On Saturday, August 19th, an Ulster Select XV will welcome Midwest Thunderbirds to Gibson Park for a match as part of the USA sides tour of Ireland. Kick off 14:30.

Midwest Thunderbirds consists of girls from nine unions across the USA including Chicago, Allegheny, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Two teams were selected from trials to travel on tour to Ireland with the girls departing for Dublin on 3rd August

Two Thunderbirds’ teams were entered in the Donnybrook 10s competition which took place on Saturday 12th August and they are also set to lock horns with Dublin side, Railway Union on Wednesday, August 16th. The short journey up north beckons, before facing an Ulster Women side on Saturday.

Enjoying the finest Irish hospitality, the girls had time to socialise at a Women’s World Cup Evening hosted by Railway Union Sports’ Club, whose side the girls will play on Wednesday.

The FRU were at the event and we caught up with Megan Salyars, captain of the Thunderbirds who told our reporter;

 Our team played at a different level compared to my university. It’s great to see players come together with a great knowledge and love of the game.

A Thunderbirds’ veteran, Salyars has lined up on the same team as USA star Alycia Washington whom she witnessed appear for the national side in Sunday’s 43-0 demolition of Spain at the UCD Bowl in Dublin.

Washington joins a lengthy list of players to have progressed to international level from the Midwest Thunderbirds with other notable names including Sylvia Braaten and Jecie Vonada.

For openside flanker, Mary Kate McNulty, the tour has been all about learning how to gel together as a team and believes that the team has the potential to be very good:

Everyone needs to be themselves, play to their strengths and to the way that they have been coached.

The girls are extremely excited to be visiting Dublin and Belfast during the Women’s Rugby World Cup and we wish them a safe and successful tour as well as a competitive game against Ulster.

The match gives the new Ulster coaching team an early chance to assess their squad ahead of this seasons inter-provincials, which are due to take place art the start of December. The provisional select squad is as follows.

Ulster Select XV (Provisional): Ilse van Staden, Neve Jones, Shauna Martin, Beth Cregan, Sorcha Mac Laihmin, Hannah Beattie, Storm Cobain, Lesley Megarity, Naomi McCullagh, Aishling O’Connell, Gemma McCutcheon, Lauren Magennis, Kathryn Dane, Vicky Irwin, Amy Graham (Davis), Leah McGoldrick, Jemma Jackson, Nicole Jones, Jasmine Ward, Brittany Hogan, Peita McAlister, Emma Jordan, Claire Johnston.

Pictures of the Midwest Thunderbirds at Railway Union below: