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Ulster relishing visit to home of European champions

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Ulster relishing visit to home of European champions

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This Saturday will see Dan McFarland and his men travel to La Rochelle to face the current title-holders of the Heineken Champions Cup, as they face Stade Rochelais at the Stade Marcel Deflandre at 5 30pm (UK/Ire time).

In this weekend’s Round 3 return fixture, Ulster will be looking to put in a performance akin to the one they produced in the second half of the last time the two sides met, when they scored four tries against Ronan O’Gara’s side, before ultimately conceding the game 29 points to 36.

But, not daunted by the threat the opposition pose and in spite of a challenging couple of weeks for the province, Head Coach Dan McFarland is confident in the side that will line out in France:

“We were a whisker away from winning our last three games. If we work hard, we will turn a corner and start playing better, and ultimately, we will win games.

“Stade Rochelais are a big team, both in terms of size and how many talented players they have. The players selected for Saturday will relish it, and it’s a great opportunity for us to go up against the best.”

Ulster’s next home fixture is the crucial final Heineken Champions Cup pool stage game against Sale Sharks on Saturday 21 January (KO 8pm). Tickets are available now at ulster.rugby/buytickets.

Ian Madigan makes his return in starting line-up

Following several months out with injury, Ian Madigan is back and will line-out at fly half alongside 21-year-old scrum half Nathan Doak, who made his Heineken Champions Cup debut this time last year in an away win over another French heavyweight, ASM Clermont Auvergne.

In an Ulster born and bred back three, with an average age of 25, winger Jacob Stockdale retains his starting position from last week, together with full back, Mike Lowry, who secured his first try of the season last Saturday against Benetton. Rob Lyttle comes in on the right wing, as one of eight changes to the side that started most recently in Round 12 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Luke Marshall comes into the team at inside centre and is paired in midfield with fellow Ulster Rugby Academy graduate Stewart Moore, who crossed the whitewash in Treviso.

Club captain, Iain Henderson, will lead the side from the back row as he is named at blindside flanker. He is joined by Ireland teammate, Nick Timoney, and Springbok, Duane Vermeulen, who lines out at number eight.

Ulster stalwart, Alan O’Connor, is back in the starting line-up this week at lock, and pairs up with Kieran Treadwell, who has amassed over 1,800 minutes of European rugby since his debut back in the 2015/16 season.

Scottish international, Rory Sutherland comes in as loosehead prop, with Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Rob Herring, who was responsible for one of Ulster’s four tries last time out, both retaining their starting positions at tighthead prop and hooker respectively.

Current Ulster Academy forward Harry Sheridan is primed to make his first senior appearance off the bench, with John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Andy Warwick, and David McCann, who made his European debut the last time the two sides met, completing the backup options for the pack.

Michael McDonald, also set to make his debut on the European stage, together with Billy Burns and Ethan McIlroy are included on the bench for the backs.

Ulster team to play Stade Rochelais, Heineken Champions Cup Round 3, Saturday 14 January at Stade Marcel Deflandre (KO 5 30pm UK/Ire time; 6 30pm local time), live on BT Sport:

(15-9): Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, Stewart Moore, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, Nathan Doak;

(1-8): Rory Sutherland, Rob Herring, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (Captain), Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Andy Warwick, Harry Sheridan, David McCann, Michael McDonald, Billy Burns, Ethan McIlroy.

The following players were not considered for selection due to injury or the IRFU Player Management Programme: Marty Moore; Tom O’Toole; Matty Rea; Sean Reffell; David Shanahan; Jake Flannery; Aaron Sexton; Jude Postlethwaite; Stuart McCloskey; Angus Curtis; James Hume; Rob Baloucoune; and Will Addison.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


URC

Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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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.”

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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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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