Brief History of the URSC

URSC

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE URSC

The URSC is the official independent supporters club of Ulster Rugby. It was founded in June 2004 as a successor to Club Ulster. Club Ulster had been set up by Ulster Rugby in the years following the European Cup triumph in 1999 for season ticket holders only. Club Ulster members received a Club Ulster tie or scarf along with their season ticket. In addition a Club Ulster Committee acted as a conduit between season ticket holders and Ulster Rugby.

Membership

The Supporters Club was to be open to all fans whether season ticket holders or otherwise, albeit that membership in the first year was complimentary to all season ticket holders. As a result, membership in the first year stood at over 3,000. UR also provided a £1,500 seeding grant (which was repaid in 2008) and agreed a modus operandi with the supporters club – the intended basis of how we would work together.

In the season 2005 – 06 the club assumed responsibility for membership applications with fees of £10 for adults and £5 for juniors, and attracted a very respectable 886 members. In the following, memorable Celtic League Championship winning season, membership peaked at just over 1,100, currently a record for fee paying membership, and helping to put the club on a sound financial footing.

Club Newsletter

The club newsletter was launched in March 2006, as the ‘Red Hand’. This first edition was a simple glossy black and white on four A4 pages and was mailed out to all members. Edition No 2 underwent a major transformation, appearing in eight pages of full colour. Subsequently re-named ‘Stand Up’, and expanded to 12 pages, our club fanzine is now published quarterly and mailed directly to all members. Limited sponsorship from some local businesses has enabled us to offer regular competitions, with sports goods and watches featuring as prizes for the lucky winners.

Travel

In the 2006 – 07 season Ulster Rugby asked the club to take over arranging away travel for matches in Ireland and Scotland. Travelling numbers vary greatly, depending upon location and kick off times; nevertheless the club is committed to arranging transport to all of Ulster’s away matches in Ireland and Scotland. The highlight of these trips was almost certainly the 13 Chambers coaches that travelled down to Dublin for the “Last Stand” at Lansdowne Road on New Years Eve 2006, reminiscent of the Cup Final of ’99. The Club are unable to arrange travel to Wales, or to the away Heineken matches, as this involves air travel, overnight accommodation and fans often wishing to extend their visit across a weekend, or longer!

Player Bursary

In 2007 the club was able to announce the inaugural URSC Bursary to assist Academy players. The first recipient was Mark McCrea. It is intended to continue with this bursary into the future and funds have been put aside to guarantee this to at least 2010.

Player of the Year

The club is also pleased to award the Supporters’ Player of the Year. This prestigious trophy, crafted by local artist Bob Sloan, and featuring a bronze cast of a hand grasping a rugby ball, was first awarded in 2005 to Matt McCullough.

The complete Roll of Honour is:

2005 Matt McCullough
2006 Justin Harrison
2007 Neil Best
2008 Tommy Bowe
2009 Stephen Ferris
2010 Chris Henry
2011 Johann Muller
2012 Pedrie Wannenberg
2013 Andrew Trimble
2014 Andrew Trimble
2015 Darren Cave
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Each recipient also receives a Frederique Constant watch, compliments of Alan Ferris, of McNeillys Jewellers – a long-standing and most valuable club sponsor.

Other events

A Player of the Month award is also made throughout the season. In addition, sponsorship allows the Club to make a Supporter of the Month award.

The club organises a number of social events throughout the year, including the annual BBQ, which is open to all fans and arranged around the latter stages of the Heineken Cup. The most memorable of social events have involved evenings with players or ex-players such as David Humphreys; Justin Harrison; Ryan Constable and Willie John McBride; and coaches Alan Solomons, Mark McCall and, more recently, Matt Williams.

The club is run on behalf of the members by a voluntary committee elected at the Annual General Meeting. Details of the current committee and those who assist with publications, photography, graphic design, and player awards are provided on our club website pages. The Club are honoured to have Wylie John McBride MBE as President following the passing of our previous President Dr Jack Kyle OBE.

The URSC committee meets once a month and is guided in its actions by the Club Constitution and a Memorandum of Understanding with Ulster Rugby.