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Ulster Aiming To Be Pitch Perfect On New Kingspan Stadium Surface

Ulster Aiming To Be Pitch Perfect On New Kingspan Stadium Surface

Ulster will play the Vodacom Bulls in their first game on the newly-installed 3G pitch at Kingspan Stadium ©SPORTSFILE/Ramsey Cardy

Having returned home from Parma with a hard-earned five points, Ulster are looking forward to making their debut on the new 3G pitch at the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Click here to buy match tickets.

Ulster’s opening home game of the new BKT United Rugby Championship brings the Vodacom Bulls to Belfast, and Sunday evening marks their first competitive fixture at their Ravenhill fortress since losing last season’s quarter-final to Connacht.

With a very positive reception from the players to the newly-installed pitch, Ulster assistant coach Dan Soper said: “I’m looking forward to seeing (them) playing on it, we have trained on it for a couple of weeks. It’s been really fast.

“The guys seem to love it and we’ll see how Sunday goes, but at the minute, we are all excited and pretty optimistic about what it has to hold.

“We are really looking forward to being at home. It’s been a long time since we played here in front of our supporters. We all remember our last game here was one that hurt us a lot, and we’ll carry a wee bit of that hurt into the weekend.”

Giving the perspective of the players, Michael Lowry, who was one of Ulster’s try scorers in their 12-try thriller with Zebre, admitted: “I’m personally loving it (the new pitch), and I think everyone else is definitely enjoying it as well.

“Just that consistency of being able to train here at Kingspan and not having to go to other venues, and even just the consistency of the surface.

“Hopefully it will show how quick the game is for us, and the way we want to play this year is a quick game. Hopefully it feeds into that and that’s what we’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks.

“A competitive environment will definitely boost us on to bigger and better things, and that feeds into what our goal is – we want to win a Championship this year and hopefully we can do that.”

Ulster are fifth in the United Rugby Championship table following their 40-36 victory over the Italian side, while Jake White’s Bulls are the first round leaders thanks to a runaway 63-21 defeat of the Scarlets, during which Cameron Hanekom and Stedman Gans scored two tries each.

Meanwhile, ahead of the clash with the Bulls, Ulster Rugby have unveiled recent upgrades over the summer to Kingspan Stadium, with the level of investment in line with ambitions for the province’s home ground to provide a world-class matchday experience.

Their new 3G pitch, installed by Tony Patterson Sportsgrounds, offers a more consistent surface for both training and home matches for Dan McFarland’s men. It will also allow Ulster Rugby to continue to host the necessary fixtures to grow and develop the grassroots game.

A new hospitality space, the Ravenhill Suite, has also been renovated in time for the new season kicking off. Perched at the top of the Family Stand, the box which can host up to 35 guests, enjoys uninterrupted views of the pitch, both indoors and out – with supporters enjoying Yellow Door hospitality on match night.

In addition, Ulster have invested in new LED screens mounted on the Nevin Spence Memorial Stand and AbbeyAutoline Family Stand which, as well as offering sponsors and partners a new advertising space in-stadium, will allow supporters to see the score at either end of the pitch during matches.

The PA system has also received investment, through funding from Sport NI, to improve the supporter experience at games, and to ensure the ongoing safe management of events.

Speaking about the investment, Ulster Rugby CEO Jonny Petrie said: “As the home of Ulster Rugby, we want Kingspan Stadium to be a world-class venue, which showcases the best of our province and sport.

“We continue to operate in challenging financial circumstances, but our focus remains on building a sustainable business that invests in the game, both at a professional and domestic level, for its long-term future.

“A prime example is the successful installation of our new 3G pitch which will benefit the professional squad, and also play an important role in growing our domestic game and supporting our ambition to develop the Women’s game in Ulster, in the years ahead.

“We hope our Season Ticket holders will enjoy their exclusive first-look at our open training session on Saturday, and that our sponsors and partners will also see the dividends of our investment through increased opportunities to be involved in match nights at Kingspan Stadium.”

For more information on booking the Ravenhill Suite, or other hospitality spaces, for an Ulster home game, please contact David Edwards on david.edwards@ulsterrugby.com or 07483 945 330.