Ulster's rugby team forced to travel 100 miles in snow to make flight
Ulster's rugby players found themselves in a race against time yesterday — and were forced to take to the road on the worst day for travelling in 25 years.
With Brian McLaughlin’s side scheduled to play Bath today in a crucial Heineken Cup Pool 4 match to be broadcast live on Sky Sport — and facing stiff financial penalties if they failed to fulfil the fixture — they had to embark on a 100-mile journey through atrocious weather en route to Dublin from where they flew to Bristol.
Ulster had chartered a plane — but with all three of Northern Ireland’s airports snowbound it was unable to land for them
Heineken Cup organisers, ERC, impose huge penalties — €50,000 — for non-fulfilment of a fixture.
And with Bath having gone to considerable expense to provide a playable pitch, the onus was on Ulster to make the trip — or face the music. The worst snowfalls since 1985 would not be seen as an excuse by the ERC. They would undoubtedly have felt that Ulster, knowing what the forecast had warned, should not have left things to the last minute.
So, after a morning of frantic phone calls and text messages, ‘Plan B’ was finalised. Ulster’s players and back-up staff were able to assemble at Newforge from where they travelled by coach to Dublin before flying to Bristol at tea-time.
Inconvenience, disruption, draconian rules and general unfairness . . . but at the end of the day this became a ‘must make it’ trip.