Connacht Rugby Supporters
Preview: Connacht v Edinburgh
March 31 2011

Keith Matthews will celebrate his 100th cap when he lines out for Connacht, while former London Irish hooker Adrian Flavin will almost certainly also join the Connacht centurian club at some point on Friday.


Coverage: Live on TG4 and BBC Alba (There is no english language coverage)

Matthews, the 28 year old centre joined Connacht from Munster in 2005 and has been a regular feature in the Connacht squad.

"I was on a development contract down in Munster when Brads (Michael Bradley) phoned me and offered me a spot, I jumped at the chance to play regular Magners League and haven't looked back since," said the Ireland A Intenational.

"It's taken a while to get to this milestone; I've had a few injuries along the way. Amongst other injuries I damaged my crutiate ligament against Munster in '07 and was out for 9 months so that didn't help but I'm delighted to reach 100 caps for Connacht, it's a huge personal achievement.

"I've been involved in some great games over the years, beating Munster here at The Sportsground 2 years ago, beating Bourgoin in the quarter final of the Amlin Challenge Cup here last season and captaining the side against Munster on St Stephens Day this year. Hopefully there'll be many more to come, I'm enjoying my rugby more than ever and playing some of the best rugby of my career so I've no intention of giving up just yet!"

Hooker Adrian Flavin could also earn his 100th cap this weekend. The 5'11, 102kg number 2 from Harrow in London joined Connacht in 2006. He will provide cover from the bench for Irish International Sean Cronin during the match this weekend.

New Signing

Cronin leaves for Leinster at the end of the season but Connacht have moved quickly to recruit cover, and more competition for Flavin, with the signing of South African Ethienne Reynecke from Saracens.

The former Golden Lions player has been two years with Saracens, has played against the Lions (2009) in South Africa and appeared in the Currie Cup as well as the Vodacom Cup.

He is currently on loan to The Stormers from Saracens in South Africa and will join Connacht on a 2 year deal at the end of the season.

"I'm very excited at the prospect of going to Ireland, especially Galway,” said Reynecke. “Connacht has shown this season they are serious about establishing a strong and successful rugby culture there, and I intend giving my all to contribute to the cause."

Head coach Eric Elwood added: “With Seán moving on at the end of the season we needed cover at hooker and we are very pleased to sign a player of Ethienne’s calibre, especially in such a crucial position. He is an experienced player who we are confident can offer a lot to Connacht.”


Meanwhile, Edinburgh will seek to build on their win over Ospreys when they tackle Connacht in their penultimate away Magners League match of the term.

It was against the side from the Sportsground that the capital outfit completed their last set of back-to-back wins, courtesy of a 24-19 victory at home in November.

Fourteen members of the starting line-up that saw off Ospreys have secured selection again this week. The one change from the Ospreys game sees Geoff Cross, who impressed for Scotland in their last two Six Nations matches, return at tighthead prop in place of David Young.

Mike Blair, who played his 100th Magners League game last weekend, continues his half-back pairing with Greig Laidlaw.

Ross Ford and Allan Jacobsen, mainstays of the Scotland pack in the Six Nations, are to be rested from Edinburgh's final four Magners League fixtures in order that they approach their season 2011/12 commitments with both club and country in the best possible shape.

"Any coach will always want to field his strongest possible team - that's natural and I'm no different. Player welfare has always been a top priority for Edinburgh, and we recognise and understand the need to balance our players' commitments in what is a very busy rugby year," said Edinburgh interim head coach Nick Scrivener.

Scrivener outlined the qualities he feels will be required from his men on the west coast of Ireland come Friday night.

"We performed really well as a team against Ospreys last weekend, and it's going to take exactly the same levels of intensity and precision to get the result we want in Connacht," he said.

"The weather forecast for the next couple of days over there isn't great, so we're prepared for a lot of onus falling on our set-piece. Our line-out went very well last time out, and we'll now be looking for a repeat as well as the same degree of effectiveness from the scrum."

Form: The last four clashes between the two sides have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Edinburgh have won just once at the Sportsground since 2006. Connacht's last eight Magners League games have all been won by the home side on the day. The Irishmen have won their last five matches in Galway in all competitions. Connacht have lost just one of their last five encounters against Scottish opponents. Edinburgh's seven game losing run in all competitions ended at home to Ospreys on Saturday. The Scotsmen's only away win in their last 19 trips was 10-9 in Aironi on 2 October. Edinburgh have not won in Ireland since they visited Ulster on 18 September 2009.

The teams:

Connacht:15 Gavin Dufffy, 14 Brian Tuohy, 13 Troy Nathan, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Ray Ofisa, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mike McComish, 20 John Muldoon, 21 Mark Dolan, 22 Eoin Griffin, 23 Shane Monahan.

Edinburgh: 15 Jim Thompson, 14 Simon Webster, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 James King, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Denton, 7 Scott Newlands, 6 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Esteban Lozada, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Andrew Kelly (capt), 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Lewis Niven, 18 Robin Hislop 19 Steven Turnbull, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 David Blair, 22 Nick De Luca, 23 Lee Jones.

Date: Friday, April 1
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (20:45 GMT)
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Will O'Connor (Ireland)
Television match official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Assessor: John Sheehan (Ireland)