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Ulster Rugby Match Day Programme - URC Quarter-Final - v Munster

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ULSTER

Offical URC Quarter-Final Programme

v MUNSTER

Fri 3 Jun 2022, 7.35pm

Kingspan Stadium


In this Issue

Welcome back to Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby,

where tonight the Ulster squad welcomes Munster Rugby

for the Quarter-Final of the United Rugby Championship.

As we enter the play-offs of the United Rugby Championship,

Ulster will seek a win after their recent loss to Munster, while also keeping a strong

season alive. Ulster ended the season strongly, with a hard-fought victory

versus South African side Cell C Sharks. While Munster lost to table-toppers Leinster in

the Aviva stadium. The play-offs promise a hard-fought game

as both sides search for silverware.

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 be 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.

14

Our Official

7 Mascot

Player Interview:

8 John Cooney

14

8

18 Squad

Profiles

24 Team

Line-ups

28 Munster

Ones To Watch

31 Half-time

Exhibition Games

Last Time

32 Out

Meet Ulster’s

36 New Recruits

Player Q&A

41 Iain v Rob

An Inter-Pro

42 with Extra Spice!

Ulster Rugby

46 Academy

48

USRFR New

50 Referee Course

36

52 50

Getting to Know

Gemma McCamley

Alan O’Connor Named

URC Tackle Machine

Ulster Rugby thanks

Departing Players

3


President’s

Welcome

Welcome to the United Rugby

Championship Quarter-Final and our last

home game of the 2021-22 season.

It’s fantastic to be able to welcome you

all back for a play-off game after Ulster

defeated Cell C Sharks two weeks ago to

seal a home quarter-final in the URC.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our

visitors and Inter-Pro rivals, Munster who

come into this game after a defeat by

Leinster at The Aviva Stadium a fortnight ago.

However, Munster have beaten Ulster home

and away this season, so Dan McFarland’s

charges will have to be at the top of their

game to book a place in the semi-final against

either DHL Stormers or Edinburgh.

As the regular domestic season winds

down, there is still plenty of rugby activity

with summer programmes such as tag

rugby, ‘Give It A Try’ and Summer Camps.

Clubs will also be working hard over the

summer months to prepare their facilities

and structures for the upcoming season,

but I hope that all of our volunteers and staff

will have the opportunity for some respite

before the new season kicks off again.

The 2022 International Mixed Ability

Rugby Tournament will take place in Cork

from 5 – 10 June, and I’d like to wish Malone

Tornadoes and Banbridge Barbarians the

very best of luck in the competition!

As I approach the end of my tenure as

IRFU Ulster Branch President, I would

like to take the opportunity to say a huge

thank-you to all of our supporters for your

outstanding commitment and following of

the Ulster Men both home and away. The

Kingspan Stadium match-day atmosphere

boasts the best of any supporter base in

the United Rugby Championship, and I am

privileged to have held this position over

the last three seasons.

I would also like to thank you all for making

my role as President an incredibly enjoyable

and rewarding one, and I look forward to

coming back to SUFTUM next season.

Enjoy the game and thank you for your

support.

Gary Leslie

President, IRFU Ulster Branch

5


Mascot

Name: Leo Doyle

Age: 7

From: Belfast

Favourite Player: Iain Henderson

Favourite thing about supporting

Ulster: Getting to watch his club

hero Iain Henderson with his family

at Kingspan Stadium.

7


John Cooney

The Ulster scrum-half is set to make his

100th appearance when he takes to the

field on Friday versus Munster, and he’s

delighted to be able to hit the century

at home…

Congratulations on reaching 100 Ulster

appearances – how does it feel to reach

that milestone?

who have gone on to win the Heineken

Champions Cup at the weekend there. They

would be just a couple of many – I could talk

all day about them.

One of many fond memories for us was

your try against Clermont in 2019, that

snipe down the short-side and chip through

to score…

Scrum Half

01/05/1990

178cm

85kg

99

It’s a very proud moment for me. I would be

one who focuses on milestones and goalsetting.

Since the start of the season, it was

my biggest goal to get to 100 caps. I’ve

had a couple of injuries this season – my

first few years it seemed I’d get there quite

quickly. I’ve been counting every week one

closer to that hundred. It’s very proud for

me to represent this province 100 times, it

means a lot to me.

Will your mum be coming along to the

game? We understand she likes to come

along but doesn’t watch your kicks!

Mum has become a bit of a celeb now. She

never watches my kicks live – she always

looks away. She comes to every game and

loves coming to watch. She even comes

with me two hours early and sits around

waiting. She’s happy out with her tea and

sandwiches! She loves coming and it’s nice

to know she’s out there watching me. It’s

one of the driving forces behind why I try

so hard for myself, the club and for her.

Can you tell us some of your favourite

memories playing in an Ulster jersey?

There are plenty! It would be hard to pick

one, but I’ve had several at Kingspan

Stadium. One that I always remember is

playing Munster around New Year and we

scored three tries after going down 17-0 to

win the game 24-17. For us to come back

from what looked like it would be a loss

was huge. Playing La Rochelle at home

was a big win for us to beat a powerhouse

You’re giving me shivers talking about it. It

was one of those out-of-body experiences

– I don’t know what happened. My football

skills from playing as a young lad kicked in

for that try.

There was also a try I scored against

Munster in January 2020 that would be a

highlight, beating them at home and Stuart

McCloskey putting Matty Rea through for a

try. I was lucky enough to score that night

– that was my favourite try that I’ve scored

for Ulster. It was a big game for me and

Munster are big rivals. I remember scoring

early and feeling comfortable in the game. I

know people would think my favourite was

Clermont, but that Munster game would

have been my favourite try.

9


What is it that makes playing for Ulster

Rugby special for you?

It would be remiss of me not to mention how

amazing the fans are. Ever since I came here,

I’ve been taken in as if I’ve grown up here.

Turning attentions to this week, what

sort of a challenge do you expect from

Munster?

