Ireland and Leinster prop Jack McGrath has confirmed his decision to switch to Ulster from the start of the 2019/20 season.


Last week RugbyPass said the deal had been agreed, but with Leinster and Ulster due to meet in the Heineken Champions Cup last Saturday, the announcement was put on hold.

McGrath failed to make the matchday 23 for that game with Ulster, Ed Byrne was preferred as back-up to Cian Healy, with head coach Leo Cullen stating in the build-up that it was a decision based on Byrne’s form.

It’s been quite a fall for McGrath who played in all three British and Irish Lions test matches against New Zealand just two years ago, albeit coming on as a substitute in each one.

Internationally Cian Healy is first choice for Ireland, while during the Six Nations Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne was ahead of the McGrath in the pecking order.

Jack McGrath gave his reasoning for his move to the Kingspan.

“This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game,” he said.


“I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.

I am now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and am looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster’s drive to defend the European and PRO14 titles and finishing this season on a high.”

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland. You have to respect a player with such ambition.

Leinster is a fantastic environment but it is testament to the work that all four provinces are doing that players are seeking opportunities within Ireland to advance their international careers.”


Jack was first capped for Ireland in 2013 against Samoa and has won 54 caps for Ireland to date and featured in all three Tests on the 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand. He is a Six Nations winner with Ireland in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

He made his debut for Leinster in 2010 against Glasgow Warriors and has made over 140 appearances for the province helping Leinster to three Heineken Cups, an Amlin Challenge Cup, a Guinness PRO14 title and two PRO12 titles.

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland is happy to have the experienced prop on his books next season.

“We are delighted to be welcoming Jack on board next season, and it is hugely encouraging to see a player of his calibre express the desire to join us,” he said.

“Jack’s quality on the field is undoubtable, and his experience of playing at the highest level will be a hugely valuable asset to the club as we continue to develop a promising group of young forwards.”

Jonny Petrie, Ulster’s CEO, commented:

“Jack choosing to further develop his rugby career at Ulster is both a testament to the quality of rugby programme that Dan and his team have put in place, and a statement of the positive direction in which this club is heading.

“We are building something very strong here and I’m extremely pleased that Jack wants to be part of that.”

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