Ulster Rugby
Ulster Rugby logo.svg
Nickname(s)The Ulstermen
Founded1879; 143 years ago (1879)
LocationBelfast, Northern Ireland
Ground(s)Ravenhill Stadium (Capacity: 18,196)
ChairmanJonny Petrie
Coach(es)Dan McFarland
Captain(s)Iain Henderson
Most capsAndrew Trimble & Darren Cave (229)
Top scorerDavid Humphreys (1,585)
Most triesAndrew Trimble (76)
League(s)United Rugby Championship
2021–22Semi-finals
2nd Irish Shield
(3rd overall)
1st kit
2nd kit
3rd kit
Official website
www.ulsterrugby.com
Rugby football current event.svg
Current season
Map of IRFU provincial branches.svg

Ulster Rugby is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland. They compete in the United Rugby Championship and the European Rugby Champions Cup.

The team represents the IRFU Ulster Branch, which is one of the four primary branches of the IRFU and is responsible for rugby union throughout the geographical Irish province of Ulster, comprising Northern Ireland (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone) and three counties in the Republic of Ireland which are Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan.

History

Foundation (1868–1879)

A number of clubs were operating in Ulster prior to the foundation of the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Ulster branch. The Belfast-based Northern Ireland F.C., founded in 1868, was the earliest club to operate in the province. Clubs from this era still in existence include Dungannon and Queen's University. The first Irish inter-provincial game took place in 1875 between Ulster and Leinster, with Ulster being the victors.[1] In Ireland's first international match, which was played in 1875 against England, eight Ulster-based players took part. Rugby in Ulster at this time was mostly overseen by the Irish Football Union, with the Northern Football Union of Ireland controlling the game in Belfast. The two unions amalgamated in 1879, with the provincial branches of Ulster, Leinster and Munster being founded as part of the terms of this arrangement.[2] The final Irish provincial side, Connacht, was founded in 1885.[3]

Amateur era (1879–1995)

During the amateur era Irish players primarily played for their respective clubs, with provincial games effectively treated as Irish trial matches.[4] The provincial teams were also used to provide competitive club opposition for touring international sides. Inter-provincial games were played on an irregular basis but starting in the 1946–47 season, the provinces played against each other in the annual Irish Interprovincial Championship.[3] Ulster won this tournament 26 times in total, with eight of these titles being shared. The team's greatest period of success was in the 1980s and 1990s when they won ten titles in a row.[5][6][7]

Professional success (1999–2006)

After rugby union was declared open to professionalism in 1995, the IRFU gradually developed the provincial sides as professional teams.[8] The Heineken Cup was launched in 1995 to provide a new level of European cross-border competition,[9] and Ulster, coached by Harry Williams and captained by David Humphreys, became the first Irish team to win it in the 1998–99 season, beating beat French side US Colomiers 21–6 in the final at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.[10]

The Celtic League, featuring all four Irish provinces plus teams from Scotland and Wales, was launched in 2001.[11] From 2001 to 2004, the Ulster team was coached by Alan Solomons, a former assistant coach of the Springboks and head coach of The Stormers and Western Province in his native South Africa. Solomons coached Ulster to a three-year unbeaten home record in the Heineken Cup.[12] In the 2003–04 season, Ulster finished second in the Celtic League, only overtaken by Llanelli on the final day of the campaign. Two of Ulster's most impressive achievements in this period were a 33–0 win over English giants Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Cup in January 2004,[13] and winning the inaugural Celtic Cup on 20 December 2003, beating Edinburgh in a rain-soaked Murrayfield final.[14]

Solomons was succeeded by Mark McCall, former captain of the province and a member of Ulster's Heineken Cup winning squad,[15] with former teammate Allen Clarke as his assistant,[16] and Ulster's unbeaten home run in Europe was extended to four years.[17][18] Dominant forward play by Australian lock Justin Harrison, New Zealand-born Irish scrum-half Isaac Boss, and a rapid maturing of a youthful home-grown three-quarter line made Ulster champions of the 2005–06 Celtic League. On the last day of the season, the title came down between Ulster and Leinster, before being decided in Ulster's favour by a 40-metre David Humphreys drop goal against Ospreys.[19]

Decline (2006–2010)

Ulster started the 2006–07 season well, including beating Toulouse 30-3 in the Heineken Cup.[20] But this form did not continue, they were eliminated from the competition early, and finished fifth in the Celtic League. Back row forward Roger Wilson was Player of the Year.[21]

The team began the 2007-08 season with a poor run of results, and Mark McCall resigned in November following Ulster's embarrassing 32–14 home defeat to Gloucester in the opening round of the 2007–08 Heineken Cup.[22] Assistant coach Steve Williams took temporary charge, and Matt Williams took charge in February, but failed to turn the season around, with Ulster finishing 9th in the 10 team Celtic League. Centre Darren Cave made his debut from the academy.[23] At the end of the season wing Tommy Bowe, who was named Player of the Year,[24] left for Ospreys.[25] Roger Wilson went to Northampton Saints.[26] Out-half David Humphreys retired, and was appointed the province's Director of Operations.[27]

