Belfast Telegraph

Humphreys' greatest day, but memories have faded

By Steven Beacom

It was the greatest day of his professional life, but David Humphreys admits that he doesn't remember too much about it.

Roll back the years to 1999 and you may recall that it was out half Humphreys who inspired Ulster to the European Cup final, where they beat French side Colomiers at Lansdowne Road.

Thirteen years on Ulster are back in Dublin for a Heineken Cup semi-final with Edinburgh the opposition. Instead of controlling the game on the grass, Humphreys will be sitting in the stand ‘feeling excited, not nervous' at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

“The win in 1999 put Ulster on the European map and established rugby here as something that was good to be part of and good to watch and gave an identity to Ulster rugby. It also raised the profile of the sport here,” said Humphreys.

“I remember very little about the game. It was a pretty poor match, but in any final all that matters is the result. I don't remember a lot about going up to lift the trophy either.

“Primarily I recall the occasion and the atmosphere, our fans, the sea of the red and white and all the Ulster flags at Lansdowne Road, something that I thought I would never witness. I also recall the sense that we weren't going to lose.

“In that environment that day I had never experienced anything like it. The wave of emotion that we were on had us convinced that we would win.

“At the final whistle I recall Andy Ward standing beside me and thinking ‘thank goodness that's over, we've done it, now we can enjoy it.'

“It was the highlight of my career. There's plenty of other games when I've played better, but in terms of what it represented, what it meant to the players and the people of Northern Ireland it was the best. You look back and think ‘I'd love to do that all over again'.”

Belfast Telegraph

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