Official Match Day Programme
Fri 4 Feb 2022, 8.15pm
In this Issue
Welcome back to Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby,
where tonight the Ulster squad welcomes rival province, Connacht Rugby
for the eighth round of the United Rugby Championship.
A win for the Ulster men tonight would see them return to the top of the
URC standings - albeit with an extra game played - while Connacht will be
focused on getting back to winning ways after a tough loss against Glasgow last weekend.
An all-Irish affair promises a well fought battle between two highly motivated sides.
On behalf of the entire Ulster Rugby and Kingspan community, we would like
to extend the warmest of welcomes to our visitors and we have no doubt the
loyal crowd in Kingspan Stadium will provide stirring support for the Ulster team.
Finally, on behalf of Kingspan, I would like to wish the Ulster Rugby squad and management
team the very best of luck. To Ulster’s committed fans, enjoy the game, lead the way and
help ensure that this is an evening to remember at Kingspan Stadium.
Ones To Watch
& Moxham Commit
Ulster to See Off
Friend or Foe
win AI Junior Cup
Welcome to the re-scheduled Round 8
fixture in the United Rugby Championship,
and the third home game in a row at
I would like to welcome our provincial rivals,
Connacht, who come off the back of a
tough defeat by Glasgow Warriors at The
Sportsground last weekend, so they will be
sure to put in a response which Ulster will
have to be prepared for.
Ulster claimed a bonus-point victory over
Scarlets last Friday evening, putting them
in a great position in the URC table, which
I’m sure they will want to build upon this
evening. Congratulations must go to Rob
Lyttle on making his 50th appearance for
the Ulster men last Friday!
Earlier this week, we were bolstered by
the news that David Shanahan has signed
a two-year contract extension with Ulster,
with Ben Moxham being promoted to a
senior contract next season, and Jude
Postlethwaite being awarded with a
Development contract followed by a 3-year
senior contract. Hooker Declan Moore, who
impressed during his short-term loan from
Munster, will join Ulster on a two-year deal.
Congratulations to the seven young Ulster
players who have been selected in the
Irish Under-20s Six Nations squad. Reuben
Crothers will have the honour of captaining the
side for this campaign. Best of luck to Reuben,
Josh Hanlon, Adam McNamee, John Glasgow,
James McCormick, James McNabney, and
Scott Wilson in their campaign.
A huge well-done and congratulations to
James Hume, who has been selected in
the Ireland Men’s match-day squad to face
Wales on Saturday. Hopefully we will see
him making his Guinness Six Nations debut
after putting in phenomenal performances
Last Saturday saw an all-Ulster final
between Clogher Valley and Ballyclare in
the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup, with
Clogher Valley edging out the win to
claim the Cup for the first time in front
of a 3,000-strong crowd at Kingspan
Stadium. What a fantastic advert for junior
rugby displayed by both sides, and my
congratulations go to Clogher Valley.
As the club and schools’ competitions
progress, I’d like to remind everyone of
our #respectURgame campaign and our
updated Code of Conduct. Thank you in
advance for championing this message.
Enjoy the game and SUFTUM.
President, IRFU Ulster Branch
Name: Finley Copeland
Today Finley celebrates his 10th birthday with
his family here at Kingspan Stadium.
Finley loves celebrating tries at
Kingspan Stadium by cheering and waving his
flag. Oh and he really likes a pre-match burger!
When he’s not supporting Ulster, he is playing
for Banbridge RFC.
Favourite Player: Nathan Doak
Welcome to Round 1 of the new United
Rugby Championship, and the first
competitive game of the 21/22 season.
I also extend a warm welcome to tonight’s
opponents, Glasgow Warriors. They clinched
an impressive win away to Worcester
Warriors a fortnight ago, so I am sure Dan
McFarland and the squad know how tough a
challenge this opening Round will be.
The URC brings an exciting new level of
competition, combining the top South
African clubs – Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers,
Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks - with the
Guinness PRO14 to create a world-class 16-
team league. We are very excited about the
season ahead in this new Championship.
Last week, we were delighted to announce
the signing of South African World Cup
winner, Duane Vermeulen, who will join Ulster
following the Autumn Tests. I think it’s safe to
say how excited we all are to have a player
of Duane’s calibre and experience added to
our back row and squad. We can’t wait to
welcome him into the fold in November.
Congratulations to the eleven Ulster players
who took part in Sunday’s Irish Rugby camp
in preparation for the upcoming Autumn
Nations Series. Well done to Will Addison,
Robert Baloucoune, Billy Burns, James
Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale,
Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Eric O’Sullivan,
Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney.
Kathryn Dane, Neve Jones and Brittany
Hogan have been part of the Ireland team
competing for a place in next year’s Rugby
World Cup – after a narrow defeat to Spain
and superb victory over Italy, it all comes
down to the final Qualifier versus Scotland
tomorrow (5pm UK / Irish time, Stadio
Lanfranchi Stadium). Best of luck to our
three players and the rest of the women in
The Deloitte Ulster Senior Women’s team
concluded their Vodafone Interprovincial
campaign two weeks ago, with a hardearned
draw against a tough Connacht side.
Well done to all the coaches and players who
were involved in the match-day teams and
the wider training squad.