The following season out-half Ian Humphreys, David's younger brother, was signed from Leicester Tigers.[28] Ulster finished third in their Heineken Cup group and eighth in the Celtic League, and Williams resigned.[29] Hooker Rory Best was Player of the Year.[30]

For the 2009-10 season a new management structure was put in place, with David Humphreys as director of rugby and Brian McLaughlin as head coach, assisted by Jeremy Davidson and Neil Doak.[29] New signings included lock Dan Tuohy from Exeter.[31] Centre Nevin Spence made his debut from the academy.[32] The season saw an improvement in Ulster's Heineken Cup form, including their first away win in England against Bath,[33] but they finished eighth in the Celtic League. Flanker Chris Henry was Player of the Year.[34] At the end of the season, scrum-half Isaac Boss left for Leinster,[35] and prop Justin Fitzpatrick retired.[36]

Revival (2010–2014)

The 2010-11 season saw significant improvement. Ulster signed key players including 2007 Rugby World Cup winning Springboks Ruan Pienaar[37] and Johann Muller.[38] Out-half Paddy Jackson.[39] and centre Luke Marshall[40] made their debuts from the academy. Ulster made the semi-finals of the Celtic League and the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. Ruan Pienaar was Player of the Year.[41]

New signings for the 2011-12 season included prop John Afoa[42] and utility back Jared Payne.[43] Academy lock Iain Henderson made his senior debut.[44] Ulster reached the Heineken Cup final, losing to Leinster at Twickenham.[45] The Celtic League had been renamed the Pro12 after the addition of two Italian teams, and Ulster finished sixth. Brian McLaughlin was replaced as head coach by Mark Anscombe.[46] Flanker Chris Henry was Player of the Year.[47]

New signings for the 2012–13 season included back row forward Nick Williams from the now defunct Aironi,[48] wing Tommy Bowe, returning from his four-year stay at the Ospreys,[49] back row forward Roger Wilson, returning from Northampton Saints,[50] and Irish-qualified South African hooker Rob Herring, initially on a six month trial.[51] Out-half Ian Humphreys left for London Irish.[52] Centre Nevin Spence died in an accident at the family farm.[53] Ulster started the season with 13 consecutive wins in all competitions, the longest unbeaten run in their history.[54] They finished top of their group in the Heineken Cup, qualifying for the quarter-finals, where they lost to Northampton Saints. They finished top of the table in the Pro12, earning a home semi-final, in which they defeated Scarlets 27-16 in the last match before the old grandstand was demolished. The redevelopment of Ravenhill meant the final against Leinster had to be played at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Leinster won 24-18. Lock Alan O'Connor made his debut from the academy this season.[55] Wing Andrew Trimble was Player of the Year.[56]

The 2013–14 season proved trophyless again. For the first time, Ulster won all their Heineken Cup group games, with away victories against Montpellier and Leicester Tigers being the highlight. They were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage with a 17–15 home defeat to Saracens. The Pro12 season was racked with inconsistency and Ulster finished the league season in fourth place. This set up an away semi-final with Leinster, and for the fourth time in four seasons the season was ended by their old foes with a 13–9 defeat. Centre Stuart McCloskey[57] and prop Andrew Warwick made their debuts from the academy.[58] Andrew Trimble was Player of the Year for the second year running.[59] The season ended with the retirements of captain Johann Muller, centre Paddy Wallace, and flanker Stephen Ferris. Director of Rugby David Humphreys also left the province to take up a similar position at Gloucester Rugby. Following Humphreys' departure, Mark Anscombe was sacked by the province and was replaced by Ireland defence coach Les Kiss on an interim basis.[60]

2014–17 – the Les Kiss years

The 2014–15 season was Ulster's first under director of rugby Les Kiss[61] and head coach Neil Doak.[62] The redeveloped Ravenhill, renamed the Kingspan Stadium, now had a capacity of 18,196.[63] Rory Best was named captain after the retirement of Johann Muller.[64] New signings included out-half Ian Humphreys, returning from London Irish,[65] lock Franco van der Merwe from the Lions,[66] outside back Louis Ludik from Agen, and flanker Sean Reidy from Counties Manukau.[65] Ulster were knocked out of the new European Champions Cup at the group stage. They finished fourth in the Pro12 but narrowly lost in the playoff semifinal to eventual champions Glasgow Warriors. Prop Declan Fitzpatrick retired at the end of the season.[67] Wing Craig Gilroy was named Player of the Year.[68]

