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The regions will return to their quest for European glory this weekend when they line up for eagerly awaited European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches across the continent.

With two home and two away fixtures the regions know that results this weekend could be key to their progression in Europe this season and with their squads boosted by the return of international players some mouth-watering rugby awaits.

Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues welcome back a trio of Wales internationals for the huge European Rugby Challenge Cup clash with London Irish at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday afternoon (15.15).

Prop Gethin Jenkins, centre Cory Allen and wing Alex Cuthbert all return to the starting line-up as Blues and the Exiles – who both boast unbeaten records in Europe this season – do battle in what is all set up to be a classic in Pool 1.

Hooker Matthew Rees makes a return to the front row and will captain the team on home soil while fly half Gareth Amscombe is also declared fit and starts his first European game for Blues. Back row Manoa Vosawai, scrum half Lewis Jones and utility back Dan Fish are named among the replacements.

Adam Thomas, Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Richard Smith, Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (captain), Adam Jones, Filo Paulo, Josh Turnbull, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins,  Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Craig Mitchell, Rory Watts-Jones, Manoa Vosawai,  Lewis Jones, Gareth Davies,  Dan Fish.

Newport Gwent Dragons

Dragons Director of Rugby Lyn Jones has made two changes to the starting 15 For their visit to Romania to face the Bucharesti Wolves on Saturday (13:00) in Round 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

In the pack the front row sees one change to the hooker as Thomas Rhys Thomas moves from the bench to the starting line-up, where he joins props Brok Harris and Dan Way. The second row also sees one change as Cory Hill is joined by Welsh International Andrew Coombs.

The back row from last weekend’s clash against Glasgow Warriors remains the same with James Thomas, Nic Cudd and Lewis Evans all taking up their places again. Dragons number eight Evans also takes on the role of skipper for this European Rugby Challenge Cup game.

Lyn Jones has made no changes to the backs so fullback Geraint Rhys Jones retains his place in the back three alongside wings Tom Prydie and Matthew Pewtner. The centre paring of Ross Wardle and Ashley Smith also remains the same along with halfbacks Jason Tovey and Richie Rees also keeping their jerseys.

The replacements bench has three changes made to it as Elliot Dee, Matthew Screech and Dorian Jones join Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, James Benjamin, Jonathan Evans and Hallam Amos.

Dragons Team to face Bucharesti Wolves on Saturday:

Geraint Rhys Jones, Tom Prydie, Ross Wardle, Ashley Smith, Matthew Pewtner, Jason Tovey, Richie Rees; Brok Harris, T. Rhys Thomas, Dan Way, Cory Hill, Andrew Coombs, James Thomas, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans (captain).

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, James Benjamin, Jonathan Evans, Dorian Jones, Hallam Amos.


The race is on for Ospreys, who face racing metro at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (15.15) knowing that a win will keep their hopes of Champions Cup qualification alive and move them into first position in Pool 5.

Welsh internationals Scott Baldwin, Alun Wyn Jones, James King and Justin Tipuric return to the region to take their places in the front five, while Canadian international Tyler Ardon starts at number eight in place of the injured Dan Baker.

Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb come back from Wales duty to continue their budding partnership and take up the half back positions and further along the backline Josh Matavesi makes up a strong looking partnership with Ashley Beck. Eli Walker returns from injury to claim a place on the wing and he will partner full back Dan Evans and fellow wing Tom Grabham in the back three.

Marc Thomas makes his first European Cup start while both Sam Parry and Gareth Thomas will make their European Cup debuts if they come off the bench.

The Ospreys team to face Racing Metro at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (15.15):

Dan Evans, Tom Grabham, Ashley Beck, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Marc Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Peers, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), James King, Justin Tipuric, Tyler Ardron.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas, Daniel Suter, Rynier Bernardo, Sam Lewis, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies, Hanno Dirksen.


Over in Northern Ireland Scarlets will also welcome back a number of their international stars for their crucial European Rugby Champions Cup match against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (19.45).

With strong performances in the opening rounds against reigning champions Toulon and English giants Leicester Tigers, Scarlets go into the Pool 3 fixture well positioned in second place, four points behind French outfit Toulon.

Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes to the starting 15 that outmuscled Leicester Tigers at Parc y Scarlets in the second round as his team looks for a rare win in Belfast.

All Black centre Regan King comes back in at outside centre after recently returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury and he will partner returning Wales international Scott Williams in midfield, whilst Michael Tagicakibau returns to the wing. Rhys Priestalnd will start at fly half and look to spark off scrum half Aled Davies and Liam Williams returns at full back.

In the pack Jake Ball returns to the second row having been a late casualty ahead of the last round and man of the moment James Davies replaces John Barclay as openside flanker. Samson Lee, Rob Evans and Emyr Phillips will form a formidable looking front row while Rory Pitman gets the nod at number eight.

Scarlets team to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (19.45):

Liam Williams, Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams (captain), Michael Tagicakibau, Rhys Priestland, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Johan Snyman, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, Rory Pitman.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Rhodri Jones, George Earle, Lewis Rawlins, Rhodri Williams, Steven Shingler, Gareth Owen.