Departure gates still open as head physio Gareth Robinson leaves Ulster

Gareth Robinson with Ulster captain Rory Best
Gareth Robinson with Ulster captain Rory Best

Head physiotherapist Gareth Robinson is the latest to confirm his departure from Ulster Rugby.

The popular figure with both players and supporters had been with the Province for 18 seasons.

Gareth Robinson (left) celebrates Nick Timoney's try against Glasgow which secured a vital bonus point in a recent PRO14 fixture

Gareth Robinson (left) celebrates Nick Timoney's try against Glasgow which secured a vital bonus point in a recent PRO14 fixture

Referred to often as a magician as he helped players back to full health and speed after serious injuries, Robinson is the latest casualty from the departure gates at Kingspan Stadium.

The News Letter understands the decision may have been driven by the IRFU and that there are potentially more backroom staff to depart in the coming weeks.

Robinson announced his departure via social media on his personal Twitter account on Friday morning.

“Last Sunday...and 18 seasons final whistle. Goodbye and thankyou to all @UlsterRugby and our amazing supporters. I will miss you. Keep standing up and remembering Nevin. GG”, he tweeted.

Gareth Robinson's medical bag remembering former player Nevin Spence

Gareth Robinson's medical bag remembering former player Nevin Spence

‘GG’ as Robinson was affectionately known as became a hugely popular member of the backroom staff at the then Ravenhill, now Kingspan Stadium.

He joined Ulster two years after serving with Premier League football club, Tottenham Hotspur.

His passion for Ulster was evident, he was always a visible presence on the sideline and there are many images of him celebrating scores.

Once news reached social media, fans quickly reacted.

One tweeted: He was the barometer of matches for many of us on the terrace. Always enjoyed watching his debates with touch judges.”

And former Ulster player and Australian internationl Justin Harrison, who was in Belfast recently, tweeted: “Magician Physio to keep my busted arse on the field, legendary man who gave me history lessons on the red hand and how to SUFTUM, converted me to Man U and George Best. Some of the best memories of my life with the Geeg by my side. #therecanbeonlyonegg”

The club were rocked by the death of player Nevin Spence, who died in a triple tragedy with his father and brother on their home farm.

Robinson vowed to Nevin’s sister Emma that her brother would never be forgotten.

His pitchside medical bag had the words ‘Nevin Spence - Always with Us’ on the side and in his tweet yesterday he urged players and fans to keep remembering Nevin.

Ulster completed their season on Sunday when they secured their place in next season’s European Champions Cup.

They defeated Ospreys 35-17 at Kingspan Stadium in a play-off to secure the seventh and final place in Europea from the Guiness PRO14.

It ended what had been a challenging season on and off the pitch and while, for some, a line may have been drawn under it, the club are still finding themselves in the spotlight.

Thirteen players left at the end of the current season for various reasons including Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe and Paul Marshall, all long serving players who confirmed their retirements.

Director of rugby Les Kiss left by mutal consent in Feburary and Head Coach, Jono Gibbes, was released early from his two-year contract to allow him to return home for family reasons.

Ulster have appointed Dan McFarland as the new head coach and the IRFU and Scottish Union are wrangling over his release from his current contract with the Scottish National team.

McFarland who had previously been with Connacht and Glasgow Warriors is assistant coach to Gregor Townsend at Scotland.

The SRU have said they will not release McFarland from his current contract which would mean he would not be joining the Ulster team until mid-January 2019.

With Ulster in a state of rebuilding for the future they need to have their new head coach in place in time for the start of pre-season in July.

McFarland is widely expected to join Ulster on his return from the Scottish summer tour to South America with the Irish and Scottish Unions likely to strike a deal.