Ulster final boost as it lands home final at Kingspan stadium
Guinness pro12 rugby
ULSTER Rugby have landed a major coup by securing the rights to host this season's Guinness PRO12 final at the Kingspan Stadium, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The successful PRO12 showdown bid is a huge endorsement for the 18,000-capacity stadium, which was formally opened last May, and is also a massive boost for the city of Belfast and the public sector bodies which also backed the bid to pip Glasgow for the decider which is due to be played on the last weekend in May.
This is the first time that the league final will be held in a pre-nominated location as, before now, the title decider was normally hosted by the side which finished top of the pile in the regulation season, a situation which actually saw Ulster forced to play the 2013 decider against Leinster at the RDS in Dublin as Ravenhill, as the ground was then called, was still under construction.
The Ulster squad now have a huge incentive to pursue landing their first silverware since they won the competition in 2006 by pushing on to bag a home semi-final in the PRO12 by either finishing first or second - they are currently fifth and only four points off second - secure in the knowledge that a final place in front of their home crowd is also on offer.
It is believed that the move to pre-nominate the host city for the final will now become a permanent fixture and brings the PRO12 into line with the way the ground for the European Champions Cup showdown is known in advance regardless of which sides make it all the way through.
The official announcement will be made at the Kingspan Stadium today with The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nichola Mallon, PRO12 and Guinness top brass and Ulster Rugby chief Shane Logan in attendance.