RUGBY OPINION: Richard Mulligan

y''Rory Best leads Ulster out during the Guinness Pro14 clash between Edinburgh
y''Rory Best leads Ulster out during the Guinness Pro14 clash between Edinburgh

It has been a difficult period recently on and off the pitch for Ulster Rugby.

It is important to also separate the events of the Belfast Rape Trial and subsequent fall out from what happens on the field.

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby have confirmed they will undertake a review following the off field events.

In terms of on the pitch, Ulster went into the month of April staring into an abyss.

Their hopes of making the Guinness PRO14 final series were hanging by a thread and there was pressure on them securing qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup.

On Friday night they travelled to Edinburgh for a third successive away game and trailing the third placed Scots by 13 points.

The away form has been poor from Ulster this season. Although they had defeated Harlequins away in December, their last on the road success in the PRO14 had come back in November.

Head coach Jono Gibbes made seven changes to the side which lost in Cardiff last time out, including naming rookie prop Tom O’Toole in the starting pack.

That was a bold move - while two other debutants were named on the bench but not used - and it proved to be with the 19-year-old replaced after Ulster’s scrum struggled in the second half.

However, it was not a night to be negative, Ulster secured a bonus point victory to keep their still slim PRO14 play-off hopes alive.

The beleagured Ulster supporters have a right to celebrate.