The Heineken Champions Cup draw took place yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland and saw Bath Rugby named in Pool 3 alongside Gallagher Premiership rivals Harlequins, Challenge Cup Champions Clermont and Irish side Ulster Rugby. We take a closer look at Ulster.
Ulster 2018/19 season
Ulster play their home games at the 18,000 capacity Ravenhill Stadium in Belfast. Their squad boasts a host of Irish internationals including the likes of Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale. Ulster enjoyed a season of domestic success this year, finishing second in the Guinness Pro14 Conference B as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.
Bath Rugby and Ulster were last named in the same Pool of the Champions Cup in 2010/11. Bath made the visit to Ravenhill in the first fixture, five penalties from Ian Humphreys and a try from Pedrie Wannenburg cancelled out scores from Lewis Moody and Jack Cuthbert from Bath.
The reverse fixture was the last time the two sides faced each as Ulster visited the Rec. The festive fixture saw Ulster narrowly edging Bath, Humphreys shone again slotted 16 points from the boot complete the double over Bath with a 22-26 victory.
Ulster have been one of the big names in European rugby for several years, however they have only won the Heineken Champions just once in 1998/99 a year after Bath lifted the trophy.
Players to Watch
Stockdale made his Ulster debut in 2014 as an 18-year-old and is now labelled as one of Ulster’s and Ireland’s key players. His powerful running and footwork has led to 14 tries in 19 International caps for Ireland. This season, the 23-year-old winger crossed for 7 tries in 12 appearances for Ulster, beating over 30 defenders and gaining nearly 800 metres. The battle of the wings proves to be a spectacle.
Capped 54 times for Ireland, 29-year-old Jack McGrath brings a wealth of experience with him as he joined Ulster from Leinster ahead of the 2019/20 season. The 6’1”, 118kg loosehead is a handful at the set piece and as powerful on the ball as he is in defence.
Henderson is another member of the Ulster squad who boasts international experience with 44 Ireland caps to his name. The lock/back-rower enjoyed a stellar season for Ulster this year, Henderson is not only a rock in defence, making 190 tackles this season but also a threat in attack. The versatile forward made 161 carries, beat 16 defenders and got over for two tries this season.