It has been great to have Ulster feature
strongly in the current Development Inter-
Pro fixtures at the IRFU High Performance
Centre. Our young talent have missed out on
so much club and representative rugby over
the last 18 months, so it’s fantastic they’re
getting the chance to shine for their province.
On the domestic front, it’s wonderful to see
club and schools’ rugby make a return to
competitive action over the last couple of
weeks – it’s set to be a bumper season ahead
CEO Ulster Rugby
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The winger notched up his 50th
appearance for the Ulster men last Friday
against the Scarlets, and he’s looking
forward to the challenge Connacht will
bring to Kingspan Stadium.
Congratulations Rob on your 50th Ulster
appearance and on your birthday! How did
it feel to run out in front of a home crowd?
It was pretty special in front of everybody
for my 50th cap. I think it had been about
two-and-a-half years since I last played in
front of a full Kingspan Stadium crowd; I
got injured and then COVID hit, so it’s been
a long time since I played at home, so that
was special in itself. My family were there,
and it was my son’s first time ever watching
me play for Ulster, so that was special
getting to hold him after the game.
If you can cast your mind back, which of
those 50 appearances stand out for you as
Your debut is always special, but apart
from that, beating Edinburgh in the semifinal
of the Guinness PRO14 was surreal. I
got Player of the Match, so it was a special
day. We played Munster on New Year’s Day
in 2018 and I scored the bonus-point try in
the last minute in the game; that is one that
definitely stands out!
How much are you enjoying being part of
an exciting young group of backs?
It’s class. Apart from Billy [Burns], I was one
of the oldest players in the back line last
weekend, which I hadn’t thought about! It’s
fantastic playing with guys who have come
through the same pathway I have. It’s a very
talented group and it’s exciting to see where
we’ll go in the next couple of seasons.
Going into this week, how is the mood in
Any time we play an Inter-Pro, it’s a special
game. We need to back-up the performance
from last week. When we played Connacht
at Aviva Stadium, we didn’t cover ourselves
in any glory, so we owe them one and will
try to right the wrongs of that day.
It’s a big Inter-Pro fixture this week against
Connacht, we’re sure it won’t take much to
motivate the squad for this game?
It’ll take no motivation at all. Connacht
are a very good side and that game at
Aviva Stadium, we had a taste of our own
medicine. We have to play well to beat
them so there will be no extra motivation
needed at all.
Connacht have a brilliant team all-round.
Tiernan O’Halloran is a stand-out back,
and Jack Carty, if he’s released by Ireland.
They’ve got multiple threats in the back
line – Alex Wootton is a great player
and Sammy Arnold too. It should be an
How important is it to you as a player to
have the home crowd behind you?
It’s a massive driving factor for us. When we
get on the front foot playing against teams,
we can really hear the team behind us, so
I imagine it’s very intimidating for other
teams. We really value the crowd getting
behind us; it spurs us on to do well and
ultimately get the win.
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Head Coach: Dan McFarland
Assistant Coach: Dan Soper
Forwards Coach: Roddy Grant
Defence Coach: Jared Payne
Skills Coach: Craig Newby
Fly Half / Centre
Lock / Back Row
THE SPIRIT OF
DISCOVER THE SPIRIT WITHIN |
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2 Andrew 3 Milasinovic
1 Buckley 2 Delahunt 3 Tuimauga
4 O’Connor 5 Carter
4 Murray 5 Dowling
6 Jones 8 Vermeulen
6 Prendergast 8 Butler
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Cole, Paul Haycock
TMO: Joy Neville
16 D Moore
16 J Murphy
17 C Reid
17 J Guggan
18 R Kane
18 G McGrath
19 M Kearney
19 L Fifita
20 N Timoney
20 P Boyle
21 D Shanahan
21 C Reilly
22 B Moxham
22 C Forde
23 R Lyttle
23 O McNulty
open 7s trials
for U16 & U18 Girls
Ulster Rugby is set to host three open trial
sessions for U16 and U18 girls in Rugby 7s.
The sessions take place at the following
• Newforge Country Club, Belfast
Thu 17 Feb, 12pm-2pm
• Letterkenny IT, Co. Donegal
Sat 19 Feb, 11am-4pm
• The Peace Link, Clones, Co. Monaghan
Sun 20 Feb, 12pm-3pm
Numbers at each session will be capped
and registration is required to confirm
attendance. Girls born in 2004/05 (U18)
or 2006/07 (U16) can register now at
Rugby 7s is a variant of the sport involving
7 players per side playing shortened games
made up of 7-minute halves. It tends to be
faster-paced than traditional 15-a-side rugby,
featuring exciting and high-scoring games.
The speed and simplicity of 7s makes it
attractive to players already familiar with
15s rugby, and also newcomers with a solid/
moderate/above average level of athleticism
These trials will give players the chance to
showcase their talent and skill and are seen
as a hugely important part of our ongoing
growth of the women and girls’ game.
This will be the first time Ulster Rugby has
staged open trials at these age groups,
and the aim is to attract a large number of
players to each session.
Ulster is inviting girls in either age bracket
to take part in the trials, regardless of their
experience in rugby.
