Connacht, long the whipping boys of the inter-provincial championship, affixed with the dreaded label 'development province' in the early days of professionalism, are currently leading the Guinness Pro12 table.
*Leicester City comparisons are strictly verboten.
In recent years, they have routinely taken their former betters down a peg or two. Significant losses have been inflicted on Leinster and Munster.
But no sooner do they get off the bus in Belfast, than they are transported back to the dark days, when even hopes of a moral victory were buried under a hail of tries. They have shipped massive defeats in Ravenhill in 2008, 2012, and 2014 (though they did come close last year).
One has to go back to 1960 to find Connacht's last win in Ravenhill. The scoreline was a classic of the era, 6-3. Interestingly, that win was their fourth successive triumph in Belfast.
Since the establishment of the Celtic League in the early 2000s, they have played twelve and lost twelve in Ravenhill. They have only beaten Ulster three times in their own ground (2003, 2005, 2012).
So, since 1960, how many losses have Connacht suffered in Belfast?
Statistics on the old interpros are notoriously hard to find. But Ned Van Esbeck has compiled a list of the head-to-head records between the provinces between 1946 and 2002.
Ulster and Connacht met each other 57 times in the inter-provincial championship between 1946 and 2002, with Connacht winning ten matches. Seven of those wins arrived between 1955 and 1965, clearly a depressed time for rugby in the North.
By Connacht's standards, this wasn't a bad head-to-head record. For instance, they only beat Munster four times in 56 years in the same championship.
Between 1960 and 2002, one would presume Connacht played in Ravenhill 21 times. However, it's not clear whether they alternated venues every other year, a la the Six Nations. Connacht won two matches in a row against Ulster in 1997 and 1998 but both were played in Galway.
We'll presume it was in and around twenty matches. Meaning Connacht have lost somewhere in the region of 32 or 33 games in a row in Ravenhill.
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