We know exactly what Munster are about.

We know how hard they pushed Toulouse in

the Heineken Champions Cup. They will be

hurting after the last couple of weeks losing

against Leinster in a game they would have

thought they’d win. Sometimes it’s difficult

to get teams off the back of performances

like that in really tough fixtures.

We have been on the other side of losing

to them, then we put in a very hardy

defensive performance against Edinburgh

the following week. Against Sharks two

weeks ago, we attacked better. We know

exactly what Munster will be thinking;

they’re going to come out 100%. Knockout

rugby is a completely different animal

and teams are usually at their best when

they play these games.

Does it make it more or less difficult having

played against a team several times before

compared to the likes of Sharks last time

out who Ulster haven’t played before?

That’s a credit to the people and how good

they are to make people feel that way. It

was difficult coming in after Ruan [Pienaar],

I had a lot to live up to, but the supporters

really took to me. When they showed me

that loyalty and love towards me, I can be an

emotional guy sometimes, but it meant so

much to me. Anyone who pays that kind of

support, I always try to re-pay. That’s the main

reason why I try so hard. I like to think I give

100% for the club and the people. It means a

lot to me to reach that milestone and play for

this club.

People joke about me being a turncoat, but

I do have a lot of family from County Tyrone.

My great grandad emigrated from Tyrone to

Scotland. I’ve always felt a bit of an allegiance.

Yeah, I think it’s a little bit easier, especially

as we played Munster recently. There were

a few tactics that they used against us last

time that were very good. It’s definitely

something we noticed, and we’ve come up

with a plan to deal with them better. I’m

hoping that it will be a blessing in disguise

our poor performance a month or so ago.

We’ve righted a lot of wrongs from that day.

In that regard, it can be beneficial.

Your opposite numbers Conor Murray and

Craig Casey both bring different skills to

the game – what do you make of them as

opponents?

I have luckily got to play both of them

several times. Conor and I date back to the

Irish U20s where we played together and

competed, and then at senior international

level as well. Conor has been brilliant for

the last 10-12 years. He brings a strong

kicking game and a quality passing game.

Craig is a bit quicker with getting the ball

away and offers different options with his

running game. They’re a bit of a yin-yang;

two different types of players. They’re the

types of guys you need to be alert to in

different ways. I find when the other person

comes on, you are a bit more aware of

opportunities he might take. They’ve both

got similar and dissimilar ways of playing.

I’m looking forward to it.

Finally, how much are you looking forward

to running out for your 100th Ulster

appearance in front of a home crowd and

in such a big game?

Big time! To play my hundredth cap at

home, I couldn’t have picked a better day.

To get to do it in front of a home crowd

in the URC quarter-final is very special. I

have friends coming up and my family will

be here too. To do it with everyone who

means a lot to me and the players, support

staff and supporters, I couldn’t pick a more

perfect day to do it and hopefully we will

top it off with a win.

ulster.rugby

11


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Getting to Know

Gemma McCamley

Do you have a nickname? If so, what is it?

For better or worse, I haven’t had any

real nicknames. When I played at an U18s

7s tournament I was dubbed ‘wishbone

thunderstorm’ for the day, but it didn’t

seem to stick (not sure why).

Who was your favourite player growing

up and why?

I didn’t really grow up in a rugby

household, so I didn’t have much exposure

to the sport, never mind the women’s

game. When I started playing at 17, I

suppose I looked up to Rory Best, I was

so proud that a local Ulster man was the

captain of the Irish squad. It just proves

how important exposure is.

Who is your favourite player now?

Now, it has to be Ashleigh Baxter. I met

Ashleigh in the Ulster set up and she was

training and playing with Cooke for the

second half of this season. Her wealth of

experience from playing internationally

is phenomenal, she brings so much

individually but also, she feeds so much

into the squad as well. Plus, she is an

absolute machine.

What is your favourite thing about

playing rugby?

I really appreciate the community around

the game. I think it’s excellent to be able

to meet with a group of like-minded,

driven women and spend time together

pushing each other on. I think as a female

athlete that supportive atmosphere is

really important.

Do you have any pets? If so, tell us

about them.

I’ve always grown up with dogs,

but last summer I bit the bullet

and went and got my ‘first’ dog.

She’s an Australian Kelpie

Border Collie cross called Roo

(like kangaroo) and she is such

an odd ball, so she fit right in

from day one.

Like a typical herding breed, she

is very high energy and would

do anything for a ball (including

blatant theft), but when she’s in

the house she is an absolute

space invader and will insist

on sitting on your lap. Her

favourite things are ball,

chasing seagulls

on the beach

and cuddles

(specifically

from her

‘Nana’).

Are you

a tidy or

messy

person?

I would love

to say that

I am tidy,

but I’m

definitely a

messy person

who strives to be

tidy. I’m getting

better but it’s

definitely a work in

progress.

If you could eat one meal for the rest of

your life, what would it be?

This is really tough, because I am a huge

foodie. Probably pizza- BBQ or Hawaiian

with extra pineapple (yes, pineapple does

belong on pizza).

What can’t you live without?

Food, which is probably why I’ll never

break into the backline.

Do you have any pre-match rituals or

superstitions?

I love arriving really early before the

game. I think getting out on the

pitch before warmup to get a bit

of headspace really helps settle

the nerves.

If you were a super-hero, what

powers would you have?

I would love to have the ability to

control time. Imagine never being late

for a deadline and always getting a lie in.

List two pet peeves.

People who are

negative all the

time and untidy

people. (I’m

aware of the

irony)

What three

w o r d s

w o u l d

y o u r

friends

use to

describe

you?

“The mum

friend”

Are you good at any other sports?

I competed in gymnastics as a kid for

years, but I wasn’t very coordinated and

managed to get by on just being strong for

a 10-year-old. I think if I left rugby I would

look consider competing in Olympic lifting

or powerlifting. I appreciate the simplicity

of just going to the gym and getting as

strong as possible, and it would be nice

to not have to worry about doing broncos

ever again.

