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litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

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litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby mea97mb » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:06 pm

Anyone got an Irish Times subscription that could copy the contents of this article in here?
https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/ulster-rugby-litany-of-poor-decisions-have-hurt-the-province-1.3467614
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby DWFinn » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:11 pm

When Ulster had finished the unsettling humiliation of their coach in 2012 the Guardian newspaper ran a headline. “Brian McLaughlin shows success is sometimes not enough.”

McLaughlin came out of the episode with more grace than the venerable rugby institution.

That year he had taken Ulster to the Heineken Cup final for the first time in 13 years, where they lost 42-14 to Leinster in Twickenham. It didn’t matter to the Ulster coach. The die had been cast. McLaughlin was being forced in to a job in the Ulster Academy.

“I’m grateful to Ulster Rugby for offering me the opportunity of a safety net within the organisation,” said McLaughlin, seething and the only dignified man standing. “But, to be honest, I’m a little bit disappointed in that I wasn’t expecting to use the safety net so quickly.”

Director of rugby at the time David Humphreys, who had orchestrated the removal, moved quickly to outline the reasons. Humphreys delivered a Utopian vision of Ulster.

“We are aiming to make Ulster Rugby a leading force in European Rugby,” said the former Irish outhalf in a voice freighted with ambition.

Ulster were reaching for the stars.

Last Friday night, 28 minutes into their Pro14 match with Ospreys, Ulster outhalf Johnny McPhillips went down with a head injury. The England-born 21-year-old was taken off for a head injury assessment.

Scrumhalf John Cooney moved from nine to the outhalf position, where he has played before and Dan Shanahan, who has played six times this season but never started, came off the bench and into nine. Ulster were playing for most of the match with two scrumhalves.

Former director of rugby Les Kiss had seen the fault lines months ago. He could do nothing. He knew that, following the arrest of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, outhalf would become problematic.


“If you have one injury now you’re still shy of where a good rugby programme should be,” he said in the summer of 2017. That was when Ulster had Christian Lealiifano playing with them. In the words of Kiss, Ulster are short of a good rugby programme.

A spiral
People will have their own view of at what point in history poor choices were made and many will point to the forced exit in 2017of Springbok scrumhalf and outhalf Ruan Pienaar, an IRFU-driven edict that, given the South African’s family commitment to living in Belfast, seemed particularly harsh.

The South African star arrived at Ravenhill in 2010 and stayed there despite a big-money offer from the then European champions Toulon four years ago. He had expected to see out his career with Ulster.

But the inflated sense of worth and the shabby treatment of McLaughlin, an RBAI schoolteacher and one of their own, was karma-driven towards only one outcome. It was the beginning of a spiral from which Ulster Rugby have not been able to recover.

This weekend crystallises the position in which the province now finds itself and just how far the team have fallen away from Humphreys’s lofty idealism and vision of Arcadia.

Struggling to hold their moorings, Ulster have a backroom team where the principals have been sacked, have fled or are in flight. Ulster are a group of players that cannot find consistency and who are locked into a desperate fight to earn a playoff match just to compete in the European Champions Cup next season. All to the backdrop of a floored rugby establishment not yet in early stage recovery after a toxic rape trial that caused outrage and dismay on all sides.

Since McLaughlin’s European final achievement was held up as not quite good enough, Humphreys moved to Gloucester while Mark Anscombe, Neil Doak, Kiss temporarily and Jono Gibbes all filled the top position of head coach, while Kiss also occupied the director of rugby position.

Anscombe was sacked in 2014. Doak then became head coach but was replaced with Gibbes. Kiss did not renew Doak’s contract or that of Allen Clarke last summer. Kiss then left this year, not fully explaining why but with stories of unrest in the locker room and senior players’ difficulties doing the rounds.

Gibbes, who was appointed head coach in 2017, announced after the departure of Kiss that he was leaving for New Zealand and all the time Ulster edge closer to a 2018-2019 season that will be hugely financially disadvantageous if they fail to qualify for Europe.

This week Ulster chief executive Shane Logan gave an interview to the Belfast Telegraph and insisted he would remain in place despite an online fan petition calling for his dismissal receiving 1,000 signatures.

“It’s been traumatic,” said Logan. “It’s been very difficult in terms of morale. My role is not in question. A CEO, in both good times and in difficult times, is to find the way to move forward . . . we’ve had a very tough last year.”

New coach
Logan could not say when a new coach will be appointed and held up the arrival of Irish players Jordi Murphy and Marty Moore as exciting injections of talent. Australian flanker Rocky Elsom has grown to comic book dimensions after 21 appearances in a Heineken Cup-winning season with Leinster in 2008-09. But, talented as they are, backrowers and props don’t usually have the reach and match influence of quality outhalves.


Logan didn’t explain why Ormeau and Malone Road apartments are filling with Dublin accents and not those from the Ulster academy.

He didn’t say where Ulster would find a world class player to fill the void left by Jackson and Pienaar, or how difficult that process might be 18 months out from a Rugby World Cup.

Cooney is a scrumhalf and a good one, who hopes to play for Ireland. Peter Nelson, who Ulster also tried at 10 is a fullback. Brett Herron didn’t make an impact and left for Jersey last year, while Michael Lowry is still an Academy prospect .

Whenever and whoever Ulster pick will be a stopgap until after the World Cup. The overseas market until then is likely to be about a player on the downside of a career with no ambition to play with his country in Tokyo 2019.

