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Ulster Rugby Forced To Release Statement After Poppy 'Snub'

Ulster Rugby Forced To Release Statement After Poppy 'Snub'
By Gary Reilly

At least James McClean has a bit of company this year. The yearly debate over which individuals and organisations do or do not sport a poppy in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day is both bitter and turgid in equal measure.

Conor McGregor faced most of the attention this year but McClean did find time to give his yearly explanation. Now it's Ulster Rugby's turn to face the music. A report in the Belfast Telegraph brought to light the criticism which the province faced for 'snubbing the poppy' during the Pro 12 clash with the Dragons on Sunday.

During that game, the Welsh side wore jerseys with an embroidered poppy on them, while Ulster chose to forego changing their regular kit.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Robert McCartney, a former soldier who runs the Beyond the Battlefield charity led some of the criticism.

It is a mark of respect, the reason they are able to play the sport themselves is because of the freedom these men gave them and if they can't put the poppy on their shirt for one day and show that respect, then they really did disgrace themselves yesterday.

Among other criticism, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson called on Ulster to provide an explanation and they have duly done so on Monday with the following statement.

Ulster Rugby players and supporters respectfully observed a minute's silence prior to the fixture against Newport Gwent Dragons on Sunday.

Kingspan Stadium has a permanent War Memorial Arch, which pays respect to those fallen during WW1 and WW2.

Each year Ulster Rugby pays respect in its usual and traditional manner with a memorial service at the arch, during which a wreath is laid by the Ulster Rugby President. This year’s service will take place tomorrow, (Tuesday).

Wasps played Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership yesterday and neither club wore a poppy on their jerseys.

No other Guinness PRO12 club, with the exception of Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues, wore a poppy on their jerseys this weekend.

Away from the furore about the poppy, Ulster did actually come out on top on Sunday with Paddy Jackson putting the gloss on a 19-12 win with two late penalties.

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