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Maggs, Young Tie Up New Ulster Contracts

Maggs, Young Tie Up New Ulster Contracts

Ireland centre Kevin Maggs and Ireland “A” prop Bryan Young have both renewed their contracts with Ulster Rugby.

…70-times capped international Kevin Maggs training with Ulster…

Ireland centre Kevin Maggs and Ireland “A” prop Bryan Young have both renewed their contracts with Ulster Rugby.

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The 31-year-old Maggs has extended his deal with the northerners for a further year, while exciting looshead Young, at just 24, has signed on for another three seasons at Ravenhill.

Schooled at Ballymena Academy and having come up through the Ulster Rugby Academy ranks, Young is highly rated as a scrum technician and he impressed for Ireland “A” in last Friday’s 33-18 defeat of England “A” in Gloucester.

Meanwhile, Ulster coach Mark McCall has strengthened his backs division for next season with the signature of former Australian international Mark Bartholomeusz from English club Saracens. The 28-year-old Bartholomeusz functions mostly as a utility back, with his most recent role at Sarries at full-back.

Nicknamed ‘Bart’, he played against Ulster in this season’s Heineken Cup pool stages, coming as a replacement centre in the two clashes with McCall’s men before Christmas. Bartholomeusz, having shown fine form for the ACT Brumbies, won his one and only Test cap for Australia against Italy in 2002.

The former Wallaby, who can cover each position from 10 to 15 and who holds an Irish passport, has agreed a two-year deal with Ulster Rugby. Of late, McCall has been busy securing a number of signatures for next season – development players Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon) and John Andress (Belfast Harlequins) have both signed full contracts, while ‘Gannon hooker Nigel Brady has re-signed and former lock Tim Barker, who spent a season with Glasgow, is due to return to Ulster ranks in 2006/07.

Thursday saw Bank of Ireland become the first ever #1 million plus sponsor of a sporting team north of the border when it unveiled an unprecedented three-year deal with the Ulster Rugby squad.

Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Michael Reid said: “Since (the Bank of Ireland began sponsoring us in 1997), we have tasted the highs of Heineken Cup and Celtic Cup successes, and topping the Celtic League table. Through all the highs and lows, the Bank have remained more than just a sponsor.

“It is easy to support your team either as a fan on the terrace or as a sponsor, when things are going well – the mark of a true supporter is the one who supports you through thick and thin – we have a fantastic group of supporters, the ones on the terrace, promenade and in the stands look to heading for the third title in a row as the best Celtic League Supporters in the Bank of Ireland, we have without doubt, the best commercial support in not only Celtic terms, but in Northern Hemispshere rugby.”

The Bank of Ireland’s Head of Marketing, Colm McKenna said: “The deal we’ve signed is the highlight so far of a hugely successful relationship between Bank of Ireland and Ulster Rugby.

“Since we began our spsonrship of them nine years ago, the team has grown out of all recognition, from a side dominated by part-time players, Ulster Rugby has grown into the only sport in Northern Ireland running a full-time professional team with a supporting structure underneath it to ensure the development of the game.”