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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Northern exposure: Ulster players, staff and fans pitch in to clear Ravenhill

Donnybrook lined up as a contingency plan though Ulster confident that ground will be playable by the weekend.

Fans and players brave the cold to help Ulster Rugby staff clear snow from the pitch at Ravenhill ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup match against Bath.
Fans and players brave the cold to help Ulster Rugby staff clear snow from the pitch at Ravenhill ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup match against Bath.
Image: INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

ULSTER CHIEFS WILL erect a giant tent over the pitch at Ravenhill this morning in the hope of saving the Heineken Cup match against Bath on Saturday.

Setanta Sports reports that ground staff, academy players and supporters came together to clear the pitch of snow and ice yesterday  in a bid to make sure the Heineken cup clash with Bath goes ahead.

Heaters will be placed under the tent and directed at the more frozen areas of the pitch and officials are confident the surface will be deemed playable.

Ulster are hopeful of the tie being fulfilled, with a spokesman saying:

We are fairly confident that the game will go ahead at Ravenhill.

There is a thaw forecast for Thursday and Friday, and with the arrival of the tent, the game should go ahead as planned.

The northern province has, however, sounded out Leinster about the potential availability of Donnybrook – while the Aviva Stadium is another option.

But despite the tentative contingency plans, former Ireland out-half David Humphreys says the tie will likely go ahead at Ravenhill. He told Gerry Thornley in this Irish Times:

As far as we are concerned the game is going ahead at Ravenhill.

We had lots of staff clearing the pitch today, there’s no snow on the pitch and 75% of the pitch is playable today.

There’s a small area under the new stand which doesn’t get any sunlight, which is still frozen.

However, we have employed a company from England to come in who will ensure the pitch is available for Saturday afternoon.

Saturday’s tie is something of a must-win showdown for both Ulster and the visiting English.

Leinster will make a decision on Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll as he fights for fitness ahead of the trip to Clermont 48 hours later.

The province has, meanwhile, confirmed that almost 40,000 tickets have been sold for the return meeting with the French side at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.

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