Exeter Chiefs replace Native-American branding with new Celtic logo

  • Club’s visual identity will be based on Celtic warrior
  • Change comes amid cultural appropriation criticism

Exeter Chiefs say they have received a “very positive” response to the decision to replace their Native American-themed branding with a new club logo from this summer. The club’s “visual identity” will now be based on a local Celtic chief inspired by the Dumnonii tribe, who were based in Devon, Cornwall and part of Somerset in the Iron Age.

The change, as confirmed by the Guardian in November, follows criticism of the club’s existing branding and accusations of “cultural appropriation”. Now, in common with several north American professional sports teams, the club’s badge is being revised and will bear the helmeted image of a Celtic warrior, a nod to the heritage of the surrounding region.

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Ireland Get Down To Work At IRFU HPC

The Ireland squad are ramping up their preparations for the start of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

Andy Farrell‘s side are just over a week out from their Championship opener against Wales at Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 5th February and are laying the foundations for the visit of Wayne Pivac‘s men to Dublin.

The squad had an intense hit-out at the IRFU High Performance Centre before flying to Portugal for the start of their warm-weather training camp. Check out the best action shots below.


The post Ireland Get Down To Work At IRFU HPC appeared first on Irish Rugby.

Bothwell: There’s A Real Determination To Bring The Cup Back To The Valley

Clogher Valley have enjoyed success at Kingspan Stadium in the recent past. From 2007 to 2014 they won the Ulster Towns Cup four times and lifted the provincial Junior Cup in 2013.

However, the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup has so far eluded the County Tyrone side, the closest they came to bringing the trophy back to the Cran was an agonising 10-9 defeat to Enniscorthy in the 2014 final.

Eight of that squad will be hoping to right the wrongs of that day at Coolmine when Clogher face Ulster rivals Ballyclare in the decider at Kingspan this Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm).

Tickets for the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup final are available online from Ticketmaster, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s. Tickets will not be available at the gate, they must be pre-purchased online.

Clogher have won 18 of their 19 games in all competitions this season and head to Belfast on a 12-match winning streak, but head coach Stephen Bothwell knows form counts for nothing in a final – it is all on the day.

“When we get it right, we play well. We’re very lucky that the boys drive their own standards and just because we get a win, we are not always pleased – it’s about the performance and a good performance we take a lot of pleasure out of, the players and me as a coach,” stated Bothwell.

It’s brilliant (to reach the final), we have been beaten in the final before in 2014 so it is nice to get another crack at it.

“There are eight from the previous final still in the squad and the rest are young boys, four or five are 19 or 20-years-old, so there is a good mix and a good buzz about the place.

“It should be a great occasion and there is a real determination in the boys and the club to bring the cup back to the Valley.”

He continued: “We have won the Towns Cup and the Ulster Junior Cup before but this one has gotten away from us, but it is a new bunch of boys and a new competition.

“Some of the boys were a bit disillusioned last year because they had a good side at Enniskillen Grammar. I coached them for four years up to Medallion Shield and they had a really good chance of doing well in the Schools Cup but then because of Covid it was all cancelled last year.

“So I’m hoping this is some kind of reward getting to Kingspan and getting a performance against Ballyclare.”

Clogher’s route to the final saw them beat three-time champions Ashbourne 29-19 away, Dromore 23-6 at home, and then run out comprehensive 47-9 winners over Newcastle West in last month’s semi-final.

Captain Paul Armstrong scored 27 points against the Limerick club, including a hat-trick of tries, and the Valley squad are hungry to become the first Ulster winners of the prestigious national competition since City of Derry in 2010.

“It would be huge to be crowned champions,” acknowledged Bothwell. “There are only two other Ulster clubs that have won it. At the minute this is a really young squad of boys coming through.

“There is an ambition to become a senior club and I said at the start of the season if we have a real ambition of going senior we have to push hard at every competition.

“We have set our stall out high. It’s the players that drive it and I just coach to the best of my ability. The All-Ireland Junior Cup is another notch on the post to get to where we want to be and be as good as we can be, and hopefully fulfil every young lad’s ambition on the way.”

Clogher have beaten Ballyclare twice in the Ulster Rugby Championship this season, a 14-10 win in County Antrim on the opening day was followed by a 14-7 home victory last month.

“We have played Ballyclare twice and there has only been a few points in each game, both have been a one-score game which we were glad to come out on top of.

“We know Ballyclare will be very up for it. Their league campaign is probably gone at the minute, and they will be thinking this is the one they are getting the real shot at.

“We’ll be taking nothing for granted because they will be coming hammer and tongs for us.

“Ballyclare would probably say they haven’t played their best rugby against us and I would say we haven’t played our best rugby against them, so it is going to be a good final.

“We are probably the two teams that play the most similar. We are not afraid to give it a crack and throw the ball about.”

Bothwell is hoping his charges rise to the challenge of playing at the home of Ulster Rugby.

“The young boys have great engines in them and with youth there is no fear. As a coach you’d be pulling your hair out at times thinking, ‘what are they trying that for in that area of the pitch?’, but you can’t beat that youthful exuberance.

They just want to take things on, they just have it in their head that they can’t be beaten and it is great to watch.

“Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t but you have to stick at it. We work really hard on our skills and it has paid dividends so far and we’ll not go too far from that on Saturday.

