Women’s Interpros: New Ulster ‘don’t care’ about winless streak stats – Durkan

place: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast Date: Saturday, January 14 Start the game: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website

It may be more than 10 years since Ulster last won a women’s inter-provincial derby, but it has to be whispered around the Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster’s winless run since 2012 has been well documented and Connacht’s visit to Belfast on Saturday provides the team’s latest chance to end a decade of heartbreak.

However, according to Ella Durkan, that is not something that will bother the ever-improving Ulster side.

This is a new group of girls, said the versatile guard.

“We don’t care about any of those statistics and anyone who wants to tell us that story – we don’t have time for that. It has nothing to do with us.

“We’re a team that’s been building here. It’s a young group and there are girls under 18 who have won in the pros and fought for inter-pro titles as juniors.”

And Durkan is certainly right.

While Ulster lost their first interpro to Munster 34-0 on Saturday, their previous meeting in 2021 ended in a 50-5 defeat.

Interpro’s 2021 campaign also saw a 12-12 draw with Connacht, the closest they come to an end to their run, and Durkan says Saturday’s game between the two sides is one of Ulster’s “calendar-marked”.

“You go after all the games, but we wanted this one, especially at home,” she added.

“Ravenhill is really becoming a fortress for us, so this is one we really want to pursue.”

While every game at the Kingspan Stadium is a home game for Ulster, it couldn’t be closer for Durkan who grew up close to the Ravenhill ground.

“I can see the stadium from my bedroom window,” added the 24-year-old.

“It’s nice to play Ulster on the ground I grew up in the shadow of.

“It will be nice to have that day in the sun, although looking at the current weather it may not be a day in the sun, but I’ll take it.”

The women’s game is ‘moving in the right direction’

Ella Durkan
Ella Durkan played fly half, full back and center for Ulster

The meeting between Ulster and Connacht will inevitably bring back memories of the turning point for women’s rugby in Ireland in 2021.

The Donnybrook draw hit the headlines after players from both teams had to use temporary tented changing areas outside and rats were spotted nearby.

However, with the IRFU committing to invest major resources into the women’s game, which includes professional contracts for Irish XV players, Durkan said the women’s game is moving in the right direction.

“I play my club rugby or Blackrock and a lot of the girls have signed professional contracts there,” she said.

“This is a good step in the right direction. There was a line drawn in the sand with previous actions, but we really think that now, moving forward, we’re starting to go in the right direction.

“This can only be a positive for women’s rugby and women’s sport in general.”

Like many members of the Ulster squad, Durkan is a multi-sport athlete and played GAA for Down before deciding to turn her attention to rugby.

Durkan said “Gaelic is one of the most transferrable sports to rugby” and that this helped her versatility, which saw the Blackrock player bounce between fullback, halfback and center for Ulster.

“I’m comfortable anywhere. Wherever I’m needed, I’ll go,” she said in her desired position.

“I like to jump between positions. It gives you a good insight into the game and, when you play at 10, where your 12 is going to be, where your guard is going to be.

“It’s nice to have that experience on the field, so at 10 years old you have a head on your shoulders to know what everyone else is doing.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *