herald

Sunday 21 December 2014

Humphreys aims to lift Ulster into European elite

ULSTER v NORTHAMPTON

RAVENHILL, KO 6.0 (LIVE SKY SPORTS 1)

AFTER an unbeaten start to the season Ulster chief David Humphreys believes they are delivering consistently and can challenge for European titles every year.

Ulster can take a huge step towards qualification for the last eight of the Heineken Cup with victory over Northampton at Ravenhill.

The 1999 champions of Europe, and last season's Heineken Cup finalists, have seen their fortunes rise and fall like a rollercoaster in the 18 years in which they have been ever-present competitors in European club rugby's blue riband event.

Inconsistency had been Ulster's middle name and tackling that yo-yo effect has been one of the key planks of the business plan drawn up and implemented by Director of Rugby David Humphreys. The former Irish international outside half, who captained Ulster to the title in the last century, took up his current post in 2010 and insists "we are a long way from where we want to be.

"Our vision is to be competing with one of the top two or three teams in Europe while producing top quality players for Ulster and Ireland.

"We do not want to look back in 10 years' time and see the peaks and troughs of the past. Of course there will always be dips due to any number of reasons but we do not want to suffer the severity of those previous dips.

"Our challenge is to get to a certain level and not only maintain that year by year but also to improve on it.

"We have got a new stadium coming in 18 months' time and while we still expect Ravenhill to be an extremely intimidating place for opponents to come and play, we also expect the whole match day experience to be considerably enhanced for our supporters."

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