Ulster will host the first professional rugby match with a crowd in Ireland since March, with 600 fans able to attend the first match of the Pro14 season at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.
As part of a trial, 600 spectators will be seated throughout the 18,211-seater stadium in Belfast, following a comprehensive consultation process with local government, Belfast City Council and the IRFU. Adding in coaches, players, media and staff members, Ulster expect around 850 people in total to be present on Friday night as they kick off their season against Italian side Benetton.
Restrictions in Northern Ireland differ to those in England, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that sports venues might not welcome spectators back until March next year.
All 600 tickets for Friday night's meeting will only be made available to #TogetherUlster members, via an online ballot process. Three hundred members will be randomly selected and granted the opportunity to purchase two tickets each.
Commenting on the announcement, Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:
“Following a number of very challenging months for us all, I’m encouraged that this weekend will mark the measured return of a limited number of spectators to Kingspan Stadium.
“It seems only fitting that the fans who chose to support us by buying a membership, during what is likely to be one of the most difficult times we will face as a club, will be able to join us in the stands as we kick-off the new Guinness PRO14 season at home.
“This event is the culmination of a considerable amount of planning and preparation from across Ulster Rugby – together with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and local government – to ensure this is a safe and managed return to the Friday night lights.
“We hope the upcoming match will be the solid foundation on which we can continue to build towards once again being able to all stand up together.”