What is your favourite film?

I’m embarrassed to admit that I love

watching any/all Christmas films- even the

really awful Netflix ones. I appreciate well

scripted blockbuster movies but there is

something so fuzzy about Christmas films.

Do you have any fears? If so, what are they?

Bugs- specifically spiders. I’m not ashamed

to admit that I called my grandad round

to save me from a particularly monstrous

one that I found in my bed with me a few

years ago.

What motivates you?

I’m very goal-orientated so I get a lot

of enjoyment from setting targets so

I’m always working towards the next

progression. Surrounding yourself with

supportive people is helpful too, on

the days when you can’t muster the

motivation, you know that external

support is there to keep you going.

ulster.rugby 15


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Exclusive offers

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Premium opinion

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Match highlights &

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WWW.UNITEDRUGBY.COM/MYURC


MEN’S SENIOR

SQUAD

Head Coach: Dan McFarland

Assistant Coach: Dan Soper

Forwards Coach: Roddy Grant

Defence Coach: Jared Payne

Skills Coach: Craig Newby

Robert

Baloucoune

Wing

19/08/1997

193cm

92kg

44

2

Angus

Curtis

Fly Half / Centre

26/03/1998

178cm

88kg

19

Billy

Burns

Fly Half

13/06/1994

183cm

87kg

72

7

Nathan

Doak

Scrum Half

17/12/2001

185cm

87kg

23

Will

Addison

Utility Back

20/08/1992

185cm

95kg

26

5

Sam

Carter

Lock

10/09/1989

201cm

116kg

39

AUS 16

Craig

Gilroy

Wing

11/03/1991

183cm

91kg

206

10

John

Andrew

Hooker

26/05/1993

180cm

100kg

94

John

Cooney

Scrum Half

01/05/1990

178cm

85kg

99

11

Iain

Henderson

Lock

21/02/1992

198cm

116kg

130

68

Rob

Herring

Hooker

27/04/1990

185cm

105kg

214

26

Ross

Kane

Prop

14/10/1994

180cm

118kg

60

Ian

Madigan

Fly Half

21/03/1989

178cm

89kg

29

30

James

Hume

Centre

07/09/1998

188cm

95kg

60

3

Mick

Kearney

Lock

29/03/1991

198cm

116 kg

9

Luke

Marshall

Centre

03/03/1991

180cm

99kg

147

11

Cormac

Izuchukwu

Lock

28/01/2000

201cm

117kg

7

Mike

Lowry

Full Back

20/08/1998

170cm

76kg

67

1

David

McCann

Back Row

13/06/2000

193cm

108kg

14

Greg

Jones

Back Row

13/01/1996

196cm

108kg

37

Rob

Lyttle

Wing

28/01/1997

175cm

85kg

57

Stuart

McCloskey

Centre

06/08/1992

193cm

110kg

156

6

MEN’S SENIOR SQUAD

ulster.rugby

19


Prop

11/10/1989

185cm

118kg

24

56

Jack

McGrath

Prop

15/12/1992

191cm

134kg

14

Gareth

Milasinovich

Hooker

15/09/1996

183cm

112kg

1

Declan

Moore

Centre

08/08/1999

183cm

90kg

30

Stewart

Moore

Back Row

22/04/1991

188cm

102kg

55

30

Jordi

Murphy

Lock

10/09/1992

196cm

110kg

155

Alan

O’Connor

Prop

30/11/1995

185cm

117kg

84

1

Eric

O’Sullivan

Prop

23/09/1998

185cm

123kg

77

2

Tom

O’Toole

Full Back/Wing

10/08/2000

188cm

86kg

35

Ethan

McIlroy

Back Row

08/09/1997

188cm

108kg

23

Marcus

Rea

Wing/Centre

06/09/2001

191cm

97kg

17

Ben

Moxham

Prop

01/03/1991

178cm

123kg

75

10

Marty

Moore

Back Row

01/08/1995

188cm

114kg

103

2

Nick

Timoney

Lock

06/11/1995

198cm

115kg

124

5

Kieran

Treadwell

Prop

12/03/1991

178cm

116kg

155

Andrew

Warwick

Back Row

21/09/1993

193cm

110kg

74

Matthew

Rea

Hooker

04/01/1996

175cm

104Kg

18

WAL 1

Bradley

Roberts

Wing/Full Back

03/04/1996

191cm

102kg

83

35

Jacob

Stockdale

Scrum Half

20/06/1993

175cm

77kg

80

David

Shanahan

Hooker

11/01/2001

183cm

103kg

5

Tom

Stewart

Wing

24/08/200

188cm

94kg

3

Aaron

Sexton

Prop

06/01/1999

183cm

117kg

10

Callum

Reid

Back Row

10/05/1989

183cm

102kg

151

2

Sean

Reidy

Back Row

03/07/1986

193cm

119kg

15

SA 60

Duane

Vermeulen

MEN’S SENIOR SQUAD

21

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23


1 Warwick

2 Herring 3 O’Toole

1 Wycherley 2 Scannell 3 Archer

C

4 O’Connor 5 Henderson

4 Kleyn 5 Wycherley

C

6 Rea

8 Vermeulen

7 Timoney

OFFICIALS

6 O’Mahony 8 Coombes

7 Kendellen

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)

AR 1: Hollie Davidson (SRU) AR 2: Ben Blain (SRU)

TMO: Marius van der Westhuisen (SARU)

9 Cooney

9 Murray

11 McIlroy

10 Burns

11 Earls

10 Carberry

REPLACEMENTS

REPLACEMENTS

16 John Andrew

12 McCloskey

16 Diarmuid Barron

12 de Allende

17 Eric O’Sullivan

17 Jeremy Loughman

18 Gareth Milasinovich

18 John Ryan

19 Kieran Treadwell

13 Hume

19 Jason Jenkins

13 Farrell

20 Matty Rea

20 Thomas Ahern

21 Nathan Doak

21 Craig Casey

22 Ian Madigan

14 Baloucoune

22 Ben Healy,

14 Conway

23 Ben Moxham

15 Moore

23 Chris Cloete

15 Haley

Live on: Premier Sports & TG4

ulster.rugby

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ulster.rugby 27


Peter O’Mahony

Ones to Watch

17/09/1989 1.91 m 108 kg

Conor Murray

The Cork-native and club captain, O’Mahony has a

long list of accolades to his name, including: 159 Caps

for Munster, 84 Caps for Ireland, Player of the Match in

Ireland’s famous victory over New Zealand in 2018 and

British & Irish Lion.

