2018/19 Season Preview By George Millar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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2018 Season Preview By George Millar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome to the 2018/19 season. As you will appreciate communicating with 30 rugby clubs has been quite a challenge. Again thanks to Club Secretaries, Directors of Rugby and Head coaches for helping me to compile this preview for the new season. The club game continues to grow in Ulster and that is down to the efforts of so many volunteers who give of their time both within the Ulster Branch and the Clubs to put in place structures that allow us to enjoy our rugby. Player development is the priority as we look to increase the player base. The Ulster Branch are currently involved in re appointing Club Community Rugby Officers throughout the province. These appointments are crucial to targeting the non playing communities in Ulster. To make this happen the development of coaches is another priority as we equip them with the skills necessary to improve players at all levels. Ensuring we provide rugby opportunities for all players at under 18 level is another area that needs to be addressed. It is the view of many people I have spoken to that under 18 players should not be held back by rules in both Schools and Youth rugby. It is ensuring these young players are allowed to play rugby without any barriers preventing them doing so. As I have said we should have one committee overseeing under 18 rugby in Ulster. Delighted to see the number of Under 20 matches taking place throughout the province. This age bracket is helping to bring back young players who have dropped out of playing rugby and help their transition into Adult Rugby.

Next week we will see the opening matches in the SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership and the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship commence on Saturday 25th August. Details are included in this preview. City of Armagh will be looking to retain the Stevenson Shield for the third season in a row. In the Rugby Championship will it be a case of Instonians and Ballyclare competing for the Div 1 title.

If you are searching for further information on Domestic Club Rugby in Ulster go to the link ‘Rugby in Ulster’ on the Home page of the Ulster Rugby Website. When you open this link you will be able to access fixtures and results. Crawford McConkey from Coleraine RFC runs a WhatsApp results group for Domestic Rugby. If you want your name added to this group please contact Crawford at 07917193682.

By next preview will not be published until the week of the 29th/30th August. If you wish to contact me about any issues to do with the Domestic Rugby you can do so by Mobile 07849071514 or email ga_millar@hotmail.com


Rugby Consultant: Brian McLaughlin

Assistant coaches: Tom Rock and Mark McDowell.

Strength and Conditioning: Glenn Kyle

1st xv Captain: Aaron Cairns

1st xv Manager:

Ulster Players: Peter Nelson, Jonny McPhillips, David Busby, Zac McCall, Jack Regan, Tommy O’Hagan, Tom O’Toole, Aaron Hall, Iwan Hughes. Peter Browne

Players in: Bradley Luney (Carrickfergus), Josh Jordan (Belfast Harlequins).

Former Ulster and Jersey player Ross Adair is expected to join the playing squad this season.

Players out: Zac Ward (Hartpury College/Worcester), Stuart Evans (Queens Uni), Jonny Simpson (Dromore – Dual Status), Will Stewart (Ballyclare), Andy Weir and Peter Weir (Queens Uni), John Dickson (Queens Uni) John Hyndman (Ballymoney). Ross Dunning (Cooke), Devon Wright (Grosvenor).Matthew Nelson (Lisburn)


Director of Rugby: Jamie Smith

Head coach: Andy Graham

Assistant coaches: Alex McCloy, Bryan Young and Rab Gregg.

Strength and Conditioning: Bryan Young

Club Captain: James Taggart

1st xv Managers: Glenn Boyd and Stephen Hanna.

2nd xv Coaching team: Gareth Fisher, John Nicholl and Andy Warwick.

Ulster Players: David Shanahan, Clive Ross, John Andrews, Luke Marshall, Andy Warwick, Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Azur Allison, Robert Balacoune and Bruce Houston. Both Michael Stronge and JJ McKee are training with Ulster Sub Academy.

Players in: Robert Balacoune (Enniskillen). Jack Bolger, Calvin Galbraith and Jack Lewis (UUC). Scott Willoughby (Waimate RFC in NZ), Timothy Small, Griffen Phillipson (Dalriada). Jonny Spence.

Players out: Adam McBurney, Alan O’Connor, Matty Agnew and Ross Kane (Malone). Callum Patterson (Cornish Pirates), Brett Herron (Jersey). Adam Smith and Russell Blair (Ballymoney). Ben O’Ryan (Returned to England), Bryan Young (Retired). Adrian Kirkpatrick (Retired).

Both Jordan Foster and Paddy James remain in Australia. Doubts remain over whether back row Adrian Hamilton will play this season.

It was a nervous finish to last season in the AIL for Ballymena 1st xv. They team won their last three league games to retain their place in Div 1B. With fewer Ulster players being released this season the club is having to redouble its efforts to develop their own players. The last two seasons have witnessed the exodus of a number of key players from the club. The squad have a core of club players who have helped the team to retain their position in Div 1B. They will be looking to players like Dean Reynolds, Michael Stronge, Josh Bill, Azur Allinson, Matthew Norris and Joe Thompson to keep the team moving forward.


Director of Rugby: Andy Duke

Head coach: Simon McKinstry.

Assistant coaches: Daniel Soper, Rob Logan and Simon Best.

Strength and Conditioning: Mike Bentley.

Ian Porter continues to recover from a skiing injury and will assist with coaching the backs. Robin Sinton underwent operations to both shoulders and will help out with 1st xv squad during his rehab.

1st xv Manager: Robbie Ervine.

2nd xv coaches: Colin Bickerstaff and Geoff Dodds.

Timothy Savage who has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury will perform the role of team manager.

Ulster Players: Jonny Stewart, Alex Thompson, Rob Lyttle, Eric O’Sullivan, Caleb Montgomery, James Hume, Michael Lowry and David McCann.

Players out: Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch). Tom Caesar (Portadown), Nick Hayes (Returned New Zealand).

Last season Head coach Daniel Soper was able to integrate the allocated Ulster players into the 1st xv squad after the team had secured promotion to Div 1B. Shannon won the league with Banbridge losing out in the playoff final for a place in Div 1A this season. Can Banbridge go one better this season and make that step up to Div 1A. With Daniel Soper working with Ulster Rugby – Simon McKinstry has taken over as Head coach at Rifle Park.


Director of Rugby: Danny Curran

Head coach: Jason Morgan.

