Jacob Stockdale equals Tommy Bowe record that once looked untouchable
Under the IRFU's current Player Welfare Scheme, we never thought we would see a player scoring so freely for province and country again.
Ulster ended a woeful, drama-filled season with the best possible result as they secured Champions Cup rugby for next season.
Ospreys started well against a severely injury-hit Ulster but could not maintain their early pace and power. Craig Gilroy ran in two first half tries for the hosts, at Kingspan Stadium, and Kieran Treadwell's score after the break put them comfortably clear heading into the final quarter.
The nail was driven into the Ospreys coffin on 73 minutes when, for the umpteenth time this season, Jacob Stockdale scored an intercept try.
An interception and a clear run for @JacobStockdale probably secures @ChampionsCup rugby for ⚪️ @UlsterRugby next season 👏
📺 Watch it live on @S4C and @BBCSPORTNI.#ULSvOSP #GUINNESSPRO14
🎫 Secure your Final 2018 ticket today! https://t.co/p0pPamG78L pic.twitter.com/DFTLlFJLtJ
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) May 20, 2018
Stockdale's try was his 10th of the season for Ulster in his 19th game for the province. He had two try assists against Edinburgh in his previous outings and another from earlier in the season. That is an impressive return for a young player that was lost to his province for the November internationals and Six Nations.
Added to that total are Stockdale's 10 Ireland tries in just seven outings this season. That makes for 20 tries, all told, so far this season. It equals an excellent Tommy Bowe tally from almost a decade ago.
In the professional era, Stockdale's return has comfortably surpassed the likes of Simon Zebo, Luke Fitzgerald, Craig Gilroy, Keith Earls and Geordan Murphy. The best ever return for an Irish player was achieved by Stockdale's Ulster teammate Bowe in 2009/10.
Playing for Ospreys, Bowe scored 15 in 23 appearances. Added to that were 5 tries scored for Ireland [Australia, Scotland, England x 2 and New Zealand] in nine Test appearances.
Bowe held the record, then, of 20 tries scored for province/club and country in a season but Stockdale's score against Ospreys saw him draw level.
Joe Schmidt is likely to select him for Ireland's end of season tour to Australia, too, and the winger could feature in all three Test matches.
Having already broken the Six Nations try-scoring record and won player of that tournament, Stockdale could add yet another remarkable, outright accolade to one hell of a season.
*Updated from story first published on April 14, 2018