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The Ulster Branch of the IRFU was founded in 1879. Since then, Ulster has been arguably the most successful of the four Irish provinces (the others are Connacht, Leinster and Munster) having won the Inter-Provincial Championship a record 26 times as well as being the first Irish side to win the European Cup, which they won in 1999 against French side US Colomiers at Lansdowne Road, Dublin. (now the Aviva stadium)
In the 1998–99 season, Ulster became the first Irish province to win the Heineken Cup. They beat Colomiers in the final at Lansdowne Road (predecessor and still common name for the recently built Aviva Stadium) 21–6. The Ulster squad contained many part-time players two of whom, Andy Matchett and Stephen McKinty, started the final. This Ulster side was coached by Harry Williams and managed by John Kinnear.