Assistant coaches: Lewis Stevenson and Michael Ferguson.

Strength and Conditioning: Jim Gordon.

1st xv Manager: Paul Andrews.

1st xv Captain: David Bradford

2nd xv coaches: Ricky Armstrong and Ryan Latimer.

2nd xv Captain: Andrew Jackson

1st xv back rower Ryan Latimer was forced to retire due to injury. He is now completing his coaching badges and will join the clubs coaching team.

Players in: Curtis Stewart (Queens Uni), Declan Maguire ( North Queensland),

Players out: Chris Jordan (Malone).

Talking to both Bangor chairman Jonny Watson and Director of Rugby Danny Curran there is a belief that Bangor can challenge for promotion this season. The talent is in the squad with their forward pack one of the strongest in Ulster Rugby. Additions to the squad during the off season will only strengthen that belief. Players including Jack Cooke ( Australia), Lewis Bret (NZ) and Rob Gamble (NZ) have been playing in the Southern hemisphere during the summer months. Unfortunately Rob Gamble fractured his shoulder and will be out for several months. Scrum half Ali Lockhart is waiting on an appointment to have Groin Surgery. Out half Gareth Millar continues his rehab after picking up an ACL injury at Xmas. Former 1st xv Captain Jamie Clegg gets married on the 24th August.


Director of Rugby: Michael Reid

Head coach: Nicky Wells

Assistant coach: Danny Annett

Strength and Conditioning: Andy Willis

1st xv Managers: Neal Wilson and Wayne Storey

1st xv Captain: Danny Annett

Players in: Ben Alexander (Instonians), Conor Young (Trinity)

Players out: Conor McAuley (Queens Uni)

Head coach Nicky Wells believes the playoff win against Omagh will turn the fortunes of the Deramore team. After successive relegations from Div 1B the stability the club was seeking has been achieved. There are good people in the club who are working hard to make the club more appealing and competitive for players. Despite the loss of talented scrum half Conor McAuley to Queens Uni the club have been able to replace him with the experienced Conor Young along with the returning number 8 Ben Alexander. Key for Quins will be the availability of players like Rory Harrison, Jaz Andress and Callum Leckey for the AIL.


Head coach: Willy Faloon.

Assistant coaches: Chris Parker and Ali Birch.

2nd xv coaches: Dave Eakin and Gary Morton.

Strength and Conditioning: Paul Gaffney and Judy Davis.

Players in: Nigel Simpson (Queens Uni), Gerard Treanor (Queens Uni), Peter Lamb (Portadown), Ollie Millar (UUC). John Clarke (Bedford), Ryan O’Neill (RS Armagh).

Players out: Will Holden (Portadown), Paul Alvarez and Misi Bogitini.

What can one say about the progress of this club in the last three seasons. The quiet revolution was started at the Palace grounds by Brian Mclaughlin with Willy Faloon and his coaching team maintaining and furthering the ambitions of this progressive club. Successive promotions in the AIL . Back to back Ulster league titles along with winning the First Trust Senior Cup for the first time last season have the team rightly positioned as the number one club side in Ulster. This has been achieved by the club developing its own club players with no Ulster Allocations. Again with no Ulster players travelling to Armagh this season we will all watch with interest to see how the team competes in Div 1B. Are their lessons for other Ulster clubs to learn from the model used by City of Armagh. Development has been the key to producing future 1st xv players. Back to back Knutty Krust under 18 titles with RSA competing in the Schools Cup Final are further evidence of what can be achieved. This is very much a Community Rugby Club with strong ties to all sections of the Armagh population.


Director of Rugby/Head coach: Paul O’Kane

Assistant coach: Richard McCarter

Skills coach: Ian Orr

Strength and Conditioning: Joe Gallanagh

1st xv Manager: Mike Poole

1st xv Captain: Stephen Corr

1st xv Vice Captains: Adam Bratton and David Graham.

Physio: Neil McCauley

Under 20s Captain: Callum O’Hagan

PRO Mickey O’Kane

Other former players returning to coach at club include Stephen Simms who will take charge of the Under 20s with Stephen Lindsay taking over as Youth Coaching Coordinator. Bob McKillop will be involved with the 2nd xv squad as well as his role in Foyle and Londonderry College. Chris Cooper will assist with the lineout. Gerard Doherty continues as CCRO with his work taking him into non playing rugby schools in the City. Paul O’Kane is employed as Development Officer in the Strabane area.

Players in: Jimmy Hamilton (Strabane), Chrissy Robinson (Strabane), Colin Campbell (Strabane), Phil Duffy (Strabane), Clive Scott (Limavady), James Perry (UUC), Denis Posternik (UUC), Conor O’Hare ( returned to club), Ben Pollin, Cameron Davis and Joel Smith (Foyle and Londonderry College). Conor McMenamin (Letterkenny). Two current Ulster Schools players Keelin Coyle (Foyle and Londonderry College) and David Brown (Coleraine Grammar) will be added to the playing squad.

Director of Rugby Paul O’Kane has been delighted with the progress the club has made at re establishing its playing structures. This has been helped by the return of former players to take up both coaching and administrative roles in the club. It is building a pathway for players from Mini, Youth/Schools into Adult rugby. The return of former 1st xv players Ian Orr, Stephen Lindsay and Stephen Simms to help with coaching in the club is very welcome. Losing players to retirement and work including Bob McKillop, Stephen Ferguson, Chris Cooper, Andrew Semple and David Funston had a big impact on the 1st xv squad. Injury and work denied the club off the availability of the Burns brothers with Tom playing in England, Neil in New Zealand and John forced to retire from rugby due to injury. With Stephen Corr taking on the club captaincy their is a new dynamic within the club that will make the club competitive at all levels. Players such as Ross Harkin, David Ferguson, Ian Bratton, Craig Huey, Adam Bratton, David Graham, Stephen Duffy, Cathal Cregan, Chris Shields and Sam Duffy will add experience and physicality to the forwards. Other players who were introduced to All Ireland League rugby last season including Aaron Derry, Jack Townley, Ryan King – Magee and Barry Laverty will challenge for starting places on the 1st xv. Experienced backs David Graham and Simon Logue will help the talented Derry backline under Richard McCarter to build on the progress of last season. New faces Thomas Cole, Conor Cummings, Patrick Blennerhurst, Jack Beattie, Alex McDonnell, Matthew Orr, Tiernan and Killian Thorton have benefitted from a tough season last year in the All Ireland league. With the additional signings in the off season Paul O’Kane and his coaching team are looking to move Derry forward in the coming seasons. Two seasons ago City of Derry were challenging for promotion to Div 2A when they narrowly missed out. With the new coaching teams in place at Limavady and Coleraine rugby clubs the goal for Derry is to retain their All Ireland status this season.

