Ireland centre calls out Ulster legend for ‘childish’ social media post after chastening Challenge Cup exit

Colin Newboult
Ireland and Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey alongside former flanker Stephen Ferris.

Ireland and Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey alongside former flanker Stephen Ferris.

Centre Stuart McCloskey has slammed Stephen Ferris after the Ulster legend looked to spark a debate following the province’s Challenge Cup exit.

The Belfast-based outfit have endured a difficult season, with head coach Dan McFarland paying the price for their struggles after being sacked.

Chief executive John Petrie followed McFarland out of the exit door by stepping down in late March, leaving the province in disarray.

Ulster are battling to secure a play-off spot with them in eighth position in the United Rugby Championship table after seven wins in 13 matches.

Challenge Cup embarrassment

That is their only shot at a trophy this season as their Challenge Cup aspirations were abruptly ended by Clermont Auvergne in the quarter-finals.

The Irish province had stunned Clermont’s fellow Frenchmen Montpellier a week earlier as Ulster secured an impressive 40-17 triumph, but they failed to back that up.

Now led by interim head coach Richie Murphy, the visitors produced an abysmal second-half display to eventually go down 53-14 to Clermont.

That led Ferris, who has been an outspoken critic of the side over recent times, to take to social media.

He put a picture of two teams a decade apart with the caption, “Ulster Rugby 2014 vs 2024. Who wins??”

The first line-up came from their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Saracens in April 2014, which they narrowly lost 17-15.

McCloskey hits out

For ex-Ireland star Ferris, who defended his tweet later on, it was a harmless bit of fun for followers to engage with, but McCloskey, who played in the Clermont match, felt that he was taking a swipe at the current squad.

Perhaps enraged by previous comments the former flanker has made this season on X, formerly Twitter, that frustration boiled over as the 31-year-old wrote: “This is honestly something a 12 year old would do @StephenFerris6, helps absolutely no one.”

Ferris fired back, however, and criticised McCloskey for creating a slanging match.

“My tweet was to start a trivial debate between 2 teams that lost a quarter final, but 10 years apart,” he responded.

“Fans have favourite players from the past & present, who you are one of. Your reply has turned this thread into something it was never supposed to be.”

McCloskey will look to put Ulster’s on and off-field issues aside and help them get back on track when they return to URC action this weekend.

The province’s next two games are at home against Cardiff and Benetton before they face the Scarlets in Llanelli.

They then finish off with two Irish derbies as they take on Leinster at Kingspan Stadium before visiting Munster in their final regular season match.

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