O’Mahony signed a two-year IRFU contract extension in

March 2021.

20/04/1989 1.88 m 93 kg

Selected for a third Lions tour in 2021 and named in

World Rugby’s Team of The Decade, Murray is definitely

a threat to any opposition,

Signed a two-year IRFU contract extension in December

2021 to keep him at Munster until at least June 2024.

Joey Carberry

01/11/1995 1.83m 86kg

Deadly off the boot, Carberry was instrumental to

Munster’s victory over Ulster, back in April.

Last season, Carberry won the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow

Cup Golden Boot award, having kicked 16/16 off the tee

in the competition.

NAME POSITION AGE HEIGHT WEIGHT

Dave Kilcoyne Prop 33 1.85 m 118 kg

James French Prop 23 1.85 m 120 kg

Jeremy Loughman Prop 26 1.85 m 120 kg

John Ryan Prop 33 1.85 m 121 kg

Josh Wycherley Prop 22 1.83 m 108 kg

Keynan Knox Prop 23 1.85 m 115 kg

Liam O'connor Prop 26 1.80 m 110 kg

Roman Salanoa Prop 24 1.83 m 123 kg

Stephen Archer Prop 34 1.88 m 121 kg

Diarmuid Barron Hooker 23 1.84 m 100 kg

Kevin O'Byrne Hooker 31 1.80 m 105 kg

Niall Scannell Hooker 30 1.85 m 111 kg

Fineen Wycherley Lock 24 1.96 m 112 kg

Jason Jenkins Lock 26 2.01 m 125 kg

Jean Kleyn Lock 28 2.03 m 121 kg

Rg Snyman Lock 27 2.06 m 120 kg

Tadhg Beirne Lock 30 1.98 m 114 kg

Thomas Ahern Lock 22 2.06 m 115 kg

Chris Cloete Back row 31 1.76 m 106 kg

Gavin Coombes Back row 24 1.98 m 110 kg

Jack Daly Back row 23 1.83 m 106 kg

Jack O'Donoghue Back row 28 1.91 m 110 kg

Jack O'Sullivan Back row 23 1.89 m 100 kg

John Hodnett Back row 23 1.85 m 103 kg

Peter O'Mahony Back row 32 1.91 m 108 kg

Conor Murray Scrum-half 33 1.88 m 93 kg

Craig Casey Scrum-half 23 1.65 m 76 kg

Neil Cronin Scrum-half 29 1.73 m 83 kg

Rowan Osborne Scrum-half 25 1.70 m 77 kg

Ben Healy Fly-half 22 1.91 m 97 kg

Jack Crowley Fly-half 22 1.83 m 90 kg

Joey Carbery Fly-half 26 1.83 m 86 kg

Calvin Nash Center 24 1.80 m 90 kg

Chris Farrell Center 29 1.91 m 110 kg

Damian De Allende Center 30 1.91 m 105 kg

Dan Goggin Center 27 1.88 m 97 kg

Rory Scannell Center 28 1.79 m 96 kg

Sean French Center 22 1.88 m 99 kg

Shane Daly Center 25 1.91 m 92 kg

Andrew Conway Wing 30 1.80 m 91 kg

Keith Earls Wing 34 1.80 m 90 kg

Liam Coombes Wing 24 1.91 m 90 kg

Jake Flannery Fullback 22 1.83 m 91 kg

Matt Gallagher Fullback 25 1.85 m 96 kg

Mike Haley Fullback 27 1.91 m 94 kg

Simon Zebo Fullback 32 1.88 m 94 kg

ulster.rugby 29


Half-Time Exhibition Games

It is great to see one of Ulster Rugby’s newest products being showcased on the pitch tonight.

Tag rugby is played during spring, summer and autumn and appeals to a wide range of abilities.

Rugby playing experience isn’t required as this is a non-contact form of the sport, with both

male and female players playing together.

Players come from all over to take part in the tag leagues and it is great to see the

Hawaii Tag 0, The Van Der Flyers, What’s Tag and QUBES teams on the pitch tonight.

Memorial Stand End

Hawaii Tag 0

Kit: Hawaiian Shirts

The Van Der Flyers

Kit: TBC

1 Aaron McNeill

7 Katie Jamison

1 Ross Gilmore

7 Jacob Caughey

2 Niall Lawther

8 Daniel Moorcroft

2 John Ewing

8 Ewan McCracken

3 Mark Jackson

9 Emma Lewis

3 Dan Whitcroft

9 Megan Henry

4 Ben Orr

10

4 Dave Pope

10 Lea Carson

5 Holly Jamison

11

5 Emma Kennedy

11

6 Lauren McKinty

12

6 Leah Young

12

AbbeyAutoline Family Stand End

QUBES

Kit: Red

What’s Tag

Kit: Black & Yellow

1 Ben Hopkins

7 Shel Laffin

1 Darren Broderick

7 Jack De Wolf

2 Adam Smith

8 Michelle Green

2 Daire Magill

8 Alix Magowan

3 Mark Menary

9 Chloe Ferris

3 Rachel Porter

9 Lily Campbell

4 Kenny McComb

10 Gemma Wood

4 Cara Davison

10 Chloe Gibson

5 Ruth Carson

11 Lauren Bingham

5 Adam Welsh

11

6 Julia Daire

12 Beth Cushnahan

6 Evaldas Parsiunas

12

If you would like to find our more about tag rugby, please visit ulster.rugby/tagrugby

LIVE STATS

31


Last Time Out

Fri 20 Apr, 7.35pm | Kingspan Stadium

Ulster held off a late Cell C Sharks surge to

claim victory and a URC home quarter-final.

