Johan Muller on Ulster’s prospects in the Heineken Cup

first_imgWould you like to sign up to Rugby World’s excellent weekly email newsletter? Click here. JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 12: Heinrich Brussouw and Johan Muller during the Springboks training and media conference at Hyde Park High School on July 12, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.(Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images) Find a newsagent that sells Rugby World in the UK. Or you may prefer the digital edition on your MAC, PC, or iPad. Muller is excited about Ulster’s Heineken double header against Aironi on 9 and 17 December, and the games which 2012 will bring, believing his team can build on last season’s success.“Playing in a quarter- or semi-final and getting out of your Heineken Cup pool for the first time in 12 years gives you that bit of experience, so if you get to that stage again you know what it takes to win,” he says. “The composure is there and the hunger to do well again this year. If we want to get out of our pool, these games against Aironi are two we have to win. We have everything to play for. We’re excited.”This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine. Springbok boy – Johan Muller (Inpho)Steady upward curve is often the best route to take to success and in each of the past four seasons Ulster have improved one step on their previous year’s Heineken Cup campaign. In 2007-08 they were fourth in their pool, then third in 2008-09, second in 2009-10 and last season they lost to Northampton in the quarter-finals. So, the 1999 champions look set to reach the semi-finals this year, and could do even better.With a growing number of star turns on their team-sheet, a steady stream of young talent emerging to boost their strength in depth and a home ground which visiting teams find it tough to win at, Ulster have what it takes to win the Heineken Cup in May.They got their campaign off to a super start with a 16-11 home win against Clermont Auvergne, but lost 20-9 at Leicester a week later. “Those two have been among the best sides in Europe over the last ten years, so we know it’s going to be unbelievably tough to get out of our pool,” says Ulster captain Johann Muller. “But these are the teams we want to play and beat so we can develop.”Ulster excelled on two fronts last season, also reaching the semi-finals of the Magners League, so when Muller was handed the captaincy last summer he knew he had a tough act to follow. “Last year no one gave us a chance to do as well as we did. This year people are watching for us a bit more,” he says. “It’s tough for a club like ourselves, that isn’t one of the big clubs in Europe, to back up a big year with another big year. But we said as a team and a management we want to get better every single year. If we want to do that there are some big games in December that we have to win, but we like to put that bit of pressure on ourselves.”The Springbok lock is by no means the only star name at Ulster – in fact the list is growing, with All Black prop John Afoa among those arriving this year. He joins Ireland stars like Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble, former skipper Rory Best and Paddy Wallace, plus Scotland’s Simon Danielli. “There are plenty of great guys,” Muller says. “Rory Best has been outstanding for us, not just during his captaincy but in the way he’s played and grown as a player over the last few months.He was outstanding at the World Cup and he has brought that form back to Ulster. Ferris, Trimble, (Ian) Humphreys and Wallace all have that bit of aura about them. When they play well they seem to pull everyone with them.”Ulster started the season without their eight World Cup players, and were also without last season’s Magners League Player of the Year Ruan Pienaar for much of the autumn due to a hamstring injury. However, Paul Marshall deputised superbly at scrum-half, underlining their growing strength in depth.Youngsters are emerging to challenge for first-team places – players like wing Craig Gilroy, who burst onto the scene last season with eight tries in 14 appearances and has been at it again this year. “Craig has been outstanding and Nevin Spence has been brilliant this year, while Paddy McAllister is a really good young prop who, if he can stay injury-free, will play for Ireland very, very soon,” says Muller. “Those are just three of the guys pushing for starting spots.”While Muller was with South Africa at the World Cup, he kept a close eye on Ulster’s form and was delighted to see them start the season with three RaboDirect Pro12 wins, but less thrilled with the four defeats that followed, including a shocking 23-12 loss to Benetton Treviso at Ravenhill. “That was really upsetting,” Muller says. “Home games are non-negotiable wins, in any competition.”Johan Muller and Heinrich Brussow during training for the World CupThe Belfast ground has been a proper fortress for Ulster in the Heineken Cup, as they haven’t lost a European game there since Stade Français beat them on 11 October 2008. “At Ravenhill we know the conditions and it can be windy and rainy and we use that well,” explains Muller. “It’s a special place for us to play. The crowd comes in early and you feel the vibe when you arrive an hour and a half before the game. The crowds are outstanding and we love playing there and other teams seem not to really enjoy it.” LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS For Back Issues Contact John Denton Services at 01733-385-170 visitlast_img read more

