Dan McFarland slams ‘frustrating’ Ulster

Date published: October 25 2021 - Planet Rugby

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has pilloried his side after their disappointing 36-11 defeat to fellow Irish province Connacht on Saturday.

Following four successive wins in the United Rugby Championship, the Belfast-based outfit succumbed to their first loss of the campaign.

And McFarland was not happy. In a staggering press conference, Ulster’s boss did not hold back when discussing the mentality of his team going into certain games.

I just want to crush them

“Do you know one thing I know about us? We’re not good when we’re favourites. I find that so frustrating,” he told reporters.

“We’ll pull monster performances out when we’re playing teams that, on paper, are much better than us. I’m not being disrespectful to Connacht there, we were favourites tonight – I’m just saying from the bookies’ point of view.

“And I don’t think we play as well when we do that. To me, I find that frustrating because me as an individual, any competition I’m in, I couldn’t give a f*** whether they’re good or not. I just want to crush them.

“I find it frustrating when we – let’s say you’re playing a team who you really shouldn’t (beat) – beat them by 20 points but you leave four tries behind. I find that so frustrating. Almost more frustrating than losing a game that has been a ding-dong battle. I think that’s where we are.

“This isn’t a question of effort and it never has been. It’s not even a question of it mattering and guys working really hard and trying really hard. It’s something almost intangible about it that some teams definitely have, and we’re searching for that.

“We obviously win a lot of games. We still win a lot of these games. But I think where it makes a difference is that process being the most important thing – what you actually do and not the outcome – I think that makes the difference between champion teams and teams that are just really good.

“When the actual process and the doing of the work on the field and the training paddock becomes more important to them than the outcome, that’s what makes champion teams.”

McFarland emphasised the point that it is not necessarily about ability or work ethic with his side, but instead producing the type of consistent performances which will make Ulster amongst the best in Europe.

“I definitely think they know what they’re capable of because the evidence is there,” he added.

“The interesting thing is the difference between the very few teams that dominate consistently is that, where the pressures of their own performance outweigh the pressures of the outcome. I think that makes the difference. There aren’t many of those teams. There are barely any of those teams. But that’s what we’re chasing.

“The teams that do that, their slip-ups are very rare, let’s put it like that. It’s got to take a strange weekend and an unbelievable performance from the opposition to take those teams down, whereas we weren’t on in a particular area of the game, and they were on, and that’s what changed it (against Connacht). That’s just how it is.

“We’ll keep plugging away – we’ve got some really good players, really good coaches who have done some really good stuff, demonstrated how we can play and how good we are, and we’ll keep working away.”