It’s the opening weekend of the 2016/17 rugby season in Britain and Ireland, and there are plenty of superb ties to welcome back rugby after the summer break.
The Pro12 and English Premiership got underway, and the pick of the bunch was undoubtedly a thrilling encounter between Leicester and Gloucester, the Tigers turning around a 21 point deficit to win 38-31 away at Kingsholm. Meanwhile, in the Pro12, Ospreys emerged comfortably from their opening clash against Zebre at home. Hooker Sam Parry epitomised Ospreys all-round dominance by scoring a hat-trick of tries in a 59-5 victory over the Italians. I can’t help feeling the Ospreys will be a real force this year, especially at home.
The Dragons were also in action on the opening night, suffering a 29-8 defeat against Ulster in Belfast. Despite a promising start, and taking an early lead, the Dragons were eventually outdone by Ulster’s class, who wrapped up proceedings with a bonus point win.
Today’s fixtures include Scarlets v Munster and Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh, both of which should produce some fireworks!
Closer to home, Bridgend begin their Welsh Premiership campaign at home against newly-promoted RGC 1404 from North Wales, while Bridgend Athletic – who were relegated from the Welsh Championship last season – open matters with a home fixture against Bonymaen RFC. My workmate Dan Howells starts at full-back for Bridgend Athletic, who will be hoping to hit the ground running this season.
Finally, good luck to Nantymoel in their opening clash against Cwmavon this afternoon. After a solid first season in League 2 West Central, the ‘Moel will be hoping to climb the table this term.