Both sides were keen to put their stamp

on the game, putting in thundering hits to

set the tone. Ulster had a promising chance

in the second minute of the game as they

looked to go wide but the ball didn’t make

the hands of Robert Baloucoune waiting in

the wings and went into touch.

Cell C Sharks soon found themselves deep

into Ulster territory, but Duane Vermeulen

got over the ball to make the poach and

regain possession. The visitors probed

again, but the Ulster defence swarmed

around them to force the turnover and Billy

Burns kicked clear.

Ulster showed real creativity with ball in

hand, Stuart McCloskey running some hard

lines in midfield to create opportunities. Billy

Burns made an accurate cross-field kick to

Ethan McIlroy, but the winger was just in

touch as he tried to make the offload.

24 - 21

Ulster got onto the board on 16 minutes,

when Iain Henderson snaffled up Jaden

Hendrikse with the ball to earn the penalty,

John Cooney obliging with the three points.

Ulster’s pressure paid off ten minutes

later, their back line going quickly through

the hands out to Ethan McIlroy, who did

fantastically to make the offload inside to

Mike Lowry who bundled over for their first

try of the game. Cooney landed the extras to

put 10 points between the two sides.

The Sharks’ first opportunity for points came

five minutes before half-time, after getting a

penalty at the scrum. Curwin Bosch’s effort

was off-target.

The men in black tried to test Ulster’s

defences again just before the break,

but Nick Timoney made a crucial

turnover penalty to get out of danger,

keeping the Sharks scoreless going into

the changing rooms.

Ulster came firing out of the blocks in the

second half, and it only took three minutes

for them to strike. Stuart McCloskey went

on the charge and fended off two Sharks

defenders as he powered through under the

posts. John Cooney fired over the two to

stretch Ulster’s lead further.

The South African side started to pile

the pressure on Ulster, who managed

to withstand wave after wave of attack.

Eventually, Ulster were penalised for not

releasing, and the Sharks opted for the

tap-and-go. Replacement prop, Ntuthuko

Mchunu crashed over from short range for

their first try, and Bosch made the conversion.

The Ulster men responded immediately.

Robert Baloucoune made a superb break

with John Cooney in support to send James

Hume home for Ulster’s third try. Cooney

made no mistake with the extras.

Watch

Match

Highlights

The men in black pulled one back with

five minutes to go through Marius Louw

dotting over and Boeta Chamberlain made

the conversion.

The Sharks struck again in the dying minutes

as Grant Williams raced down the right

wing and Chamberlain converted to bring it

to within three points, but Ulster had done

enough to hold on for the win.

Full Time Score:

Ulster 24 - 21 Cell C Sharks

ulster.rugby

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Meet Ulster’s

New Recruits

As we complete our business for the Heineken Champions Cup and United Rugby

Championship campaigns in the season ahead, we take a look at our new recruits joining

the province in the summer.

Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Pictured left)

Hailing from Wellington, tighthead prop

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen is set to bring a

wealth of experience gained from across the

world to the white jersey, including through

his involvement in English Premiership side,

Wasps, where he has played a key role in

the squad over his 62 appearance to-date.

Making his senior debut in his home country

back in 2012, the 31-year-old known for his

high-intensity scrummaging went on to

make almost 150 combined appearances for

the Hurricanes and Wellington, and helped

the ‘Canes win the Super Rugby title in 2016,

as well as starting against the British and

Irish Lions in 2017 with the side.

His successful professional playing career

is no surprise given his early international

involvement as part of the New Zealand

U20s Junior World Championship-winning

team in 2010. This was followed by his debut

as All-Black number 1130 against Japan in

2013, and his subsequent recall to the New

Zealand side in 2017 when he was involved in

a win over the Barbarians, as well as a being

a starter in the victory over France that year.

The 6ft 4in prop signs on a 1-year deal.

Declan Moore

New-Zealand born, and Irish-qualified, Declan Moore joined-up

with the Ulster squad earlier this season 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.

Sean Reffell

23-year-old, Sean Reffell, will join Ulster from Saracens, where

he was awarded the Young Player of the Season award for

2020/21. The Irish-qualified back row also holds the Saracens

record for most tackles in a game, with 39 tackles made in the

Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final versus Worcester in 2019.

Known for his impressive work-rate, the former England U20s

openside has made 40 appearances for his current club since a

debut in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2017.

ulster.rugby

37


Jake Flannery

The Tipperary-born ten, having produced a stand-out

performance for the 2019 Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20s,

is no stranger to those following young talent in Irish rugby.

Having started his rugby career in the club game at Kilfeacle

& District RFC, Flannery went on to play schools rugby at

Rockwell College and made his Munster A debut in the Celtic

Cup and All Ireland League debut with Shannon RFC in the

2018/19 season.

A place in the Munster Academy followed in the summer of

2019, with his Guinness PRO14 debut off the bench for Munster

away to Zebre coming in February 2020.

The 22-year-old fly-half, who has gone on to earn a further 6

caps for Munster, will join Ulster on a 1-year deal.

Frank Bradshaw Ryan

Shea O’Brien (Development)

The full-back, who claimed the Player of the Match award

whilst helping City of Armagh to secure victory in the Bank

of Ireland Senior Cup in March 2020, is no stranger to awards

having also been named the 2019/20 Ken Goodall Club Player

of the Year in the Ulster Rugby Domestic Rugby Awards.

