Ulster Rugby 2017-2018 Part 2

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Post by Cyril on Sat 20 Oct 2018, 8:56 pm

First topic message reminder :

Part 2

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Post by marty2086 on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 12:02 pm

After a great deal of thought and in-depth discussions with family and friends, I believe that now is the right time to retire from the game I love. No matter how much I would love to finish the season with this talented group, my career has taken its toll physically, and so for the wellbeing of myself, my loving wife and my family, I will be retiring immediately.

It’s impossible to thank everyone who has contributed to my career in this short letter, but allow me to make a start.

I am incredibly proud to be a one-club man, and I want to thank Ulster for giving me the chance to achieve my dream. The honour of putting on the white and green jerseys is something I will always cherish. I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have travelled all around the world doing what I love.

Like any rugby career, there has been setbacks and knocks, however the incredible highs will forever outweigh the lows. Thank you to all the coaches, players, physiotherapists, doctors, back-room staff and fans that kept the faith in me.

The heart and soul of rugby is teamwork, and I have had some incredible teammates over the years. To have lost Nevin Spence at such a young age had a huge impact on me and so many others. He was a source of inspiration and I have always tried to do the club proud as he did. Ulster and Irish Rugby will always remember his legacy. It has been a privilege to witness the new generation of young Ulster players come through the ranks with bucket-loads of talent and an incredible work ethic. I truly believe success is not far away.

I want to thank every team I have been part of along the way - from Malone minis, to my school boy rugby at Wallace, senior rugby at both Ballymena and Malone, to Ulster and Ireland. I take joy in the fact my first and last game of rugby has been for Malone - 29 years apart!

A huge thank you to my family for always being there for me. To my mum - this could never have happened without you. You and dad couldn’t have given me a better start in life and you have travelled across the world supporting me. To my brothers John and Daniel - thank you for always being my biggest fans and believing in me. We sadly lost our father William one month before my first Irish Cap but every time I put on the jersey I felt him with me. I take great happiness that he saw me lead Ulster out on many occasions and no doubt he would have enjoyed this incredible journey just as much as me. He was my best friend and we still miss him dearly.

To my beautiful wife and soul-mate, Jade. Thank you for always supporting me during the ups and downs. I’m so excited to see what the future holds. Our family is soon to get slightly bigger and I can’t wait for this new adventure to begin!

Finally, to the Ulster fans. Thank you for making the journey so special, and if you see me in the terraces on a Friday night, please come say hi!

Yours in rugby,

Chris (Chad)

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Post by Pete330v2 on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 12:12 pm

It's really sad but there was always an inevitability about his leaving being imminent. A truly great player and fantastic role model, not just for the youth but everyone involved in Ulster rugby and beyond.

Will we be allowed reinforcements? Will we f*&%, we're not Munster

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Post by clivemcl on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 12:23 pm

Surely you cannot lose a Henry and a Deysel and not be given a medical joker... especially when you have a pretty small squad to begin with!

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Post by marty2086 on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 12:49 pm

What would be the requisite number of backrow players in a squad? Ulster currently have 8 on senior contracts plus Hall with 1 cap and Dalton who can cover 6 with another cap plus Murphy will be away with Ireland


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Post by clivemcl on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 12:52 pm

marty2086 wrote:What would be the requisite number of backrow players in a squad? Ulster currently have 8 on senior contracts plus Hall with 1 cap and Dalton who can cover 6 with another cap plus Murphy will be away with Ireland


Probably depends on whether the IRFU want the province to do well, or simply blood players. Maybe if IRFU have us wrote off as far as doing anything worthwhile, they will happy for us just to give gametime to whoever the next young chap is.

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Post by rodders on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:29 pm

clivemcl wrote:
marty2086 wrote:What would be the requisite number of backrow players in a squad? Ulster currently have 8 on senior contracts plus Hall with 1 cap and Dalton who can cover 6 with another cap plus Murphy will be away with Ireland


Probably depends on whether the IRFU want the province to do well, or simply blood players. Maybe if IRFU have us wrote off as far as doing anything worthwhile, they will happy for us just to give gametime to whoever the next young chap is.

That presumes the 2 to be mutually exclusive.

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Post by Redman on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:33 pm

It's a balancing act between success and money vs blooding youth.

I suppose you look at Lealiifano and Speight, who have both proven to be good short term signings (though I'm sure expensive ones). The flip side is losing our collective minds and trying to sign Jantjies.