The sessions themselves will involve various
exercises to assess the skills and abilities of
each player. Following the trials, players will
be selected to enter a 6-week training block
ahead of representing Ulster in a series interprovincial
7s games at the end of April.
Ulster Rugby Women & Girls’ Rugby
Development Manager, Eliza Downey said:
“These open trials mark an exciting time for
Ulster Rugby around the continued growth
and development of the Women & Girls’
“It not only creates an opportunity for
our players within the sport to challenge
themselves, but also provides a welcome
entry point into the game for athletes
from different sports who can bring their
transferable skills into the world of rugby.”
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
Ones to Watch
08/04/1996 181cm 102kg
The ex-Ulsterman, made his debut for Ulster against
Dragons back in 2015, at just 18 years old.
Arnold since spent several years at Munster, before
joining Connacht in 2020.
In this season’s United Rugby Championship,
Arnold has scored 3 tries for his province.
13/10/1999 199cm 111kg
Murray is in his second full season with the Connacht
senior squad following a breakthrough year as an
Academy player in 2019/20. The 22-year-old lock has
already made eight appearances for Connacht this
season, including the October victory over Ulster at
Aviva Stadium where he played the full 80 minutes and
also touched down for a try.
23/02/2000 194cm 112kg
Another young forward, last season was Prendergast’s
breakout year, making 10 senior appearances and
winning the Connacht Academy Player of the Year
along with a new senior contract.
The back row has a 97% tackle success rate in this
season’s Unitied Rugby Championship and therefore
could challege Ulster’s attacking line.
NAME POSITION DOB HEIGHT WEIGHT
Aki Bundee Centre 07/04/1990 178cm 102kg
Arnold Sammy Centre 08/04/1996 181cm 102kg
Aungier Jack Prop 20/11/1998 188cm 120kg
Bealham Finlay Prop 09/10/1991 189cm 121kg
Blade Caolin Scrum-Half 29/04/1994 169cm 80kg
Bolton Shayne Centre 29/06/2000 - -
Boyle Paul Back Row 14/01/1997 190cm 107kg
Buckley Denis Prop 09/08/1990 176cm 107kg
Burke Matthew Prop 04/02/1997 180cm 108kg
Butler Jarrad Back Row 20/07/1991 185cm 105kg
Carty Jack Fly Half 31/08/1992 183cm 88kg
Daly Tom Centre 31/07/1993 191cm 107kg
Delahunt Shane Hooker 02/02/1994 187cm 111kg
Dillane Ultan Lock 09/11/1993 196cm 113kg
Dowling Oisin Lock 23/06/1997 197cm 109kg
Duggan Jordan Prop 07/01/1998 187cm 114kg
Farrell Tom Centre 10/01/1993 190cm 107kg
Fifita Leva Lock 29/07/1989 - -
Fitzgerald Conor Out-Half 30/09/1997 185cm 90kg
Hansen Mack Back Three 27/03/1998 - -
Healy Matt Back Three 14/03/1989 184cm 94kg
Heffernan Dave Hooker 31/01/1991 187cm 110kg
Illo Sam Prop 16/02/2001 - -
Marmion Kieran Scrum-Half 11/02/1992 176cm 82kg
Masterson Eoghan Back Row 05/04/1993 193cm 107kg
Masterson Sean Back Row 27/01/1998 191cm 105kg
McGrath Greg Prop 21/01/1997 - -
McNulty Oran Back Three 16/01/2000 178cm 90kg
Murray Niall Lock 13/10/1999 199cm 111kg
Murphy Jonny Hooker 06/09/1992 178cm 101kg
O'Donnell Ben Back Three 14/08/1995 189cm 92kg
O'Halloran Tiernan Back Three 26/02/1991 190cm 94kg
Oliver Conor Back Row 21/09/1995 182cm 102kg
Papali'i Abraham Back Row 20/06/1993 192cm 122kg
Porch John Back Three 04/03/1994 186cm 86kg
Prendergast Cian Lock/Back Row 23/02/2000 194cm 112kg
Reilly Colm Scrum-Half 09/08/1999 176cm 78kg
Robb Peter Centre 19/07/1994 189cm 106kg
Robertson-McCoy Dominic Prop 10/11/1993 188cm 119kg
Sullivan Peter Back Three 15/05/1998 187cm 99kg
Thornbury Gavin Lock 19/10/1993 203cm 116kg
Tierney-Martin Dylan Hooker 20/06/1999 - -
Tuimauga Tietie Prop 05/08/1993 192cm 124kg
Wootton Alex Back Three 07/07/1994 185cm 96kg
Connacht 20-42 Glasgow Warriors
Stade Francais 37-31 Connacht
Connacht 28-29 Leicester Tigers
Half-Time Exhibition Games
1 Michael Grant
2 Gerard Lannon
3 Gordon Curley
Black / Amber
1 Rian McMahon
2 Andrew Flanagan
3 Padraig Gallagher
4 Daragh Curley
5 Lucas McDevitt
6 Sean-Michael McNally-Grant
7 Aaron Blake
8 Conor Lannon
9 Logan McClintock
10 Eoghan Sweeney
11 Fionn Gallagher
12 Ronan McAteer
1 Richard Eccles
2 Ashley Clarke
3 Julian Costelloe
Blue / White
1 Joel Clarke
2 Sam Eccles
3 Andy Eccles
4 Charlie Costelloe
5 Charlie Espie
6 Charlie Stinson
7 Jake Law
8 Eli Hill
9 Nico Hadden
10 Ollie Cassells
11 Ben Ferguson
12 Jack Edwards
AbbeyAutoline Family Stand End
1 Liam McMonagle
1 Max Blair
2 David McCurry
2 Oscar Black
1 Mark Hylands
3 Darragh McCloskey
4 Darragh O’Kane
5 Louis Gault
6 Adam McGerty
7 Arthur Hylands
8 Danny Holmes
9 Alex Campbell
10 Toby Baird
1 Peter Blair
2 Peter McMichael
3 Gary Robinson
3 Aydan Byrne
4 Will Cunningham
5 Ryan Ferguson
6 Vaughn Hamilton
7 Lewis Irwin
8 Seth Martin
9 James Matthews
10 Noah McMichael
Memorial Stand End
Black / Red
11 Ewan Brennan
12 Finlay Scott
Black/ Yellow / Red
11 Jack Robinson
12 James Wilson
It didn’t take long for Ulster to reply, however.
