Premier Sports pundit Tom Shanklin expects a Leinster reaction & passes best wishes on to players in quarantine

It’s all to play for in Round 7 of the United Rugby Championship this weekend with the leader board tied between Leinster and Ulster after a stunning showdown between the two clubs last weekend saw Leinster uncharacteristically beaten at home by a jubilant Ulster who haven’t won at the RDS since 2013.

Another big weekend lies in wait as festive rugby looms on the horizon for the URC teams in action with crucial opportunities to get points on the board before another break next weekend to make way for European Rugby action.

Edinburgh’s 30-14 win over Dragons last weekend lifted the Scottish club up the charts into third just one point off the leaders with Munster in fourth but with one game in hand.

In South Africa, two derbies are brought forward in the URC calendar following the postponement of cross-hemisphere fixtures in South Africa last weekend.

Friday night rugby viewing kicks off with a trio as Cell C Sharks hosting the Vodacom Bulls in Durban (Premier Sports 2 from 5pm UK) followed by Edinburgh welcoming Benetton to the Scottish capital (live on Premier Sports 1 from 7pm) and Leinster battle a buoyant Connacht at the RDS Arena (live on Premier Sports 2 from 7.30pm).

Premier Sports will have a full team in the capital tonight (Fri) bringing all the build-up and live action from the host’s new DAM Health Stadium where Edinburgh are yet to be beaten at home this season. But the hosts will be mindful that their only defeat this season was at the hands of Benetton when Leonardo Marin struck a last-gasp drop goal to clinch victory for the Italians in Round 2. 

Popular football and rugby presenter Emma Dodds leads Premier Sports coverage in Scottish capital tonight taking over the reins for the first time in a URC fixture from Dougie Vipond who is back on tour with his band Deacon Blue. Emma is alongside a top team bringing rugby fans all the analysis and insight from Edinburgh with Chris Paterson, Jim Hamilton, Rory Hamilton and Jamie Lyall.

It’s over to another Premier Sports leading lady on Saturday night as Lauren Jenkins presents coverage for the second Scottish clash of the weekend, live from Scotstoun as Glasgow Warriors welcome the Dragons with 55 cap former Scottish and British Lions winger Tommy Seymour for company together with Tom Shanklin, Rory Hamilton and Paul Marshall (live on Premier Sports from 1 from 7pm).

Former 70-cap outside centre for Wales (20 tries) and Cardiff Tom Shanklin said: “First thoughts have to go to the clubs and players who have been in isolation and quarantine. It’s going to have a huge effect on these teams. They haven’t planned for this, so they’ll will be thinking on the move how to manage this time and what activities to do with players stuck in rooms.  The idea of trying to work out in your room continuously for 10 days, not being able to train properly, to run or sprint - it’s just the worse possible scenario for a pro rugby player. This is going to have a massive impact and you have to feel for them and it’s not in their control.  But they will stick tight as a group and it’s great to see how supporters are getting behind their teams with messages of support.”

On the games which are scheduled for this weekend he added: “I fully expect Leinster to come back firing this weekend – teams of that quality which such a strong culture and with that depth will not want to concede two losses in a row at home. Ulster have showed that it takes to beat them which can only be good for the overall competition as Leinster have dominated for so long.  It will give a lot of teams hope – there’s now a blueprint of what it takes to beat Leinster. Connacht looked really good last weekend and this will be a massive test for both teams with a lot of pressure on both sides, so we can expect a great game of rugby.”

On Ospreys v Ulster he said: “Ulster arrive with confidence flowing really high, after such a great win last weekend.  The Ospreys have showed they can shut out teams defensively but in attack they’ve not done what they needed to consistently - it’s just not looking that fluid in attack so I think the pressure will be on them this weekend at home.”

On Glasgow Warriors v Dragons he added: “The Dragons seemed to switch off last weekend. They’ve got to get some wins under their belts now with more complete performances.  They can’t be giving away easy tries and penalties and need to the apply the pressure for longer periods.  If they can access front foot ball with the likes of Wainwright and Keedie who can give them momentum, they have Sam Davies who can orchestrate well behind and a back three who can cause problems with the likes of Jordan Williams who showed how dangerous he can be to defences last weekend.”

At the heart of the broadcast partnership across the United Rugby Championship, Premier Sports is the only broadcaster to show every game live - every weekend, ensuring rugby fans don't miss a second of the action.

Alongside URC action there’s two top billing French clashes in the TOP 14 – with a thrilling finale to Saturday night’s live viewing on Premier Sports as a top of the table battle sees leaders Toulouse travel to Stade Chaban Delmas to take on Bordeaux Bègles (Premier Sports 2 from 8pm). There’s just two points between these two after second-placed Bordeaux’s bonus point win over Racing 92 last weekend – there’s sure to be a return to the field for a handful of French international stars in what will be a hotly contested battle to be TOP 14 leaders at Christmas as European rugby returns next weekend. Sunday night sees Stade Francais host La Rochelle who have been steadily building momentum and points in recent weeks and currently sit in fourth (live on Premier Sports 1 from 8.05pm).

Premier Sports team will bring rugby supporters every second of the live action from all four of URC’s Round 6 contests. Here’s the line-up:

Fri 3 Dec Edinburgh v Benetton: Emma Dodds, Chris Paterson, Jim Hamilton, Rory Hamilton, Jamie Lyall

Fri 3 Dec Leinster v Connacht: Graham Little, Bernard Jackman, Ian Keatley, Darren Cave, Ryle Nugent

Sat 4 Dec Ospreys v Ulster: Ross Harries, Shane Williams, Stephen Ferris, Eddie Butler, Owain Gwynedd

Sat 4 Dec Glasgow Warriors v Dragons: Lauren Jenkins, Tommy Seymour, Tom Shanklin, Rory Hamilton, Paul Marshall

There’s six live games to tune into across the weekend across South Africa, France, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in other exciting weekend of Premier Sports RUGBY coverage:


Fri 3 Dec                Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls         URC: Live on Premier Sports 2 from 5pm

Fri 3 Dec                Edinburgh v Benetton                       URC: Live on Premier Sports 1 from 7pm

Fri 3 Dec                Leinster v Connacht                           URC Live on Premier Sports 2 from 7.30pm

Sat 4 Dec              Ospreys v UIster                                  URC: Live on Premier Sports 1 from 7.30pm

Sat 4 Dec              DHL Stormers v Emirates Lions       URC: Live on FreeSports from 3.25pm

Sat 4 Dec              Glasgow Warriors v Dragons           URC: Live on Premier Sports 1 from 7pm

Sat 4 Dec              Bordeaux Bègles v Toulouse            TOP14: Live on Premier Sports 2 from 8pm

Sun 5 Dec              Stade Francais v La Rochelle            TOP14: Live on Premier Sports 1 from 8.05pm