Paul O’Kane spent many years coaching and playing at Limavady and Strabane and it is no coincidence that he is bringing in experienced coaches like Andy King and Everitt Sherrard who worked with him at Limavady to rebuild City of Derry as a force in Senior rugby. The new Director of rugby is very appreciative of the work being done by Ulster Development coaches Ricky Huey and Shaun Bloomfield who are working tirelessly with the CCRO’s at Strabane, Letterkenny, City of Derry and Limavady to build strong foundations to support club rugby in the North West.


Head coach: Andrew Hughes

Assistant coach: Jonny Patton.

Assistant backs coach: Peter Nelson.

Strength and Conditioning: Dermott Foley.

1st xv Manager: Brian McGowan

2nd xv coaches: Tim Smith and Brian McConnell

Players in: Ross Stewart (Friends School), Ben McCaughey (Friends School), Bradley Mulholland (Friends), Alexander Gormley (Enniskillen), Adam Clarke (Former Dungannon Royal Schoolboy), Ben Semple (Belfast Harlequins), Conor Mills (England), Conor Coyle (Former Ulster Youth Club Player from Dungannon), Guilhem Lopez (France).

Players out: Jonny Black (Queens Uni), Paul Armstrong (Clogher Valley), Chris Swash ( Returned to England), Rodney Bennett (Clogher Valley). Duran Krummick ( Returned to Australia). Ben Matchett (Portadown).

Former player backs coach Seamus Mallon has stepped down from his role as assistant coach due to work and family commitments. His playing availability will be limited this season. Good news for Head coach Andy Hughes is to see 1st xv Captain James McMahon back in training. He is targeting a return by Xmas. Prop Sean O’Hagan is fully fit. Winger Mervyn Brown is also back training. Despite bringing in a new backline last season the team did not bond with no cohesion in the side. The focus for the coaches is bringing in players who will have a long term future at Dungannon. It is developing core players for the squad. Last season the club got it wrong. The coach is confident that the squad will be strong and competitive this season.


Head coach: Patrick Armstrong

Assistant coaches : Josh Pentland and Mark Taylor

Specialist Advisory coaches: Chris Henry and Alan O’Connor

1st xv Managers: Roy Sherman and George Martin

Ulster Players: Alan O’Connor, Ross Kane, Matty Agnew, Adam McBurney, Angus Curtis, Stewart Moore, Graham Curtis, Jack Owens, Joe Dunleavy, Matthew Dalton

Players in: Tom Patton (Returning to Club), Jack Milligan (Queens Uni), Chris Jordan (Bangor), Jonathan Davis (Cork Constitution), Ricky McCullagh (PSNI), Matty Hadden (Carrickfergus) with both Davy McMaster and Scott Finlay returning from the USA.

Players out: Michael Cartmill (Cooke), Jonny Ogilby (Larne)

Three years ago Malone were relegated from Div 1B of the AIL. In stepped Head coach Paddy Armstrong to put in place playing structures to reverse the fortunes of the 1st xv. His efforts and that of his coaching team were rewarded last season when the team secured automatic promotion to Div 1B as league winners. Ulster squad players Matthew Dalton, Joe Dunleavy, Peter Cooper and Jack Owens added strength in depth to the team during the season.

With several Ulster players added to the squad for this season this Malone team will be targeting promotion to Div 1A next season. The teams success has been built on the commitment of a strong core of club players who have bought into the clubs ambition. Player development along with strength in depth continues to be progressed with the second xv under the guidance of Davy Heron retaining the McCrea Cup last season.


Head coach: Phil Marshall

Assistant coaches: Ashley Blair (Backs) and Mark Nicholl (Forwards).

Strength and Conditioning: Ashley Blair

1st xv Manager: Mark Neill

1st xv Captain: Stuart McCain

2nd xv coaching team: James Kane and Glenn Warnock.

Players in: Kaine Holden (Enniskillen), Stuart Ballantine (UUC). Omagh also hoping to secure services of prop Mark Smyth who has been playing for Glasgow Hawks. Also signed Ben Scott from Letterkenny along with his brother Peter.

Players out: James Catterson (Queens Uni), James Longwell (Queens Uni). Simon Patterson (Grosvenor)

Coach Phil Marshall is still awaiting updates on winger Neil Brown who suffers from a long term Groin Injury. Out half Lee Warnock will be out for 12 months following knee surgery as he continues his rehab. Experienced forward Mervyn Edgar has returned to training after picking up an injury at the beginning of last season. Oscar Nelson who was injured in opening Ulster Premiership match last season against Belfast Harlequins is another who has returned to training. The Head coach is working hard within the club to build in a succession planning programme of developing club coaches to ensure continuity from Mini/Youth to Adult within the club.


Head coach: Derek Suffern

Assistant coaches: DJ Creighton and Davy Chambers.

2nd xv coaches: Colin Hamilton and Peter Weir.

Strength and Conditioning coach: Mike McGurn

1st xv Captain: Dave Whitten

1st xv Manager Ian McAvoy will be President at Queens this season.

Players in: James Catterson (Omagh), James Longwell (Omagh), Jonny Black (Dungannon), Ben Finlay (Instonians), Jack Sleator (City of Armagh), John Dickson (Ballynahinch), Pierce McLarnon (Academy), Matthew Millar (Lisburn), Stewart Evans (Ballynahinch), Andrew McGrath (Old Belvedere), Conor McAuley (Belfast Harlequins), Brian Cunningham and Ali Wright returning after a year out, Angus Kernohan (Ballymena), Matthew Kilic (City of Armagh), Andy Weir (Ballynahinch), Michael Orr (Portadown), Matthew Keane (Instonians), Robbie Johnston (Regent House), Ben Power (Campbell College), Jonny Hunter (Wallace HS), Ben Quigg (BHSFP), Steven Reddick (Lisburn).