In 2015–16, Ulster were knocked out of the Champions Cup at the group stage despite a memorable back to back win over Toulouse. They finished fourth in the Pro12 but reached the semi-finals, losing to Leinster. Wing Jacob Stockdale made his debut from the academy.[69] Centre Stuart McCloskey was Player of the Year.[70]

Before the 2016–17 season, Nick Williams left for Cardiff Blues[71] and Dan Tuohy for Bristol Bears,[72] and Ian Humphreys retired.[73] Ulster signed back row forward Marcell Coetzee,[74] fullback Charles Piutau[75] and lock Kieran Treadwell.[76] Academy flanker Nick Timoney made his debut.[77] Ulster finished the season bottom of their pool in the Heineken Cup, and fifth in the Pro12. Charles Piutau was Player of the Year.[78]

2017–18 - the "basket case" season

For the 2017–18 season, the Pro12 became the Pro14 with the addition of two South African teams. Head coach Neil Doak's contract was not renewed and he was replaced by Jono Gibbes.[79] Assistant coach Allen Clarke also left, replaced by Dwayne Peel.[80] All-time appearance holder Roger Wilson retired, and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar was blocked by the IRFU from extending his contract.[81] John Cooney was signed from Connacht to replace him.[82]

Before the season started, out-half Paddy Jackson and centre Stuart Olding were charged with rape and suspended from playing pending trial.[83] Both would be acquitted, but have their contracts revoked.[84] Australian out-half Christian Lealiifano was signed on loan.[85] Prop Tom O'Toole made his debut from the academy.[86] After a poor run of form over the Christmas period, Les Kiss resigned as Director of Rugby,[87] and Gibbes cut his contract short, leaving at the end of the season.[88] Ulster finished third in their Champions Cup pool, and fourth in Conference B of the Pro14, failing to qualify for the playoffs and needing to win a playoff to qualify for the next season's Champions Cup.[89] Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll described the province as "a bit of a basket case", facing "Administration issues, senior players retiring, the well documented court case, now no number 10 to build the team around, no coach next year, struggling for Champions Cup rugby next season."[90] Scrum-half John Cooney was named Player of the Year.[91]

2018–present – rebuilding under Dan McFarland

For the 2018–19 season Dan McFarland was brought in as the new head coach.[92] Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Chris Henry all retired, and Charles Piutau left for Bristol Bears.[93] Out-half Billy Burns was signed from Gloucester,[94] prop Marty Moore from Wasps,[95] flanker Jordi Murphy from Leinster,[96] and utility back Will Addison from Sale Sharks.[97] Prop Eric O'Sullivan, wing Robert Baloucoune, centre James Hume, fullback Michael Lowry and flanker Marcus Rea all made their debuts from the academy. Ulster finished the season as quarter-finalists in the Champions Cup, and semi-finalists in the Pro14, losing to Glasgow Warriors.[98] Rory Best[99] and Darren Cave retired at the end of the season.[100] Centre Stuart McCloskey was Player of the Year for the second time.[101]

Lock Iain Henderson was named captain for the 2019–20 season.[102] Ulster were again quarter-finalists in the Champions Cup, going out to Toulouse,[103] and reached the final of the Pro14, losing to Leinster.[104] Centre Stewart Moore and wing Ethan McIlroy[105] made their debuts from the academy, and scrum-half John Cooney was Player of the Year for the second time.[106]

The 2020–21 season was shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic, and games were played behind closed doors. Ulster finished second in Conference A of the Pro14, but failed to make the knockout stages of the Champions Cup and were entered into the Challenge Cup. They progressed to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by Leicester Tigers. The season's final competition was the Pro14 Rainbow Cup, pitting the Pro14's European teams against the four South African teams who were leaving Super Rugby. Ulster's form in this competition was poor, and they finished tenth in the European pool. Marcell Coetzee cut short his contract and left for the Bulls before the end of the season.[107] Academy players Cormac Izuchukwu, Nathan Doak, David McCann, Callum Reid and Aaron Sexton all made their senior debuts this season.[108] Lock Alan O'Connor was Player of the Year.[109]

In 2021–22 the Pro14 became the United Rugby Championship, with the addition of four new South African teams. Ulster made the semi-finals, where they narrowly lost to the Stormers in Cape Town. In the Champions Cup, they made the knockout stage, but went out in a two-legged round of sixteen playoff against Toulouse by an aggregate score of 50-49. Centre James Hume was Player of the Year.[110]

