Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Ulster eyeing Munster scalp

Ulster's Mark Bartholomeusz is looking forward to the crunch Magners League clash against Connacht on Friday

Munster's magnificent progression to the Heineken Cup semi-finals has finally brought confirmation of Declan Kidney's side's rescheduled visit to Ravenhill to face Ulster in the Magners League clash.

As Munster will face Saracens at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry on Sunday, April 27, the match with Ulster, which was postponed from January 4 because of heavy snowfall, will now take place on Tuesday, April 29, with a 7pm kick-off.

Coming just two days after Munster's bid to reach their third final in three years means that Matt Williams' side will have the advantage of facing a largely second-string side, a huge difference from the prospect that faced the home side in early January, when confidence in the Ulster camp was also at rock bottom.

Ulster however will then have to cope with an expected three-day turnaround themselves before facing Glasgow at Ravenhill on May 2, although that fixture has yet to be confirmed by tournament broadcasters Setanta.

Connacht, who travel to Ravenhill on Friday for the crunch Magners League clash (kick-off 6.30pm) in the desperate race to claim Ireland's third Heineken Cup berth next season, will be the least impressed by the prospect of Ulster facing a weakened Munster side.

Tickets for the original January 4 match are still valid for the re-arranged game and will not need to be re-issued. However, the Ulster Branch said last night that the refund period for this game was held in advance of final confirmation of the date and no further refunds will be processed for this match.

"There were over 12,000 tickets sold initially for the game on the 4th January and hopefully when supporters take into account the fact that we are playing our interprovincial rivals," said Ulster chief executive Michael Reid.

"And with so much at stake for Ulster in terms of our position in the Magners League table, it won't matter that the game is going to be played on a Tuesday - it's a perfect opportunity to claim a scalp from one of the sides in contention for Heineken Cup success this season and boost our League points as well.

"Some supporters have queried why we offered the refund period in February before we knew whether we were playing on a Friday or a Tuesday and quite simply it's down to administrative constraints and the fact that in a very congested end to the season we will be playing, and selling tickets for, four home games in the space of five weeks.

"In an ideal world we would have waited until now before offering refunds but we were also conscious that we'd been holding on the people's money, in some cases, since before the Christmas break and so wanted to get the process started.

"We were very upfront and advised supporters that if they didn't think they would be able to make the match on either of those days then they should refund their ticket if they didn't want to potentially lose out on their money.

"The refund process was publicised in the press in editorial and in the form of an advert, it was highlighted on our website, we contacted supporters by email, we accepted refunds in the post and at the counter during the week, on late night opening and after matches, but by and large most of our supporters were prepared to come to Ravenhill on the Tuesday if need be and I hope they realise just what it means to the team."

There are still around 1,000 terrace tickets available for the game which will go on sale immediately after the Connacht match and any remaining will be sold next week.

Ulster captain Rory Best admitted it was going to be a congested end to the season.

"Our games against Munster are always massive and we are pleased now that we have dates confirmed so we can get on with preparation," he said.

"We have four home games left and each one is vital for this season and seasons ahead. We know that Tuesday evening isn't a traditional Ravenhill night but we hope that our supporters will come along and recreate the infamous Friday night Ravenhill Roar!"