As Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland knows a thing or two about building a community and how important it is to have strong connections on and off the pitch. We spoke to him to get his opinion on community and what it means to the team ahead of the next home game vs Cheetahs on the 22nd February.
"It’s great to be a part of any kind of team working towards a common goal. With Ulster, I love it because we have such a wider community of people invested in that goal, and that makes it all the more special. When you and others feel like you belong to something, that’s great. We have an objective, we all understand what that is, we know where we want to go and when people are aligned to that vision, being part of a team is a really enjoyable experience."
"Community is about having each other’s back. When you have a group of people together who believe they’re part of one community, then they look after each other. We want people to be a part of this, we want people to enjoy being a part of Ulster Rugby. Even if you think of it in terms of the relationship between the supporters and players - they look after us by coming and supporting us; we look after them by putting everything out on the field. That’s a reciprocal care agreement, and that is what communities are about."
"Part of our responsibility is selling what we believe in and trying to encourage people to be a part of Ulster Rugby. The way you do that is by encouraging and showing them what you’re doing and helping that develop and grow in the community. Things don’t necessarily just grow on their own and at Ulster Rugby we have a huge Rugby Development staff who work tirelessly on that. They really enjoy their jobs and it’s inspiring because if you go out to schools and clubs and see young boys and girls enjoying the game who have never played it before and getting a real taste for it.
I received a letter recently from somebody who actually said that. They went to the trouble of thanking Ulster Rugby for what we’re doing on the pitch, thanking Jacob Stockdale for being his hero but also thanking one of our Rugby Development coaches who had been to his school and encouraged him to play the game. So, to get a hand-written letter from this young guy was great."
"You can’t do without technology now, and our jobs have become a lot more efficient thanks to it. Whether it's the computer software packages we use or our communication practices across the organisation – we have a reasonably complex set of communication processes that make life easier – the dissipation of information to the groups that we need, whether that is via video, text messages or as simple as calling people, those lines of communication are absolutely essential to the running of the team."