Players out: Jack Milligan (Malone), Jack Black and Matthew McDowell (Ballyclare), Jonny Stewart (Banbridge), Angus Curtis (Malone), John Creighton (CIYMS), Josh Jordan (Ballynahinch), Nigel Simpson (City of Armagh), Jonny Lees (Limavady), Curtis Stewart (Bangor), Eunan Shaw (RaineyOB), Jonny Harris (Ards), Gerard Treanor (City of Armagh). Experienced second row Marc Campbell heads to Australia in November. Prop Anton Lupari takes up a placement in the USA. Jordan Southway has returned home to Cardiff.

Queens Head coach Derek Suffern will be able to develop his playing squad this season without any Ulster disruptions to his team. The popular Dave Whitten takes over as Captain. They have retained experienced forwards Andrew Clingan , Alexander Clarke, Ali Burke and David Swann who along with Gary Dillon and Nicky Woods were given plenty of 1st xv exposure in their first season along with experienced backs Jonny Milliken, Rory Bell, Fal El Valve, Richie McMaster, Conor McKee, Josh Fullerton, Conor Shiels and Mark Keane adding pace and experience to the backline. Queens have added experience to their pack and are targeting promotion from DIV 2A of the AIL this season.


Head coach: John Andrews

Assistant coaches: Damien Campbell and Peter Boyle.

Strength and Conditioning: Ryan Keatings

Director of Rugby/1st xv Manager: Barney Smyth

1st xv Captain: Paul Pritchard

1st xv Vice Captains: Ronan McCusker and Damien McMurray.

Players in: Connor Fitzsimons (Wellington NZ), George Fritz returns as their overseas player from SA, Brad Roberts has recovered from injury and has committed himself to Rainey for 5 years. Paddy McGowan (Coleraine), Eunan Shaw (Queens Uni).

Players out: Tommy O’Hagan (Ballynahinch), Jodie McMurray, Robert Lamberton, Gavin Martin and Darren Corrigan (Limavady), Michael Wilson (CIYMS), Simon Crooks (Loughborough Uni). Luke Steele (Grosvenor), Timmy Woods (Ballymoney).

Rainey rugby club has developed a strong Youth section in recent seasons. Ulster under age prop Jack McIntosh is currently playing with Bay of Plenty under 20s, Another two young props Aidan McSwiggan and Callum Smyth continue to challenge for places on the 1st xv. Another exciting prospect is back row forward Charlie Clarke who is involved with the Ulster under 19 squad this season. Number 8 Kieran McGlone has come through the Youth and been involved with the Ulster under 18s/19s. Mickey O’Neill and Daniel O’Neill are another two players who have impressed on the 1st xv. Andrew Brown and Mark Mulholland experienced game time with the 1st xv. With John, Ronan and Michael McCusker all playing their part in the squad they will be joined by another brother Philip when he returns from the USA in October. Another highly rated prospect back row forward Adam Thorton from Rainey Endowed Grammar School joins the squad this season. Rainey missed out on promotion to Div 2A last season after losing their playoff final to Navan – conceding an eighth minute score to lose 16 – 14. Can they go one step further this season.




Director of Rugby: Gareth Johnston

Head coach: Mike Orchin – McKeever

Assistant coaches: Ricky Lutton and Darren Best

1st xv Manager: Stephen Crawford

2nd xv coach Kris James

2nd xv Manager: Gareth Johnston

Players in : Matthew McDowell and Jack Black (Queens Uni), Matthew Johnston (Grosvenor), Jordan Bierne who has returned to the club. Ross Patterson, Rory Dorman, James Nelson, Jamie Cross, Owen Lockhart and Peter Gray all Ballyclare High School. Will Stewart (Ballynahinch), Players who have returned to Ballyclare include Jake McVicker (Queens Uni) and Owen Hutchison from University in Scotland.

Players out: Tommy Holland (Randalstown). Callum Lyle (Academy)

Ricky Lutton picked up a knee injury at end of season that will rule him out for the 2018/19 season. Number 8 David Clarke continues to make progress after a fracture to his leg. Head coach Mike McKeever has now completed three years as Head coach at Ballyclare RFC and five years as Director of Rugby at Ballyclare High School. Two former 5th form pupils at Ballyclare High School have come through the club under 18s to join the 1st xv squad. They are Sam Caldwell and Lewis Cahill.


Coaches: Davy Scott and Mickey Rainey

1st xv Manager: Geoffrey ‘Flaff’ Montgomery.

1st xv Captain: Ryan McGonigle

2nd xv Coach: Paul McIIrath

3rd xv coach /Under 20s : Neil Hanna

Players out: Bradley Luney (Ballynahinch)

Talking to Players convenor Andy Kinkaid there was a concern last season that enough focus was not placed on ensuring there were coaches and Managers to look after the seconds, thirds and fourths. The Club have taken action this season to address this by adding Paul McIIrath and Neil Hanna to the coaching staff to look after the lower teams. Through the efforts of Andy and the club there is a greater focus on developing and securing qualifications for their coaching staff from Minis/Youth up to the Adult teams. This season Andy is expecting six players to come through from the Youth into Adult rugby. The club is playing its part in ensuring that a CCRO will be put in place to target the non playing sections of the community in Carrickfergus.

1st xv Captain Andy McKeen is taking a step back this season after Captaining the 1st xv and the Ulster Juniors last season. His focus again is to look at pursuing his coaching badges. With the clubs 1st xv competing in the All Ireland Junior Cup this season there is an ambition within the club to compete with Instonians and Ballyclare for the Div 1 league title this season. Andy Kinkaid views his role as liaising between the clubs coaches and the committees in the club. It is all about putting in place structures so the club can achieve its ambitions.


Head coach: Gareth Fry

Assistant Forwards coach: Darren Barbour

1st xv Manager: Andy Rogers

Strength and Conditioning: Cory Tipping

2nd xv coaching team: Chris Davidson and Andrew Balmforth

Players in: John Creighton (Queens Uni), Michael Wilson (Rainey OB). Further signings are to be confirmed.

