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.
The IRFU (Ulster Branch) teamed up with the Donnelly Motor Group to launch the, ‘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, listed below:
(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.
Over 3,483 tickets were sold by the participating clubs, raising £34,830 to date for grassroots rugby.
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.”
‘YOUR CLUB, YOUR COUNTRY’ PRIZE WINNERS –
A brand new car from Donnelly Group, the largest independent car retailer in Northern Ireland – Linda Smith
A VIP package for 2 persons including flights, accommodation and match tickets for the Italy v Ireland 2013 RBS 6 Nations match at the Olympic Stadium, Rome – Valerie Stewart
A VIP package for 2 persons including flights, accommodation and match tickets for the Scotland v Ireland 2013 RBS 6 Nations match at Murrayfield, Edinburgh – Francis Grimley
A VIP package for 2 persons including flights, accommodation and match tickets for the Wales v Ireland 2013 RBS 6 Nations match at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff – Patricia Carlile
A VIP package for 2 persons including pre-match lunch, post-match reception and match tickets at the Ireland v England 2013 RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium – Jonathan Millar
A VIP package for 2 persons including pre-match lunch, post-match reception and match tickets at the Ireland v France 2013 RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium – Rory Winters
A corporate box for 14 people at Ravenhill for the Ulster v Zebre match (food and beverages not included) – Jim Gould
An Ulster Rugby home shirt signed by the current squad (7 separate prizes) – Paddy Bell, Steven McCulloch, Paul Montgomery, Paul Megoran, Steven Swann, Rosey Bell and Charlie Preece
Premium Lounge tickets for 2 persons for Ulster v Treviso at Ravenhill (6 separate prizes) – Andrew Steele, Philip Hill, Hannah Shields, Colin Gibson, Craig Gibson and Helena Best
– Please note this was a separate version of ‘Your Club Your Country’ for IRFU affiliated clubs in Northern Ireland