What the hell is going on in Ulster rugby? – Brian Spencer throws down the gauntlet on behalf of supporters

Social share:


What the hell is going on in Ulster rugby? – Brian Spencer throws down the gauntlet on behalf of supporters 


Ulster Rugby agrees stadium naming rights deal with Kingspan


The McLaughlin exit two years ago was a bad tempered and bewildering one. McLaughlin was nicked and sliced from the mud and turf of ulster rugby pitches; our man who bled native new blood and took Ulster to the final of the Heineken cup. The anger and bewilderment was cut onto his face as Humphreys ladled out an explanation, of sorts.

McLaughlin’s replacement, Mark Anscombe, took a steady Ulster Rugby ship and did good and nothing especially bad.

Now Humphreys, an architect of the McLaughlin-removal-Amscombe-takeover, has removed himself, lured by the charismatic 25 year old chief executive of Gloucester rugby.

The Humphreys bailout is a slap in the face for McLaughlin and for the supporters. The Anscombe pushout is just embarrassing. Clownish as Anscombe’s son would say. If Humphreys and his co-conspirators were going to  go with Anscombe over McLaughlin, the least they could do is see their grand-but not totally clear vision through. Instead they throw in the towel.

It smacks of an organisation hungry for success tomorrow, erratic and chaotic, the behaviour of a body deeply unsure of itself,  an organisation haunted by an inferiority complex, dying to be a Toulon and doing a Toulon – splashing big money and big names. Big money and big names aren’t the Ulster way.

Now we have Les Kiss, another big money big name. More Toulon when the Toulon strategy didn’t work.

Better that Ulster stick with the Ulster way of the long-view graft.


Social share:

About Author

Brian is a writer, artist and law graduate.


  1. Snipe Watson on

    This article is at best ill informed. David Humphreys departure was a shock and the McLaughlin debacle
    was a PR disaster, but the Anscombe appointment was as ill advised as McGlockgate. Anscombe’s
    departure is not lamented by many who have closely observed goings on at
    Ravenhill and it was interesting to note what was not said by Rory Best, Tommy
    Bowe et al when they commented on the departure.

  2. Andrew Harrison on

    This is a very facile and very uninformed piece that doesn’t really come close to touching on the major talking points or provide any insight into whats going on. Poor effort. Firstly, I’m a fan, a long term season ticket holder who follows every development at Ravenhill religiously, and you don’t speak for me. I’m actually rather happy with these developments and much more optimistic about our long-term future as a result.

    The comparison of Ulster to Toulon is particularly jarring and simply miles off- we live and die by our Academy and homegrown players, and can bring in 4 or 5 big names (now more like 2 or 3). Toulon bring in 25+ big names and neglect to bring any players through their Academy. In fact, Toulons best homegrown players tend to have to move clubs to get game time whereas our best homegrown stars have a pathway into the team and onto Ireland honours like Jackson, Henderson, Marshall etc. You only need to compare the number of players who are qualified to play for their national side in their squad versus ours to see the difference. Now we will bring in some players from outside but the bulk of the budget goes towards developing players to play for Ireland.

    Indeed most of Humphreys work has revolved around restructuring the Academy and sub-Academy and aiming to improve the quantity and quality of the homegrown players in the long term while relying on the big signings to get us to a certain level in the short term. The second part of that has been successful; the concerted improvement over the McLaughlin and Anscombe eras has seen us increase our average attendances, attract much, much higher levels of sponsorship including the stadium name deal, achieve record season ticket sales and sell more merchandise; basically increase our fan base to the point we need to be able to compete financially when it comes to player contracts with English and French teams. The first part is a long term project, it will take several more years to bear fruit. But the importance of the likes of McLauglin to this can’t be understated either. McLaughlin in his new role is key to working with schools and clubs and improving coaching right across the grassroots of the province.

    Whilst I was devastated and shocked by Humphreys departure I’m really quite pleased by the addition of Les Kiss and feel Logan has really handled a difficult situation unexpectedly well. He was thrown the mother of all curveballs by Humphreys departure and he had to act decisively to replace Humphreys and restructure our senior management.

    Humphreys leaving was, as I said, a shock and a blow. But Anscombe leaving is a pretty natural consequence; I honestly can’t say I was surprised by this announcement. He was Humphreys man, hired to work under Humphreys and he wasn’t going to get promoted to Humphs job. We needed to hire an interim replacement for Humphreys and it’s been decided that as opposed to having a DoR who is hands off when it comes to coaching and selection as Humphreys was the DoR role will be expanded to include hand-on coaching. So that leaves Anscombe as being surplus to requirements and it’s a rather logical move. It also seems that Anscombe has alienated a large number of the playing squad and this will have weakened his position. Concerns over his methods seem to have been growing for several months and I think a change will keep us moving forward and head off some potential fissures behind the scenes. There is much more to be positive about than negative about going into the new season for Ulster and I would say this weeks developments are a lot more positive than negative.

  3. Michael O'Neill on

    Good grief Brian, what a pack of rubbish. If anything you are getting worse at this writing malarky than better. It would be better if you wrote about something that you do know about, say, tips on how to write uninformed and baseless articles under a blanket of intelligent thought while actually being narrow-minded and infantile. Yes, stick to that.

Leave A Reply