With an impressive skillset gained through his involvement in

the club game at City of Armagh RFC from Minis level through

to competing in the AIL, as well as being a talented GAA

footballer, O’Brien will be joining the Senior Men’s set-up this

coming pre-season, alongside completing his medicine degree

at Queens University Belfast.

O’Brien’s Development contract follows on from his starting

role in Ulster’s Development Inter-Pro fixtures versus Leinster

and Munster last season, as well as putting in a try-scoring

performance against Connacht Eagles, and more recently

against Munster ‘A’ last month. O’Brien has put pen to paper

for a one-year development contract.

26-year-old Limerick-born Bradshaw Ryan, who stands at

over 2m tall, is set to bolster the province’s second row when

he makes the move from French Pro D2 side, USON Nevers.

Known for his lineout skills and ability to carry, the Munster sub-

Academy graduate, and former Ireland U19s player, will also

bring the leadership skills he has honed over the last six years

in France. The second row will join Ulster on a one-year deal.

Jude Postlethwaite (Development)

Former RBAI pupil, 20-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. The young back line player joined the Ulster

Rugby Academy in 2021 having already featured in the Ireland

Under-20 Six Nations squad and represented Ireland at Sevens.

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. (Stats on page 46)

ulster.rugby 39


ULSTERMEN

ULSTERMEN

ULSTERMEN

ULSTERMEN

ULSTERMEN

Q&A

Iain Rob

Henderson

v

Herring

Your favourite 2021/22 Ulster Kit:

Iain: Yellow

Rob: Red

Do you have any habits/rituals before a

game?

Iain: Sleep

Rob: Arrive at the stadium 2 hours before

a game.

Your least favourite drill in training:

Iain: Bronco Test

Rob: Breakdown Drills

Favourite try you’ve scored for Ulster?

Best player you have played with:

Iain: Ruan Pienaar

Rob: Charles Piutau

Apart from Rugby, what other sports are

you interested in?:

Iain: Just rugby

Rob: Formula 1

What is the one thing you can’t live

without?

Iain: Sleep

Rob: BBQ

Most used app on your phone:

Iain: First try for Ulster v Munster

Iain: BBC News app

Rob: Against Northampton Saints at home

Rob: Instagram

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stuck with?

Iain: Rob

Rob: Hendy (Iain) – He has always got

something interesting to talk about.

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41


An Inter-Pro with Extra Spice!

Well, this is really when the stakes are

highest, when a season is defined by

tangible success or ends in disappointment.

For Ulster, this has been a year when

supporters have been on a roller-coaster

of emotions, with the pandemic taking

its toll at critical moments in terms of

postponed games, and players and staff

side-lined by Covid.

Yet, the inaugural Ulster Rugby

Championship and Heineken Champions

Cup programmes were somehow navigated

until the crowds came rolling back into

stadia, a sort of ‘normal’ restored, if with

tolerable restrictions.

Ulster’s rugby has been of an impressively

high standard, the entertainment quotient

great, the ‘highs’ – particularly in Europe –

uplifting for fans, players and management.

Any year when Clermont, Toulouse

and Leinster have been outplayed and

outthought cannot be other than a measure

of the sustained improvement in Head

Coach Dan McFarland’s squad.

Tonight, familiar opposition arrives at

Guest article:

Rod Nawn

Kingspan Stadium, regarded inter-pro rivals

for the ages, but Munster is keenly aware

that a quarter-final in the URC is a meeting

of a different order.

The very last big prize is in sight, the

competition so strengthened with the arrival

of the four South African powerhouses –

the Stormers, Lions, Sharks and Bulls – has

rewritten a well-worn, even tired, script.

Like the hosts, the visitors went deep in

Europe and, ironically, had an even more

deflating exit in the Champions Cup

when losing its quarter-final to Toulouse

in a bizarre place kicking shoot-out at

Aviva Stadium!

In that strange two-legged format of the

Round of 16, Ulster lost to the same French

opponents by a single point on aggregate.

If those games were the sole indicators

of form for tonight’s clash, then only the

truly bewildered would venture a confident

prediction for which club will progress to

the semi-finals of the URC!

Not that the two men at the top of the

respective coaching teams will allow focus

on anything other than the intriguing game,

the last in Belfast in this exhausting season.

‘One game at a time’ is the mantra the

public expects and accepts from those in

sport, but supporters can be forgiven for

having an eye on the glittering prospect just

three more matches could offer.

It’s now a tiresome but sadly repeated

truism that while Munster has won PRO12

and PRP14 titles, been a constant successful

force in Europe, the tantalising reward of

a trophy in league or in the Europe has

eluded Ulster. Those with long memories

know that David Humphreys’ geometry

contrived a Celtic League triumph in 2006

when Mark McCall, now perhaps the most

coveted coach in Europe, was in charge at

Ravenhill. Too long.

But this is a different age, different players

and many differences in the way the game

is played and officiated. Nevertheless, the

notion of a world-class performer like Iain

Henderson, flanked by Rob Herring, Billy

Burns, Rob Baloucoune, Duane Vermeulen,

Stuart McCloskey and others, hoisting

the URC Cup aloft is one which, made

real, would spark the most astonishing

celebrations - and relief – literally and

psychologically in the Ulster Rugby family.

McFarland has had many targets in his

three-year tenure, and who would argue

that he has achieved in so many areas: the

strength of his squad and management, the

clear development of individual skillsets

and the nurturing of younger talent into

players of international quality.

But it’s almost impossible to imagine that

a Head Coach whose fierce intelligence

understands the demands of the modern

game has not also prioritised winning a

trophy in the major competitions. He has

spoken often of the momentum created

by winning individual games and he would

also know that silverware in Ulster Rugby

HQ would and should set a standard where

such achievements are the short and longterm

ambitions.

His opposite number tonight at Kingspan

Stadium, Johann van Graan, has guided

Munster through a period of very real

transformation. The club’s rich history as

winners has kept it competitive but in need

of an infusion of new ideas and players, and

following Rassie Erasmus’s sudden exit, and

with the loss of that wonderful man Anthony

Foley still casting a long shadow, van Graan

has stabilised the ship at Thomond Park.

