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The Low-down on Ulster’s New Signings

Quick look at the confirmed and (almost confirmed) signings for next season.

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Sam Carter and Gareth Milasinovich both have been confirmed as new arrivals at the Kingspan Stadium next season while it is believed Matt Faddes will be announced soon. Here’s a look at who they are.

Sam Carter

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Position: Second Row

Age:29

Club: Brumbies

Nationality: Australian

The low-down: An important signing as Ulster could definitely do with another leader in the pack – someone who brings experience and, equally as important, a bit of edge to the young squad.

Carter is a totemic figure for the Brumbies and a born leader, being named co-captain along with Christian Leali’ifano. Following in the footsteps of his famous father, David Carter, he has won 16 caps for the Wallabies.

He is what you might call an ‘old-school’ second-row. He carries aggressively over the ‘hard-yards’ and has had one of the top tackle-counts for each of the past number of seasons. He has a relentless work ethic and is extremely useful at the set-piece.

Carter’s playing style bears more resemblance to Johann Muller than Iain Henderson. He puts in the important, unglamorous work in the engine room, tirelessly hammering away at the breakdown coalface. He is Mr Consistency and hasn’t had many major injury problems over the past few years. All signs point to this being a brilliant signing for Ulster.

Matt Faddes

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Position: Utility Back

Age: 27

Club: Highlanders

Nationality: New Zealand

The low-down: Given the nature of modern rugby, it pays to have versatile players. Addison has been a revelation for Ulster since his arrival as a utility back. Let’s hope Faddes can replicate his success in an Ulster jersey (particularly as Ulster will be without Stockdale and Addison for the start of the season).

Like Addison, Faddes is a quick and agile back who has an eye for a gap in the opposition defence. He has played international Sevens rugby for New Zealand and has become a cult hero at Otago for his skilful and creative playing style. However, like so many cult heroes, Faddes’ career has been plagued by inconsistency – capable of great bits of skill but most definitely a ‘confidence player’, prone to go through the occasional patch of poor form.

Reassuringly, there are highlights packages of him on YouTube showing that he is capable of being a potent attacking threat. Granted, anyone can look good in a montage of their ‘best bits’ but, if nothing else, he looks like a player who will be fun to watch and bring a few moments of excitement to the Kingspan. This will be a case of ‘In Bryn We Trust’ and Ulster fans should be hopeful considering Cunningham’s ability to identify and recruit good quality backs ‘Moneyball’ style.

Gareth Milasinovich

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Position: Prop (both sides)

Age: 26

Club: Worcester

Nationality: South African (Irish Qualified)

The low-down: Props who claim to be able to play on both sides of the scrum should be treated with suspicion. Remember Tom Court? Sometimes it’s better to stick to what you’re good at.

Ulster have needed to bolster their front row options for some time now and their track record of recruitment in this area hasn’t exactly been great. At 6’3” and 21 stone, Milanisovic certainly looks the part (although so did Rodney Ah You and Van der Merwe).

Due to injury and competition, he hasn’t played a huge amount of rugby which has limited his development. By all accounts, he is both ‘big’ and ‘strong’ – words often used to describe props who have yet to develop technique. However, under the expert tutelage of McFarland – who specialises in getting the best from the ‘tight five’ – it’s possible that Milanisovic, who has all the requisite physical attributes, could be moulded into a force to be reckoned with.

In the few times I’ve seen him, he has been solid if unspectacular – not a bad thing for a prop who’s only 26 (props, as we all know, are born in their late 20s). He will add some depth and much needed competition to the front row department.

In other news, Ulster fans should join together and pray that the rumours about Jack McGrath’s move up North are true. If they are, it looks like Ulster will finally have the formidable front row club they have been lacking and it is hoped Milanisovic will play a key role in this.


URC

Vodacom URC and CVC shining a light on Community Upliftment Projects

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The Vodacom United Rugby Championship are launching the URC Unity Awards on Tuesday, to recognise the great work done by players and teams within their communities and for charitable causes.

Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens will be part of the judging panel that will consider the candidates and come up with two worthy winners.

The Unity Awards, which are sponsored by the CVC Foundation, are associated with Vodacom URC’s Take on Tomorrow campaign, which looks to inspire change through the power of rugby and acknowledge the impact players and teams from the 16-side league make off the field.

