Scotland captain returns for Edinburgh against pace-setting Bulls in one of three URC games on Friday

Dylan Coetzee
Edinburgh's Jamie Ritchie in the lineout.

Edinburgh's Jamie Ritchie in the lineout.

There’s three matches on the schedule on Friday as Round Five of the United Rugby Championship season kicks off with games at Edinburgh, Ulster and Zebre Parma.

Edinburgh v Bulls

Scotland skipper Jamie Ritchie makes his return from injury against the Bulls and starts alongside Fijian number eight Viliame Mata and Connor Boyle in the back-row.

Co-captain Grant Gilchrist takes his starting position at lock alongside partner Glen Young. In the front-row, veteran WP Nel starts with Pierre Schoeman and Ewan Ashman.

Scrum-half Ben Vellacott is the other co-captain on the day and pairs with the in-form Ben Healy in the half-backs.

James Lang and Mark Bennett are Edinburgh’s centres this weekend with the electric trio of Blair Kinghorn, Wes Goosen and Duhan van der Merwe completing the starting line-up.

In the replacements, Scotland star Ali Price could make his debut for the club off the bench and is joined by Cammy Scott and Chris Dean as backline substitutions.

Meanwhile, Dave Cherry, Boan Venter and Javan Sebastian are front-row substitutions. Tom Dodd and Marshall Sykes complete the matchday squad.

The Bulls stick with the promising Devon Williams at full-back in an exciting trio with wings Sebastian de Klerk and Sergeal Petersen. David Kriel starts at 12 alongside Stedman Gans whilst Johan Goosen and Embrose Papier are the half-backs.

Exciting number eight Cameron Hanekom continues in the starting line-up alongside Elrich Louw and Marcell Coetzee in a robust loose trio.

Ruan Nortje starts with namesake Ruan Vermaak in the second-row with Wilco Louw Johan Grobbelaar and Gerhard Steenekamp rounding out the starting side.

On the bench Simphiwe Matanzima, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Mornal Smith are joined by Reinhardt Ludwig and Nizaam Carr as forward changes. Keagan Johannes, Jaco van de Walt and Cyle Brink complete the matchday squad.

The teams

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ben Vellacott (cc) 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (cc), 4 Glen Young, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Ali Price, 22 Cammy Scott, 23 Chris Dean

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Simphiwe Matanzima, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 24 Cyle Brink

Venue: Hive Stadium, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Ru Campbell (SRU), Michael Todd (SRU)
TMO: Eoghan Cross (IRFU)

Ulster v Lions

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson moves from the bench to starter alongside Alan O’Connor in the second-row while props Scott Wilson and Andrew Warwick are joined by hooker Rob Herring in the front-row.

In the back-row Dave Ewers starts at flank with Reuben Crothers and David McCann. Scrum-half Nathan Doak links up with fly-half Jake Flannery in the half-back pairing.

Robust running Stuart McCloskey starts at inside centre with James Hume partnering him in the midfield, meanwhile, Jacob Stockdale, Stewart Moore and Rob Baloucoune make up an exciting back-three.

On the bench, John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore are the front-rows which can be called on while Harry Sheridan and Lorcan McLoughlin are the remaining forward substitutions.

Veteran John Cooney, Billy Burns and Mike Lowry are the backline replacements.

For the Lions, Marius Louw will lead again from the midfield alongside Henco van Wyk with Quan Horn, Richard Kriel and Edwill van der Merwe making up the back-three.

Morne van den Berg and Sanele Nohamba are the half-back pairing for the Johannesburg side.

Flank Hanru Sirgel starts at six with Emmanuel Tsituka and veteran Francke Horn completing the back-row.

In the tight five, Willem Alberts and Ruben Schoeman start in the second-row with props Asenathi Ntlabakanye and Corne Fourie in the coalface with PJ Botha.

On the pine, Jaco Visagie, JP Smith and Ruan Smith are front-row replacements with Ruan Delport, Ruan Venter and JC Pretorious the other forward options.

Jordan Hendrikse and Rabz Maxwane complete the matchday 23.

The teams

Ulster: 15 Stewart Moore, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jake Flannery, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 David McCann, 7 Reuben Crothers, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Iain Henderson (c), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Harry Sheridan, 20 Lorcan McLoughlin, 21 John Cooney, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mike Lowry

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (c), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Hanru Sirgel, 5 Willem Alberts, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Ruan Delport, 20 Ruan Venter, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Rabz Maxwane

Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Padraic Reidy (IRFU)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (FIR)

Zebre Parma v Cardiff

Zebre Parma have made four changes to the team that defeated the Sharks and earned their first victory since April 2022.

Lorenzo Pani, Giovanni Licata, Giacomo Ferrari and Andrea Zambonin all come into the starting XV to face Cardiff on Friday.

“Cardiff are a very solid and well-organised team but, as we now do every week, we have built a clear strategy which we are convinced can work,” head coach Fabio Roselli said.

“In the first four games we have obtained nine points. Friday’s match becomes very important because it gives us the opportunity to continue climbing the positions in the standings.”

Meanwhile, Cardiff have made five changes ahead of their trip to Italy.

Following a slender defeat to the Bulls, Matt Sherratt has reshuffled his side for the clash at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Three of the changes come in the pack with Liam Belcher returning to captain the side and Rhys Carré joining him in the front-row.

Seb Davies also returns to the starting line-up combining with Teddy Williams. In the backs, there is further rotation with Cam Winnett and Ben Thomas both coming back into the starting line-up.

Cardiff have won their last five clashes against Zebre but face a side buoyed by victory last weekend.

Wales internationals Corey Domachowski, Rory Thornton, Thomas Young and Willis Halaholo, who made his 100th appearance for the club last weekend, are all included among the replacements.

The teams

Zebre Parma: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Giovanni Licata (c), 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Giacomo Ferrari, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 David Sisi, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Replacements: 16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Muhamed Hasa, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Davide Ruggeri, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Scott Gregory, 23 Guido Volpi

Cardiff: 15 Cam Winnett, 14 Harri Millard, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Mason Grady, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Rhys Litterick, 2 Liam Belcher (c), 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Ethan Daniel, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Jacob Beetham

Venue: Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 20:35 local (19:35 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Clara Munarini (FIR), Alberto Favaro (FIR)
TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

READ MORE: British & Irish Lions secure ‘landmark agreement’ ahead of 2025 Australia tour