But he too is leaving his post early, Bath

his destination next season, and his

successor Graham Rowntree is building

a new coaching team which, in the shape

of Mike Prendergast, Dennis Leamy and

Any Kyriacou, will very probably forge a

quite different style than that of van Graan,

Stephen Larkham and JP Ferreira.

On the pitch the players who’ll be asked to

take their clubs one step closer to a trophy

in a very long season will be excited by

the game in front of a raucous Kingspan

Stadium crowd, with Ulster hoping the fans

will be persistently vocal in urging their side

to what would be the first win over Munster

in three outings since last autumn.

Stuart McCloskey will carry much of the

midfield responsibility, and he’ll be well

aware of the powerful carrying and tackling

of another Ireland international centre,

Chris Farrell, once of this parish.

ulster.rugby

43


Michael Lowry’s absence means McFarland

can shuffle his gifted backline pool,

with Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle or Ethan

McIlroy comfortable in the No.15 shirt at

the highest level.

The half-back duels will be fascinating,

with Joey Carbery back in the Ireland fold

acutely aware of Billy Burns’ superb game

management, and the Ulster out-half is not

bout of the international picture by any

means. At scrumhalf both sides are spoiled,

Munster able to call on the enduring Conor

Murray or Craig Casey, while John Cooney

and Nathan Doak bring excellence and

variety to the position.

in his distinguished career, will set Ulster

problems and be at the heart of the

visitors’ defensive systems, and a threat

at the breakdown with the energy which

belies his years.

WEAR IT

TOGETHER

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

As in every rugby game, the shape of the

eighty minutes, and the result, will depend

on the outcome of the forward battle. Tom

O’Toole can once more enhance his Irish

credentials at prop, with the combative and

thoughtful hooker Rob Herring will possibly

renew his international pecking order rivalry

with Niall Scannell.

Jean Kleyn and Alan O’Connor are likely to

demonstrate their physicality in the lineout

and the scrummage and dotted around the

pitch are familiar high-class names.

Henderson is invaluable to Ulster and to

his country as a lock forward with a rugby

intellect all too rare, while Peter O’Mahony,

astonishingly playing as well as any time

Yes, it is an inter-pro with an extra serving of

spice. It could be the most compelling match

staged in Belfast this year, so important are

the rewards, so positive and well-coached

are these two fabled rivals.

This encounter merits a wonderful occasion

this Friday evening, Munster will certainly

bring its diehard army and attempt to

match the roar, persistent and unyielding,

which has been the hallmark of the Ulster

supporter who craves success.

This is truly the final furlong, the pace

is unrelenting and the physical and

mental demands on the players, coaches,

management and the all-important

unwavering fans.

It feels that Ulster’s time might have come.

Help that happen.

CMY

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ulster.rugby 45


Ulster Rugby

Academy

Based at Kingspan Stadium along with the

senior squad, the aim of the Ulster Rugby

Academy is to develop rugby talent to

reach their potential and perform to URC,

European and international standards.

Ben

Carson

Centre

24/02/2002

183cm

100kg

-

Reuben

Crothers

Flanker

29/01/2001

185cm

96kg

-

James

Humphreys

Fly Half

11/04/2001

185cm

80kg

-

James

McCormick

Hooker

08/01/2002

180cm

103kg

-

Conor

McKee

Scrum Half

20/03/2001

183cm

87kg

-

ADEMY ACADEMY

Jude

Conor

ADEMY Postlethwaite ACADEMY Rankin

ADEMY

Centre

ACADEMY

Full Back

03/04/2002 27/05/2001

ADEMY 193cm ACADEMY

185cm

101kg

89kg

ADEMY - ACADEMY

-

ADEMY ACADEMY

ulster.rugby

George

Saunderson

Prop

11/01/2001

191cm

118kg

-

Harry

Sheridan

Lock/Back Row

21/09/2001

196cm

111kg

-


Alan O’Connor named 2021-22

URC Tackle Machine Award winner

The Ulster lock has scooped the Tackle

Machine prize, kicking off three weeks of

announcements in the build-up to the URC

Grand Final.

The Tackle Machine prize was awarded

using URC StatMaster data provided by

Oval Insights.

Tackle Machine: Alan O’Connor

“I am proud to have won the 2021/22 URC

Tackle Machine award. It’s been a great

season, and the team and I are really

looking forward to this weekend’s Quarter

Final against Munster. It’s going to be a

brilliant atmosphere on Friday night at

Kingspan Stadium.”

This award is given to the player who

boasts the best tackle success rate among

those who have attempted 150 or more

over the course of the campaign.

Alan O’Connor takes home the prize having

made 195 tackles at a success rate of 97.5%.

The lock’s figure saw him finish ahead

of the Ospreys’ Will Griffiths (96.17%),

Connacht’s Jarrad Butler (95.29%) and

the Dragons’ Ollie Griffiths (94.92%) while

Ulster team-mate Nick Timoney – the man

who has made the most tackles in the URC

this season (247) - rounded off the top five

with a rate of 94.64%.

Rugby World Cup 2023

Ireland Match Breaks

Thu 17 Mar, 3pm | Kingspan Stadium

ulster.rugby 49


USRFR New Referee Course

Sat 20 Aug, 10am-4pm | Newforge Sports Complex

Stay involved

in the game

of rugby

A great way to

make new friends

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apprentice engineer?

Help us create the networks that bring people together.

We will provide all the training and support you need to

kick start your career and get where you want to go.

Remember…

no Referee = no

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Apply today by scanning the QR code or searching

‘Openreach apprentice engineer Northern Ireland’

If interested, please contact:

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U.S.R.F.R


Ulster Rugby thanks Departing Players

With a combined total of over 250

caps for the province, Ulster Rugby

has paid tribute to the contribution

made by the Senior Men’s players

leaving at the end of

this season.