Talking to both Gareth Fry and Darren Barbour the challenge for CIYMS is to build strength in depth. All the issues around 3rd level education/ work and family conspire to make the job of club coaches extremely difficult. When you look at the number of front row forwards CIYMS have including Ali Coulson, Gavin Woods, Simon Baillie, Stuart Ferguson, Aaron Kilpatrick, Jonny Jordan, Scott McNarry, Timothy Atcheson, Alan Walmsley and Elliott Boyd there are only two players who are available to play weekly. They are Scott McNarry and Timothy Atcheson. Timothy Atcheson fractured his arm at the end of the season and will miss the first 6/8 weeks of the season. Two experienced members of their playing squad David Cobain and Callum Irvine have retired due to family commitments. Both Aaron Kilpatrick and Jason Gilliland head off to Uni in England. These difficulties are not unique to CIYMS. With the season kicking off on the 25th August there are a number of players unavailable due to taking holidays. Like most clubs it is negotiating the opening weeks of the season that can determine your aspirations for the season.

Looking at the CI squad there are challenges for the coaches in achieving consistency and continuity in the selection of their front row. In their second row they have the experienced pairing of Paddy Aiken and Cory Tipping. In the absence of Jason Gillland CI will have the experienced Mark McConkey alongside Stuart Dowle and the returning former Edinburgh Uni Captain Shane Moffett who can play second row/back row. In the backs there is an abundance of talent. Last seasons scrum half Cameron Stewart will have John Creighton and Michael Wilson to compete with for a starting place. In addition you have the experienced Matthew Kilgore, Matty Butler, Paddy Butler former Campbell player who has returned from University competing for centre pairings. Both Paddy Beverland and Nathan Burns are playing cricket. CI have welcomed back NI sprinter Jason Harvey who along with Craig Devlin will provide pace in the threequarters. The ever reliable Peter Raine is available at full back. The coaches were pleased with their training match at Ards on Tuesday night as they prepare for their Lockington Cup match with Dundalk at Ards RFC on Sat the 18th with a 2.30PM Kick off. Belmont is unavailable to host rugby matches until after the 15th September. This in fact will mean that CI will play their first four league games away against Grosvenor, Ballyclare, Instonians and Carrickfergus.


Head coach: Benjy Van Der Byl

Assistant forwards coach: Brian Hughes

Assistant Backs coach: Jonny Black

1st xv Manager: Glenn Anderson

Skills: Mark Cuthberston

Strength and Conditioning: Daniel Rankin.

Physio: Jonny Crowe

Under 20s coach: Bernard Mullan

Players in: John Allen (UUC), Matthew Kennedy (Dalriada), Matthew Fulton (Coleraine Grammar) Andrew Trimble (Ulster Rugby), Jonny Crowe (Queens Uni)

Players out: Bokkie Carstens (Returned to SA), Michael Ferguson (Bangor), Chris Nash (Academy), Cameron Fulton (Ballymoney) Paddy McGowan (Rainey OB).

New Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl has wasted no time in putting new strength and conditioning programmes in place for players as he puts together a playing squad to compete in Div 1 this season. Benjy played at Coleraine between 2002 and 2007 and is keen to re establish Coleraine 1st xv as the number one side in the North West. He hopes to add new players to his squad before their opening league game away to Cooke.


Head coach: Colin Atkinson

Assistant coach: Philip Cartmill

Players in: Michael Cartmill (Malone), Fraser Orr (Second Row from Scotland), Ross Dunning (Ballynahinch)

Players out: Adrian Dodds (Dromore), Colm Cregan (Instonians), Jonny Torrens (Academy), Angelo Maricia (Academy)


Director of Rugby : Jeremy Ogle

Head coach Jonny Cullen

Assistant forwards coach: Jamie Kirk

Strength and Conditioning: Tom Finn

2nd xv coaches: Geoff Moore and Mark Elliott

Players in: Jonny Simpson (Ulster Rugby), Adrian Dodds (Cooke). Andrew Gilmore (Wallace HS), David Lyttle (RBAI)

Players out: Clark Mcleod (NZ)

Director of Rugby Jeremy Ogle is delighted to welcome back Hooker Fraser Mulholland who missed last season due to injury. He is also pleased Dromore have been able to hold on to Dromore HS number 8 Ben Heath who made a big impact on the 1st xv at the end of the season. The Pepper ‘dynasty’ at Dromore has been maintained with back row Matthew Pepper joining father Rory at the club along with young out half Ruben Cobb – both former Dromore HS pupils. There is a belief that the good foundations put in place by Jeremy Ogle , Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk will see Dromore challenging for league and Cup honours this season.


Head coach: Stevie Welsh.

Assistant backs coach: Ashley Finlay

Assistant forwards coach: Gareth Beatty

1st xv Captain: Ryan Cathcart

1st xv Vice Captain: Gareth Beatty.

Players in: Jack Rutledge and Reece Barrett (Enniskillen Royal Grammar School),

Players out: Robert Balacoune (Ballymena), Aex Gormley (Dungannon), Kaine Holden (Omagh), Grayson Donnelly (Returned NZ)

Enniskillen will welcome back experienced props – Gareth Beatty returning after knee surgery and Gavin Warrington who appeared in last three fixtures of last season for the challenges that lie ahead in Div 1 this season. A fit again Davy Buchannan in the second row and the return of James Carleton after a year out in NZ will add a presence to the Enniskillen pack. Both Gareth McCoy and Jamie Johnston provide depth in strength in the forwards. The experienced Nicky Finlay will provide cover at 9 and 10 for their young half backs Matty Dane and Adam Lendrum. Work and University will limit the opportunities for backs Patrick McCleery, Conor Keys and Matthew Balmer.


Director of Rugby: David Dobbin

Head coach: Robert Ford

Assistant coach: Peter Lowry

1st xv Manager: Matthew Simpson

2nd xv coaches: James Bowman and Marty McCullough

Players in: Simon Patterson (Omagh), Luke Steele (Rainey OB), Matt Busby (Ards), David Marshall (Queens Uni), Devon Wright (Ballynahinch). Josh McConkey (Grosvenor Grammar School).

Players out: Matthew Johnston (Ballyclare).

