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Ulster Rugby 2017-2018 Part 2

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Post by clivemcl Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:14 am

First topic message reminder :

Carberry is 22, McPhillips is 21. Is this talk about sticking with McPhillips and hoping he turns out to be a gem maybe a tad naive? Carberry at a year older is being talked about as though he was the second coming and all this despite Sexton and Byrne and a whole backline of stellar players potentially blocking him. By contrast, it's almost as if we only know the name of McPhillips because we had no choice. A year ago the thinking was Jackson and Nelson. We then were saying Cooney can play 10 a bit. Then we signed Lealifano. Surely if McPhillips was the hot prospect, the coaches would have featured him more before Lealifano left.
In fact during Leanlifano's time here wasn't Nelson the preferred bench 10, and indeed started 3 games at 10 before Christmas, but then got injured?

Not meaning to be super negative, I hope I'm wrong. Cooney is a perfect example of a player suddenly shining from nowhere. I guess Ulster coaches know better than me if he's a real prospect worth thrusting into the limelight or not.


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Post by marty2086 Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:54 pm

@admckendry wrote:
Flanker Marcell Coetzee is looking as monstrous as ever out on the training paddock, how good would it be to see him put a full season together.

Fingers Crossed

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Post by Pete330v2 Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:25 pm

Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed

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Post by carpet baboon Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:37 pm

I have faith he will have a great season. Him and Jordi with our young lads will do some serious damage

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Post by carpet baboon Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:40 pm

Scarlet's then Edinburgh at home followed by a trip to SA.
Not a bad set of opening fixtures

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Post by Redman Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:08 pm

Did I miss the groups being announced?

It's not been kind to us. Other than Dragons you fancy we could lose to any of those teams on our day.

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Post by Kingshu Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:27 pm

Its same as last year. OK Leinster and Scarlets are there but so are Southern Kings and Dragons rhe 2 weakest teams. Better to have Edinburgh than Glasgow.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:36 pm

Redman wrote:Did I miss the groups being announced?

It's not been kind to us.  Other than Dragons you fancy we could lose to any of those teams on our day.  

Cant agree with that - we have the weakest Scottish, Welsh and South African team in our conference - it would be unreasonable to expect more.
I've a notion Zebre might get close to Treviso as well.

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Post by marty2086 Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:52 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
Redman wrote:Did I miss the groups being announced?

It's not been kind to us.  Other than Dragons you fancy we could lose to any of those teams on our day.  

Cant agree with that - we have the weakest Scottish, Welsh and South African team in our conference - it would be unreasonable to expect more.
I've a notion Zebre might get close to Treviso as well.

Didn't we also just scrape a draw last season against the Dragons too

Everyone I think can make an argument for looking stronger going into this season with the exception of the Kings who look very thin on the ground with only a 27 man squad apparently named so far

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:56 pm

We did but my point is a simple one - there no case to be made our Conference is stronger than the other one.
We have the strongest two teams but we also have, probably, 3 of the weakest 4.
Dragons could be stronger but I would argue so could Zebre and Connacht

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Post by marty2086 Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:07 am

I was trying to make a similar point just in a roundabout way Doh

How many wrote off Edinburgh last season too, what we think before the season isn't always true and Ulster beat Scarlets and Cheetahs last season who both finished in the play offs then lost to Zebre.

No matter how strong or weak Ulster look, as things stand if Cooney and someone like Addison get injured we start to look in serious trouble

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:22 am

For me our biggest problems are as you say, primarily 9, also I am concerned about LH and 15.
Only Warwick and McCall with serious LH experience.
We need one or more of the following to occur - O'Hagan take to the role like a duck to water, VdeMerwe to undergo a radical transformation and/or Ah You to remember, from his limited time, how to play LH.
At 15, if Speight signs we are seriously short there.
He is no 15 and we would be better signing a back three player not a winger.
Addison is a better centre and alongside McCloskey and Cave can cover, hopefully, centre.
We really cant afford him at 15 which leaves us with Nelson and Gilroy as cover.

What we do have though, unlike last year, is a potentially decent pack to cause others problem.
Without key injuries we are a better side, but with them we will struggle again

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Post by Don Alfonso Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:38 am

Those pics from Coleraine look like our squad are Coleraine schoolboys. Jordi Murphy looks happy, though.

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:04 am

Hopefully Cooney can remain injury free but it's likely we'll have to hand him over to the IRFU more often this season and in those periods we've not got suitable cover at scrum half. It's beyond belief that we're to rely on cover that has been proven so ineffectual so many times in the past. You never know though, with suitable coaching behind them maybe someone will step into that dark void.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:22 am

Agreed - with backs players can shoot through the ranks

Maybe Curtis jnr or O'Donnell will emerge this year as genuine backup
I have more faith in Stewart than Shanahan
We do have a SH on the coaching team, that should help

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Post by Redman Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:33 am

geoff999rugby wrote:We did but my point is a simple one - there no case to be made our Conference is stronger than the other one.
We have the strongest two teams but we also have, probably, 3 of the weakest 4.
Dragons could be stronger but I would argue so could Zebre and Connacht

My point was more around Europe and qualification for the season after next. Leinster are by far and away the strongest team in the Pro14, followed by Scarlets. What I'm saying is we would have had a better chance of making top 3/4 in that group than we do in ours.

In that sense ours is more competitive as I could see any of those teams beating us if we're away.

If we were in Conference A, Leinster and Glasgow would finish ahead of us but I fancy we'd make 3rd comfortably (excluding Cheetahs who can't qualify for Europe).

In our current Conference we'll finish below Munster and Scarlets. Then it'll be a bum fight between us, Edinburgh and Treviso for 3rd.

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Post by marty2086 Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:41 am

You've got Leinster and Munster mixed up there

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Post by marty2086 Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:10 pm

The Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy squad for the upcoming season has been confirmed, with 6 new entrants named among the roster of 19.

  Joining the programme are Malone RFC star Matthew Agnew, who played for Ireland in the recent U20 World Cup, and the Ballymena Academy trio of fly-half Bruce Houston, centre Stewart Moore and back row Azur Allison, who captained Ireland U19s last year. Double Schools' Cup winner with RBAI, David McCann, will be another familiar face to followers of schools' rugby. The final place in the Academy is awarded to Iwan Hughes, a pace-laden Irish-qualified outside back who joins the Ulster setup from Bristol.

Robert Baloucoune and Graham Curtis will also both be looking forward to their first full season in the Academy, after joining later in the season last year. Baloucoune, who developed his game at Portora Royal School and Enniskillen RFC was part of the Ireland team that won the Challenge Trophy at the Rugby World Cup Sevens last weekend, while scrum-half Graham Curtis will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of his brother Angus who made his senior debut last season.

Four players, who have all made notable impressions at PRO14 and Champions Cup level, have been rewarded with upgraded senior contracts - Greg Jones, Adam McBurney, Jonny Stewart and Nick Timoney.

It has also been confirmed that Rory Butler, Peter Cooper, Alexander Clarke and John McCusker have all departed the full-time Academy programme to pursue other opportunities.

Commenting on the announcement of the Academy squad, Kieran Campbell, Head of the Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy, said:

"It is always an exciting time of the year when we welcome in the new crop of young Academy players and, once again, we are delighted with the level of quality coming in. Our player development pathway from U16 through to Academy is going from strength to strength, evidenced by 36% of Ulster representation on Irish National Talent Squads and 46 Ulster senior caps won by Academy players last season.

"The quality of players and their level of application is driving competition within the pathway and the current crop are full of enthusiasm and keen to get stuck into the programme, so we're all really looking forward to seeing how they progress over the season."

ABBEY INSURANCE ULSTER RUGBY ACADEMY 2018/19

Year 3:

Angus Curtis
Position: Fly Half / Centre
DOB: 26/03/1998
Height: 176cm
Weight: 89kg
Club: Malone

Aaron Hall
Position: Back Row
DOB: 26/06/1998
Height: 193cm
Weight: 98kg
Club: Ballynahinch

Zack McCall
Position: Hooker
DOB: 10/02/1995
Height: 180cm
Weight: 100kg
Club: Ballynahinch

Marcus Rea
Position: Back Row
DOB: 08/09/1997
Height: 189cm
Weight: 105cm
Club: Ballymena

Year 2:

Robert Baloucoune
Position: Back Three
DOB: 19/08/1997
Height: 193cm
Weight: 89kg
Club: Ballymena

Graham Curtis
Position: Scrum Half
DOB: 12/09/1999
Height: 174cm
Weight: 85kg
Club: Malone

Matthew Dalton
Position: 2nd Row / Flanker
DOB: 16/11/1998
Height: 197cm
Weight: 112kg
Club: Malone

Joe Dunleavy
Position: Flanker
DOB: 22/12/1998
Height: 190cm
Weight: 101kg
Club: Malone