Jack McGrath

Since joining Ulster in the summer of 2019,

prop Jack McGrath has made his presence

felt within the province both on and off the

pitch. With 140 appearances for Leinster

under his belt when he arrived in Belfast,

the Dubliner went on to play as an Ulster

man on 24 occasions, with injury curtailing

how many times he has pulled on the white

jersey recently.

McGrath, who is about to undergo further

medical treatment, will continue his

rehab and journey back to full fitness as a

professional player in the months ahead. Of

his time with Ulster, he said:

“A big thanks goes to Ulster Rugby and

the coaches during my time in Belfast.

My team-mates became close friends and I

will always value those friendships.

“I will miss the incredible support of the

Ulster fans, it’s a great feeling running out

at Kingspan Stadium as a home player, and

it’s a shame I can’t get the opportunity to

say farewell.

“As for the future, I’m now a free agent and

I have no intention of retiring. I face months

of rehabbing in my battle for full fitness, but

I am surrounded by a top-class team who

will ensure I am in great shape to return to

play. I am fully committed to becoming the

first player in any sport to play at an elite

level with two hip resurfacing operations.”

Sean Reidy

New-Zealand born, Sean Reidy, will return to

his home country at the end of the season.

A stalwart of the club for the last eight

years, the Ireland-capped flanker recently

made his 150th appearance for Ulster when

the club claimed a historic away win over

ASM Clermont Auvergne. Reidy, one of

Ulster’s top tacklers since a winning debut

in 2014 for the Senior side, said:

“I want to thank everyone at Ulster for

making this place feel like home over the

past eight years. It has been a privilege

to represent the province and to have the

opportunity to play for Ireland. Belfast has

felt like home these past years, and we

have made lifelong friendships. I leave this

place with only good memories.”

David O’Connor

Meanwhile, David O’Connor, who joined

Ulster from All-Ireland League club,

Lansdowne, in the summer of 2019 on a

Development contract, has already enjoyed

a successful stint at Ealing Trailfinders after

joining the London club on loan earlier

this season. On his 15 appearances for the

province, and playing alongside brother

Alan O’Connor, he said:

“I made some incredible memories and

friendships along the way. To be able to

have played professionally with Alan was

not just extremely special for me, but for

my whole family. Something that will be

hard to beat. Thanks to everyone in Ulster

from the players and coaches to the staff

that made my time so enjoyable. All the

best to the club and everyone in the future.”

Ross Kane

Hailing from Bangor, prop Ross Kane started

playing rugby for Donaghadee RFC minis,

and attended Methodist College Belfast

where he captained the 2013 Schools’ Cup

winning side. He was part of the Ireland U20

squad at the 2017 Six Nations, and made

his senior Ulster debut during the 2016/17

season, going on to make 60 appearances

for the province. A move for Kane to Ealing

Trailfinders was confirmed earlier this week,

and when reflecting on his time with Ulster,

he said:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all

of the players and staff at Ulster Rugby that

have helped me during my time here.

“Naturally it is a tough decision to leave your

home club, but the time is right for me to

move on and progress my career elsewhere.

“Over the eight years that I’ve spent at

Ulster, there have been an incredible

amount of highlights on and off the field

with an amazing group of players.

“I want to wish the club the best of luck for

the future. I have no doubt that they will

achieve something special which will be

well-deserved.”

Brad Roberts

After progressing to a pro-contact last year,

Bradley Roberts has continued to impress

with his work-rate, on and off the pitch.

Since making his debut for Wales back in

November, when they played South Africa,

the South African born, but Welsh qualified

Hooker, attracted the attention of the

Dragons, and so will be taking up residency

at Rodney Parade next season.

Mick Kearney

Completing the leavers is Mick Kearney,

who joined Ulster on a short-term deal

this season. A strong line-out operator, as

proven with a combined total of over 150

appearances for Connacht, Leinster and

Zebre, he brought a depth of experience to

the second row over his 9 appearances for

the club. Kearney said:

Ulster is a good club, full of good people,

working hard to achieve a common goal. I

feel very lucky to have had the opportunity

to be a part of this group for the last twelve

months, and I’ve no doubt there’s big days

ahead for the club.”

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:

“Thank-you for all that they

have given to the Ulster

jersey over the years.

“They can all leave proud

in the knowledge that they

have each made a significant

contribution to our province,

and the journey we are on as

a squad – and I wish them

the very best for the future

on behalf of all the players

and staff at the club.”

UlsterRugby.com 53


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ISOLATION

A&L GOODBODY LOUNGE / VIP BOXES

ROOM

C-19 MEDIC

Respect Policy

Stadium Facilities

TURNSTILES

We are passionate

in our support

We are silent during kicks

at goal

We respect the match

officials’ decisions

We drink

responsibly

Catering

The Food Village will be in operation,

serving a variety of cuisines, while the Cool

FM Crew will provide the soundtrack for

the evening.

All five public bars will also be in operation,

with live entertainment in the Clubhouse Bar.

Kukri Store

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.

We do not tolerate

abusive or discriminatory

language

We respect opposition

players, management

& supporters

We are mindful

of our language

INCIDENT HOTLINE

07790

200 200

The Kukri Store will be open from gates

open until 30 minutes after full-time.

OUR Club

The activity centre for our Junior Season

Ticket holders will not be in operation for

this fixture.

ulster.rugby

55


Thank You!

Ulster Rugby wish to thank all of our sponsors

and partners for their continued support.

Main Sponsor

Kit Sponsor

Official On-kit Sponsors

Follow the laws

of the game

Accept the referee’s

decision

Win with humility,

lose with dignity

Official Sponsors

Remember who you

represent

Please be respectful

of players’ abilities

Keep your language

clean

Domestic Sponsors

Zero tolerance for

abuse / harassment

Respect your

opponents

Play fair and

with discipline

Official Partners

Lead by example

Value volunteer referees

and coaches

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OFFICIAL

APP

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