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Ireland's fastest rugby player to make first Ulster start

By Ian Cameron
Aaron Sexton of Ireland makes a break to score a try during the match between Ireland and the USA on day two of the International Rugby 7s at St George's Park on May 16, 2021 in Burton upon Trent, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Ireland’s fastest rugby player – Aaron Sexton – is set to make his first start for Ulster when they take on Scarlets in the URC this weekend.

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While Sexton has just a handful of Ulster caps to his name, the 6’2, 94kg former schoolboy sprinter is widely thought to be the fastest rugby athlete in Ireland.

The Ulster Rugby academy product will start on right wing, alongside the formidable Ireland duo of Michael Lowry and Jacob Stockdale in the back three. While no slouches in the speed department, both would be hard-pressed to keep pace with Sexton, who had a stellar career in schoolboy athletics before throwing his lot in with rugby.

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Sexton holds a 10.43 second PB for the 100m and 20.69 for the 200m. Separately, he’s been clocked at 37.8 kph on a rugby field, namely a Ulster A game against Connacht a couple of seasons back. That converts to an impressive 10.5 metres per second, a feat executed on the traditionally sodden Sports Ground surface in Galway, a stat he would likely surpass on a harder pitch.

The 22-year-old isn’t the only speedster in the Ulster squad, with rookie Ireland winger Robert Baloucoune fated as the fastest man to ever wear the green jersey. Elsewhere, Sexton’s former Ireland Sevens teammate Jordan Conroy isn’t fair behind the Ulsterman as Ireland’s fastest rugby athlete. The Offaly native has also clocked 37 kph plus on a rugby field, albeit on the Sevens circuit.

Yet for Sexton, speed stats will mean little compared with an impressive outing against the Scarlets, who are coming off a draw against the Ospreys last weekend.

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“Scarlets is going to be a different game this week in many ways. They are a team that like to play a bit of rugby and, with Dwayne Peel knowing the Ulster squad inside and out, I have no doubt that he’ll have something up his sleeve,” said defence coach, Jonny Bell. “We need to be on our mettle against a very good side, and it’s going to be a challenge for us defensively, but that’s what we want.”

ULSTER: Michael Lowry, Aaron Sexton, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Andy Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor (Captain), Kieran Treadwell, Matty Rea, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney.

REPLACEMENTS: Declan Moore, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter, Sean Reffell, Dave Shanahan, Angus Curtis, Craig Gilroy.

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