Locals in ‘best ever’ Ulster XV

THE Best Ulster XV of the Professional Era, selected by a rugby media panel for the ‘Your Club Your Country’ fundraising initiative, has been revealed, with three locals on the starting line-up.

Simon and Rory Best and Tyrone Howe were named on the fantasy XV alongside other greats like David Humphries, Andy Ward and Simon MASON

The IRFU teamed up with Donnelly Motor Group to launch a ‘Your Club Your Country’ initiative which enabled the 44 registered rugby clubs in Northern Ireland to boost club finances by selling tickets for a competition to name the greatest Ulster team of the professional era.

One lucky winner, Linda Smith from Dollingstown, won the fantastic prize of a brand new car, kindly donated by Donnelly’s, after successfully matching 14 of the 15 players selected. In addition to that top prize, the IRFU put up a long list of amazing rugby packages and tickets, for those with the next closest entries.

The competition was discussed at length at rugby grounds around the Province, as fans tried to match the selection of the rugby writers’ panel.

Best Ulster XV of the Professional Era, as selected by the media panel:

(15-9): Simon Mason, Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Bell, Paddy Wallace, Tyrone Howe, David Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar

(1-8): Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Simon Best, Johann Muller, Jeremy Davidson, Stephen Ferris, Andy Ward, Tony McWhirter.

The media panel also selected 1999 European Cup winning coach Harry Williams as the best coach, with current skipper Johann Muller the pick as best captain.

Speaking at the announcement of the winners at Ravenhill on Tuesday evening, IRFU (Ulster Branch) Domestic Rugby Manager David Boyd said:”At the launch of this competition I stated that this was a unique opportunity for Clubs to raise much needed funds thanks to the generous support of the Donnelly Group and the IRFU who provided the major prizes.

“The outcome has been that the participating Clubs are collectively better off by in access of £34,000 and this amount is anticipated to rise when all club declarations have been received.

“In the current economic climate these funds are greatly appreciated and on behalf of the clubs I thank the Donnelly Group and the IRFU for making this competition possible.”