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Irvine excited by next generation of RaboDirect Pro12 stars

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Aug 2011


Lions legend Andy Irvine had promised rugby supporters a feast of rugby when they RaboDirect Pro12 gets under way on September 2.



With the World Cup kicking off on September 9, there will be an unparalleled opportunity for supporters to watch rugby throughout the day.

On September 17 for example, fans can watch Declan Kidney’s Ireland take on Australia in New Zealand at 09.30 before Benetton Treviso take on the Ospreys at 15.00, and in the evening games Leinster take on Glasgow Warriors, the Newport Gwent Dragons face Aironi and Munster host Scarlets – the latter two both being televised.

And while the major international stars will be out of action for the regions, Irvine – chairman of the RaboDirect Pro12 – believes that gap will be filled by the next generation.

He said: “Last year’s tournament was very successful with the introduction of the two Italian teams who made a massive contribution to the tournament.

“There were record television attendances and numbers of spectators. This year we want to build on that. We are proud of the calibre of play and player we produce.

“We are likely to have 104 representatives going to New Zealand along with three out of the ten elite referees.

“In the first year of RaboDirect Pro 12 we will be competing with the rugby World Cup and that will have an effect.

“However for those who want to watch quality rugby, they will be able to watch it morning, noon and night.

“We are going to lose quality players down south but that provides a great opportunity for youngsters to see if they are ready for the big time.

“Some of these younger players will become the next Brian O’Driscoll or Shane Williams.”