Guinness Pro12 Rugby: Paul Marshall determined to end trophy drought with Ulster

Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall

It may be the eve of another Guinness PRO12 season, but the bitter taste of a semi-final defeat to Glasgow last May still lingers with Ulster.

Missing out on playing the Grand Final in their own back yard at Kingspan Stadium was a tough pill to swallow particularly as they had the eventual champions on the rack at one stage only to lose right at the death to a last gasp converted try.

It means Ulster are still waiting their first piece of silverware since 2006 - when they won the former Celtic League.

Since 2011 Ulster have lost three PRO12 semi-finals and a final, as well as suffering defeat in a European Cup final.

The progress made by the Province has been solid but invariably success is measured by silverware and Ulster scrumhalf is desperate to end the trophy drought.

As Ulster prepare to open the new campaign with a home game tomorrow night at the Kingspan Stadium against Ospreys Marshall said: “I think we have learnt that it sucks to lose.

“Obviously the last three of four years we’ve progressed, made finals and semi-finals, but until we have something tangible to show for that it won’t feel like success to us.

“That sounds like an easy answer but it’s the truth,” said Marshall.

“If you make a semi-final and lose, you don’t care anymore, a few years ago we were happy to make quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals it was all new to us but now we’re not satisfied with that.

“Glasgow did well, they finished top of the tree last season to begin with, but we had an opportunity to beat them at Scotstoun and just didn’t take it.

“They went on to win the tournament and that just shows you how close everything is.

“With the play-offs, and the top two getting those home semi-finals, there’s a massive incentive there to be in those top spots and you can’t afford any slip-ups.

“There are certain games that we lost, or didn’t pick up the bonus point, that hurt us last season.

“You look at Treviso away, three tries by half-time, but couldn’t get a bonus point try and end up nearly losing the game when they had an intercept at the end.

“We’ve got ourselves into positions but we need to make sure that we hammer home the advantage and are completely ruthless.”

All PRO12 sides will be affected by the Rugby World Cup to differing degrees but Marshall feels Ulster have the squad to cope while their internationals are away.

“We may be a bit depleted, we may get a few players back which would be great from our point of view but disappointing for them obviously.

“Everyone wants to go to the World Cup, we’re planning that we don’t have them and preparing as best we can without them, if we get a few back then obviously it will be a bonus.”