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Ulster target global rise

Guinness PRO12 Editor

17 Feb 2010

Ulster Rugby aim to become the leading team in world rugby says the province’s new chief executive.

Shane Logan joined the Ravenhill outfit at the beginning of the year and has now outlined his hopes for a bright future.

Logan, an experienced businessman who has also played rugby in three different continents and coached in his hometown of Bangor, sees no benefit in setting mediocre targets.

“The ultimate destination is that all parts of the game are the world’s best,” said Logan.

"Whatever plan we put together has to deliver Ulster being top of the pile in Ireland, Europe and indeed the world. 

“How long that takes, I’m not sure. I need to take three to six months to understand the start point. 

“I’m reasonably clear what the end point is, but I need to understand the start point in order to be more definitive as to how long it’s going to take to get there. 

“I need to break it down and look at all the bits. I need to break it down to position in Europe and the Magners League and then to keep moving forward.”

As things stand, Ulster lag behind both Leinster and Munster in terms of domestic and European success.

Brian McLaughlin’s men currently sit in sixth place in the Magners League standings and narrowly missed out on a place in the quarter finals of both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup.

But Logan sees plenty of positives that leave him convinced that further improvement is destined to follow a season that has already seen Ulster defeat the likes of Stade Francais, Bath Rugby and all three of their Irish counterparts. 

“I think already we have a number of very encouraging building blocks in place,” added Logan.

“We have a strong playing squad, we have more good quality younger players coming through and we have a stronger — through getting more experience and getting results — coaching staff. So some of the ingredients are in place. 

“But I would be foolish to say we’re going to win the Heineken Cup in three years. All I can say is that that is our destination and more. 

“We have to keep putting in place more and more of the ingredients that are going to yield that ultimate result. 

“Whether that’s three years, five years or seven years I don’t know at this point because I’m not clear enough as to what the base is. 

“I’m clear where we’re going and I’m clear that we’re absolutely driven to being the best.

“I’m also clear that things can go wrong, because sometimes in pursuit of something new you’re doing things differently in trying to get what you needed. Clearly it can’t always be a smooth journey. 

“There may be times when it’s a case of one step forward and two — maybe even three — back.” 

Logan also intends to spread rugby even further into the wider community in Northern Ireland and set Ulster on the way to becoming a real powerhouse on the global stage.

Ulster currently struggle to match the revenue of either Leinster or Munster dues to smaller crowds, fewer sponsorship and marketing opportunities and less merchandise sales but Logan knows that spreading the word could be hugely beneficial both on and off the pitch. 

“The quality of the overall product has to improve.

“All parts have to move forward together to achieve one common vision, that being world’s best. 

"There is a danger that we are just too narrow and isolated into the traditional hotbeds of rugby in Ulster.

"Rugby is a game which must be for everybody. We are across all nine counties and it is my intention that we grow the game in all parts of the community."