Previous season summaries

Domestic League European Cup Domestic / 'A' Cup
Season Competition Final Position (Pool) Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
1995–96 No competition Heineken Cup 4th in pool Interprovincial Championship 2nd
1996–97 No competition Heineken Cup 4th in pool Interprovincial Championship 3rd
1997–98 No competition Heineken Cup 4th in pool Interprovincial Championship 3rd
1998–99 No competition Heineken Cup Champions Interprovincial Championship 2nd
1999–00 No competition Heineken Cup 4th in pool Interprovincial Championship 2nd
2000–01 No competition Heineken Cup 4th in pool Interprovincial Championship 2nd
2001–02 Celtic League 2nd (A) 13 Semi-final Heineken Cup 2nd in pool Interprovincial Championship 2nd
2002–03 Celtic League 3rd (A) 22 Semi-final Heineken Cup 3rd in pool No competition
2003–04 Celtic League 2nd 72 N/A Heineken Cup 3rd in pool Celtic Cup Champions
2004–05 Celtic League 8th 43 N/A Heineken Cup 3rd in pool Celtic Cup Quarter-final
2005–06 Celtic League Champions 75 N/A Heineken Cup 3rd in pool No competition
2006–07 Magners League 5th 55 N/A Heineken Cup 3rd in pool No competition
2007–08 Magners League 9th 29 N/A Heineken Cup 4th in pool No competition
2008–09 Magners League 8th 36 N/A Heineken Cup 3rd in pool No competition
2009–10 Magners League 8th 36 Did not qualify Heineken Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Semi-final
2010–11 Magners League 3rd 67 Semi-final Heineken Cup Quarter-final British and Irish Cup 5th in pool
2011–12 RaboDirect PRO12 6th 56 Did not qualify Heineken Cup Runner-up British and Irish Cup Quarter-final
2012–13 RaboDirect PRO12 1st 81 Runner-up Heineken Cup Quarter-final British and Irish Cup 2nd in pool
2013–14 RaboDirect PRO12 4th 70 Semi-final Heineken Cup Quarter-final British and Irish Cup 2nd in pool
2014–15 Guinness PRO12 4th 69 Semi-final Champions Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup 3rd in pool
2015–16 Guinness PRO12 4th 69 Semi-final Champions Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup 3rd in pool
2016–17 Guinness PRO12 5th 68 Did not qualify Champions Cup 4th in pool British and Irish Cup Quarter-final
2017–18 Guinness PRO14 4th (B) 62 Did not qualify Champions Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Quarter-final
2018–19 Guinness PRO14 2nd (B) 63 Semi-final Champions Cup Quarter-final Celtic Cup 3rd in pool
2019–20 Guinness PRO14 2nd (A) 44 Runner-up Champions Cup Quarter-final Celtic Cup Runner-up
2020–21 Guinness PRO14 2nd (A) 64 Did not qualify Challenge Cup* Semi-final Rainbow Cup 10th in pool
2021–22 United Rugby Championship 3rd 59 Semi-final Champions Cup Round of 16 No competition

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runner-up

* After dropping into the competition from the Champions Cup/Heineken Cup

Current standings

United Rugby Championship

2022–23 United Rugby Championship watch · edit · discuss
Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA Try bonus Losing bonus Pts
1 Ireland Leinster 7 7 0 0 221 104 +117 31 14 5 0 33
2 Ireland Ulster 6 5 0 1 205 137 +68 28 16 4 1 25
3 South Africa Bulls 7 5 0 2 214 175 +39 25 22 4 0 24
4 South Africa Stormers 6 4 1 1 180 121 +59 21 10 5 1 24
5 Scotland Edinburgh 7 4 0 3 228 139 +89 35 17 4 2 22
6 Wales Cardiff 7 4 0 3 156 169 –13 17 23 1 0 17
7 Scotland Glasgow Warriors 6 3 0 3 164 150 +14 24 19 3 0 15
8 South Africa Sharks 5 3 0 2 163 162 +1 20 20 3 0 15
9 South Africa Lions 6 3 0 3 155 165 –10 18 21 2 1 15
10 Wales Dragons 7 3 0 4 155 178 –23 16 23 2 1 15
11 Italy Benetton 7 3 0 4 141 224 –83 14 31 2 0 14
12 Ireland Connacht 7 3 0 4 117 156 –39 16 19 1 0 13
13 Wales Ospreys 7 1 2 4 159 185 –26 16 18 2 3 13
14 Ireland Munster 7 2 0 5 120 127 –7 13 17 1 3 12
15 Wales Scarlets 7 1 1 5 150 211 –61 17 25 2 1 9
16 Italy Zebre Parma 7 0 0 7 129 254 –125 18 28 2 2 4
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[111]
  1. number of matches won;
  2. the difference between points for and points against;
  3. the number of tries scored;
  4. the most points scored;
  5. the difference between tries for and tries against;
  6. the fewest red cards received;
  7. the fewest yellow cards received.
Green background indicates teams that are playoff places that top their regional pools and earn a place in the 2023–24 European Champions Cup

Blue background indicates teams that did not top their regional pool but are in play-off places and earn a place in the 2023–24 European Champions Cup
Pink background indicates teams that did not top their regional pool but are in play-off places, and earn a place in the 2023–24 European Challenge Cup
Yellow background indicates teams that top their regional pool and thus currently in a qualification place in the 2023–24 European Champions Cup, but are not in a play-off place
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2023–24 European Challenge Cup.

