Ulster Rugby v Edinburgh

A big welcome to Round 15 of the Championship where we have some really eye- catching fixtures involving the top teams from both Conferences as the fight to reach the Guinness PRO14 Final Series continues to intensify. Scarlets face Leinster in the RDS and it marks a first return to Dublin for the champions since they raised the trophy at Aviva Stadium in May. Wayne Pivac’s men will no doubt be buoyed by the memory of dispatching Leinster in the Irish capital in the Semi-Finals, too, and with both teams level on points at the top of Conference B this promises to be a mouth-watering affair. Both teams are also looking to bounce back after tough losses on the road. Leinster were undone by a very late try in Edinburgh, who have really found their stride under Richard Cockerill. The Scots visit Kingspan Stadium this weekend confident they can close the gap on third-placed Ulster. Benetton Rugby claimed their seventh win of the Guinness PRO14 season against Scarlets in Treviso last weekend, which underlines the unpredictable nature of the Championship. However, Benetton have really strengthened this season and their tally of victories is already their most since 2013. Another three wins from their final seven games would equal their best-ever return (also set in 2013). That record by Benetton was achieved under the guidance of Franco Smith, who I’m delighted to hear will take sole command of the Toyota Cheetahs next season. The men from the Free State have played some electric rugby in their first season and they visit Glasgow Warriors armed with confidence and aiming to stay on track to reach the knock-out stages. Of course, any slip-ups by the Cheetahs and the Cardiff Blues look capable of putting the pressure on and it’s so rewarding to see teams from so many of our competing unions battling it out as the season approaches crunch time ahead of the Guinness PRO14 Final Series. The expansion of the Final Series comes as direct result of the addition of the Cheetahs and the Kings and for the first-time ever, six teams will have the chance to compete for the Guinness PRO14 trophy. Plus there’s the addition of a Play-Off game for the seventh Champions Cup place so there are a lot of tasty fixtures ahead to look forward to. This week, Honda came on board as the Official Car Partner to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series and we’re delighted at this news. Honda have already come up with some great prizes in women’s rugby and mini rugby which should provide some unforgettable memories at our Final in Dublin. Of course, the Guinness PRO14 Final on May 26 is the ultimate celebration of the very best that our Championship has to offer and ticket sales are still going strong. Dublin’s Aviva Stadium provided a fitting setting (and a record attendance) last season and we know it will do so again this year. The Final is no longer an occasion for fans of the Finalists, it’s an incredible occasion for rugby supporters from all over the world and no matter where you’re coming from you can rely on Gullivers Sports Travel to arrange tickets, hotels and flights as our Official Supporter Travel Partner for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series – see www.gulliverstravel.co.uk. We also have a host of ticket options available to cater for every kind of match-day experience so make sure to log on to www.ticketmaster.ie where prices start at €7 for children and €35 for adults. Enjoy the game, Martin Anayi Chief Executive Officer

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