STUART MCCLOSKEY, THE Ireland international, has delivered a frank assessment of Ulster’s current form in the aftermath of Friday’s 38-10 defeat to Munster.
The 28–year-old didn’t attempt to gloss over the reality that the remaining four games of the province’s campaign are fairly meaningless, after Ulster lost a second successive Rainbow Cup match, with a Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Leicester the meat in the sandwich.
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“Up until last week we were having a pretty good season,” said McCloskey. “You can maybe write that Connacht defeat (two weeks ago) off on the fact that we had one eye on the Leicester semi-final but there’s no real excuse (about Friday’s defeat to Munster); losing by 28 points to a side we were fairly well matched with on paper. We can’t do anything about it now.”
Nor can they do anything about the imposition of this Rainbow Cup tournament to the calendar. Had the four South African teams joined up with the established 12 European sides, then maybe this tournament would have a little more credibility. A little thing called a global pandemic ruined that idea.
McCloskey in action on Friday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
It has also ruined Ulster’s season to a degree. They had won 14 out of 16 regular season matches yet were denied a play-off; now they have lost two out of two in the Rainbow Cup and have four dead rubbers to endure.