United Rugby Championship (URC) team Ulster has announced the staging of its first game at a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) venue, as work continues on its Kingspan Stadium.
Ulster will face fellow URC outfit Glasgow Warriors in a pre-season friendly on October 7 at Kingspan Breffni, the home of Cavan GAA.
Ulster has been seeking an alternative venue for the fixture with work to install a 3G pitch at Kingspan Stadium for the new season ongoing. However, whilst next month’s game marks a historic first, Ulster Rugby said it reflects how the governing bodies regularly come together to promote rugby and Gaelic games across the province at a grassroots and professional level.
It follows on from the ‘Game For Anto’ fundraiser fixture that Ulster GAA hosted at Kingspan Stadium back in 2014, which was aimed at raising awareness of Motor Neurone Disease, and supporting former Antrim GAA senior football captain Anto Finnegan’s deterMND Trust.
The Kingspan Breffni fixture will be followed by an open training session held at Kingspan Stadium on October 28, when Ulster season ticket holders will be able to watch the squad finalise their preparations for the opening home fixture of the season – and the first match on the new 3G pitch – against South African outfit the Bulls the following day.
Ulster Rugby chief executive, Jonny Petrie, said: “With upgrades of Kingspan Stadium ahead of the 2023-24 season ongoing, including the new high-performance 3G pitch, our pre-season fixture this year offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with Ulster GAA on hosting a senior men’s game in another part of the province.
“Our thanks go to our friends at Ulster GAA and Cavan GAA for offering us the use of Kingspan Breffni, and their support in putting on the fixture. We hope that both our season ticket holders and supporters who regularly travel from the local area to attend games in Belfast, and those who may be new to the sport, will enjoy an entertaining afternoon.
“Season ticket holders will then be able to have a first look at the stadium development works, which are progressing well and set to deliver benefits for the club and supporters alike, at the upcoming open training session.”