The IRFU are underway with negotiation of player contracts who are set to expire at the end of this season.
Ulster got their most important renewal confirmed early; Dan McFarland signed a two year contract extension last week which will be a massive boost to the club after it being announced that Dwayne Peel will return to Wales while Marcell Coetzee will sign for the Bulls at the end of the season.
It is believed that 100 players are out of contract in the summer including senior players and academy players across all four provinces. Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy are big names with months to run on their current deals, I’ve compiled a list of the senior Ulster players and when their contracts expire.
There’s quite a few players that I couldn’t find any information on Google about so I have included the last time Ulster released news that they had signed contracts.
Matt Faddes, Angus Curtis, Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, Luke Marshall, Rob Herring, Kieran Treadwell, Ian Madigan, Alby Mathewson, John Andrew, Louis Ludik, Andrew Warwick, Sam Carter
Billy Burns, John Cooney, Tom O’Toole, Stuart McCloskey, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy
Will Addison, Jordi Murphy, Rob Lyttle, Stewart Moore, Jacob Stockdale
Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Bill Johnston, Greg Jones, Ross Kane, Michael Lowry, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, David O’Connor, Alan O’Connor, Eric O’Sullivan, Nick Timoney, Gareth Milasinovich, Marcus Rea
Sam Carter’s contract was described as ‘multi year’ when he signed for the start of 2019-20, so I’m guessing that it was a three year deal, expiring at the end of 2022.
Alan O’Connor, Ross Kane and Dave Shanahan all signed undisclosed extensions in February 2019 while Eric O’Sullivan and Michael Lowry signed senior contracts in the same month. Nick Timoney signed a senior contract in February 2018.
Robert Baloucoune, James Hume and Marcus Rea signed development deals in June 2019.
IRFU High Performance Director David Nucifora announced at the end of November that contract renewals would be put on hold until the new year due to the pandemic. Their is an agreement with Rugby Players’ Ireland, to a 10% pay cut while their is another 10% deferral for the second half of this season.
Back in September, chief executive Philip Browne told BBC that Ulster [and Munster] were particularly affected with “Ulster’s season of turmoil [2017-18] leaving the province less equipped for the current crisis”.
A month later IRFU’s accounts were released in the 2019-20 Annual Report and made for alarming reading with the union reporting a €35.7m deficit. A government bail out of £16.2m eased the worries slightly and this was received at the start of November.
All signs pointed towards a high profile exit or two. We already know that we’re losing Marcell Coetzee a season early and his salary, as well as the contract buyout fee, will hopefully help keep a few more of our top players at Ravenhill a bit longer.
Acquiring a player that is of the same quality to replace Marcell could be wishful thinking in the current climate, however there is a certain 6’6″ Springbok World Cup winner that is expected to be leaving the Stormers in the summer.