Ulster Rugby vs Treviso

Managing Director, PRO12 Rugby Welcome

Unpredictability is what sport is all about and just when it looked like Munster Rugby were in full control at the top of the Championship table, along came Scarlets to Thomond Park to grab a remarkable victory. That result in Thomond Park last Friday reset the current order in the Guinness PRO12 and tightened up the competition for the Semi-Finals, not to mention the top six and the Champions Cup play-off positions. Fifth-placed Ulster Rugby have a match in hand and by the time they’re level on games played the gap between first and fifth could be just eight points! There were also key wins for Leinster Rugby, Ospreys Rugby, Cardiff Blues and Connacht Rugby in Round 16 and with only six weekends of action left every team is fighting for any match points they can get their hands on. Of course, the pinnacle for all of our clubs is to reach the Guinness PRO12 Final which will be held in Dublin on May 27 and if that game lives up to the action we’ve seen so far this season, then it’s going to be a classic. Attacking play has long been the hallmark of the Guinness PRO12 but this year it’s gone on to such a new level that we’re in danger of burning out our scoreboards. Last weekend Glasgow Warriors’ Peter Murchie was responsible for try number 500 and by the time the final whistle had been blown on Round 16 we stood at 503 tries. That is a staggering total and one that took us until Round 20 to achieve last season. What it means is that in every Guinness PRO12 match you’re likely to see at least five tries and 43 points scored, which is as good a reason as any to watch the action in person. That attacking intent has been backed up by a positive approach by our teams. Out of the 4049 points scored so far only 18 per cent have come from penalties which indicates that our clubs are more interested in kicking to the corner than pointing to the posts. Our fans certainly seem to be enjoying it, too, because we’ve seen a significant rise in attendances this season with over three quarters of a million supporters coming through the gates in the first 16 Rounds. This weekend Scarlets will return to Irish soil to take on Leinster in a bid to see if they can repeat their heroics of Thomond Park – that’s just one of the eight remaining Championship games between the top six this season. Beyond that there is still a fierce contest to claim those precious Champions Cup places whether by automatic qualification or through one of the two play-off berths. The competition to claim the Championship title ramping up with intensity every week but you still have time to guarantee your place at the Guinness PRO12 Final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on May 27. It promises to be an unmissable event and prices start at just €35. Ticket sales have been incredibly strong so far and you can avoid missing out by logging onto www.ticketmaster.ie to get yours. Enjoy the game, Martin Anayi



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