With the season more or less mapped out, Kristian Ross looks at Ulster’s road ahead…
Ulster Rugby will now have their weekends planned out for the next twelve months as the Heineken Cup and RaboPRO12 fixtures were both released within the space of a week.
The Ulstermen will start off with a tricky an away trip to Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade in what many fans believe should be the perfect springboard to the opening start of the season before the first competitive game at the newly refurbished Ravenhill takes place the week following against last year’s beaten PRO12 semi finalists Glasgow Warriors.
The European campaign is something that every Ulster fan looks forward to, but it’s a tricky start for the men in white as they’ll take on English champions Leicester Tigers on October 11th, and then an away trip to Top 14 side Montepllier Herault on the 19th.
Ulster will also have to finish the group against the Tigers away at Welford Road and will have to contend with tough matches against Benetton Treviso in-between in Europe’s premier competition who themselves have proved in the last few years they are simply no pushover.
Ulster’s PRO12 season will also end with some very difficult fixtures in what could be the final battle for those illustrious playoff places with Ulster having to play Connacht and Glasgow in April and then a final game at Ravenhill against last year’s champions Leinster with a match to finish of the regular rounds against provincial rivals Munster.
It’s certainly going to be hard going in the group stage of the Heineken Cup with some quality opposition in Pool 5, however if Ulster do open up with a win against Leicester Tigers they will set the precedent for a great Heineken journey.
Mark Anscombe’s men will know that they will be the team to beat after finishing top last time around in the PRO12, but should they play to their potential and keep a relatively injury free squad, Ulster will most certainly be up there in that top four and should challenge at the summit with ease with the quality that the boast both in youth and experience.
The clock ticks down to the start of the season and we’re getting closer to doing a whole load of SUFTUMing indeed....
I'm Kristian. 19. And my mind is filled with rugby shaped thoughts. Supporting Ulster Rugby, Newcastle Falcons and of course the mighty Ireland. Tommy Bowe is the MAN !!!! SUFTUM.