They had a penalty five metres out, which
Duane Vermeulen picked up and drove
towards the line. Angus Curtis cut a great
line to collect the pass from Nathan Doak to
burrow over. Doak added the extras to draw
level before the break.
Ulster’s second try came through Sam
Carter, who muscled over under a pile of
Ulster bodies in the corner, after a series of
pick-and-goes. The flags stayed down on
the tricky conversion attempt.
Scarlets were made to work hard for their
second try by a robust Ulster defence. After
several phases and patient play, Kemsley
Mathias was the man to get over for the
Last Time Out
Friday 28 January, 7.35pm
Ulster returned to URC action with a bonuspoint
victory over Scarlets at Kingspan
Stadium last Friday night.
It took only three minutes for the hosts to
get on the scoreboard, and Nathan Doak
was the man to land the penalty to put
Ulster 3 points up.
Ulster threatened early, when Billy Burns
made a superb intercept and break down
field for their first chance. He kicked the
ball through and was able to swallow up
Tom Rogers who made the gather, but the
visitors did well to retain possession.
Scarlets brought the scores level through
the boot of out-half, Dan Jones, after Ulster
were penalised for not rolling away.
Ulster had a golden opportunity after Shaun
Evans was penalised for going off his feet
and Billy Burns kicked to touch for the lineout.
The Ulster maul powered over the line
but the Scarlets defence did well to hold
John Andrew up for the goal-line drop-out.
27 - 15
The visitors had a chance of their own when
Ryan Conbeer made a break down the left
wing, but Greg Jones tracked back superbly
to make the steal.
Scarlets had the benefit of a man advantage
after Craig Gilroy was yellow-carded for a
high hit on Tom Rogers, and soon scored
through tighthead, Samson Lee. Dan Jones
added the conversion to put the visiting side
7 points ahead.
The men in white had a great chance on 46
minutes when Ethan McIlroy made a searing
break, passing inside to Nathan Doak who
kicked the ball through, but the covering
Scarlets defence beat Doak to it by the
fingertips to ground the ball over the line.
with Billy Burns
Just three minutes later, Ulster responded
through Gareth Milasinovich who showed
great strength to drive over over for his first
try and Doak drilled over the conversion.
The tails were now up and the Ulster men
claimed their bonus-point try, after a brilliant
run by Billy Burns who offloaded just before
he was bundled into touch, with a flick of the
ball from the boot of Nathan Doak, to Craig
Gilroy who dotted down in the corner.
Ulster were able to see out the remaining ten
minutes to notch up five match points in the
Ulster 27 - 15 Scarlets
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Favourite try you’ve scored for Ulster?
Against Connacht at home - 2020
One thing you can’t live without?
My daughter and sweets
Favourite 2021/22 Ulster kit
Most used app on your phone?
Favourite moment of career so far?
Most used emoji?
Playing at Bath against my brother –
The great Gatsby
If you had to be stuck on an island with
Any habits or rituals before a game?
It’s a secret
Best player you have played with?
Apart from rugby, what other sports do
FRI 4 MAR, 7.35PM | KINGSPAN STADIUM
Shanahan, Postlethwaite and Moxham
commit to Ulster as Moore signs on
Ulster has been bolstered by four more
players putting pen to paper for the
province, including hooker, Declan
Moore, who officially makes the move
from Munster Rugby next season.
A product of the Ulster Academy
programme, Dublin-born, David Shanahan,
is a livewire scrum-half known for his speed,
excellent support lines, and try-scoring
ability. The 28-year-old has notched up 78
appearances for the Ulster men, and is set
to continue to bring his experience to the
club with a new two-year contract.
Former RBAI pupil, 19-year-old, Jude
Postlethwaite, was the leading try-scorer
in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup
in 2020, earning him a nomination for the
competition’s Player of the Year. He joined
the Ulster Rugby Academy in 2021 having
already featured in the Ireland Under-20
Six Nations squad and represented Ireland
The Lisburn native, who has also enjoyed
success as part of the Ulster ‘A’ squad,
is known for his physicality and pace,
and he will continue to bring this to the
province with a new deal that sees him
sign a Development contract next season,
followed by a 3-year Senior contract.
