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Dan McFarland 'proud' of 'magnificent' Ulster following Clermont victory

By PA
(Photo By Julien Poupart/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland was ecstatic after his side got their Champions Cup campaign off to a flying start with a first-ever victory in Clermont.

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The 29-23 win could prove to be a turning point in Ulster’s season, with the Irish province now in a strong position in Europe and a home tie against Northampton to come next weekend.

McFarland was impressed with the character shown by his side, and said: “It’s obviously a terrific achievement to come and win in Clermont at any stage for any team.

“They are a great team. They are probably not playing their best rugby at the moment, but they still have the same players who are able to do amazing stuff.

“I thought we played really well in the way we controlled the game. The bottom line is we’ve got a lot of lads out there who aren’t maybe considered our starters but have been performing really well.

“They were magnificent today. In the game itself there were a litany of things which were difficult to deal with in terms of Michael Lowry going off and Rob Balacoune going off.

“I’m so proud of the lads and what they’ve done today. That’s really a victory that we should be proud of.

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“The bottom line is the last time we came here we played really well in the first half and then the game slipped away from us just after half-time.

“Good teams are able to squeeze you in that period if they are a little bit behind, and today they did squeeze us in that third quarter.

“Ultimately we were able to get back into the game with some good team play and some huge individual play as well.”

Ulster scored two tries courtesy of Stuart McCloskey and Nick Timoney, while John Cooney kicked 19 points. Damian Penaud crossed for a brace of tries for Clermont and JJ Hanrahan contributed 10 points from the kicking tee.

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Despite the impressive nature of the victory, McFarland insists his side will not be getting carried away.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said.

“We’ve got Northampton next week who are going to be desperate to stay in contention after losing to Racing. We will need to be at our best and we need to keep improving to be successful in this competition.”

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Shaylen 50 minutes ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 6 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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FEATURE Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink
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