Celtic Cup to form key part of pre-season plans

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Cardiff Blues have confirmed that the trip to Bedford Blues will be the only official pre-season friendly.

John Mulvihill takes his squad to Goldington Road for a 4pm kick-off on Saturday 14th September for a run out against Mike Rayer’s Greene King Championship side.

Around that he will use the Celtic Cup competition to give game time to first team players, with the fixture against Dragons A after Summerfest on Saturday 7th September particularly ear-marked in that respect.

Speaking to the Cardiff Blues official website, Mulvihill said “Because of the World Cup, and a lot of boys being away, the Celtic Cup will give the Welsh and Irish teams a leg-up in the preparations because we’ll essentially use two of those games as our warm-up games.

“Previously we would’ve used big squads in games, like you saw against Leicester and Exeter last season, and we probably had too many players out there.

“Some of the boys who need game-time will feature in the A team game against Leinster at the Arms Park on August 24, which is the opening game of the competition.

“Pontypridd and Cardiff face each other on that Friday night as well, and a number of our players will play in that game as well.

“On Saturday, 7 September, the Dragons A team come here for a Celtic Cup fixture, which is also the day Summerfest is held at the Arms Park. 

“I’ve spoken to Dean Ryan about using that game to give some of our experienced guys a run-out in that game, which will be exciting for the fans, while also exposing some of our younger guys.

“A week later, we’ll have a squad of around 26 players heading up to Bedford for a pre-season fixture which will be our final rehearsal before the Kings in the opening game of the Guinness PRO14.

“A lot of our first team boys will have minutes in that game, because the following Saturday we’ll be getting on the plane to fly out to Cape Town and we’ll start our preparations on the Monday.

We’ll have an opposed training session against London Scottish on Friday. Myself, Richard Hodges and four players will be heading up on Thursday to hold a coaching clinic at London Welsh, and the whole squad will follow us up on the Friday.

“The whole squad will travel, but we’ll probably pick a squad of 28 playing members, who will do 20 minutes of warm-up, 30 minutes of opposed units and 30 minutes of opposed attack and defence. 

“We’ll be looking at our game from try-line to halfway. We’ll have time to focus on scoring tries later on, but it’ll be about coming out with our exits and controlling the middle-third of the pitch, which is our work-on from last season.

“We have a night over there to get the group together before having a week-long break following a tough block of training where the boys have worked extremely hard.”

The full Cardiff Blues A fixture list for the 2019 Celtic Cup can be found here, while you can click here to book a seat on the Cardiff Blues Supporters Club bus trip to Bedford.

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