'What answer do you want? Okay, yeah, it's the biggest. There you go'
While most of the attention in the United Rugby Championship this weekend was on the ongoing drama to get the four sides out of South Africa, elsewhere Ulster rocked the competition with their win over top side Leinster in Dublin.
And now they will get another boost as big Springbok No.8 Duane Vermeulen is expected in Belfast in the next week as well.
Ulster coach Dan McFarland was overjoyed and termed the win the biggest of his time at the Irish province.
“It’s pretty big,” the Ulster head coach said. “There are not many teams that come to Dublin and win. It’s pretty big. What answer do you want? An order? Okay, yeah, it’s the biggest. There you go; everybody happy?”
The eight year drought in Dublin also coincided with a seven game losing streak and was a rare sight in a derby that has seen Leinster win 43 of the previous 58 games between the two sides.
“We don’t have monkeys on our backs,” McFarland added when asked about the significance of the win.
“It’s a big result. On its own, it’s four points like any other four points but it’s the ultimate test in our league to come here and the guys did a good job.
“I’ve only been here since 2018 so 2013 to 2018 is not relevant. We’re focused on what we’re doing. There’s no negative to that but I’m just happy that we won. Even the players, they’re enjoying the moment, they’re living in the moment.
“I get that, definitely, that the supporters may feel the history but I can’t afford to do that. This is the sharp end; you have to focus on the here and now.”
By contrast Leinster coach Leo Cullen lamented a younger side bereft of some stars had not lived up to their potential.
“We will look to ourselves first. I won’t look to blame anyone else bar ourselves,” he said.
Leinster were without several Irish stars, including Cian Healy, Ronan Kelleher, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris, Jamison Gibson Park, Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, James Lowe or Hugo Keenan.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 28, 2021
“When you chop and change the team, you run the risk around the cohesion piece,” he said. “But it does create competition amongst the group as well, which is positive. So, obviously when a group doesn’t deliver, then in many ways, sometimes that’s their chance gone. That’s the harsh reality that some guys need to face, for sure.
“We will have a good chunk of players who will return this week. We will see what sort of shape those guys are in.”
Leinster will face Connacht this week and will likely field a stronger side against the Galway team that swept past the Ospreys on Friday night.
In other news Leonardo Marin kicked another last-gasp drop goal to claim a 19-18 win over Glasgow Warriors on Saturday. The 19-year old did a similar kick to snatch a win against Edinburgh last month.
Edinburgh meanwhile had Ramiro Moyano to thank as his brace of tries surged them to a bonus-point 30-14 win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
– URC SA
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