European Rugby Champions Cup

Pool B

Pool A Standings [112]
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
France Racing 92 4 4 0 0 126 24 +102 16 3 3 0 19
Ireland Ulster 4 4 0 0 114 96 +18 15 9 3 0 19
France La Rochelle 4 3 1 0 97 64 +33 11 7 2 0 16
Ireland Leinster 4 3 0 1 198 62 +136 30 8 3 0 15
England Sale Sharks 4 2 1 1 89 48 +41 13 5 1 1 12
England Exeter Chiefs 4 2 0 2 127 82 +45 19 7 3 0 11
France Montpellier 4 2 0 2 78 157 –79 9 23 2 0 10
France Clermont 4 1 1 2 79 82 –3 8 10 0 2 8
Scotland Glasgow Warriors 4 1 0 3 82 117 –35 7 15 0 1 5
England Northampton Saints 4 0 0 4 56 124 –68 6 17 0 2 2
England Bath 4 0 1 3 48 148 –100 6 22 0 0 2
Wales Ospreys 4 0 0 4 33 123 –90 3 17 0 0 0


Honours

Crest

The flag of the Province of Ulster
The flag of the Province of Ulster

The current crest was introduced in 2003. The new, stylised crest is made specific to Ulster Rugby as it incorporates the red hand from the provincial flag of Ulster with two rugby balls.[114] The Ulster Rugby crest is on all official club merchandise including replica jerseys.

Stadium

Ravenhill Stadium

The Ravenhill Stadium, known for sponsorship reasons as the Kingspan Stadium since 2014, opened in 1923.[115] It has hosted two Rugby World Cup matches, several Ireland national team matches, the 2015 Pro12 Grand Final and many 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup matches, including the final.

The Premium Stand opened in 2009. In 2011, the Northern Ireland Executive announced that it had granted £138m for various stadium redevelopment projects throughout Northern Ireland. Ulster Rugby received £14.5m, which was used to redevelop Ravenhill and expand its capacity from 12,000 to 18,000.[116] The rest of the redevelopment took place from 2012 to 2014. In 2012, Ulster Rugby confirmed that three new stands would be built at Ravenhill, with work commencing in late 2012. Two new stands at the Memorial and Aquinas ends of the stadium were completed while the main stand was demolished and rebuilt. The major refurbishment was completed in April 2014.[117] After the rest of the redevelopment was completed, the stadium was renamed the Kingspan Stadium.

Home Attendance

Domestic League European Cup Total
League Fixtures Average Attendance Highest Lowest League Fixtures Average Attendance Highest Lowest Total Attendance Average Attendance
2013–14 Pro12 11 13,348 16,950 10,693 2013–14 Heineken Cup 4 14,464 16,853 12,977 204,678 13,645
2014–15 Pro12 11 16,037 17,139 13,501 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 16,179 16,931 15,659 224,946 16,068
2015–16 Pro12 11 15,310 17,332 12,640 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 16,111 17,108 15,108 216,740 15,481
2016–17 Pro12 11 15,961 17,676 13,663 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 16,028 16,843 14,924 223,658 15,976
2017–18 Pro14 12* 14,026 17,631 7,014 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 15,314 15,646 15,004 214,247 14,283
2018–19 Pro14 11 13,835 17,358 11,882 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 14,039 16,842 12,124 194,300 13,879
2019–20 Pro14 7‡ 13,818 17,483 10,975 2019–20 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 17,024 17,923 15,466 147,796 14,780
2020–21 Pro14
Pro14 Rainbow Cup
0‡ 2020–21 European Rugby Champions Cup 0‡
2021–22 United Rugby Championship 8• 11,469 16,274 9,542 2021–22 European Rugby Champions Cup 3 14,969 18,196 12,000 136,660 12,424
 *Match figures inclusive of both Pro14 League fixtures and a European Champions Cup playoff fixture.
 ‡Match figures include fixtures in which Covid-19 restrictions limited attendance, but exclude fixtures in which no spectators were allowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  •Only matches in which there was a reported attendance are included.

Up to date as of the 2021–22 season.

Current squad

For player movements before or during the 2022–23 season, see List of 2022–23 United Rugby Championship transfers § Ulster.

Ulster Rugby United Rugby Championship squad[a]

Props

Hookers

Locks

Back row

Scrum-halves

Fly-halves

Centres

Wings

Fullbacks

(c) denotes the team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped players.
* denotes players qualified to play for Ireland on residency or dual nationality.
ST denotes a short-term signing.
Players and their allocated positions from the Ulster Rugby website.[118]
  1. ^ Taking into account signings and departures head of 2022–23 season as listed on List of 2022–23 United Rugby Championship transfers.

