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Ulster battling to save pitch ahead of La Rochelle visit

By Josh Raisey
Ulster v Northampton Saints – Heineken Champions Cup – Group A – Kingspan Stadium

Ulster have stressed that they are “continuing to take every possible step” to ensure that their Heineken Champions Cup match with La Rochelle goes ahead this Saturday despite inclement weather.


The reigning European champions visit the Kingspan Stadium this Saturday, but with temperatures in Belfast barely moving above freezing this week, the match could be in jeopardy due to an unplayable pitch.

The province assured everyone today that they are striving to preserve the pitch ahead of Saturday, saying in a statement: “Frost covers have been on the pitch all week and additional measures such as heaters are being brought in. Efforts will continue, with sustained freezing temperatures forecast over the coming days.”

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Ulster are also in regular contact with the EPCR regarding the state of the pitch, but it has been reported that they could relocate the match to the RDS Arena in Dublin, as Leinster would have played the evening before.

Following a chastening 39-0 against Sale Sharks in round one of the Champions Cup at the AJ Bell Stadium, Ulster realistically not only need this match to go ahead, but need a victory as well to keep their European hopes alive.

Entering the competition on the back of a promising URC season, the weather has played havoc on Ulster’s Champions Cup campaign so far. Their travel plans for the Sale match last Sunday were also scuppered by the weather, as they only travelled to Manchester on the morning of the match due to a cancelled flight the day before, with one half of the squad flying into Birmingham and the other half flying into Liverpool.

Despite the disruption, Ulster head coach Dan McFarland downplayed its effect on the result last week.


“We play in the URC, so that’s trains, planes and automobiles most weeks for us – we’re used to that kind of thing,” he said.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly not something we’re going to worry about or use as an excuse for today.”



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