Northern Ireland

Ulster Rugby goes classical ahead of Heineken Cup tie

With rugby fever running high across Ireland, Ulster Rugby have launched a rallying cry with an online video that sees the Ulster Orchestra give the club's most famous chant a classical spin.

Last weekend all eyes were on Ireland's match with Italy and Brian O'Driscoll's final home international appearance.

But on Sunday evening, Ulster released a video that sees Stand Up For The Ulstermen given the full orchestra treatment, as part of the club's '#showURsupport' social media campaign.

The video is the latest round in the social media battle with London club Saracens ahead of their meeting in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at Ravenhill on 5 April.

A fortnight ago, Saracens posted their own YouTube video encouraging fans to Make Ravenhill Home in the upcoming fixture.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Ulster and Saracens are already battling on social media ahead of 5 April's Heineken Cup quarter-final at Ravenhill.

In Ulster's effort, footage of the orchestra, playing in the Ulster Hall, is interspersed with scenes of people from across the nine counties singing their support, including The Voice star Andrea Begley.

The clip ends with Irish rugby legend Willie John McBride warning Saracens they'll be playing "the whole province of Ulster" when they come to Ravenhill next month.

Having also met in the quarter-finals of last year's competition, Ulster Rugby said these videos were the latest evidence of the two clubs' friendly rivalry.

"When we travelled to play Saracens last year, we launched a campaign to Make Twickenham Home," said Neil Brittain, communications manager at Ulster Rugby. "I think Saracens were responding to that with their own version this year.

Anthemic

"We wanted to do a video that really represented the whole province of Ulster and all nine counties. That's why we have shots from Malin Head to South Down.

"It's important to convey the excitement and pride of being an Ulster rugby follower across to the world. And, of course, get people behind the team for April's match."

The process required Belfast-based orchestrator Paul Campbell to create a bespoke arrangement of the tune, which is best known as Go West by The Village People.

Neil added: "We contacted the Ulster Orchestra five weeks ago about doing it. I thought they could just dash out the tune during a rehearsal because it's fairly simple. But an orchestra needs a proper arrangement. I was amazed by how complex the song now sounds. Paul and the orchestra have really taken it and turned it into something grand and anthemic."

Veronica Morris, head of external relations with the Ulster Orchestra, said they are delighted to be a part of it.

"We were contacted by Ulster about doing a video which would rally blow Saracens out of the water," she said.

"No one was obliged to be a part of it but, once the orchestra heard about it, everyone was beating down my door to get involved," she said. "Pretty much all our members turned up to do it and those who couldn't be there on the day were very disappointed.

On top

"The project came together very quickly. It was fortunate because our principal conductor JoAnn Faletta happened to be in town so was able to be a part of it. Paul did a great job with the score and it was a fantastic day.

"It's a bit corny but also a really nice version. For the orchestra, it was great to do something a bit different and change the perception of what an orchestra is about."

And what are the chances of the Ulster Orchestra making it to Ravenhill on match day to lead the crowd in some epic SUFTUM chants?

Veronica said the orchestra's members were "well up for it" while Neil said Ulster Rugby were happy to look at any possibilities of increasing the musical quality of Ravenhill's chanting.

Meanwhile in the pre-match social media battle, Ulster appear to have come out no top having garnered over 8,000 views in just one day compared to less than 1,500 in two weeks for Saracens effort.

However Ulster still have someway to go to overcome the latest rugby based viral video sensation - a thank you video to Brian O'Driscoll from young patients at Dublin's Temple Street Children's Hospital that has racked up almost 85,000 views since going online last Friday.

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