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Professional rugby set-ups and supporters across Wales are reaching fever pitch as the Welsh regions countdown to the start of their campaigns in the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup this weekend.

RRW wishes all the regions the very best of luck in their respective competitions and hopes they all make their fantastic supporters and the whole of Wales proud.

Blues

The Blues will be the first Welsh team to do battle in the newly formatted competitions when they face French team Grenoble on Saturday afternoon (14.30) at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Mark Hammett makes six changes to the starting line up, with fly half Gareth Davies and scrum half Lloyd Williams both selected among the backs.

Positional changes see Rhys Patchell move to full back while Adam Thomas switches to outside centre and is paired with Gavin Evans in midfield. Richard Smith is named on the wing with Alex Cuthbert missing the game with a minor strain.

Prop Sam Hobbs also makes a return to the starting selection, alongside skipper Matthew Rees and Adam Jones. In the back row Macauley Cook comes in at blindside flanker while Italian international Manoa Vosawai plays at Number Eight.

Cardiff Blues team to play Grenoble, Saturday October 19 (14.30) at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park:

Rhys Patchell, Richard Smith, Adam Thomas, Gavin Evans, Geraint Walsh, Gareth Davies, Lloyd Williams; Sam Hobbs, Matthew Rees (captain), Adam Jones, Jarrad Hoeata, Filo Paulo, Macauley Cook, Sam Warburton, Manoa Vosawai.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Tavis Knoyle, Cory Allen, Dan Fish.

 

Dragons

Flyhalf Angus O’Brien will make his first European start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup for the Newport Gwent Dragons, who face Stade Francais on Saturday evening in Paris.

O’Brien has been a regular feature in the Dragons squad this season since he moved from the Academy set up into the senior squad this summer.

His inclusion is one of five changes Director of Rugby Lyn Jones has made to the side that faced Edinburgh rugby last weekend in the Guinness PRO12.

Newport Gwent Dragons team to face Stade Francais, Saturday October 18 (19.45):

Lee Byrne (captain), Matthew Pewtner, Tom Prydie, Ashley Smith, Hallam Amos, Angus O’Brien, Richie Rees; Boris Stankovich, T. Rhys Thomas, Lloyd Fairbrother, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Owen Evans, Dan Way, James Thomas, Andy Powell, Jonathan Evans, Jason Tovey, Aled Brew.

 

Ospreys

Steve Tandy has named an unchanged team for the Ospreys as they welcome Italian side Treviso to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday to kick off their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign.

The former Osprey back rower sticks with the same side that beat Cardiff Blues in the Guinness PRO12 Welsh derby last weekend in front of over 10,000 supporters at the Liberty Stadium.

The Ospreys team to face Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium, Sunday October 19, (13.00):

Dan Evans, Jeff Hassler, Andrew Bishop, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Peers, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), James King, Sam Lewis, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Scott Otten, Duncan Jones, Aaron Jarvis, Rynier Bernardo, Joe Bearman, Justin Tipuric, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies.

 

Scarlets

The last of the weekend’s action for the regions in Europe sees Scarlets play a tough European Rugby Champions Cup opener away at Toulon, who won last season’s premier European rugby competition.

Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes to the side that came up short against Munster in the Guinness PRO12 last weekend. Michael Tagicakibau comes in at outside centre for injured Gareth Owen and a complete change in the front row sees Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips and Samson Lee come in for Phil John, Kirby Myhill and Rhodri Jones.

Scarlets team to take on Toulon, Sunday October 19 (15.15):

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

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Rhodri Jones, George Earle, James Davies, Rhodri Williams, Steven Shingler, Jordan Williams.