A product of the province’s player
pathway, 20-year-old, Ben Moxham
made his Senior debut versus Connacht
in December 2020 and has since made
a further ten appearances for Ulster. The
Larne man’s speed, skills, and athleticism,
which have already been showcased
on an international stage for the Ireland
Under-20s and Ireland Sevens, resulted
in his Academy contract recently being
upgraded to a Development contract for
the rest of this season. He will be further
promoted to a Senior contract next year.
New-Zealand born, and Irish-qualified,
Declan Moore has recently joined-up with
the Ulster squad from Munster Rugby as
short-term injury cover, and has already
impressed in training.
The 25-year-old hooker, who grew up in
Australia, made his Senior debut for Munster
in their Heineken Champions Cup Round 1
fixture versus Wasps, having already lined
out for Shannon RFC in the AIL and Munster
‘A’, this season. He is now signed-up to
Ulster for the upcoming two seasons.
Kingspan’s products sold in 2020, will make a significant
positive contribution to the environment over their lifetime.
tonnes of CO 2
will be saved
over the life of
systems sold in
billion litres of
rainwater will be
harvested by our
in 2020 2
In 2020 alone,
we upcycled 573
9 billion lumens
power a major
15 years 1
to fill over 400
fill over 800
Enough to light
up 1 million
Visit our 2020
1. Assumes 60 year product life; based
on an EU airline disclosure of 10.5m
tonnes of CO 2
e emissions in 2019
2. Assumes a 20 year product life
3. Assumes 10 x 60W bulbs per home
Jewel Changi Airport | Singapore
It’s that time of the rugby year again,
when, for the next two months, supporters
can sate their appetites with a feast of
club and international action.
The Six Nations Championship kicks off this
weekend with Ireland facing champions
Wales in Dublin, while Ulster continues its
determined progress in the United Rugby
Championship with this evening’s rearranged
derby against Connacht.
Given the comparatively spartan diet over
Christmas and New Year, when fans had
hoped to see Connacht and Leinster arrive
at Kingspan Stadium, the next few weeks
will provide non-stop opportunities to
demonstrate robust but non-threatening
Both Ulster and Connacht have players
involved with the Irish squad and the
respective coaches will hope their charges
get an opportunity to shine in the green
jersey. So as Iain Henderson, Rob Herring
and the latest recruits to Andy Farrell’s
armoury aim to make their international
mark, so too will Connacht’s Jack Carty,
Ulster to See Off Friend or Foe?
Finlay Belham, Bundee Aki and others
regarded as the spine of Head Coach Andy
Friend’s impressive outfit.
Fans of both sides this evening will be as
one tomorrow when Ireland takes to the
Aviva Stadium pitch, but of immediate
concern is this inter-pro battle which finds
itself in an unusual part of the fixture list.
International calls do disrupt selection
but management teams know the hurdles
which come down the track and can plan
better for that circumstance whereas
injuries are not as specifically predictable.
Both Friend and his Ulster counterpart
Dan McFarland will have factored in
reduced access to familiar talent and will,
earnestly, believe their work in deepening
their playing resources will minimise the
absences with Ireland.
Of course, during the Six Nations, Farrell
will release some players back to their
clubs to ensure they are match-ready, but
Friend and McFarland will look, in the main,
to those who were on duty last weekend.
Ulster’s home bonus-point win over the
Scarlets demonstrated that the team can
adapt, that the refreshing instinct for attack
is allied to an ability to take part in what
McFarland called ‘an arm-wrestle’, to go
toe-to-toe in the more physical aspects of
the game. The huge improvement in the
setpiece, the consistent success from ruck
and maul, is testament to the work the
coaching team has done with the group.
Connacht might not be perceived as having
quite the range of Ulster, but it plays to its
strengths in terms of individual players
and traditional strategies and tactics. On
and off the pitch Connacht has had to
battle for its very existence, and that it is
now an established and successful force is
down to the character and persistence of
its Western roots and the efforts of officials
and coaches who fought off challenges on
Dan McFarland has a real understanding
of the drive and determination at the
Sportsground in Galway, having enjoyed
success as a player and then an eager and
Andy Friend has built on the successes
which climaxed in Connacht’s PRO12 title in
2016 under Pat Lam, and the squad today
is one which is constantly being deepened,
and the imminent arrival of Josh Murphy
from Leinster evidences its drawing power
to elite players.
Just what Ulster faces this evening is clear:
a focussed and well-coached team with
proven strengths in all departments.
Sam Arnold, once of this parish, has
flourished under Friend’s guidance in
midfield, and his regular pairing with
Bundee Aki has stiffened Connacht’s
backline as a defensive unit which can
launch attacks from anywhere. Arnold is off
to Top 14 side Brive next season when he
will be working for Jeremy Davidson.
Tom Farrell is another centre option who is
familiar with the demands of top-class club
rugby and will probably be an important
figure tonight at Kingspan Stadium.