You do wonder if the IRFU trust us to make our own decisions. Desyel for example I can imagine them signing off because Munster did the due diligence beforehand. A totally new Ulster signing? Would you trust us? Hard to say.

I still think the 2nd row is where the focus is needed. 1 injury to O'Connor or Treadwell and we're in real trouble. 2 injuries and we're totally screwed. It's not impossible we could be playing to 2 academy kids in Europe by that stage.

We've suffered a lot of retirements in the last season. Deysel, Brown, Henry, Trimble, Bowe, Payne, Diack (sort of). Who am I missing?

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Post by marty2086 on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:47 pm

Redman wrote:
I still think the 2nd row is where the focus is needed.  1 injury to O'Connor or Treadwell and we're in real trouble.  2 injuries and we're totally screwed.  It's not impossible we could be playing to 2 academy kids in Europe by that stage.

Not just that but if Treadwell can keep up his form could he push for a place come the 6Ns but AOC doesn't exactly have a great injury record. Then we hit a problem because a lot of the young locks aren't exactly injury this season so we could find the cupboard bare if they are required

Redman wrote:We've suffered a lot of retirements in the last season.  Deysel, Brown, Henry, Trimble, Bowe, Payne, Diack (sort of).  Who am I missing?

Diack has retired but a sort of would be Marshall

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Post by clivemcl on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:50 pm

rodders wrote:
clivemcl wrote:
marty2086 wrote:What would be the requisite number of backrow players in a squad? Ulster currently have 8 on senior contracts plus Hall with 1 cap and Dalton who can cover 6 with another cap plus Murphy will be away with Ireland


Probably depends on whether the IRFU want the province to do well, or simply blood players. Maybe if IRFU have us wrote off as far as doing anything worthwhile, they will happy for us just to give gametime to whoever the next young chap is.

That presumes the 2 to be mutually exclusive.


If the IRFU thought the blooding young players was a successful way to win trophies, would they allow the other provinces to have more NIQs than us currently?

If NIQs are valuable and an allowable luxury elsewhere, then why not for Ulster too?


Last edited by clivemcl on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Redman on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 1:50 pm

Ah yes, Marshall. I knew I'd forgotten at least 1.

So say you need 45-50 players for a season. We've lost 8. With Black, Jackson, Olding, etc, we've probably lost 20-25% of our playing staff in the space of 1.5 years.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 2:00 pm

Chad was unlucky that Matt Williams didn't rate him, despite standing out every week in the AIL. Williams in his wisdom preferred to sign Tamati Horua instead! Being picked behind guys like Anderson and Dawson meant that he was 25 before establishing himself in the team. Obviously Joe did rate him and that is the best endorsement any player could wish to have. Hope he's not lost to the game as he is a knowledgeable and personable leader.

Don't see the point of a medical Joker on the flank. Ulster need to be exposing the Academy players as much as possible this season, and the retirement of Chris Henry is unfortunate but not unexpected.

It is indeed Lock that is the concern after Browne's retirement, and Bryn should be talking to some big Saffer somewhere (if Diack is off the list). With the retirements of Browne, Deysel and now Henry he should have enough change to tempt someone?

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Post by marty2086 on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 2:05 pm

Redman wrote:Ah yes, Marshall.  I knew I'd forgotten at least 1.  

So say you need 45-50 players for a season.  We've lost 8.  With Black, Jackson, Olding, etc, we've probably lost 20-25% of our playing staff in the space of 1.5 years.  

Ulster have around 45 on senior contracts though that includes the likes of vDM, O'Hagan, Montgomery, Busby, Owens and Thompson then you have 7 academy players with at least one cap so the numbers alone aren't an issue more the depth of the quality. Some of the youngsters like Hal seem capable but for some reason aren't being brought on

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Post by rodders on Mon 05 Nov 2018, 3:41 pm

clivemcl wrote:
rodders wrote:
clivemcl wrote:
marty2086 wrote:What would be the requisite number of backrow players in a squad? Ulster currently have 8 on senior contracts plus Hall with 1 cap and Dalton who can cover 6 with another cap plus Murphy will be away with Ireland


Probably depends on whether the IRFU want the province to do well, or simply blood players. Maybe if IRFU have us wrote off as far as doing anything worthwhile, they will happy for us just to give gametime to whoever the next young chap is.

That presumes the 2 to be mutually exclusive.


If the IRFU thought the blooding young players was a successful way to win trophies, would they allow the other provinces to have more NIQs than us currently?

