is an Irish
professional rugby union team based in Belfast
that competes in the RaboDirect Pro12
and Heineken Cup
. The team represents the Irish Rugby Football Union Ulster Branch which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU
, and is responsible for amateur sport of rugby union in the Irish province of Ulster
, comprising six counties in Northern Ireland
and three in the Republic of Ireland
The branch was founded in 1879. The home ground for the province's team is at Ravenhill
, and has a capacity of around 12,300. In 2004 the Ulster Squad re-located their training base to Newforge Country Club in South Belfast
but the side retains its close links to Ravenhill, the spiritual home of Ulster rugby. The Ulster team traditionally played solely as an Irish province but in recent years, since rugby union became a professional sport in 1995, the Ulster team now plays as a professional club.
Ulster have many youth teams and also the 'Phoenix Ulster Academy' which helps to develop talented young rugby players. The teams which Ulster field each season in various competitions are as follows: Ulster U18s, Ulster Schools (U18 and U19), Ulster U19s, Ulster U20s, Ulster Ravens and of course the full Ulster XV.
The Ulster Branch of the IRFU
was founded in 1879. Since then Ulster has arguably been the most consistently successful of the four Irish provinces (the others are Connacht
) having won the Inter-Provincial Championship
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