Alex Wooton is a prolific try-scoring wing,
Tiernan O’Halloran a dependable, talented
full-back, and scrum-half Kieran Marmion is
an Irish international who vies with another
skilled operator in Caolin Blade for the No.9
In the pack, hooker Dave Heffernan and
props Tiete Tuimaiga and Denis Buckley
will provide the Ulster front row with a
rugged test, while Ultan Dillane’s presence
is a huge bonus as he would normally
have been required in the Irish squad. He
is decided his immediate rugby future will
be abroad but he’ll want to impose himself
as effectively as always in the scrum and in
Jarrad Butler is a back rower with a wellmerited
reputation at the breakdown and
the contest with Marcus Rea and Duane
Vermeulen will be key to the outcome of a
URC game which is already shaping up, for
oth sides, as a ‘must-win’.
High-flying Glasgow emerged from
The Sportsground last weekend with a
thumping win and Connacht will be in the
mood to show that result was a blip and
that it is quite capable of refreshing its own
targets in the league.
It will not have gone unnoticed that in
November an Ulster team ‘on a roll’ travelled
to the Aviva Stadium to meet Connacht
and left Dublin thoroughly out-thought and
outplayed in the Westerners’ 36-11 win.
McFarland said then that his players had
come up well short, that they knew more
work was needed and real focus required.
His respect for what his former Province
can do is without qualification and while
relishing locking coaching horns with Friend
he knows that the block of five games in the
international window might well define the
team’s challenge for the title.
He will rely on many of those who
performed so fully against the Scarlets and
he will have taken quiet satisfaction in the
seamless integration of the youngsters he’s
helped develop. Ben Moxham and Angus
Curtis, along with the in-form Ethan McIlroy,
pledged their futures to Ulster, following
a raft of players which would hopefully
secure the progress Ulster has made in
Some will be involved this evening, and of
the more established and experienced, Billy
Burns has been at his most impressive in
recent weeks, his game management vital
in the European wins at Northampton and
against Clermont. John Cooney and Nathan
Doak are high-class scrum-halves each of
whom have gelled well with Burns, while
McIlroy, Craig Gilroy and Rob Lyttle were
eye-catching figures in defence and in
attack against the Scarlets.
Vermeulen’s arrival has imbued the backrow
with a remarkable fortitude, the
Springbok relishes the unheralded work
up front and been central to important
turnovers on many crucial occasions. He
offers Rea, Greg Jones and David McCann
an inexhaustible example of intelligence
and concentration in the breakaway unit,
while Alan O’Connor and Sam Carter have
been a sterling second-row partnership,
making the absence of Iain Henderson and
Kieran Treadwell far from damaging.
Marty Moore’s misfortunes continue and
the international prop is ruled out by
concussion, but Eric O’Sullivan, Andrew
Warwick, John Andrew and Bradley
Roberts are just some of those front-row
options available to Ulster.
Inter-pros are always intriguing, but this
game is part of a larger picture now.
Bragging rights will be but a small incentive
for two sides chasing URC success, but for
Ulster fans the momentum of the last month
is something they crave is maintained.
A big crowd, two professional Irish outfits
and all that victory would mean to either
side assures of another raucous start to a
big rugby weekend..
BALLYGOWAN – OFFICIAL HYDRATION
PARTNER OF ULSTER RUGBY
Ulster Rugby Academy
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Clogher Valley beat Ballyclare to secure
All-Ireland Junior Cup
Clogher Valley scored 10 points in the
last eight minutes to beat Ballyclare in an
exciting Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup final
at Kingspan Stadium last Saturday evening.
Ballyclare 11 - 13 Clogher Valley
Scorers: Ballyclare: Try: Scott Martin; Pens:
Mark Jackson 2
Clogher Valley: Try: Neil Henderson; Con:
Paul Armstrong; Pens: Paul Armstrong 2
HT: Ballyclare 11 - 3 Clogher Valley
The old adage is you have to lose one to win
one, and the success for the County Tyrone
club was made all the sweeter after they
lost the decider by a point eight years ago
Captain Paul Armstrong landed a long
range penalty as the clock ticked into the
red to put Clogher in front for the first time
in Saturday’s Ulster derby, and that was
enough to win the trophy.
Clogher wasted the first scoring opportunity
of the game on six minutes. After winning a
scrum penalty just outside the Ballyclare 22,
they went for the corner but out-half David
Maxwell kicked the ball dead.
They spurned another scoring chance six
minutes later when Ballyclare were guilty of
not rolling away from a tackle in their own
22. Clogher kicked to the corner but the
throw at the resulting lineout was crooked.
With their first sortie into the Clogher 22,
Ballyclare took the lead in the 19th minute.
Full-back Mark Jackson slotted over a
penalty after the pack had rumbled forward
from a lineout before the ball was spun out
to the backs.
Clogher replied immediately after the
Antrim side were punished in the shadows
of their own posts. Centre Armstrong
landed the simple kick to make it three
Jackson had the chance to restore
Ballyclare’s lead but was off target with a
long range penalty, before making amends
with a 27th-minute effort from right in front
of the posts.
Ballyclare got the game’s opening try six
minutes later. Initially they were denied
when winger Scott Martin dropped the
ball over the line, via a cross-field kick from
However, play was called back for a
penalty and Mike Orchin-McKeever’s men
turned down a kick at the posts, using the
subsequent lineout to drive up close to
The ball was fed to out-half McDowell again
and he launched a kick out to the left wing
where Martin outjumped Clogher’s Ewan
Haire to catch the ball and touch down.