If NIQs are valuable and an allowable luxury elsewhere, then why not for Ulster too?

I thought the position on NIE's was fairly consistent. There are no quotas anymore and NIEs will only be approved if there are no IE options available.

If other teams have more NIE's then that suggests they aren't doing as well as us at producing players.
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Post by carpet baboon on Tue 06 Nov 2018, 1:49 pm

You would think that as we have lost almost an entire team in the last 12 months, we would be allowed to pickup a few NIE till at least the end of the season

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Post by Pete330v2 on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 1:11 pm

Ulster team to play Uruguay, Friday 9th November, Kingspan Stadium (7.30pm):

(15-9): Bruce Houston; Iwan Hughes, Stewart Moore, James Hume, Angus Kernohan; Johnny McPhillips, Jonny Stewart;

(1-8): Schalk van der Merwe, Adam McBurney (captain), Tom O’Toole, Matthew Dalton, Alex Thompson, Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Greg Jones;

Replacements (16-23): Zack McCall, Corrie Barrett, Peter Cooper, Joe Dunleavy, David McCann, Jonah Mau’u, Graham Curtis, Michael Stronge.

Comments on a postcard please.

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Post by marty2086 on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 1:30 pm

Be interesting to see how that pack goes, if Dalton and Thompson along with the backrow put in decent displays you'd like to think it would create opportunities with the recent retirements

Disappointing that Sexton misses out, think they had ear marked the game as one for him to showcase what he could do

Anyone know much about Barrett, McCann or Mau'u?

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Post by Redman on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 2:09 pm

Interesting with Houston at 15. He was seen as a 10 previously.

That's basically the A Team. I think it's a bit disrepectful to Uruguay but we'll see.

Rea brothers in the back row, Marcus I don't think is a 7.

Hume and Moore could be a partnership for the future.

Is a shame for Sexton, if you're good enough then you're old enough.


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Post by marty2086 on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 2:18 pm

Redman wrote:
Is a shame for Sexton, if you're good enough then you're old enough.  

Sextons concussed, picked it up playing for his school

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Post by Redman on Thu 08 Nov 2018, 3:27 pm

Well in that case he needs a prolonged period off. Same with Balacoune after (presumably) failing that HIA at the weekend. Can't be too careful with concussions in under 25s.

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Post by carpet baboon on Fri 09 Nov 2018, 9:00 am

Is the game on any TV tonight?

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Post by LordDowlais on Fri 09 Nov 2018, 9:26 am

The game they played against Cardiff Blues was televised, it was a good game as well, here are the highlights:-

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/rugby-union/46119095

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Post by marty2086 on Fri 09 Nov 2018, 9:35 am

carpet baboon wrote:Is the game on any TV tonight?

No, don't think they're doing a stream of it either like they did with Gloucester

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Post by neilthom7 on Fri 09 Nov 2018, 9:29 pm

So i 21-5 win then. I don't know how to feel about that. On one hand it got our young guys gametime on a tough night at Ravenhill and they scored some tries and wont he game. On the other they don't seem like the greatest opposition and its just plain weird that a team who can't even get that close to our reserves is going to play at a world cup.

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Post by Redman on Fri 09 Nov 2018, 9:36 pm

If the sport doesn’t grow, it dies. Sounds like we lined out the right sort of level for them in the end. Glad of that, I thought we were maybe disrespecting them a bit. I imagine they’re touring with Argentina (I have nothing to back that up).

From our young lads were there any positives?

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Post by Don Alfonso on Sat 10 Nov 2018, 11:15 am

A decent lineout.

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Post by Redman on Sun 11 Nov 2018, 11:24 pm

See McBurney got 2 tries and a yellow. You do worry about the discipline, especially for a lot of the cheap, unnecessary stuff.

How'd the 9 & 10 axis of Stewart and McPhillips hold up? Seemed like a wet and windy night.

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Post by clivemcl on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 12:25 pm

Watched the highlights.... perhaps scoreline flattered Ulster - Uraquay try was the only one worth watching.
Ulster tries from lineout mauls.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 12:49 pm

Sounds like something the main side could learn from

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Post by clivemcl on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 4:31 pm

So Ian Nagle on loan from Leinster till end of season.
Where do you all place him in terms of second row hierarchy compared with Treadwell and OConnor?

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Post by Artful_Dodger on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 6:11 pm

clivemcl wrote:So Ian Nagle on loan from Leinster till end of season.
Where do you all place him in terms of second row hierarchy compared with Treadwell and OConnor?