Head coach Robert Ford is aware of the challenges facing his Grosvenor team in Div 1 this season. He has lost his two centres with Matthew Johnston joining Ballyclare and Mitchell McComb taking time out from playing. Experienced forward Paddy Hamill will be unavailable due to work commitments with last seasons Captain Andrew Kelly struggling with a Groin injury that could keep him out until October.


Director of Rugby: Anthony McKibben

Head coach: John Andress

Assistant Backs coach: Paul Marshall

2nd xv Head coach: Brian Barrett

Assistant coach: John Anderson

Strength and Conditioning: Gary McIIwaine

Physio: Emily Gaffney

Players in Peter Martin ( Living in Australia), Patrick Anderson (Lisburn), Colm Cregan (Cooke), Timmy Murphy (CIYMS)

Players out: Matthew Keane (Queens Uni), Rory McCurry (Retired), Josh Atkinson (Moving to London), James Campbell (Ballymoney), Ben Scott (Scholarship in USA), Jordan McMullan (Lisburn)

Talking to Instonians Director of Rugby Anthony McKibben there is a new mood in the camp that Instonians can go one step further this season and secure their place in the All Ireland League. With a new coaching team in place after William Leacock stepped down and Roger Wilson moved to the USA there is an air of optimism that this Instonians squad can build on the progress they made last season in coming up just short in the AIL Playoffs. John Andress has stepped up to fill the post of Head coach to be assisted by former Ulster scrum half Paul Marshall with new strength and conditioning coach Gary McIIwaine having a vital role to play in the conditioning of the players. Work opportunities are taking former Captain Josh Atkinson to London. Two key forwards Harry Cleland and Josh Cregan have returned from injury. With scrum half Matthew Keane moving to Queens and a doubt over the availability of out half Fraser Wright due to work commitments Instonians will be looking to quickly establish a new half back pairing alongside Paul Marshall. Out half Timmy Murphy has been added to the squad from CIYMS. New signing Peter Martin demonstrated his qualities in the warm up match at Ards last Saturday that he is an option at number 8 to replace Ben Alexander who has re joined Belfast Harlequins. Robert McGibbon stepped up from the seconds in the back row along with former Carrick second row Daryl Smith to catch the eye at Ards. Another player making a return to the 1st xv squad is Erin Wagner. Lewis McNamara is still at Uni in Scotland and will provide options during the season. Talented back Zach Finlay is also welcomed back after being out for 18 months. Anthony McKibben has also indicated Instonians will add to their squad before their opening league match at Dromore on the 25th August.

It is always interesting to catch up with players abroad. We are increasingly witnessing more young players travelling from Ulster to play in New Zealand and Australia during the off season. One former Instonians player making a big impact is young loose head prop Corrie Barrett who has moved from Alexandra RFC to play for Dunedin RFC in the Premier League. He has been joined at the club by current City of Armagh out half Cormac Fox for their summer season.


Head coach: Richard Hedley

Assistant coach: Stuart Lamb

Strength and Conditioning: Lee Bicker

1st xv Captain: Gary Hall

1st xv Manager: Neil Irwin.

Players in: Ton Ceaser (Banbridge), William Holden (City of Armagh), Ben Matchett (Dungannon), Brett Flack (Portadown College), Matthew Bell (Portadown College), Kiram Ahizoun (Joined from French club), Lee Bicker (Malone), Lloyd Gravett (NZ). Conor Webster (Portadown College),

Players out: Michael Orr (Queens Uni), Peter Lamb (City of Armagh),

Talking to Head coach Richard Hedley last season was a challenge for his coaching team and the playing squad. It needed a playoff match against Randalstown for the 1st xv to keep their place in Div 1 after losing out to Ballyclare in the Towns Cup Final. Ironically it was the Randalstown match that was the only occasion Portadown were able to field their strongest team last season. The addition of the experienced Stuart Lamb to the coaching staff has given the club a real lift. His presence on the pitch in the new year helped the team turn around a difficult first half to last season. Forwards coach Mark ‘Chunka’ Neilly has a young family that will limit his coaching time on the paddock. Richard Hedley is keen to keep him involved as he is highly regarded by the players. Another player joining the coaching staff is winger Andrew Chambers. The coach is hoping to get another season from the evergreen back row forward Diarmuid O’Kane with his brother Ciaran becoming Junior Vice President at the club. Former 1st xv Captain Craig Woods suffered two fractures during last season that has forced him to step away from rugby due to his work commitments. Ben Matchett is starting a PGCE course in England. Through Ollie Montels Portadown have been able to secure the services of Kiram Ahizoun. Lee Bicker will add a presence in the second row on his return to Portadown after playing rugby at Malone and in Germany. In recent seasons Portadown RFC have benefitted from several young players coming through from Portadown College who quickly established themselves on the 1st xv. Lloyd Gravett had previously played rugby with Ben Matchett and Tom Ceasar. Second row Willy Graham has returned to training after being ruled out last season. Both mark Adamson and Nick Holt impressed last season and will have key roles to play on the team this season. Jack Orr is back training after fracturing his arm last season. Hooker Robert Greenlee is taking this season out due to work commitments. Portadown continue their preparations for their opening conference league match with Ballynahinch seconds on the 25th August when they travel to Navan this weekend.




Head coach: Gareth Lynn

Assistant Forwards coach: Chris Nash

Assistant backs coach: George Saunders

1st xv captain: Richard Henderson

1st xv Vice Captain: Stuart Martin

1st xv Manager: Brian Boyd

Players in: Chrish Nash (Coleraine), Callum Lyle (Ballyclare), Jonny Torrens (Cooke), Angelo Maricia (Cooke), Jude Cowley (BRA)

Players out: Pearce McLarnon (Queens Uni)

Head coach Gareth Lynn has a stronger squad this season and is expecting his team to challenge for the league title this season. The presence of former Coleraine and Ulster juniors forward coach Chris Nash adds to his playing squad. He welcomes back Jordan Buchanan after being out with a long term injury but was disappointed to hear Steven Fawcett had dislocated his shoulder playing cricket this summer.


Director of Rugby: Stevie Nutt

Head coach: John West

Assistant Backs coach: Scott Young

Strength and Conditioning: Paddy McGratton

1st xv Captain: Andrew Foster

1st xv Manager: Al McHugh

2nd xv coach: Roy Lawton

Physio: John McKeag

Video Analyst: Robbie Blair

Players in: Jonny Harris (Queens Uni), Philip Craig (Former Grosvenor Grammar player). Jamie Cardwell (PSNI), Michael Lawton (Dungannon). Matty Foster (Regent House)

Players out: Scott Young (Retired), Matt Busby (Grosvenor).

