RUGBY: Ulster to face champions Leinster in Inter-Pro opener

The Ulster Women's squad
The Ulster Women's squad

The Ulster Women’s Team, sponsored by Deloitte, begin their Interprovincial Series campaign at home to Leinster this Sunday 3rd December (kick-off 2pm at Dromore RFC).

The all-new coaching team of Derek Suffern, Davy Chambers and James McBriar have named an experienced side for the opening test against the reigning champions.

Larissa Muldoon, a member of Ireland Women’s Rugby World Cup squad, will captain the side from flyhalf, where she will be partnered at half-back by Kathryn Dane.

Muldoon’s international team-mate Ilse van Staden starts at loosehead prop, and she will be joined in the front row by tighthead Sorcha Mac Laimhin and City of Derry native Beth Cregan, who is the current captain of Cooke Women.

Hanna Beattie, one of five players who have progressed from the Ulster U18 Girls team that won the U18 Interprovincial Series in 2016, is named in the second row along with Rebecca Smyth.

In the back row, last year’s captain Gemma McCutcheon starts at blindside flanker, with Cooke teammates Lesley Megarity and Lauren Magennis at openside and number 8 respectively.

Irish international Nicole Caughey will wear the number 12 jersey, and she will be joined in midfield by Brittany Hogan, who will be fresh off the plane from representing the Ireland Women's Development 7s at the Dubai Invitational.

In the back three, former Irish winger Eliza Downey starts on the left, with Emma Jordan on the right and Victoria Irwin at fullback.

Malone's Neve Jones, captain of the all-conquering U18 Girls from 2016, is set to make her senior debut from the bench, as are Helen McGhee and Amanda Maginn. Aishling O’Connell and Storm Cobain are the other backup forwards.

Amy Graham, another former Irish international, Peita McAlister and Teah Maguire will provide the additional backline options for the Ulster Women.

Ulster team Manager and former Irish international Gillian McAlister, said: “The new squad of players and management team have been working hard over the last few months in preparation for playing Leinster on Sunday. The group have made steady improvements on the training pitch and are ready and excited about the challenge ahead. With two home matches in this series, the players are fully focused on doing their jobs efficiently, and that starts this weekend at Dromore.”

Ulster Women’s Rugby team to play Leinster, Sunday 3rd December at Dromore RFC, kick-off 2.00pm:

(1-8): Ilse van Staden, Beth Cregan, Sorcha Mac Laimhin, Hannah Beattie, Rebecca Smyth, Gemma McCutcheon, Lesley Megarity, Lauren Magennis;

(9-15): Kathryn Dane, Larissa Muldoon (C), Eliza Downey, Nicole Caughey, Brittany Hogan, Emma Jordan, Victoria Irwin.

Replacements (16-23): Aishling O’Connell, Neve Jones, Helen McGhee, Amanda Maginn, Storm Cobain, Amy Graham, Peita McAlister, Teah Maguire.