Boston approves Harvard’s Life Lab

first_imgThe Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) gave final approval Thursday to Harvard University’s Life Lab in Allston.The Harvard Life Lab, which is scheduled to open this fall, will offer shared laboratory space for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups established by Harvard faculty, alumni, students, and postdoctoral scholars. It will also provide learning and career development opportunities to Harvard students; equip scientific startups with the lab resources and programming needed to grow and scale life-science ventures; and, through collaboration, generate insights and expertise to support Harvard’s ongoing efforts to build a successful life-science environment. Together with the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab) and Launch Lab, the Life Lab will foster the cross-disciplinary approach to entrepreneurship that will enable deeper impact and outcomes.“We are very excited to have received the approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to begin construction on the Harvard Life Lab,” said Jodi Goldstein, the Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Managing Director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “This project is a pivotal step in making Allston one of the most robust startup communities in the region.”The 15,000-square-foot facility will have fully equipped and permitted laboratory and office space for early stage companies, and will be located on Harvard’s Allston campus, adjacent to the i-lab and Launch Lab. One of the Life Lab’s goals is to contribute to building a thriving startup community in Allston by seeding the campus with early stage scientific ventures.Since it was opened in 2011 by President Drew Faust and Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, the i-lab has attracted students and faculty from across the University, some of whom want to pursue research in the life sciences that sometimes requires wet-lab facilities. Wet labs are equipped to provide direct ventilation for isolated testing of certain materials.“The Harvard Life Lab gives Harvard students and other members of the University an opportunity to participate in biotech and other life-sciences ventures as part of the expanding Allston campus that already houses the i-lab and the alumni-focused Harvard Launch Lab. It will provide an experiential, educational environment in which students and faculty can put classroom ideas directly into practice,” Goldstein said. “We are looking forward to being able to provide a home for Harvard life-sciences startups when the Life Lab opens its doors this fall.”The Life Lab facility has been designed to allow for the potential relocation of the space in a five- to 10-year time frame.Thursday’s approval of the Life Lab comes at an exciting time amid Harvard’s ongoing campus development in Allston, and further highlights the University’s strong partnership with the community, according to Kevin Casey, associate vice president of Harvard Public Affairs and Communications.“The Harvard Life Lab will continue to build Allston’s growing reputation as a hub of entrepreneurship, and will contribute to the local community through impactful partnerships with Boston Public Schools and the Harvard Ed Portal,” said Casey.In consultation with the community and the city, Harvard is creatively implementing programs and physical improvements across Allston-Brighton, and is committed to continuing to bring the University’s greatest strengths — teaching and research — directly to the community, he added.The Life Lab has pledged to provide a one-time grant totaling more than $60,000 to fully fund the purchase of Chromebook laptops, providing every Allston-Brighton public school student access. It also plans to sponsor science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workshops for local residents, and participate in a speaker series at the i-lab on topics relevant to the intersection of entrepreneurship and life sciences. Together with the i-lab and Launch Lab, the Life Lab will also host an annual free event for the entire community beginning this fall.Because the University is dedicated to fostering a collaborative environment for research, innovation, and economic development, the Life Lab will benefit from its proximity to not only the i-lab and Launch Lab, but also to Harvard Business School and the planned Science and Engineering Complex, which will be the new location of the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.last_img read more