Head coach John West has been pleased with the momentum his Ards playing squad have carried into the new season after a strong second half finish to last season. Two warm up games last Sat against Instonians and CIYMS on Tuesday night provided ideal preparation for their opening two league games away to Limavady and Randalstown. The working relationship between Strength and Conditioning coach Paddy McGratton and Physio John McKeag has ensured that the players are properly conditioned in their preparation to play rugby and manage any injuries during rehab. The lost of second row Gareth McBurney to work abroad has been compensated by the return of Jonny Harris from Queens Uni. Stuart Paul, John Downey and Mark Banford continue to add experience on the pitch to this young Ards squad this season. Ards only went down 17 – 7 to Instonians despite the absence of Mark Banford, Stuart Paul, Onisi Burekama, Peter Croan and Matty Neill as they matched their opponents only to concede two late tries.


Head coach : Jonny Hanna

Player coaches: Martin Irwin

Player coach: James Cleland

Skills coach: Scott Nelson

Kicking coach: DD Andrews

Scrumaging coach: Sam McAuley

Strength and Conditioning: Jason Taggart

1st xv Club Captain: John McFetridge

1st xv Captain: David McKeeman.

Under 20s/2nd xv : Callum McDonnell and Peter Shields

Physios: Peter McErlean and Nicole Corner.

Players in: Robert Shannon (Armoy), James Campbell (Instonians), Cameron Fulton (Coleraine), Andy McKee (Coleraine), Adam Smith (Ballymena), John Hyndman (Ballynahinch), Russell Blair (Ballymena), Matthew Pollock (Belfast Harlequins), Timmy Woods (Rainey OB) Other players to return this season include Joel Heggarty, Andy Millar, Danny Platt.and Jordan Neely.

Jonny Hanna is excited about the new season with over 50 players training. He uses the relationship he has with both Andy Graham at Ballymena and his brother Aidy to assist with coaching at the club. Ballymoney like a lot of clubs are currently in the process of assisting the Ulster Branch with the appointment of a CCRO to develop the player base in the North East. In preparation for the new season Ballymoney had a controlled training match at Ballyclare last Saturday and continue their preparations this weekend when Enniskillen are the visitors to Kilraughts Road on Saturday afternoon. The success of the under 20 mid week fixtures has encouraged former Schools and Youth players to return to playing club rugby. The fact that Ballymoney have lost no players in the last two seasons is a testament to work of the club. As Jonny Hanna put it , there is a real good buzz about the club. He feels the club are in a good place.


Head coach: Stevie Bothwell.

Assistant coach: PC Faulkner

1st xv Captain: Michael Treanor

Players in: Paul Armstrong (Dungannon), Rodney Bennett (Dungannon), Reece Smyton and Evan Haire (Enniskillen Royal Grammar School). Samuel Odur (Royal School Armagh), Josh Fegan (Royal School Dungannon).

Stevie Bothwell former 1st xv full back and out half has taken on the coaching at the Fivemiletown club assisted by PC Faulkner with David Sharkey continuing as chairman of rugby. Former 1st xv coach Davy Black and 1st xv Manager Richie Haire have stepped back to help with the clubs Youth teams. The 1st xv were relegated last season after dominating Junior Club rugby in Ulster. It is a case of the team rebuilding to return to Div 1. They will know they face a severe challenge this season from several teams in Div 2 who have the same ambition. Never the less the Cran continues to be a venue that opposition teams have struggled to come to terms with over the seasons.


Head coach: Graham Cloke

Assistant coach: Stevie McReynolds

Strength and Conditioning: Gary Mills

1st xv Captain: Jonny Cole

1st xv Manager: Derek Lough

Physio: Aaron McFaul

Players in: Jonny Ogilby (Malone)

Task for Larne Head coach Graham Cloke does not get any easier with building strength in depth in his playing squad. Graham from his work in Larne Grammar is able to bring a small number of players to the club. Last year players such as Barry John McFaul, Jack Hill and Jacob Swann were able to establish themselves on the 1st xv. The club is reliant on experienced players such as Stevie McReynolds, Ryan Garrett and Eddie Hunter to keep them competitive in this league. Again there is potential for further players such as Lee McKee, Robbie Simpson and Liam Slaughter to come in from the Grammar School this season. Exam results will determine where they will play their rugby.The numbers are just not coming through from the Youth Section. With neighbouring clubs such as Ballymena, Ballyclare and Carrickfergus the best young players will be tempted to move away from the Larne area. The task for Larne will not get any easier in Div 2 this season with all the teams strengthening their playing squads. With having no CCRO in the Larne area it will require a joint effort from the club/council and the Ulster Branch to reverse the decline in playing numbers in the Larne area.


Head coach: Graeme Eastwood

Assistant Backs coach: Jodie McMurray

Assistant Backs coach: Peter Wilson

Strength and Conditioning: Robert Lamberton

1st xv Manager: Simon Andrews

2nd xv Manager: Keith Donaghy

Players in: Jonny Lees, Jodie McMurray, Darren Corrigan, Robert Lamberton, Gavin Martin ( RaineyOB), Stuart Simpson (City of Derry), Shay McIntosh ( Loughborough Uni), Ben Reilly (Limavady Grammar), Michael Barr ( Returned from Uni), David Craig (Strabane), Timothy Andrews (Rainey OB), Dillon Purdy (Up from Under 18s), Paul Kane (Strabane).

Players out: Clive Scott (City of Derry).

Another club that has made changes to its coaching staff with Head coach Mark Nicholl stepping down. New Head coach Graeme Eastwood coached with Chris Campbell at Rainey before moving to Newry for three seasons before he joined Boyne RFC in the All Ireland League. The Cookstown man has returned to take charge of a talented Limavady squad with several new additions will challenge for promotion to Div 1 this season. Limavady field two Adult teams and a under 20 team that has been developed on the back of the work done by Peter Wilson as the CCRO in the Limavady area. In addition out half Luke Faulkner has returned after a long term injury along with John Percival. Ulster Junior player Sam Mackey will head to Uni in England this season.