Probably around the same level, but adds a lot more depth and will be important especially if we pick up an injury in the engine room.

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Post by Artful_Dodger on Mon 12 Nov 2018, 11:36 pm

Probably also worth pointing out that we seem to be over the hump in terms of getting southerners to come north now. I think Cooney can take a lot of the credit for that.

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Post by clivemcl on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 8:07 am

Or Nucifora... Run

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Post by Don Alfonso on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 8:28 am

Lads, Nagle is not on the same level as Treadwell or O'Connor. He'll be a body but he's not good enough to block Dalton, or possibly even Thompson. The season will continue to be a bit hairy, but also young talent should continue to come through.

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Post by clivemcl on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 8:38 am

I agree that his recent years have not looked much promising, but Leinster did give him a contract. That’s about the only thing that makes me wonder if he might be decent. Then again, their willingness to let him go on loan perhaps says something about regretting the contract they gave him

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Post by The Great Aukster on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 9:39 am

When Nagle first burst on the scene, some Munster fans were comparing him to Paul O'Connell. He is undoubtedly talented but has never consistently fulfilled that promise. Ulster might be exactly the place where at age 30 he finally regains his mojo. His experience as a nearly man might be exactly what guys like Dalton and Thompson need to push them to ensure they overtake him.

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Post by Kingshu on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 9:52 am

I hope theres another signing cant have murray injuried for 3 months and Munster get an all back and we lose thompson deysel henry and get nagle.

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Post by Pete330v2 on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 11:41 am

I'll wait until I see him playing in an Ulster shirt before making any judgement on whether he's going to be a decent signing. Cooney has thrived in the Ulster environment and Nagle may well follow suit.
Ulster rugby is still on the naughty step, Munster rugby is not so we'll not be getting any parity in treatment it seems.

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Post by Redman on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 12:31 pm

He's there to make sure we can actually field a team, should the worst happen and we pick up injuries.

If Thompson or Dalton are anywhere near ready (and it may be that they aren't, Dalton hasn't impressed me at all) then they need to be given preference over a 30 year old who won't be staying with us.

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Post by clivemcl on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 12:46 pm

Ulster "Can we get an overseas second row player to help out?"

IRFU "No way, he would only block home grown talent, here's an Irish lad on loan sure"


Leinster "Can we get an overseas second row player to help out?"

IRFU "Sure thing, if you've too many home growns getting blocked, we can loan them to the other provinces..."

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Post by The Great Aukster on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 1:30 pm

He might be staying if he settles and starts playing well. From his pov Ulster are probably the easiest province to get into starting contention at lock. The non-appearance of Thompson/Dalton/Regan so far this season is not a ringing endorsement of McFarland's faith?

By all accounts Dalton (age 19) is far more likely to be a blindside as he is a prime athlete with enough pace to play wing at school. Jack Regan is also only 21 but probably needs to fill out to play lock in the senior team. Alex Thompson at 22 is the eldest of the trio and probably the closest to the team yet he is untried. Treadwell is only 23 as well so having someone of Nagle's experience could benefit them all.

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Post by clivemcl on Tue 13 Nov 2018, 1:35 pm

Thats the thing, you look at Treadwell who is now a common and solid name on the squad. Maybe not mind blowing, but we've come to see him as a solid pro.
Meanwhile we talk about Thompson/Regan like they are prospects who simply need time.
Wasn't Treadwell playing regularly when he was their age?
Doesn't give me much faith to be honest.

Also makes me think Treadwell is far from his peak and probably having an older overseas head a la Muller would do his progress wonders.

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Post by rodders on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 11:39 am

Don Alfonso wrote:Lads, Nagle is not on the same level as Treadwell or O'Connor. He'll be a body but he's not good enough to block Dalton, or possibly even Thompson. The season will continue to be a bit hairy, but also young talent should continue to come through.

Nonsense, he was the best player on the pitch when Munster beat the all blacks a few years ago and tipped as a future international.

I haven't seem much of him since he came back from early retirement but if he can get a run of games and back to his best he's a better player than Treadwell that is for sure.

This could be another inspired signing if presumably he will stay on longer term.

I remember the days when Ulster fans used to moan that no southern players would come to Belfast, now thanks to Nucifera we are no longer have to bankrupt the club to recruit overpriced southern hemisphere journeyman to fill positions and then as a result let promising young players leave to balance the books, as per Logan's business model.
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Post by Redman on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 12:05 pm

Love the optimism Rodders.