James Hume
Position: Centre
DOB: 07/09/1998
Height: 184cm
Weight: 95kg
Club: Banbridge

Michael Lowry
Position: Fly Half
DOB: 20/08/1998
Height: 170cm
Weight: 81kg
Club: Banbridge

Eric O'Sullivan
Position: Prop
DOB: 30/11/1995
Height: 186cm
Weight: 115kg
Club: Banbridge

Tom O'Toole
Position: Prop
DOB: 23/09/1998
Height: 185cm
Weight: 116kg
Club: Ballynahinch

Jack Regan
Position: 2nd Row
DOB: 09/05/1997
Height: 197cm
Weight: 112kg
Club: Ballynahinch

Year 1:

Matthew Agnew
Position: Back Row
DOB: 20/11/1998
Height: 180cm
Weight: 95kg
Club: Malone

Azur Allison
Position: Back Row
DOB: 19/04/1999
Height: 192cm
Weight: 99kg
Club: Ballymena

Bruce Houston
Position: Fly Half
DOB: 16/08/1999
Height: 192cm
Weight: 92kg
Club: Ballymena

Iwan Hughes
Position: Back Three
DOB: 06/04/1999
Height: 173cm
Weight: 77kg
Club: Ballynahinch

David McCann
Position: Back Row
DOB: 13/06/2000
Height: 190cm
Weight: 94kg
Club: Banbridge

Stewart Moore
Position: Centre
DOB: 08/08/1999
Height: 183cm
Weight: 91kg
Club: Malone

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Post by Don Alfonso Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:14 pm

Except -

who knows how Connacht will go under Andy Friend?
who knows how the Blues will go under John Mulvihill?
who knows how Glasgow will go with Russell and Pyrgos leaving?
who knows how the Scarlets will go with Beirne, Barclay and Scott Williams going?
who knows how the Ospreys will go with Biggar and Webb going?

Etc etc. There are a lot of big names moving on, retiring and coming in to a lot of clubs this season, including our own.

Reality is, nobody know nothin'.

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Post by Don Alfonso Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:16 pm

Nineteen Academy players. Okay then.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:48 pm

Somewhat confused about Hall and Dalton - listed as first XV which implies full contract or development contract but also listed as Academy players - they cant be both
My guess is they are still on Academy contract but are listed because they played for the 1st XV - O'Toole and Curtis snr not listed because it was later in the season

Alan Bennie is the interesting one added to the first XV squad - 7s SH who is eligible for both Ireland and Scotland.

It has also been confirmed that Rory Butler, Peter Cooper, Alexander Clarke and John McCusker have all departed the full-time Academy programme to pursue other opportunities.

No mentioned of SH O'Donnell (ditched?), Prop Reid, Back three Finnegan, Kernohan - sub-Academy players I assume
I was told 11 not 19 but when you analysis it there are 6 Year 1s plus Dalton+Hall so that makes 11 Year 2 and 3s

I see Baloucoune who is new to me is another with a 7s background
Looks like we have taken a good look at the 7s scene to address some of our shortages in the backs

Nice to have the Ulster Academy lineup out before the start of the season for a change

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Post by Don Alfonso Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:12 pm

And Alex Thompson apparently now in first squad.

In other news, McPhilips and Stewart look weirdly alike.

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Post by The Great Aukster Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:34 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Looks like we have taken a good look at the 7s scene to address some of our shortages in the backs

There is a possibility Ulster could be fielding their 'shortest' backline ever in a few years!

9. Stewart 175, Shanaghan 175, Graham Curtis 174, Alan Bennie 173
10. Lowry 170 (should that be 176?)
11. Lyttle 175
12. Angus Curtis 176
13. Addison 178
14. Hughes 173
15. Busby 178

No mention of Mark Keane either?

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:35 pm

I think Keane was dropped some time ago

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Post by marty2086 Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:25 pm

Was Keane ever in the full academy? He wasn't at the start of last season and wasn't initially listed as an Ulster player when he was in the under 20s?

