Ulster Rugby v Dragons

PRESIDENT’S WELCOME On behalf of Ulster Rugby, it is a pleasure to welcome you all to Kingspan Stadium for this evening’s Guinness PRO14 match against Dragons. We extend a particularly warm welcome to Mike Davies, Managing Director of Dragons, together with his guests and those supporters who have travelled from Wales. We hope that they enjoy their visit to Belfast and Kingspan Stadium.

We have now completed the first and second rounds of matches in the Heineken Champion Cup. Having got off to a great start with an excellent win over Leicester Tigers here two weeks ago, we travelled to Paris for our first away game against Racing 92. That proved to be a novel experience for the team and for all the officers and supporters who made the journey. None of us had previously been involved in rugby played in an indoor arena. The build up to the game with the light shows and the razzmatazz was incredible and certainly created an exciting atmosphere. I know that the players really enjoyed it, as did the spectators. It was very strange to see the Ulster supporters waving their flags on the pitch after the match mingling with the home supporters as this was actively encouraged. Unfortunately, we did not get the result we hoped for. After a great start to the contest, the strength and quality of the opposition told and we came away without a point. However, the score line flattered Racing and we can take many positives from the performance. We created sufficient chances to have scored at least two more tries and secured a bonus point. The way in which the team played in the latter part of the game gives us great encouragement for the rest of the season and we are certainly not out of contention in the group. This evening we resume our PRO14 campaign. Every game is important and with the improvement in all the teams in the league there are no easy matches. A home win is vital before travelling to Treviso next week. It was sad to hear that Peter Browne and Jean Deysel had retired from the game. I would like to thank them for their contributions to Ulster Rubgy and wish them and their familes well for the future.

Having lost so many experienced international players in recent months this was always going to be a difficult season as, apart from some notable exceptions, they have been replaced by local talent produced by our Academy. Without wishing to single out individuals I’m sure everyone has been impressed by the performances of Michael Lowry, Angus Kernohan, Angus Curtis, Tom O’Toole and Eric O’Sullivan. We need to be patient and allow them and the others to gain experience. If we do that we will again have a team to compete with any in Europe. What we do have is a great spirit within the squad and among the coaching staff, together with a determination to succeed. We also have a tremendous group of supporters and I would like to thank all those who travelled to Paris. Despite being dispersed to all parts of the stadium, as usual they certainly made themselves heard and the team really appreciated that. I know that you will continue to get behind the team at Kingspan Stadium and create the type of atmosphere for which Ulster has become famous. The All Ireland League continued last weekend with improved results for most Ulster teams. They now occupy four of the top five positions in Division 1B as we strive to have a team promoted into the top division. Both the First Trust Senior Cup and the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup have reached the semi final stages and we wish those teams well as they try to get to the finals. Best wishes also to the four Ulster sides playing in the first round of the All Ireland Junior Cup tomorrow. To all those in attendance this evening, thanks for your continuing support, enjoy the match and our Halloween Party experience. Stephen Elliott President, IRFU Ulster Branch

IRFU ULSTER BRANCH 2018/19 OFFICERS Stephen Elliott President Gary Leslie Senior Vice President Philip Gregg Junior Vice President Denis Gardiner Honorary Secretary Michael Boyd Honorary Treasurer Greg Irwin Competitions Secretary EXECUTIVE TEAM Chris Webster Head of Rugby Development Audrey Robinson Head of Finance & Operations Fiona Hampton Head of Sales & Marketing Bryn Cunningham Operations Director

Kingspan Stadium, 134 Mount Merrion Avenue Belfast, BT6 0FT T +44 (0)28 9049 3222 ulsterrugby.com



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