Academy squad

Ulster Rugby Academy squad[a]

Props

  • Ireland George Saunderson (2)
  • Ireland Scott Wilson (1)

Hookers

  • Ireland James McCormick (3)

Locks

  • Ireland Joe Hopes (1)
  • Ireland Harry Sheridan (2)

Back row

  • Ireland Reuben Crothers (3)
  • Ireland Lorcan McLaughlin (1)
  • Ireland James McNabney (1)

Scrum-halves

  • Ireland Conor McKee (2)

Fly-halves

  • Ireland James Humphreys (2)

Centres

  • Ireland Ben Carson (3)

Wings

  • None currently named

Fullbacks

  • Ireland Rory Telfer (1)
(c) denotes the team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped players, number in brackets indicates players stage in the three-year academy cycle.
* denotes players qualified to play for Ireland on residency or dual nationality.
Players and their allocated positions from the Ulster Rugby website.[119]
  1. ^ Taking into account signings and departures head of 2022–23 season as listed on List of 2022–23 United Rugby Championship transfers.

Staff

Position Name Nationality
Chief executive officer Jonny Petrie  Scotland
Operations director Bryn Cunningham  Ireland
Head coach Dan McFarland  England
Assistant coach Dan Soper  New Zealand
Defence coach Jonathan Bell  Ireland
Forwards coach Roddy Grant  Scotland
Skills coach Craig Newby  New Zealand
Academy manager Gavin Hogg  Ireland
Elite performance development officer Willie Faloon  Ireland
Elite performance development officer Neil Doak  Ireland

Results versus representative sides

Scores and results list Ulster's points tally first.
Date Opponent Location Result Score Notes
December 1912 South Africa South Africa Belfast Lost 0–19 Match Report
5 November 1924 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 6–28 Tour Article
December 1931 South Africa South Africa Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 3–30 Match Report
30 November 1935 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Draw 3–3 Match Report
1 December 1951 South Africa South Africa Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 5–27 Match Report
2 January 1954 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Draw 5–5 Match Report
30 November 1957 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 0–9 Match Report
28 January 1961 South Africa South Africa Belfast Lost 6–19 Match Report
25 January 1964 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 5–24 Match Report
29 November 1969 South Africa South Africa Ravenhill, Belfast Draw 0–0* Tour Article
18 November 1972 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 6–19 Match Report
3 November 1973 Argentina Argentina XV Ravenhill, Belfast Won 23–13 Match Report
16 November 1974 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 15–30 Match Report
15 November 1975 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 25–30 Match Report
7 November 1978 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 7–23 Match Report
11 October 1980 Romania Romania Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 13–15 Match Report
14 November 1981 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 6–12 Tour article
14 November 1984 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Won 15–13 Match Report
23 October 1985 Fiji Fiji Ravenhill, Belfast Won 23–9 Match Report
2 November 1988 Samoa Western Samoa Ravenhill, Belfast Won 47–15 Match Report
21 November 1989 New Zealand New Zealand Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 3–21 Match Report
24 October 1992 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 11–35 Match Report
16 November 1996 Australia Australia Ravenhill, Belfast Lost 26–39 Match Report
10 August 1998 Morocco Morocco Ravenhill, Belfast Won 50–5 Match Report
10 November 2008 Portugal Portugal Ravenhill, Belfast Won 62–6 Match Report
9 November 2018 Uruguay Uruguay Ravenhill, Belfast Won 21–5 Match Report
 *Match was cancelled by the Northern Irish government due to concerns that law and order could not be maintained with anti-apartheid demonstrations expected to take place.[120]

