable achievement for a club with an average attendance of 6,500. Should they also reach the knockout stages of Europe’s showpiece club tournament – for the first time since they were thrashed 90-19 in a quarter-final play-off by Leicester in 1997 – it really will suggest that something is stirring north of the border.

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Rory Clegg among four signings to cover for Glasgow during Rugby World Cup

• Cover desperately needed as much of Glasgow squad will be on Scotland duty
• Gregor Townsend’s newcomers have each joined on short-term contracts

Glasgow have added four players to their squad to help them through the Rugby World Cup period including the Newcastle fly-half Rory Clegg. The props George Hunter, Gary Strain and Steven Findlay have also joined on short-term contracts to provide cover for the Guinness Pro12 champions when much of the Glasgow squad is on Scotland duty.

The England Saxon Clegg has signed until the end of October. The 25-year-old made 55 appearances for Harlequins, helping them win the Premiership title in 2012, and has played 50 times for the Falcons.

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Glasgow’s three-try burst earns Pro12 title in final against Munster

• Glasgow 31-13 Munster

Glasgow deservedly won the Guinness Pro12 title for the first time and became the first Scottish side to win the league with a 31-13 victory over Munster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Saturday.

There was no fairytale send-off for Paul O’Connell, in his final game for Munster before his move to France, with the Warriors’ veteran Al Kellock heading into retirement as a winner as Glasgow made up for last season’s losing Pro12 final by lifting the silverware.

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Pro 12 hits the jackpot as TV companies rush for Super Saturday

• Five out of six matches to be televised as league finishes on a high
• Play-off and Champions Cup places to be decided
Sam Warburton trusts home base yields benefits at World Cup and beyond

The blazers and committee men of the Celtic nations, or more precisely Ireland and Wales, may have started the season under a cloud after losing the argument about a revamped Europe, but they and their sponsors have hit pay dirt nine months and 126 league games later.

All bar one of Saturday’s final round of games in the Pro12 league – Cardiff Blues, bottom-of-the-pile of non-Italian sides, versus Zebre, who are just bottom of the pile – are televised. Something of a bonus for Guinness in their first year of sponsorship and reflecting the closest of finishes to the season. Three of the four sides currently in the play-off positions – Ospreys, Glasgow and Munster – are currently on 70 points with fourth-place Ulster, who travel to Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow on Saturday, just a point behind.

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Italy’s situation is serious in the Six Nations and Pro12

Rugby in Italy is suffering at national and club level and participation in the Six Nations could be in doubt if things stay the same
• England name unchanged team to face Italy

Excuse a clunking metaphor, but Italy have spent the week circling the wagons and sending for what cavalry they have in an attempt to lessen the damage England might do at Twickenham on Saturday. Not for the first time, we see an Italy coach hoping to get through a Six Nations without too much embarrassment.

This time it is Jacques Brunel, who long ago decided he was not going to extend his four-year contract, which ends after the World Cup. He is heading back to France, but he did at least get an offer to stay on, a luxury not afforded Nick Mallett, who was shown the door after four years, Pierre Berbizier, who had to make do with two, the former All Black, John Kirwan, now in charge of Auckland Blues, and Brad Johnston who had the reins when Italy were invited to join the Five Nations back in 2000. I wonder whether they would be invited today?

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Pro12 organisers believe their unsung tournament is ready to grow

With a new TV deal, a major sponsor and a place in the rejigged European Champions Cup at stake the four unions are hopeful of a more secure future Continue reading…

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New season promises new challenges through to the World Cup and beyond

New competitions offer clubs a fresh challenge as national sides prepare for a fascinating fight at the 2015 World Cup in England England must come back after difficult tour to New Zealand All Blacks prepare to defend title after World Cup win in 2011 …

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Sean Lamont signs with the Glasgow Warriors for two more years

Rory Hughes also signs first professional contract with club Glasgow face Leinster in RaboDirect Pro12 final Continue reading…