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Ulster name team for Connacht clash

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The Ulster men will kickstart their 22/23 BKT United Rugby Championship campaign against Interpro rivals, Connacht Rugby, at home this Saturday (7 35pm, Kingspan Stadium).

Following a pre-season victory over Exeter Chiefs, secured in front of a home crowd, Ulster will be looking to start the season with a strong performance against familiar rival, Connacht Rugby.

The last time the two Irish provinces faced each other was back in February when Dan McFarland’s side put in a winning performance, which saw Greg Jones, Declan Moore and Rob Baloucoune cross the whitewash in a 32-12 bonus point win.

But there have been trials, as well as tribulations, when it comes to facing the West of Ireland collective, as Head Coach Dan McFarland, who has a long-standing connection to the club as both a player and coach, recognises:

“It’s interesting to have an Interpro up first in the new season. The players are looking forward to playing full-stop, but the Interpro element adds something a little bit extra. From my point of view, it’s always a big one against Connacht.

“We have the attitude that it’s a great opportunity for us to test what we’ve been doing in pre-season, given what they offer around their line speed, relentless defence, and endless attack. Those are areas that are going to test us.”

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O’Connor named as Captain against Connacht

Alan O’Connor, who is no stranger to leading the charge, will captain the side against Connacht, and is joined in the second row by Sam Carter. Meanwhile, the back row sees brothers, Matty Rea and Marcus Rea, joined by David McCann, who was due to lead out the team that travelled for the cancelled pre-season Glasgow Warriors friendly. The front row sees Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore pair up alongside 21-year-old, Tom Stewart, who was crowned Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Player of the Year back in 2019, for his first Senior start.  

Nathan Doak, who had a 100% kicking record off the tee in a Player of the Match performance last time out against Connacht, is paired at scrum-half with fly-half, Billy Burns. The midfield make-up sees Luke Marshall, who speaks on the 10-year anniversary of the passing of his friend and teammate Nevin Spence in this week’s match programme, alongside Stuart McCloskey who returns from his involvement with Ireland in the New Zealand Test-winning tour.

Jacob Stockdale, who announced his return from injury with a try against Exeter Chiefs, Rob Baloucoune and Stewart Moore complete the starting XV as the back three.

Summer signing Jeff Toomaga-Allen is set to earn his first Ulster cap off the bench. He is joined by fellow forwards John Andrew, Callum Reid, Cormac Izuchukwu and Jordi Murphy. David Shanahan, Angus Curtis and Aaron Sexton provide the backline cover.

The Ulster team, many of whom have personal memories of Nevin Spence, will be wearing black armbands embroidered with ‘Nevin, Graham and Noel’ to mark ten years since gifted young rugby player Nevin tragically passed away in an accident together with his father, Noel, and brother, Graham, on 15 September 2012.

Ulster team to play Connacht, BKT United Rugby Championship Round 1, Saturday 17 September at Kingspan Stadium (KO 7 35pm), live on BBC 2 NI from 7 15pm, TG4, Premier Sports & URC.tv:

(15-9): Stewart Moore, Rob Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8): Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor (Capt.), Sam Carter, Matty Rea, Marcus Rea, David McCann.

Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Reid, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Cormac Izuchukwu, Jordi Murphy, David Shanahan, Angus Curtis, and Aaron Sexton.

The following players were not considered for selection due to being in the Graduated Return to Play process, on the IRFU Player Management Process, or on international duty:

Andrew Warwick; Rob Herring (IRFU PMP); Tom O’Toole (IRFU PMP), Iain Henderson; Nick Timoney (IRFU PMP); Duane Vermeulen (SA Rugby); John Cooney; James Hume; Ben Moxham; Jude Postlethwaite; Will Addison; Ethan McIlroy; and Mike Lowry (IRFU PMP).

Content & Images from – Ulster Rugby


URC

Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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News

Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock

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Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Swansea.com Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Swansea.com Stadium (live on ViaPlay and URC.tv).

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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