After McDowell’s missed conversion,
Clogher finished the first half strongly but
again could not turn pressure into points.
They forced a five-metre scrum, number 8
Callum Smyton broke from the base and
surged for the line but was stopped short.
In their eagerness to recycle the ball quickly,
Clogher knocked on.
Leading 11-3 at half-time, Ballyclare were
denied a second try in the 47th minute.
From a 50:22 kick, the forwards won the
lineout, driving powerfully for the line, but
referee Padraic Reidy adjudged that the
ball was not grounded.
As the Clogher pressure grew, Ballyclare
had replacement prop Harry Mawhinney
yellow carded for infringing at a ruck with
13 minutes remaining.
Stephen Bothwell’s charges kicked to the
corner, the forwards set up a driving maul
that looked like going over the whitewash
but they knocked on at the crucial moment.
Clogher gave themselves a lifeline with
four minutes left, having earned a series of
penalties in the Ballyclare 22.
Flanker David Sinton was stopped on the
line but prop Neil Henderson rumbled
over from close range, with Armstrong
converting to make it a one-point game.
Fittingly, it was Armstrong, Clogher’s
talismanic captain, who then landed the
decisive penalty to spark wild celebrations for
his never-say-die team at Ulster Rugby HQ.
Ballyclare: Mark Jackson; Owen Kirk, Joel
McBride (Capt), Matthew McCullough,
Scott Martin; Matthew McDowell, James
Creighton; Dean Jones, Matthew Coulter,
Jack Black, Josh Young, Grant Bartley, Ross
Johnston, Aaron Playfair, Jack Gamble.
Replacements: Adam Barron, Ricky Lutton,
Harry Mawhinney, Ryan Tweed, Matthew
Robson, Angus Robson, Ross Patterson,
Clogher Valley: Ewan Haire; Stuart Brown,
Paul Armstrong (Capt), Reece Smyton,
Regan Wilkinson; David Maxwell, Matthew
Bothwell; Michael Treanor, Kyle Cobane,
Neil Henderson, Eugene McKenna, David
Sharkey, David Stinson, Aaron Dunwoody,
Replacements: Adam Boles, Joel Busby,
Rodney Bennett, Jamie Allen, Richard
Primrose, Neil Trotter, Aaron Crawford,
Referee: Padraic Reidy (IRFU)
Ulster Society of Rugby
with Richard Kerr
We welcome Andrew Brace (IRFU) and his
team of officials to the Kingspan Stadium for
this evening’s URC match against Connacht.
Over the next two match programmes we will
profile Ulster Rugby’s Referee Development
Manager, Richard Kerr, focusing on his role as
a referee and also looking at what his day to
day job entails.
In this programme we will focus on Richard’s
Club: Coleraine was the club that I grew up in
but when I took up refereeing, I affiliated to
Cookstown RFC as I was teaching in the local
High School and the club had no referees.
When the Cookstown club folded, I joined
City of Armagh RFC as I now live nearby.
Rugby has always been my favourite sport
and I have many fond memories at Sandel
Lodge where my Dad played. I played mini
rugby at Coleraine, and in my early years
at Coleraine Inst (now Coleraine Grammar
School), but athletics took over and I found
that I was a much better middle distance
runner than a rugby player! Some people
probably wish I had stuck to the running!
At the same time, my Dad had taken the
then-traditional route into refereeing by
playing into his late thirties before taking
up the whistle. I used to follow him around
the clubs in the ‘North West corridor’ on
Saturdays and often enjoyed running touch
for him when nobody else volunteered.
I had a brief return to playing when I came
back from University but having watched my
Dad referee for a few years, I thought that I
should give it a go.
I suppose refereeing was in my blood from
an early age.
How long have you been a member of the
I joined the USRFR in August 2001 when I
attended a course in the old bar area of the
then-Ravenhill grounds. I think that makes
this my 21st season, and I have enjoyed
What level have you refereed at?
It’s fair to say that I have refereed at a much
higher level than I was ever going to play at. I
was fortunate to get onto the IRFU National
Panel in 2003 after only two seasons. I
think I am correct in saying that myself and
George Clancy are the two longest-serving
referees on the panel. I never quite reached
the heights that George did, but I have given
19 years’ service to the All-Ireland League,
something I am extremely proud of. I have
had the opportunity to be involved in two
World Cups - Touch Judge in the 2007 U19
World Cup which was held in Belfast, and
4th official at the Women’s World Cup which
was also held in Ireland in 2017. The two
highest-profile games that I refereed were
a European U18 final between France and
England in 2009 and our Schools’ Cup final
It has also been an absolute honour to be
appointed to numerous European and Celtic
League (now URC) games as a touch judge/
assistant referee over the years.
What is your current role within the USRFR
and how long have you been doing it?
I have been the Referee Development
Manager for Ulster Rugby/IRFU since
September 2018. It’s job I absolutely love and
I will chat more about this in the next match
What advice would you give to anyone who
is thinking about becoming a referee?
