Northampton Saints are the visitors to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night, for Ulster Rugby's first home game of the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the game…
Date: Friday 17 December 2021
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Competition: Heineken Champions Cup Round 2
Match Officials: Referee: Piardi Andrea, Asst Refs: Gnecchi Gianluca & Russo Filippo, TMO: Pennè Stefano
Live TV: BT Sport
There is very limited availability left, with almost all sections of the stadium now sold out.
• This will be the sixth clash between Ulster and Northampton in the Heineken Champions Cup (Ulster have won two with Northampton winning three) – but it’s the first meeting since the pool stage in 2012/13 – when each club picked up an away victory.
• Northampton have won only two of their 10 away games against Irish teams in the Heineken Champions Cup, losing eight, but one of those wins came against Ulster, 10-9 in December 2012. They have lost their last three trips to Ireland, though, by an average margin of 31 points.
• Northampton (2/2) and Ulster (7/7) were two of seven teams to record a 100% goalkicking success rate in the opening round of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup; overall, only Racing 92 (8) made more successful placekicks than the Irish province.
• Ulster’s James Hume topped the charts for the most offloads in the opening round of the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup with four, while only Antoine Dupont (11) beat more defenders than the 23-year-old centre (8).
Friday's game will be Ulster Rugby's annual Christmas fixture, with plenty of festive-themed fun for all the family from gates open at 6.00pm.
• At the turnstiles, supporters can pick up their free Ulster Rugby flags and the early arrivers can also claim a free junior supporter goodie bag.
• A new stretch tent will be situated in the Fan Zone, where supporters can make use of the Express Bar and enjoy a covered, well ventilated space.
• The Cool FM Crew will provide the Christmas soudtrack for the Fan Zone as supporters warm up for the game.
• Local singer, Stevie Cummings will be providing the live entertainment in the Clubhouse Bar.
• In the Heineken Quarter Bar, Cool FM's Pete Snodden will be hosting a live Q&A with Ulster legend Stephen Ferris at 7.00pm.
• Heineken will also be giving away bottles of alcohol-free Heineken 0.0, so keep an eye out for their promo team.
• Santa himself will be out and about in the Fan Zone handing out goodies and posing for selfies with Sparky and supporters.
• Bangor RFC's topless carol singers will be braving the cold, performing to raise funds for Ulster Rugby's official charity partner Extern’s Safe Haven Christmas Appeal.
• At half-time, the recently retired Louis Ludik will make his return to Kingspan Stadium to get a proper send-off from the Ulster supporters. Pete Snodden will interview Louis on the pitch during the interval.
• Louis will then assist Sparky and Abbey in throwing signed rugby balls into the Abbey Autoline Family Stand, so get ready to catch and see which player has signed yours!
• Also at half-time, the mini rugby players from Holywood, Ballynahinch, Civil Service and Academy will take part in an exhibition game.
First and foremost, please do not travel to Kingspan Stadium if you are feeling unwell or displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
We would also encourage all supporters to take a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test before leaving home.
We would also like to remind supporters that the NI Executive recently approved the introduction of COVID certification, which is now legally enforceable. It is therefore the responsibility of all ticket holders aged 18 or over to be prepared to demonstrate their COVID status before admission to Kingspan Stadium.
A free Park & Ride bus will operate continually from Pirrie Park (alight at Onslow Parade) and Montgomery Road (alight at Mount Merrion Avenue). Park & Ride buses will start at 6.00pm and will return from the same locations after final whistle.
Free City Centre shuttle buses will also be in operation, both before and after the game. The free bus will depart outside SS Moore's, Chichester St at 7.00pm and 7.15pm, and will return from Mount Merrion Avenue post-match and up to one hour after full-time.
Translink will be operating Rugby Special buses, traveling to and from the Europa Buscentre. For more information, visit translink.co.uk/ulsterrugby.
Turnstiles will be open from 6.00pm. To ensure the free flow of supporters, please note the following entry and exit points:
• Mount Merrion Ave Turnstiles: Supporters with tickets in Premium, East Terrace, Memorial Stand and Memorial Terrace.
• Onslow Parade Turnstiles: Supporters with tickets in Grandstand, The Promenade (West Terrace), AbbeyAutoline Family Stand and Family Terrace.