Probably think it's a glass half full view. Treadwell has been mixed, but pretty good at his best this season. He's been capped (Nagle only ever managed the Wolfhounds) and is only 23 a few days ago.

He's a solid Pro14 player at the minute for us.

Nagle has played 70 mins this season. 360 mins last season, less than 1 game a month roughly. It remains to be seen that he can actually see in a full season, regardless of what he was like when he was 20.

Ultimately we're getting a player who has played 56 club games by age 30. Treadwell has played 54. I can't see Nagle displacing an established player who definitely has a future at Ulster.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 1:24 pm

Treadwell can't play every game - it would be neither in his nor Ulster's interests.

Since 2016 Ulster have lost locks: Tuohy, Stevenson, Franco Van der Merwe, Diack, Browne and Deysel and they've brought in Thompson into the senior squad - is the strategy to forget about the pack?

Nagle may be another underwhelming signing but at least he has experience in the second row and may be all that Ulster can afford?

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Post by rodders on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 3:45 pm

Redman wrote:Love the optimism Rodders.  

Probably think it's a glass half full view
.  Treadwell has been mixed, but pretty good at his best this season.  He's been capped (Nagle only ever managed the Wolfhounds) and is only 23 a few days ago.  

He's a solid Pro14 player at the minute for us.  

Nagle has played 70 mins this season.  360 mins last season, less than 1 game a month roughly.  It remains to be seen that he can actually see in a full season, regardless of what he was like when he was 20.

Ultimately we're getting a player who has played 56 club games by age 30.  Treadwell has played 54.  I can't see Nagle displacing an established player who definitely has a future at Ulster.  

No you are right and I agree it an underwhelming signing on paper, in fact when Leinster signed him I thought the same as he'd been retired, but it is one that makes sense.

I suppose I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, if he can recapture his Munster form with some game time then it is a good signing. If he's the player Leinster signed then he won't be up to much but failing to break into the Leinster first team is no shame and presumable Cullen saw something worth taking a punt on.

Previously these sorts of moves where all going to Galway, for example Quinn Roux - I think it is a positive trend to help bolster our homegrown talent and something more sustainable than relying on foreign imports to bolster the lack of forwards.

I'm not sure he's the foil to free up Henderson and Treadwell to carry in the wide channels, he's quite small but at least gives another option and a bit of depth.
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Post by Redman on Wed 14 Nov 2018, 6:42 pm

Indeed, can't underestimate that a move is a fresh chance.

Players like Cooney and Roux really made the most of it. Let's hope the same for Nagle.

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Post by clivemcl on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 7:56 am

Im not sure there’s any harm in these classes, in fact it is likely some use for some. Though for most I’m sure they are wholly unnecessary.
My issue is, an article like this reads as ‘UR are dealing with their bad boy players’.
Maybe press would have got these details anyway, but personally I wouldn’t have been so public about these classes. Many people will look at it thinking these are other potential Jackson/Oldings who need to be ‘sorted out’.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-46224157

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Post by marty2086 on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 12:29 pm

I think they gloss over the fact that Bryn mentions the classes are for the players to protect them as much as anything, the incident with Ferris and his brother came to mind when he said

it could be situations where it's with other individuals who want to be antagonistic or want to start a fight.

And I think there have been other instances over the years of this kind of thing happening, then there are just those who can't handle their drink. It's a good move to make players think about the bigger picture and hopefully give more thought in certain circumstances and the wider impact negative behaviour could have. The Whatsapp messages that came to light is an example.

Going public about it all is a PR exercise to repair the image they say still needs repairing but it does come across slightly negatively in the BBC article

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Post by The Great Aukster on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 1:14 pm

This is just another instance to show that it's the IRFU running Ulster now. Ulster already are tutored in such matters by the IRFU, yet Ulster need extra tuition? Are we expected to believe that the tried and tested courses that seem to be working for every other province somehow don't work for Ulstermen?

This publicity is obviously to tell the world (again) that the IRFU didn't throw Olding and Jackson under a bus to keep their sponsorship, but rather that the Ulster lads need to be seen to be taking the issues seriously. Women's Aid NI followers are potential fans too...

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Post by marty2086 on Fri 16 Nov 2018, 1:26 pm

How does it show the IRFU are running Ulster? You think Ulster couldn't take the decision to do more?

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