Belfast Telegraph

Clubs pitch in behind Ulster’s Euro bid

By Jim Gracey

Sporting allies are ready to weigh in behind Ulster's Heineken Cup bid if their European rugby quarter-final is confirmed for opponents Saracens' new plastic pitch.

Irish League Premiership sides Cliftonville and Crusaders, the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown and Ballyshannon rugby club in Donegal have offered their similar artificial surfaces to the Ulster team for training and familiarisation.

Now Ulster await the outcome of discussions between Saracens and their local north London council with a view to increasing the 10,000 capacity of their new Allianz Park home in Barnet to 15,000 to comply with European Rugby Cup rules for hosting quarter-finals. Wembley and Twickenham are potential revenue-attracting alternatives with Ulster capable of mustering a 40,000 following as they did for last year's semi-final and final.

Even though it is wait and see, Ulster's Director of Rugby David Humphreys acknowledged the support from inside and outside the game.

He said: “It is a sign of the development of sport in Ulster that these facilities exist and I want to thank those people that have been in touch, offering to open up their arenas to Ulster Rugby and to the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland for their ongoing support.

“Ulster Rugby also has as a strategic partnership with the Sports Institute and the team regularly trains on their indoor, artificial pitch at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown. We are grateful to know that if the game is to be played on a 4G pitch that we have no shortage of top-class training options.”

Belfast Telegraph

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