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:26 pm

He was never in the Academy - only made what they call the sub-Academy

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Post by carpet baboon Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:13 am

Now maybe it's just very good editing in their social media, but there seems to be a very good atmosphere around the camp.
I'm hoping thats a good sign for the season

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:18 am

There is a good atmosphere around the club which why I am largely positive

No Logan, no Kiss, no trial hanging over our heads and others swept away - it feels like a new beginning

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:54 am

Squad broken down by Senior, Development and Academy contracts
Numbers against Academy players are their year in the Academy
Numbers against Senior players are those players with contracts beyond 2019
Those in Red are Central Contracts
Those in Blue are NIE or Projects

Senior - 29 players
LH – Warwick, McCall (Kyle), VdeMerwe
Hooker – Best, Herring (21), Andrew (20)
TH – Herbst, Moore (20), Ah You
Lock-Henderson (21), O’Connor, Treadwell (21), Browne
Backrow – Murphy (20), Coetzee, Reidy (20), Deysel, Ross, Henry
SH-Cooney
FH- Burns (20)
Centre-Addison (20), McCloskey, Cave, Marshall (21)
Backthree – Stockdale (20), Gilroy, Ludik (20), Nelson

Development - 15 players
LH – O’Hagan
Hooker - McBurney
TH – Kane
Lock-Thompson
Backrow-Timoney, Rea (Matt), Jones, Montgomery
SH –Shanahan, Stewart, Beenie
FH-McPhillips
Centre - N/A
Backthree- Lyttle, Owens, Busby

Academy - 19 players
LH – O’Sullivan(2)
Hooker-McCall (Zack) (3)
TH – O’Toole(2)
Lock-Dalton (2), Regan(2)
Backrow-Dunleavy (2), Agnew, Rea (Marcus) (3), Hall (3), Allison, McCann
SH-Curtis (Graham) (2)
FH-Lowry (2), Houston, Curtis (Angus) (3)
Centre-Hume (2), Moore
Backthree- Hughes, Baloucoune(2)

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Post by marty2086 Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:08 am

Top work there geoff, what exactly is the difference between a development contract and the rest? I'd have thought Timoney in particular would be on a senior contract

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:36 am

The honest answer is not much.
Previously we would have, usually, give out about 6 development contracts for one year to players who have been considered to have made the grade.

Now it seems to be a bit more wide ranging and has been extended to include:
- Players who have made the grade seem to spend two years on development contract not one.
- Players who are consider useful but have not played much seem to be on extended development contracts e.g. Shanahan
- Players who haven't passed a certain number of appearances
- Players who have never had a contract of more than one year

In truth it seems to be a lot more flexible and money wise the top Development contracts e.g Timoney, Matt Rea would be as good, if not better, than the lowest full contracts e.g Browne, Nelson


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Post by marty2086 Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:57 pm

Seems more like a status thing then

Wonder if we'll see Browne this season, thought he was hard done by last season. He'll probably be needed at some point especially with Diack gone

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Post by clivemcl Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:30 am

marty2086 wrote:Seems more like a status thing then

Wonder if we'll see Browne this season, thought he was hard done by last season. He'll probably be needed at some point especially with Diack gone

He wasn't at Coleraine training as far as I could see. Maybe injured?

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:37 am

The only serious injuries as far as I am aware are Marshall and Ludik.

Ludik is targeting late November for a return
Marshall is targeting the  6N period for a return

All other injured players should be ready for the first match in the Pro14.
However there are IRFU restrictions.
Given Cooney have 5 mins and Henderson 1 match you would hope that is not the case.
Don't be surprised if Henderson misses the first match though - 50/50 Id say

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Post by marty2086 Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:36 am

Someone mentioned Cooney maybe not being available as much this season because of Irish commitment, can we expect someone who was given so little game time to be pushing for a squad place?

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Post by marty2086 Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:36 am

http://www.the42.ie/jared-payne-head-injury-neurological-issue-4150155-Jul2018/?utm_source=shortlink

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Post by Pete330v2 Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:46 pm

marty2086 wrote:Someone mentioned Cooney maybe not being available as much this season because of Irish commitment, can we expect someone who was given so little game time to be pushing for a squad place?

I think that was myself Marty although my memory is shot these days.
Yes I think we can expect him to be pushing for a squad place despite the lack of game time offered to him on the Oz tour. Lets face it there was little meaningful gametime given to any of the touring 9s beyond Murray. I do believe he'll be with the Irish squad again this November and perhaps, if his form continues, into the 6 nations. That along with training camps etc will surely impact his availability for Ulster which worries me as the drop off in ability is a cliff face.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:46 pm

If he has a season next year as good as last he will replace McGrath at the World Cup, especially if, as I expect, Burns becomes Ireland new bench 10.

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Post by clivemcl Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:30 pm

I'm not sure if it's logical, but I am kind of getting a bit excited for the new season now.
One little thought entered my mind... how sweet would it be too see Billy Burns be the surprise Cooney was last season. How sweet would it be to see Burns totally outplay Carbery in an inter-pro match?? Ulster Rugby 2017-2018 Part 2  - Page 11 3933776953

Anyone else dreaming yet? Or are we all too serious and realistic?

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:47 am

Agreed - not a dream for me but a reality.
The spirit in the club is off the scale compared to the last couple of years

I watch a lot of the Aviva and I honestly believe Burns is a better player.
He can manage a game in a way Carbery doesn't

The key is injuries - we need a few key players staying fit

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Post by marty2086 Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:55 pm

Article on Kieran Campbell and the Academy

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/rugby/ulster-rugby/how-campbells-questions-are-shaping-ulsters-next-generation-on-and-off-field-37169823.html

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Post by Pete330v2 Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:10 am

So Ulster have solved the lack of depth at scrum half by signing Alan Bennie, a 7s scrum half.

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Post by Pete330v2 Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:21 am

Coetzee has apparently been told to dial it back a bit in training, not to save his knee but because he's absolutely killing his team mates. Cannot wait to see him unleashed

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Post by marty2086 Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:05 am

Henry Speight confirmed until Dec 31st

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:29 pm

Stockdale wont be playing in September - injured
Busby out till new year
Coetzee killing dead things in training
Burns looking very good
Ludik back in November, Marshall in January

Back line for Scarlets picks itself

Cooney, Burns, Gilroy, McCloskey, Cave, Speight, Addison

Bench: Stewart/Shanahan, McPhillips, Lyttle/Nelson

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Post by marty2086 Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:05 pm

Annual Report is available for perusal, some interesting figures in there such as 450k increase in funding plus 70k travel costs from the SA teams joining the league.


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Post by PhilBB Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:51 pm

So Lealiifano was pretty expensive.

He cost £520k minus one week in South Africa.
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Post by geoff999rugby Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:48 pm

where does it say that ??? - please let me know the page number

What I did note with interest was the Professional Rugby expenses of £5.1m
Now I assume that does not include the 3 CC - Best, Bowe, Payne we are talking a total wage bill of around £6.15m well below many English teams and well below some of the claims made on here

It also fits with a figure of between £6m and £6.5m for this coming year, inclusive of the 2 CCs, that I have been told

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Post by Pot Hale Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:32 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:where does it say that ??? - please let me know the page number

What I did note with interest was the Professional Rugby expenses of £5.1m
Now I assume that does not include the 3 CC  - Best, Bowe, Payne we are talking a total wage bill of around £6.15m well below many English teams and well below some of the claims made on here

It also fits with a figure of between £6m and £6.5m for this coming year, inclusive of the 2 CCs, that I have been told

Geoff - it’s well known that the Irish provinces are on player budgets well in excess of the English Premiership clubs and are easily competing with the Top14 clubs without having to bother with salary caps. The IRFU gave nearly 50m to the provinces last year. More than anywhere else in global rugby.
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Post by marty2086 Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:07 am

Pot Hale wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:where does it say that ??? - please let me know the page number

What I did note with interest was the Professional Rugby expenses of £5.1m
Now I assume that does not include the 3 CC  - Best, Bowe, Payne we are talking a total wage bill of around £6.15m well below many English teams and well below some of the claims made on here

It also fits with a figure of between £6m and £6.5m for this coming year, inclusive of the 2 CCs, that I have been told

Geoff - it’s well known that the Irish provinces are on player budgets well in excess of the English Premiership clubs and are easily competing with the Top14 clubs without having to bother with salary caps.   The IRFU gave nearly 50m to the provinces last year. More than anywhere else in global rugby.  

Might be a good idea to take a look at Ulsters annual report that Geoff is working off. The money going to the provinces includes prize money from the ERCC and Pro14 plus grants for the club game and development programmes

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Post by PhilBB Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:20 am

geoff999rugby wrote:where does it say that ??? - please let me know the page number

What I did note with interest was the Professional Rugby expenses of £5.1m
Now I assume that does not include the 3 CC  - Best, Bowe, Payne we are talking a total wage bill of around £6.15m well below many English teams and well below some of the claims made on here

It also fits with a figure of between £6m and £6.5m for this coming year, inclusive of the 2 CCs, that I have been told

Page 34. £520k was received because of the new SA teams, most went on CL and additional travel costs.

The wage bill in that departmental report doesn't include the budgeted sum paid by the IRFU towards each player contract - €90,000 towards the 17 players and €50,000 towards the rest.
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