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Lowry reveals the reason for abandoning trademark white scrum cap

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Ulster full-back Michael Lowry has revealed why he has dispensed with his trademark white scrum cap in recent months. The distinctive headgear helped the 23-year-old stand out from the crowd during his emergence at the Irish province. However, it has been absent this year when helping his club to some huge Heineken Champions Cup wins and making his try-scoring Guinness Six Nations debut for Ireland. 

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Lowry has now explained what has happened to the cap that was a constant part of his uniform with Ulster. “Originally I put it on because my ear kept getting caught in tackles and was tearing off,” he explained during a guest appearance on this week’s Rugby Pod with Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton. 

“It healed and I thought right, I’ll just keep the scrum hat on and then I put it in the washing machine, took it out and it had completely shrivelled, torn to pieces and that was about two days before the Northampton game (in January). 

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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots
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“I was like, I’m not going to get the chance to get a new one because it was from Australia, one of the NRL, one of the ones the rugby league lads wear. I was, I’m not going to get the chance to get another one so since then I just decided not to wear one,” he continued, adding with a grin: “They just thought I was a little hobbit before with a white scrum hat.”

Lowry was part of the Ulster team that ambushed European Cup holders Toulouse in France last Saturday, giving them a six-point advantage heading into the second leg of the round of 16 clash this Saturday in Belfast. The victory was the latest confirmation that the team has much improved in recent times under Dan McFarland. 

“Over the last year we have really upped our game and added more levels to it and we really back ourselves now,” explained Lowry, who made an Ulster debut in September 2018 at the age of 20. “We have beaten a few teams away from home and that gave us a lot of confidence when we went over to Toulouse. It was all about us rather than focusing on them too much. We knew the threats of (Antoine) Dupont and (Romain) Ntamack but it wasn’t about them.

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“It was really letting our game take off and it worked well for Rob Baloucoune, he has got gas to burn and I have so much confidence playing in behind him. Even in D, he is brilliant. I have so much trust for him.”

Ulster were triumphant in France in the Champions Cup following two URC defeats on tour in South Africa, a trip Lowry reckons benefited his team hugely despite the losses. “South Africa was really difficult, it was a step up in the heat and the altitude really got to us. We didn’t put our best foot forward in those games but we did look at it that it would be a good primer for us going into Toulouse away and it definitely was. 

“Even the heat factor, if we hadn’t been to South Africa the week before we would have been going over and saying it is really, really hot but we didn’t have that in the back of our mind. We’d already prepped that, we have played in 27 degrees the week before so we were ready for it and they actually said it was meant to rain. Thankfully it didn’t and thankfully we got over the line.”

Ulster have since announced an early extension to the current Lowry contract, keeping him at the club until summer 2025. Coach McFarland said: “Mike has played a fundamental part in our squad, developing over the last number of years into a Test level 15. This progression has not been a surprise, it comes from his in-built determination and toughness, a standout desire to constantly develop and stardust that not many players possess.”

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