Records against URC and European Cup opponents

Against Played Won Drawn Lost % Won
Italy Aironi 8 8 0 0 100.00%
France ASM Clermont Auvergne 8 5 0 3 62.5%
England Bath 6 6 0 0 100.00%
Italy Benetton 26 23 2 1 88.46%
France Biarritz 6 2 0 4 33.33%
France Bordeaux 2 0 0 2 00.00%
Scotland Border Reivers 8 8 0 0 100.00%
France Bourgoin 4 1 0 3 25.00%
Wales Bridgend 1 1 0 0 100.00%
South Africa Bulls 1 0 0 1 0.00%
France CA Brive 1 0 0 1 0.00%
Wales Caerphilly 1 1 0 0 100.00%
Scotland Caledonia Reds 1 1 0 0 100.00%
Wales Cardiff Blues 34 20 1 13 58.82%
Wales Cardiff RFC 5 3 0 2 60%
France Castres 2 2 0 0 100.00%
Wales Celtic Warriors 2 2 0 0 100.00%
South Africa Cheetahs 4 2 1 1 50%
Ireland Connacht* 42 30 1 11 71.43%
Wales Dragons 37 24 2 11 64.86%
Wales Ebbw Vale RFC 2 2 0 0 100.00%
Scotland Edinburgh 43 30 1 12 69.77%
England Exeter Chiefs 2 1 0 1 50.00%
Scotland Glasgow Warriors 42 23 1 18 54.76%
England Gloucester 5 1 0 4 20%
England Harlequins 8 6 0 2 75%
France La Rochelle 2 1 0 1 50.00%
England Leicester Tigers 11 7 0 4 63.64%
Ireland Leinster* 50 10 3 37 20%
South Africa Lions 2 2 0 0 100%
England London Irish 2 1 0 1 50.00%
France Montpellier 2 2 0 0 50.00%
Ireland Munster* 43 20 2 21 46.51%
Wales Neath RFC 3 2 0 1 66.67%
England Northampton Saints 8 5 0 3 62.5%
Wales Ospreys 40 21 0 19 52.5%
France Oyonnax 2 2 0 0 100.00%
Wales Pontypridd 1 1 0 0 100.00%
France Racing 92 2 1 0 1 50.00%
England Saracens 8 1 0 7 12.5%
Wales Scarlets 47 25 3 19 53.19%
South Africa Sharks 1 1 0 0 100%
France Stade Français 11 5 0 6 45.45%
South Africa Stormers 2 0 0 2 0%
South Africa Southern Kings 5 5 0 0 100.00%
Wales Swansea RFC 4 2 0 2 50.00%
France Toulon 2 0 0 2 0.00%
France Toulouse 13 6 1 6 46.15%
France US Colomiers 1 1 0 0 100%
England Wasps 8 3 0 5 60%
Italy Zebre 16 14 0 2 87.5%
Total 587 340 18 229 57.92%
 *Matches played as part of the Irish Interprovincial Rugby Championship, separate from Celtic League fixtures, are not included in this table.
 †Results do not include a match between the Benetton and Ulster declared a 0–0 draw due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nor do they include the cancelled
Ulster vs Scarlets Rainbow Cup fixture in which Scarlets were awarded victory due to positive Covid tests in the Ulster squad.[121][122]

Updated as of 29 October 2022.

Head coaches (professional era)

As of 29 October 2022[note 1][note 2][123]
Coach Season(s) GP* W D L Win % Loss % Championships / Notes
Ireland Brian Bloomfield†[124][125] 1995/96 7 4 0 3 57.1% 42.9%
England Tony Russ[126][127] 1996/97 7 2 0 5 28.6% 71.4%
Ireland Dave Haslett[128] 1997/98 9 2 0 7 22.2% 77.8%
Ireland Harry Williams[129] 1998/99 – 2000/01 41 18 2 21 43.9% 51.2% European Cup (1998-99)
South Africa Alan Solomons[130] 2001/02 – 2003/04 63 41 2 20 65.1% 31.7% 2003-04 Celtic Cup
Ireland Mark McCall[131] 2004/05 – 2007/08 (mid-season) 91 46 3 42 50.5% 46.2% 2005-06 Celtic League
Wales Steve Williams[132] 2007/08 (mid-season) 8 2 0 6 25% 75% Interim
Australia Matt Williams[133] 2007/08 (mid-season) – 2008/09 37 15 1 21 40.5% 56.8%
Ireland Brian McLaughlin[134] 2009/10 – 2011/12 93 54 2 37 58.1% 39.8%
New Zealand Mark Anscombe[135] 2012/13 – 2013/14 69 47 5 17 68.1% 24.6%
Australia Les Kiss[136] 2014/15 5 3 1 1 60% 20% Interim
Ireland Neil Doak[137] 2014/15 (mid-season) – 2016/17 85 48 2 35 56.5% 41.2%
New Zealand Jono Gibbes[138] 2017/18 30 17 2 11 56.7% 36.7%
England Dan McFarland 2018/19 – 119 77 3 39 64.7% 32.8%
Total 1995 – 664 376 23 265 56.6% 39.9%
 *Games played are inclusive of matches played against touring international sides and friendlies against club opposition.
†Bloomfield was Ulster coach from 1993 to 1995. However only matches from the professional era (1995/96 season) are included in this table.