Don’t hold back – just do it. Whilst I had a
decent rugby knowledge having been around
the game so much as a child, I never played
the game to any real level. You definitely need
a knowledge of the game but there are so
many other skills and attributes required. We
will be running a big recruitment campaign
ahead of next season so please get in touch
if you have any interest.
How has refereeing changed over the years?
I think the biggest change, certainly at the top
level, is just how professional it has become.
Since I started in 2001, the IRFU always had
a few contracted referees e.g. Alain Rolland,
Alan Lewis, Donal Courtney and our own
Simon McDowell. It’s hard to believe that they
all had full time jobs but were still expected
to travel around Europe and beyond. There
was definitely a lot more craic in those days
and I could tell you stories about European
adventures - but I will maybe leave those for
As the game has moved on, so too has
refereeing and the IRFU now have four fulltime
elite professional referees in Andrew
Brace, Franck Murphy, Joy Neville and our
own Chris Busby. They simply had to go
pro due to the time commitments and the
I have seen a lot of change, and of course still
hear about all the ‘good old day’ stories from
some of our wise old former referees such as
Jim Irvine, Denis Templeton, Stephen Hilditch
and Brian Stirling.
Have you any other comments about
I will touch on these two points next time but
I really want to highlight the following:
1. Rugby is made up of so many volunteers
and it is often very easy to forget that the
individual who turns up on their own on a
Saturday morning or afternoon is a fellow
human being. They will make mistakes, as I
have made my fair share of them over the
years, but without a referee there would
quite simply be no game.
2. The USRFR would not function without
the many volunteers who sit on the
various committees, from management
to selection. Without this dedicated team
there would simply be no referees!
In the next programme, we will focus on
Richard’s role as Referee Development
Manager and how he has been involved in
the #respectURgame campaign.
If interested in hearing more, please contact
Referee Development Manager
email@example.com | 07493 868 388
Follow the laws
of the game
Accept the referee’s
Win with humility,
lose with dignity
Remember who you
Please be respectful
of players’ abilities
Zero tolerance for
abuse / harassment
FRI 4 MAR, 7.35PM
SAT 12 MAR, 7.35PM
w/o 15-17 APR, TBC
Rugby World Cup 2023
Ireland Match Breaks
FRI 22 APR, 7.35PM
CELL C SHARKS
w/o 20-22 MAY, TBC
To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all supporters,
Ulster Rugby would ask all supporters to follow the latest public health
guidance in relation to COVID-19 restrictions.
Please DO NOT attend Kingspan Stadium if you are
experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
RAVENHILL PARK GARDENS
SPIRIT OF ‘99
We are passionate
in our support
We do not tolerate
abusive or discriminatory
Clean Hands Keep Distance Wear Face Covering
When travelling around the Stadium, please wear a face covering,
make use of hand sanitisation stations, and be distance-aware and
respectful of other supporters.
We are silent during kicks
We respect opposition
We respect the match
We are mindful
of our language
ABBEY AUTOLINE FAMILY STAND
A&L GOODBODY LOUNGE / VIP BOXES
The Food Village will be in operation,
serving a variety of cuisines, while the Cool
FM Crew will provide the soundtrack for
A new stretch tent has been added to the
Fan Zone, where supporters can make use
of the Express Bar and enjoy a covered,
well ventilated space.
All five public bars will also be in operation,
with live entertainment in the Clubhouse Bar.
The Kukri Store will be open from gates
open until 30 minutes after full-time.
Audio descriptive match commentary to
enhance the match experience for people
affected by sight or hearing loss will be
available. Earpieces can be collected from
the admin building reception prior to the
game, or you can book your equipment by
calling Jen on (028) 9049 3222.
The activity centre for our Junior Season
Ticket holders will not be in operation for
Ulster Rugby wish to thank all of our sponsors
and partners for their continued support.
Official On-kit Sponsors
H Glasgow Fri 24 Sep W 35-29 URC
A Zebre Sat 2 Oct W 3-36 URC
H Benetton Fri 8 Oct W 28-8 URC
H Emirates Lions Fri 15 Oct W 26-10 URC
A Connacht Sat 23 Oct L 36-11 URC
A Leinster Sat 27 Nov W 10-20 URC
A Ospreys Sat 4 Dec L 19-13 URC
A Clermont Sat 11 Dec W 23-29 HCC
H Northampton Saints Fri 17 Dec W 27-22 HCC
A Munster Sat 8 Jan L 18-13 URC
A Northampton Saints Sun 16 Jan W 20-24 HCC
H Clermont Sat 22 Jan W 34-31 HCC
H Scarlets Fri 28 Jan W 27-15 URC
H Connacht Fri 4 Feb 8.15pm URC
A Dragons Sun 20 Feb 2.00pm URC
H Cardiff Fri 4 Mar 7.35pm URC
H Leinster Sat 12 Mar 7.35PM URC
A DHL Stormers Sat 26 Mar 1.00pm URC
A Vodacom Bulls Sat 2 Apr 1.00pm URC
A Toulouse 8-10 Apr TBC HCC
H Toulouse 15-17 Apr TBC HCC
H Munster Fri 22 Apr 7.35pm URC
A Edinburgh Sat 30 Apr 7.35pm URC
H Cell C Sharks 20-22 May TBC URC