Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Ulster choose RDS for 'home' decider venue

If Ulster qualify for a 'home' final in RaboDirect PRO12, the match will be played 100 miles from Ravenhill at the Royal Dublin Society on Saturday, May 25.

They will, however, receive 50% of the tickets – 9,250 in total.

Explaining the reason for having nominated the RDS as its 'home' venue for a PRO12 final, Ulster Rugby's Chief Executive, Shane Logan, said it would not have been possible to play the fixture at Ravenhill at this stage due to the extensive re-build currently underway.

He said: "Our primary focus is to have the two new stands open to welcome our loyal supporters at the start of the 2013/14 season.

"Our build is on time and on budget. But it would not have been possible, without significant delay to our redevelopment project, to open the stands on a temporary basis for any potential RaboDirect PRO12 final.

"Therefore, in agreement with Celtic Rugby, we have nominated the RDS, with its capacity of 18,500, as the venue for a final involving Ulster as host club."

He added: "If Ulster do make it to the final, I have no doubt that the RDS will be a fantastic location for the game and I hope that our supporters will travel there in huge numbers to back the team."

And lest Ulster be accused of being somewhat presumptuous in making such plans, he was anxious to stress that was not the case.

"While no-one is presuming that Ulster will be in a final, it is important that we and the organisers of the league prepare for every eventuality," the CEO said.

As per the competition rules, Ulster were required to nominate a venue to host the final in the event of them earning a place in the play-off showdown.

The semi-finalists are the top four in the PRO12, with the winners hosting those finishing fourth, while the second and third-placed clubs meet at the former's home.

Following the two semi-finals, the higher ranked survivors earn the right to host a 'home' final. However, a final venue must have a capacity in excess of 18,000. Ulster could not meet that requirement at this stage.However, when the work at Ravenhill is complete next summer (2014), the new-look stadium's capacity will be 18,200 – big enough to host a Heineken Cup quarter-final or a PRO12 final.

And should Ulster – current leaders on the PRO12 race with two matches remaining – finish in first or second place, they will be able to stage a proper 'home' semi-final in three weeks time at Ravenhill.

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