The programme oversees projects aimed at engaging directly with communities across the five Vodacom URC territories – Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

To shine a light on the work players and teams are doing to uplift their communities and support their chosen charities, the Vodacom URC has now introduced the following Unity Awards.

  • The Difference Maker Award – presented to the player who has been recognised for outstanding commitment to a charitable or social cause.
  • The Community Impact Award – presented to the team whose community programme has been recognised for its impact in their region/province.

The winners of these awards will receive £5,000 from CVC Foundation to donate to their cause of choice (player) or to invest in their community programme (team).

As well as Nigel Owens, the independent judging panel is a dedicated group that also features Jane Howard, CSR Manager at CVC, Sports Broadcaster Emma Dodds and URC Head of Operations Amy Monaghan.

CVC CSR Manager Jane Howard said: “The CVC Foundation is delighted to be able to support the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in their efforts to shine a light on the incredible work the clubs and players are doing to make an impact in their communities.

“As a member on the Judging Panel, I have read through the submissions and have been so impressed by the incredible work being done. CVC applauds the Vodacom URC clubs and players in their efforts.”

The nominees for the awards will be announced on Tuesday, 6 December, with the winners to be revealed on Wednesday, 21 December. The award presentation to the winning club and player will then take place ahead of Christmas derby games in Round 10.

United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi said: “We are acutely aware of the fantastic community programmes that our clubs have established locally and the deserving causes that our players contribute to as well. As a league, our mission is to celebrate and highlight their successes across our platforms so that our fans can appreciate their impact away from the pitch.”

About Take On Tomorrow

The Take on Tomorrow programme is inspired by the mission to celebrate the diversity and national cultures of the URC while using the league’s platform to champion for a healthier, stronger, unified next generation. 

The programme will advance and celebrate the power of URC rugby as a tool for social change by using our international platform to support the efforts of clubs, players, fans and leading charities as they change lives of young people across the five territories in which we play.

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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URC

Hooker Roberts joins tour in South Africa

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Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts has officially linked up with the Dragons RFC tour party in South Africa.

Roberts, who featured for Wales in the international Test with Georgia this autumn, flew out to link-up with the Men of Gwent on Monday.

Dragons have now travelled south as they prepare to face reigning champions the DHL Stormers in Round 9 of the BKT United Rugby Championship this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 12noon UK).

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Bradley met up with the squad in Johannesburg and joined us on the flight to Port Elizabeth. He will be around the match day squad.

“It’s great to have him with us. The more quality players we can have around the group the better and we expect a few more to join us for the European game.

“Several boys were involved in three or four games for Wales so it’s important they get some down time.

“With the intensity of international rugby, we must manage them for the rest of the season.

“It’s the mental stress and expectation that takes it out of you so they will go away and take some time before they come back into the group in the coming weeks.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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Squad Update | Preparations Begin For Edinburgh Away

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The Munster squad started preparations at the HPC today ahead of Friday night’s URC round 9 game away to Edinburgh at the Dam Health Stadium.

Along with the 23-man squad involved in the win over Connacht, there were 10 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.

Patrick Campbell, Conor Phillips, Eoin O’Connor, Dan Goggin and Fionn Gibbons featured for Young Munster in their win over Dublin University with Phillips scoring the match-winning try.

Ethan Coughlan and Kieran Ryan helped Shannon defeat UCD with Ryan touching down in the victory.

Jack Oliver was in action for Garryowen as they were defeated by Lansdowne.

In Division 1B, James French lined out for Highfield in their loss to Malone.

In Division 2A, Evan O’Connell was in action for UL Bohs as they were defeated by Blackrock College.

On the injury front, Mike Haley failed his HIA on Saturday night and will enter the graded return to play protocols.

Peter O’Mahony passed his HIA but was removed due to a facial/blood injury and will return to training this week.

Jack Crowley will go for a scan today for a lower leg/calf complaint.

Continuing to rehab: Conor Murray (groin), Stephen Archer (ankle), Tom Ahern (shoulder), RG Snyman (knee), Fineen Wycherley (shoulder), Paddy Kelly (head), Jack Daly (knee), Jack O’Sullivan (knee), Andrew Conway (knee), Keynan Knox (knee).

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 1

Sunday, December 11

Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 10

Monday, December 26

Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 12

Friday, January 6

Munster v Emirates Lions, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Champions Cup Round 3

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 14

Friday, February 17, 2023

Munster Rugby v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 15

Friday, March 3, 2023

Munster Rugby v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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