James Hume defends Ulster players against ‘keyboard warriors’

Pacemaker Press 26-02-2024:  
Ulster Rugby’s Centre James Hume pictured during a press preview of the upcoming BKT United Rugby Championship Origins Round 11 fixture against Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
Ulster centre James Hume pictured during a press ahead of the upcoming BKT United Rugby Championship fixture against Dragons at Kingspan Stadium Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
BKT United Rugby Championship: Ulster v Dragons (Saturday, 7.35pm, live on ViaPlay Sports 1)

Centre James Hume has launched a fierce defence of his Ulster teammates following the departure of head coach Dan McFarland last week.

The end came for McFarland after just three wins in the province’s last nine games, which included shipping over 40 points against both Toulouse and Harlequins in Europe meaning Ulster excited the Champions Cup and dropped into the Challenge Cup for the only the second time in 29 years.

McFarland’s last game was a defeat against the Ospreys which leaves Ulster sitting in eighth place on the United Rugby Championship, fighting to make the play-offs after finishing runners up to Leinster in the regular season last year.

The abject performances in the last three defeats have had supporters questioning the players’ ability and mentality, but Hume, capped three times by Ireland and handed the captain’s armband for Saturday night’s clash with the Dragons, refutes the allegations.

“You never question the player group,” said Hume.

“That is one think that really pisses me off when I see it online is when people go ‘the player group don’t care’, because you see the work we put in day in and day out and if you came in you wouldn’t be saying that.

“It is just keyboard warriors and that is the kind of stuff you just have got to ignore and the type of stuff you have got to put aside and move on for the rest of the season.

“I think the players have to do what they can and just got on with it, they have accepted it is difficult circumstances and it is not something that usually happens.”

“I think at this point of the season you just got to get on with it, regroup and just look forward to the remaining fixtures and try to get ourselves into a good position to win some silverware.”

“It has been frustrating; we have been under performing it is as simple as that, but the exciting thing is we know the level we can play at.

“The Racing game we were tearing a Top 14 side to shreds, but we just have to have the consistency in performances, and it is exciting hoping to fulfil that.”

Hume is confident Ulster can turn their season round during the run in.

“Sometimes you just don’t click, and I think that everyone has a part to play in that, it is difficult but it is exciting because you know it is going to click at some point and it is probably only going to get better.”

James Hume
Ulster's James Hume has said criticism of the players has been unfair in the wake of the departure of Dan McFarland

The centre wasn’t surprised that McFarland was shown the exit door but by the timing of the decision to replace the head coach.

“It is ultimately tough having to take the hit, we just haven’t been clicking and haven’t been playing well but things naturally come to an end so that is the decision they make, and we just move on and regroup and move forward.”

“There is obviously the humane side that a man has lost his job overnight which is extremely unfortunate but it is not something that you can necessarily dwell on because we have games to play.”

“It was surprising because it usually doesn’t happen mid-season, if anything is going to happen it will happen at the end of the season.”

“The players take responsibility for it as well because we haven’t been playing well.”

Hume’s old school rugby coach Dan Soper will be in charge tonight.

“He’s been valuable, and it is a good thing that he has never changed any role he has been in, skills coach, attack coach as this interim head coach he is just the same person and I think that is where he gains a lot of respect from the players.”