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Biting Back: We need to get behind Ulster Rugby

By Ali Gordon

We are rarely optimistic. Until half the country jumps on the bandwagon to support an individual or a team, of course.

Look at Rory McIlroy, for example. He wins two majors in two months and then comes a credible fifth in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and the world and their grannies take to social networking sites to bash him as a choker.

Now cast your minds back to last Saturday, when Ulster secured a 10-7 victory over interpro rivals Leinster. Okay, it was a friendly, but a number of the keyboard warriors among us appeared disappointed with Ulster's latest performance and I saw a few bitter Leinster fans slamming Ulster's 'easy' early PRO12 fixtures. You can't win in this digital age.

However, much can be gleaned from the 22-21 defeat by Exeter, which saw Rory Scholes, Louis Ludik and Ian Humphreys excel, and the win in Dublin against Leinster, where new South African signings Franco van der Merwe and Wiehann Herbst also impressed.

For a while, it felt a bit like everyone was leaving. Big name departures at the end of last season in the form of players Johann Muller, Stephen Ferris, John Afoa, Tom Court and Paddy Wallace, then David Humphreys surprised fans with his exit to Gloucester and coach Mark Anscombe was ousted.

But just look at the latest encouraging performances from Ulster and be reminded of the inspiring 19-17 triumph over Munster at the end of last season. The largely inexperienced side on that occasion was a class act.

So, bandwagon or not, maybe we should start sending our optimism in the direction of Ulster Rugby.

From Belfast Telegraph