Ulster Supporters Prepare For Departure Ahead of Heineken Cup Semi-Final: 5 Translink “Rugby Special” Trains, 40 Translink Ulster Buses, 52 Clubs Driving Or going In Up To 3 Buses Each!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! www.facebook.com/ulsterrugby Wall Says It All!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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It could be a case of “last one out turn off the lights and shut the gate” this Saturday as Ulster Rugby supporters prepare to descend on Dublin for this Saturday’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium (KO 5.45pm).

Translink have five packed ‘Rugby Special’ trains arriving into Connolly Station from lunchtime, each carrying 380 passengers and upwards of 40 coaches dropping off close to the RDS from 2.00 -3.30pm on Saturday.

And that’s just the start of it with many, many more supporters departing in groups from their local rugby clubs or making their own way by car with family and friends.

A quick glance at Ulster Rugby’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/ulsterrugby) shows fans travelling to support Ulster captain Johann Muller and his team from all over the Province with many also making the trip from Scotland and England.

One such supporter, Keith Radcliffe is travelling from Portsmouth by coach, leaving on Thursday afternoon at 4pm, journeying through then night to arrive into Belfast at 10am on Friday morning where he will pick up a car and drive to Dublin for the match before beginning the long haul back – just one of many truly dedicated exiles.
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Over 42,000 tickets have been sold for the semi-final to date, with the vast majority purchased by Ulster supporters who have had to wait 13 years to cheer their team on in a Heineken Cup semi-final. Ulster’s last appearance in this stage of the competition was on 9th January 1999, at Ravenhill when side captained by David Humphreys, who scored a memorable try in the process, defeated the French giants 33-27.

Now Director of Rugby at the club, Humphreys says that this Saturday will be a massive occasion for players and supporters alike

“There’s a great buzz around the club this week” he comments

“Not just at the training ground amongst the players and management team but at Ravenhill where lots of supporters have been calling in to collect their match tickets or buy some kit for the weekend ahead.

While we’re trying to keep things as normal as possible this week for our players it’s impossible for them not to get a sense of building anticipation and I think that adds an extra edge to what is already a massive fixture for us

When we left the team hotel in Limerick ahead of the quarter-final against Munster we walked through a sea of Ulster supporters in the lobby who had all come to soak up the atmosphere pre-match and cheer on the team as they boarded the bus and departed for the ground. It was an atmosphere similar to those I remember experiencing on international weekends and it adds a tremendous sense of occasion to the match weekend.”

Tickets for the semi-final are still available to purchase at www.ticketmaster.ie/erc

Ballymena are playing Garryowen in Bateman Cup (All-Ireland Senior Cup) at St Mary’s RFC Templeville Grounds in Dublin at 12.35pm and Ulster Rugby would encourage those travelling to Dublin early to go along and add their voice to those cheering on the Ulster side. Entrance is 5-10 euro.

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