Logan spoke of Ulster being debt-free and of their state-of-the-art stadium. But, following the not guilty verdict of Jackson and Olding and the revocation of their contracts, he admitted a “dark cloud” had been cast and Ulster’s once certain fan base have become disconnected.

He said sponsors had no part to play in the decision to cut the players loose, although, that is not a position all Ulster fans accept. They ask why Bank of Ireland, an Ulster sponsor for more than 20 years, became a player.

The bank’s statement expressed the view of being “highly concerned regarding the serious behaviour and conduct issues which emerged” during the IRFU/Ulster Rugby Review. The bank then “noted” and welcomed the players’ contracts being revoked.

Realistic aim
On the pitch the reality is Ulster have not emerged from their pool in the last four years of European rugby and the last trophy they won was the league back in 2006. This is where they find themselves now. Kingspan Stadium tonight. Glasgow. Win or bust. Then on to Munster for the final league game.

They can still mathematically overhaul Edinburgh to qualify for a Pro14 play-off place. But it is unlikely since the Scots are nine points ahead with a game to play. A more realistic aim is for Ulster to come fourth in Conference B and advance into a play-off match against Ospreys.

The grit in the ointment is that Leinster’s defeat by Benetton means the Italian side are just one point behind Ulster. In their final game of the league phase they play the weakest team in the competition, Zebre, at home.

It is easy to construe Ulster’s problems as a function of a rape trial that ripped a hole beneath the waterline of a club that have been a traditional retreat for god-fearing players present and past.

But that would ignore earlier mistakes of how to churn, how to replace coaching staff and players, the stalled assembly line and lack of players like Jordan Larmour, Joey Carbery or James Ryan – young, talented and demanding Irish shirts.

Jackson and Olding hurt Ulster. But the legacy of omnishambles has killed them. Success this year is staying in the European Champions Cup. Sometimes that is enough.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby mid ulster maestro » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:22 pm

The only consist through all of that has been sLogan.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Snipe Watson » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:47 pm

Plenty of 20:20 hindsight and absolutely nothing resembling news in that article.
We know. We've been here and seen the outworking of it before our eyes.
Fact is Mr Fullofhimself has presided over this six season long shambles.
Or is it a case of mid-table is our natural place and we flattered to deceive for a few years when we had Mueller, Afoa, Wannenberg and the great man himself as top quality NIQ's?
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby ColinM » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:56 pm

Snipe Watson wrote:Plenty of 20:20 hindsight and absolutely nothing resembling news in that article.
We know. We've been here and seen the outworking of it before our eyes.
Fact is Mr Fullofhimself has presided over this six season long shambles.
Or is it a case of mid-table is our natural place and we flattered to deceive for a few years when we had Mueller, Afoa, Wannenberg and the great man himself as top quality NIQ's?



20:20 hindsight maybe, but there are prophets aplenty on here who called out SLogan as a liar/bluffer/buffoon immediately on his appointment.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Rooster » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:58 pm

Who was the writer , Thornley ?
“That made me feel very special and underlined to me that Ulster is more than a team, it is a community and a rugby family"
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Snipe Watson » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:01 pm

ColinM wrote:
Snipe Watson wrote:Plenty of 20:20 hindsight and absolutely nothing resembling news in that article.
We know. We've been here and seen the outworking of it before our eyes.
Fact is Mr Fullofhimself has presided over this six season long shambles.
Or is it a case of mid-table is our natural place and we flattered to deceive for a few years when we had Mueller, Afoa, Wannenberg and the great man himself as top quality NIQ's?



20:20 hindsight maybe, but there are prophets aplenty on here who called out SLogan as a liar/bluffer/buffoon immediately on his appointment.

That is correct and I was slow to join their ranks.
I like to give a chap the benefit of the doubt ye see. But he proved me oul mucker Kofi et al to be spot on.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby 222toHounslow » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:17 pm

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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Neill_M » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:18 pm

Rooster wrote:Who was the writer , Thornley ?


Johnny Watterson
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Bogbunny » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:39 pm

So we're playing tonight.

Is big Dan Shanahan any good?
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby big mervyn » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:55 pm

Bogbunny wrote:So we're playing tonight.

Is big Dan Shanahan any good?

What about those White Knights buddy?
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby BR » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:04 pm

Snipe Watson wrote:
ColinM wrote:
Snipe Watson wrote:Plenty of 20:20 hindsight and absolutely nothing resembling news in that article.
We know. We've been here and seen the outworking of it before our eyes.
Fact is Mr Fullofhimself has presided over this six season long shambles.
Or is it a case of mid-table is our natural place and we flattered to deceive for a few years when we had Mueller, Afoa, Wannenberg and the great man himself as top quality NIQ's?



20:20 hindsight maybe, but there are prophets aplenty on here who called out SLogan as a liar/bluffer/buffoon immediately on his appointment.

That is correct and I was slow to join their ranks.
I like to give a chap the benefit of the doubt ye see. But he proved me oul mucker Kofi et al to be spot on.

I know it's not a popular opinion, but I still think Catchphrase did a reasonable job for a couple of years.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Corvus corax » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:34 pm

An accurate enough summary. Hopefully an IRFU placed story to justify stabbing Logan in the back.
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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby AlecODoo » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:52 pm

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Re: litany of poor decisions have hurt the province

Postby Jackie Brown » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:06 pm

I think Logan is reaching the end game. His plan was always to turn us into an outdoor version of the Belfast Giants. Looks like the final piece of the puzzle, an empty white elephant of a venue, is falling into place.

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