Ulster’s Irish international Stephen Ferris revealed he ‘felt numerous fingers in my eye’ in an ill-tempered incident in the closing stages of the ten points victory and has called on disciplinary officials to take action.
“I was furious,” said Ferris, who had his headgear ripped off during the incident and had red gashes around his eyes at the post-match press conference.
“When I was on the ground I felt numerous fingers in my eye. There was argy-bargy throughout the game, and I don’t mind that, rugby is a physical game. I would hate to get anyone cited and if someone hit me a dig in the jaw I would take it and get on with the game, but not when someone goes for your eyes.
“I will just let the citing commissioner sort it out. There was no apology afterwards.
“All Julien Dupuy said to me on the pitch was ‘I did not do anything, nothing happened’ and I just walked off.”
Stade, unbeaten before their trip to Belfast, attempted to outmuscle their hosts, who struggled in the scrum without BJ Botha. However, the northern province made light of that loss with their inventiveness producing two cracking tries while man-of-the-match Ian Humphreys chipped in with 13 points after an assured kicking performance.
Ferris epitomised the never-say-die attitude of the men in white with some incredible tackling and driving and was at the forefront of all things positive for Ulster.
His blistering break down the touchline in the 48th minute allowed Simon Danielli to sprint home after Humphreys had opening up from his own ‘22’.
That pushed Ulster into a 23-6 lead after hooker Nigel Brady helped the hosts to a 10-6 interval lead following great inter-play from Danielli and Humphreys, who finished with two conversions and three penalties.
French fly-half Lionel Beauxis’s only contribution to the game was a couple of penalties before he was called ashore. His replacement, Noel Oelsching, had Stade finally playing a bit of rugby and it was his foresight that saw Julien Arias grab a late consolation score for Stade.
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin, though happy with the performance, insisted the job was not complete.
“We not only got the result we wanted, but also the result we deserved. The first half in particular was just exactly the way we wanted to play the game.
“Our intensity was superb with some real Ulster fire and spirit. But we did drop off midway through the second half which allowed them into the game. We let them come back at us and our discipline slipped a little and when they put the foot on the gas we gave away some silly penalties.
“Then they showed what a good team they can be with a great try. But we hung there and never gave up even though we were tiring near the end. It will certainly be interesting next week as there has never been a game in Brussels before and there could be as many Ulster support as French. We may need them,” said McLaughlin.
“We can expect a massive backlash as this result has thrown the group completely open.”
He reserved special words for Ferris noting: “He gave us great energy, he’s always a man you would want on the pitch with you. But every one of those Ulster players was exceptional.
However, Stade’s England back-row forward James Haskell believes they can still turn things over.
“It’s not panic stations, we can refocus and go again. It doesn’t matter where we play, we just have to turn up in Brussels and come out with all guns blazing. It wasn’t a good performance but we have the ability to turn things round.”
Ulster scorers: Tries: Brady, Danielli; Cons: Humphreys 2; Pens: Humphreys 3
Stade Francais scorers: Tries: Aries; Cons: Oelschig; Pens: Beauxis 2.
ULSTER: C Schifcofske; A Trimble, D Cave, I Whitten, S Danielli; I Humphreys, I Boss; T Court, N Brady, D Fitzpatrick, D Tuohy, E O’Donoghue, S Ferris, D Pollock, C Henry, capt.
Replacements: A Kyriacou for Brady (69), B Young for Fitzpatrick (63), J Fitzpatrick for Ferris (76), R Caldwell, W Faloon for Pollock (63), N O’Connor for Humphreys (72), J Smith for Cave (73).
Yellow card: Young.
STADE FRANCAIS: H Southwell; M Glasnier, M Bastaraud, G Messina, O Phillips; L Beauxis, J Dupuy, R Roncero, capt, B Kayser, S Marconnet, A Marchois, P Papem J Haskell, A Burban, P Ranadan.
Replacements: D Szarzewski for Kayser (48), D Attoub for Marconneet (48), R Sliman for Bergamasco (76), P Vigouroux for Pape (71), M Bergamasco for Burban (40), N Oelschig for Beauxis (45), G Bousses for Messsina (52), J Arias for Southwell (63).
Yellow cards: Dupuy, Attoub.
Refereee: Dave Pearson (IRFU).