“As long as the boys have the trust in themselves and play with loads of courage, they won’t be to far away.”

The post Bothwell: There’s A Real Determination To Bring The Cup Back To The Valley appeared first on Irish Rugby.

Lyttle Reaches 150-Cap Milestone For Ulster

Rob Lyttle will make his 150th appearance when Ulster host the Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).

Tickets, priced from £20 for adults and £10 for juniors, are still available – click here to purchase.

Lyttle’s inclusion on the left wing sees the in-form Ethan McIlroy move to full-back, with the Ireland-capped Craig Gilroy returning on the right wing.

There is a new-look centre pairing of Angus Curtis, who retains the number 12 jersey, and Ben Moxham, while Billy Burns and Nathan Doak, who turned 20 last month, continue as the starting half-backs.

Ulster picked up no new injuries from last week’s Heineken Champions Cup pool win over Clermont Auvergne. Stewart Moore (knee) remains unavailable, while Andrew Warwick has recovered from concussion.

There are three personnel changes and a positional switch up front, with hooker John Andrew rejoining Eric O’Sullivan and Martin Moore in the front row.

Australian Sam Carter pairs up with captain Alan O’Connor at lock, and Greg Jones is added to the back row. Marcus Rea shifts to the openside and Duane Vermeulen anchors at number 8.

Gareth Milasinovich has returned from his short-term loan to Saracens and is named on the bench, with Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Mick Kearney and David McCann to provide the other forward options.

David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton, who has been a regular try for Malone in the Energia All-Ireland League this season, are the back-line replacements.

ULSTER (v Scarlets): Ethan McIlroy; Craig Gilroy, Ben Moxham, Angus Curtis, Rob Lyttle; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor (capt), Sam Carter, Greg Jones, Marcus Rea, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Mick Kearney, David McCann, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Aaron Sexton.

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McBride Ready To Lead Ballyclare Into Battle With Familiar Foes

Centre Joel McBride will lead Ballyclare out at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.30pm) in the club’s first ever Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup final, where they face Ulster rivals Clogher Valley.

Tickets for the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup final are available online from Ticketmaster, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s. Tickets will not be available at the gate, they must be pre-purchased online.

Rugby is in McBride’s DNA as his father Denis is the former Ulster and Ireland flanker, who won 32 caps for his country between 1988 and 1997.

He played at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993 and the 15s World Cup two years later in South Africa, and has naturally had a huge influence on Joel’s rugby career.

“From before I could walk, I was chucking a ball about and dad will be there to support me. He has been at every game of mine since I was at P3, so it is definitely in the blood,” said Joel.

“He never forced me into the pack, he always said I had more skill in my pinky finger than he ever had but I wish I had some of his characteristics, definitely his work-rate and his strength.

“He coached Malone minis from when I was P3 right up to first year and he coached Jamie Creighton, our scrum half, so he has had an influence on a couple of players in this team.

I didn’t go to Ballyclare school so I’m kind of an outsider coming into the club. I just settled really well with the coaches and the players.

“I’m captain this year and it is an honour for me and I’m just really looking forward to the final now at Kingspan.”

Ballyclare had to dig deep to overcome Connemara 14-12 in last month’s semi-final, twice coming from behind with Mark Jackson crucially converting tries from Scott Martin, an intercept, and McBride.

“Connemara were a great side, the tempo they played at blew us away a wee bit at times but we showed a lot of grit and character,” admitted McBride.

“We hung around in the game and just got over the line so there are definitely a few learnings from it. It’s the first time the club has ever got to this final.

“The buzz around the club, around the town and even the players the last few weeks has been really exciting.”

Asked about how Ballyclare have approached the final, with important Ulster Rugby Championship games in between, he acknowledged: “It has been a ‘taking each week as it comes’ approach.

“I think if you started to look ahead to the final after we won the semi, those league games would have went down the drain pretty quickly.

“I would say last week was hard, it was in everybody’s mind that it was only a week away. Now that we are in the week of the final we can put all our attention to it which is really nice.”

The Ballyclare captain continued: “We weren’t sure where it was going to be played, then we were told Kingspan and everybody was delighted.

“A few of the squad has played there before in a few Towns Cup finals so it will be nice to go back. For a lot of the guys it will be there first time playing at Kingspan, so they are looking forward to it.”

Ballyclare and Clogher have met twice in the league this season with the County Tyrone side winning on both occasions – 14-10 at Ballyclare back in August and 14-7 at home last month.

“We have been on the wrong side of two very narrow Clogher wins. I’ll not give away too much but we have had a lot of prep looking at Clogher and the team we have they haven’t faced yet.

“So we are confident going into it but we are definitely wary that they are a very strong side.”

– Photos from Peter Adams & Alan McKillen

The post McBride Ready To Lead Ballyclare Into Battle With Familiar Foes appeared first on Irish Rugby.

Wales U20 name Six Nations squad

Wales U20 head coach Byron Hayward has named a 38-man squad for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign. His squad comprises 21 forwards and 17 backs and includes 11 players who played in last year’s championship at Cardiff Arms Park. Front rows Connor Chapman, Cameron Jones, Efan Daniel and Nathan Evans return alongside locks Dafydd Jenkins […]

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