Personnel honours and records

Bold indicates active player

All Competitions

(correct as of 16 October 2022)[139][140]

European Rugby Champions Cup

Category Player Totals Years
Tries Andrew Trimble 27 2004–2018
Appearances Rory Best 75 2004–2019
Points David Humphreys 564 1996–2008

(correct as of 5 February 2022)[140]

United Rugby Championship

Category Player Totals Years
Tries Craig Gilroy 58 2010–present
Appearances Darren Cave 180 2007–2019
Points David Humphreys 786 1996–2008
Pens & Cons David Humphreys 272 1996–2008

(correct as of 28 January 2022)[141]

Team of the Year

Competition Irish players Overseas players
2006–07[142] Australia Justin Harrison
2007–08[143] Tommy Bowe
2008–09[144]
2009–10[145]
2010–11[146] South Africa Ruan Pienaar
2011–12[147]
2012–13[148] Luke Marshall New Zealand Nick Williams
2013–14[149] Andrew Trimble South Africa Johann Muller
2014–15[150] Craig Gilroy, Rory Best South Africa Franco van der Merwe
2015–16[151] Craig Gilroy (2)
2016–17[152] South Africa Ruan Pienaar (2), New Zealand Charles Piutau
2017–18[153] John Cooney
2018–19[154] John Cooney (2), Stuart McCloskey
2019–20[155] John Cooney (3), Stuart McCloskey (2)
2020–21[156] John Cooney (4), Michael Lowry, Eric O'Sullivan South Africa Marcell Coetzee
2021–22[157] James Hume, Nick Timoney

Pro14 Player of the Year

Competition Irish players Overseas players
2010–11[158] South Africa Ruan Pienaar
2012–13[159] New Zealand Nick Williams
2016–17[152] New Zealand Charles Piutau
2020–21[160] South Africa Marcell Coetzee

Pro14 Individual Awards

Category Player Season Total
Top Try Scorer Tommy Bowe (Joint) 2005–06 10
Craig Gilroy (Joint) 2015–16 10
Marcell Coetzee (Joint) 2020–21 9
Top Point Scorer David Humphreys 2001–02 122
John Cooney 2017–18 175
John Cooney (2) (Joint) 2020–21 113
Young Player of the Year Luke Marshall 2012–13 N/A
Try of the Season Andrew Trimble (Ulster vs Connacht) 2012–13 N/A
Craig Gilroy (Ulster vs Scarlets) 2014–15 N/A
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster vs Glasgow Warriors) 2016–17 N/A

Pro14 Team Awards

British & Irish Lions

The following Ulster players, in addition to representing Ireland, have also represented the British & Irish Lions.[161]

Note: Phillip Matthews played for the Lions in their victory against France in Paris. The game formed part of the celebrations of the bi-centennial of the French Revolution, but did not count as a "formal" Lions international.

Ulster Rugby Awards

Season Player of
the Year
Personality
of the Year
Supporters' Club
Player of the Year
Young Player
of the Year
Rugby Writers'
Player of the Year
1997–98[162] Andy Ward Andy Ward
1998–99[163] Simon Mason David Humphreys
1999–2000[164] Tony McWhirter David Humphreys
2000–01[165] Tyrone Howe Gary Longwell Tyrone Howe
2001–02[166] David Humphreys Paddy Wallace David Humphreys
2002–03[167] Bryn Cunningham Allen Clarke Robbi Kempson
2003–04[168] Roger Wilson Alan Solomons Andy Ward
2004–05[169] Neil Best Tommy Bowe Kieran Campbell
2005–06[170] Andrew Trimble Justin Harrison Stephen Ferris
2006–07[171] Roger Wilson David Humphreys David Pollock
2007–08[172] Tommy Bowe Rory Best Niall O'Connor
2008–09[173] Rory Best Stephen Ferris Darren Cave Stephen Ferris
2009–10[174] Andrew Trimble Chris Henry Chris Henry Jamie Smith Chris Henry
2010–11[175] Ruan Pienaar Johann Muller Johann Muller Nevin Spence
2011–12[176] Chris Henry Stephen Ferris Pedrie Wannenburg Craig Gilroy
2012–13[177] Andrew Trimble Nevin Spence Andrew Trimble Iain Henderson
2013–14[178] Andrew Trimble Johann Muller Andrew Trimble Paddy Jackson Andrew Trimble
2014–15[179] Craig Gilroy Rory Best Darren Cave Stuart McCloskey Craig Gilroy
2015–16[180] Stuart McCloskey Nick Williams Paddy Jackson Kyle McCall Franco van der Merwe
2016–17[181] Charles Piutau Ruan Pienaar Ruan Pienaar Jacob Stockdale Sean Reidy
2017–18[182] John Cooney Paul Marshall John Cooney Nick Timoney John Cooney
2018–19[183] Stuart McCloskey Rory Best Stuart McCloskey Eric O'Sullivan Marcell Coetzee
2019–20[184] John Cooney Marcell Coetzee Marcell Coetzee Tom O'Toole Marcell Coetzee
2020–21[185] Alan O'Connor Iain Henderson John Cooney James Hume Nick Timoney
2021–22[186] James Hume Ashleigh Orchard Michael Lowry Ethan McIlroy James Hume

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Original research sourced from https://www.ulsterrugby.com/fixtures-results/
  2. ^ "Statistics".

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