Rory Scholes confident Ulster can use European vitories as springboard

Ulster's Rory Scholes.
Ulster's Rory Scholes.

It took Ulster 18 years to win their first ever European game on French soil but Rory Scholes got a victory in his first European away day as he came on as an early replacement for Craig Gilroy at Toulouse.

The winger is hoping he and the team can keep they current run of form going as they return to Pro 12 action against Connacht in Galway on Boxing Day.

“The Toulouse games were awesome for everyone involved, they were two very different games a good win at home and then a tighter one away,” said Scholes.

“We are still working on things and we are a work in progress as a team but those are the sort of performances we want to put in and that is the way we want to play.

“From a personal point of view, to be involved in the Champions Cup for the first time was class; there was a completely different buzz and atmosphere which was just awesome.

“So from a personal point of view [I want] as much more of that as possible and from a team point of view, [we want to] keep the confidence going and keep the way we are playing going.

“I remember watching Toulouse and Isaac Boss running the show as we beat them by 30 odd points at Ravenhill and those sort of iconic European performances are what everyone around Ulster remembers.

“Ulster have only won in France three times and to be involved in that is just crazy and it will be something I look back on when I’m older with happy thoughts.”

Scholes was sprung from the bench on Sunday after only 12 minutes but was more than ready to enter the fray.

“Les (Kiss) puts a massive onus on the bench being ready at all times he is always talking to you making sure you know what you have to do when you come on, so you’re ready when you warm up with the team as if you are playing,” he said.

“Then when you come on you go full throttle. It’s sad to see boys get injuries but I was ready and was a happy to get as many minutes as possible.”

Scholes was denied a contender for try of the season when his touchdown was called back for a forward pass.

“The boys were talking after the game saying it could have been one of Ulster’s best ever tries in Europe and I was thinking, ‘imagine it’s me’. That’s just crazy, but I think it was a forward pass though it was an awesome try and that just shows what the style of rugby we want to play, turning the ball over in our own 22 and going the length of the pitch.

“We have confidence in our game and we just want to back ourselves in those situations and pull off things like that.”

After the highs of beating Toulouse are return to domestic action with a crucial game against Connacht.

“It’s an interpro and they are massive for the Irish provinces,” he said.

“It just makes it even bigger that Connacht are ahead of us in the table and going really well, it is tight up there and we need to get the points and get closer to them. It’s as big as it ever could be, it’s Boxing Day and everybody is looking forward to it.

“I’ve never played at the Sportsground, I’ve played in Connacht a couple times with the U20s so it will be interesting.

“You would expect a big atmosphere in a Pro12 derby but I’m used to it now I’ve played quite a few times for Ulster and I’ll go out and try and do what I usually do.”

Ulster have lost four of their nine Pro12 games and Scholes knows they can’t afford anymore slip-ups.

“You never want to lose and if we get the win in Connacht it will put us in a much better position in the league because it is tight at the top,” he said.

“There is a massive focus to keep the run, keep the confidence and keep the way we are playing going.”

Scholes’ only interpro to date was the 19-17 win at Thomond Park in May 2014 when a below strength Ulster team humbled a Munster side that included Paul O’Connell.

“All the people in the team have won massive games for Ulster in the interpros away from home, it is an experienced group, it’s been done before so there will be confidence and knowhow of what to do to get the win and that is what we are looking to do,” he said.

“We just want to keep playing the way we are playing; we have put ourselves in a better position in the Champions Cup now that after the Saracens game and we want to get out of the pool, so there is a big onus to keep this confidence going and bring it into the three games in January.”