Ulster chief confident Ulster will remain a force in Europe

Ulster CEO Shane Logan
Ulster CEO Shane Logan

Ulster Rugby chief executive officer, Shane Logan, said he was confident the club would continue to be a major force in Europe in spite of the many changes - expected and unexpected - which have taken place recently.

On Tuesday the Irish Province were handed a formidable task in the inaugural European Champions Cup.

Ulster were placed in a heavyweight Pool Three with defending European champions, Toulon, English Premiership giants, Leicester Tigers and top Welsh seeds, Scarlets.

It is arguably one of the toughest draw of the five pools - although Munster also face a stern test facing English heavyweights Saracens, French side ASM Clermont and another Premiership side, Sale Sharks.

Yesterday’s draw in Switzerland for the tournament which replaces the Heineken Cup after 19 years brought to an end an eventual seven days for Ulster.

Last Tuesday, international backrow, Stephen Ferris confirmed he would be retiring from the game due to injury.

Last Thursday, Ulster announced a landmark deal when they sold the naming rights of the newly developed Ravenhill stadium.

Kingspan Environmental agreed a 10-year deal, worth in the region of £5 million, to have the famous Belfast ground named ‘Kingspan Stadium’.

And just as Ulster fans were debating that issue, the club then dropped a massive bombshell on Saturday announcing the shock departure of director of rugby, David Humphreys.

The 42-year-old, who had enjoyed a 22-year relationship with the club on and off the field is taking a similar position with immediate effect at English side, Gloucester.

His departure, Ferris’ retirement as well as the departure of Johann Muller, Tom Court and John Afoa, has left considerable voids in the team.

Ulster have signed South Africans, Louis Ludik (utility back), Francois van der Mewre (lock) and prop Williem Herbst and some lesser known names, but fans have taken to social media and forums voicing their concerns.

Following yesterday’s tough ERCC draw, Logan said he believes the Province is continuing the strengthen it’s position as a major force in Europe.

He added: “We’ve lost some magnificent servants but I think it’s fair to say that several of them were towards the end of their careers.

“So what we’ve done is bring in younger, but experienced players, as it’s important to build for the future.

“We also have a very strong crop of local players. We had the largest contingent of any province starting for Ireland on Saturday and we are investing heavily in our succession. We also have players like Stuart Olding who is a fantastic prospect but missed all of last season through injury.

“We have depth throughout the squad and world class quality in nearly every position,” added the Ulster CEO.