Graeme Eastwood has a squad where he has two players challenging for starting places on the 1st xv. Two weeks ago Limavady defeated a strong Carrickfergus team at home 22 – 12 to make a statement of their intentions this season. They continue their preparations for their opening league match with Ards when they play Queens Uni at the Dub on Thursday night.


Director of Rugby: Michael Knowles

Head coach Andrew Postlethwaite

Assistant coach: Nathan Moore

1st xv Captain: Jamie Dickson

1st xv Manager: Stephen Graham

Players in Adam Jamison (UUC), Richard McGregor (Coleraine), Matthew Nelson (Ballynahinch), Josh and Sam Cardosi (Wallace HS), Gareth Gardiner and Jonny Dunlop (Belfast Met), David Harkness (PSNI), Harry Boyd (Club Youth Section). Two players returned to the club include David Currie and Peter Dillon.

Players out: Matthew Millar (Queens Uni), Stevie Reddick (Queens Uni), Patrick Anderson (Instonians).

Lisburn found themselves in a battle with UUC and PSNI in the second half of last season to keep their place in Div 2. A strong finish enabled them to avoid the playoffs and retain their place. Several new additions to the playing squad will leave them better placed to get a strong start to their season.


Head coach: Bruce Cornelius

Assistant coach: Jason Wallace

1st xv captain: Dean Wilson

Strength and Conditioning: Paul Heasley

Amazing story the progress of Lurgan Rugby Club at their Pollack Park venue. They have always found themselves surrounded by Banbridge, Portadown, Dromore and Lisburn with Lurgan the poor relations. When Head coach Bruce Cornelius took over five seasons ago Lurgan had an ageing team with a promising under age structure. Many of the Senior players retired with one notable exception Stephen Nolan who continues to be a key player on the 1st xv team. The coach was left with no choice but to develop players coming through from the under 19s. The first season was a transition year as the squad continued to develop. It was a case of gradually building in order to retain players. A few players came in from Banbridge along with players from the Youth Section. The goal was holding on to the young players which they achieved. Bruce Cornelius’s patience has been rewarded with the team winning Div 3 of the Ulster Rugby Championship last season and securing promotion to Div 2. They also made it a double by winning the Gordon West Cup for the second time in three seasons at the Kingspan stadium. We all talk about putting playing structures in place to develop and sustain your club. Lurgan have demonstrated what can be achieved with patience and persistence. It was a case of all sections of the club pulling together. This they achieved. We talk about Stephen Nolan who has played 250 games for the club. That is commitment and loyalty to your rugby club. The coach is aware that their first two games are against Clogher Valley and Randalstown that will challenge the playing squad. He believes this group of players are good enough to compete in this league. They had a number of pre season friendlies arranged with their opponents unable to field teams.

What was the players views on their achievement. I spoke with number 8 and Captain Dean Wilson. He has Captained Lurgan teams from under 15s/17s and 19s before Bruce Cornelius handed him the Captaincy of the 1st xv four years ago a role he holds with considerable pride. Who are the players on this Lurgan side. They have a front row of Marty Follis, Lewis Lawson and Josh Lyness. Follis played at Dromore for a season with Josh Lyness playing at Instonians before both returned to Lurgan. Ryan Emmerson (Lurgan College) and Andrew Gray (Lurgan Youth) along with Lee Allen who can play back row or hooker are players adding to the clubs strength in the front row. Daniel Lyness and Neil Adamson are the two second rows with Daniel having played at RBAI and Neil coming through Lurgan College. The Back row is made up of Lee Allen, Ryan Osborne and Captain Dean Wilson. Lee Allen played at Banbridge with his brother Chris who plays on 1st xv before he returned to Lurgan. Ryan Osborne is another player who came through Lurgan College and the clubs Youth Section. 24 year old Captain Dean Wilson has completed four seasons in that position. Scrum half Chris Jenk played for Dromore before he returned to Lurgan two years ago. Out half Dillon Gill came through the Club Youth Section. Left winger Jack Wilson came from Enniskillen. The two centres are brothers Mark and Ben McIIwaine who came through Lurgan College and the club Youth Section. Another brother Jordan plays for Dungannon. Right winger Ryan Mooney came through the College and Youth section. What more can you say about full back Stephen Nolan who continues to play after 250 appearances. James Andrews has returned to Lurgan after playing centre at Banbridge. Both Scott Wilson son of President Paul Wilson along with Richard Hull and James Patterson from the College will add further depth to the Lurgan squad. Talking to club Secretary Russell Barr Lurgan have secured funding for a CCRO in their area. Their last CCRO was Jonny Gillespie. With a strong Gaelic tradition in the area there is an opportunity to attract more young people both male and female to play rugby. The Gaelic community have the skills that are transferable to rugby.


Head coach: Gary Longwell

Assistant coaches Alistair Strange and Martin Connolly.

Strength and Conditioning: Ryan Keatings

1st xv Captain: David Millar

1st xv Manager: Willie Allen

Players in : Tommy Holland (Ballyclare), Alex McGlaughlin (RaineyOB), Tommy McGlaughlin (UUC), Tony O’Hagan (Dungannon).

Talking to Willie Allen Randalstown have been busy from the end of the season completing a Strength and Conditioning programme under Ryan Keatings for 10 weeks at Ballymena Academy which ran from May – July. Numbers at pre season have been encouraging with over 40 + players in attendance. The squad have had training matches with Portadown and Larne as they prepare for the new season. The club was also able to send a squad of under 20s to a tournament at Malone RFC two weeks ago. This squad has been assembled on the numbers coming through from the clubs under 18 squad. One player from the squad expected to play for 1st xv this season is full back Owen Letters. The club have welcomed back Tommy McGlaughlin who hadn’t played for a couple of seasons at UUC. He joins his brother Alex who has signed from Rainey OB. Scott Stevenson has finished two years playing in NZ. Club Captain David Smith just completed playing one season in NZ. The club are awaiting the return of Ryan Bailey who has been playing out in NZ. Current Hooker Marty O’Neill is another player who spent time playing in NZ. Gary Erwin who injured his cruciate two years ago is returning to play this season. He offers options in the front row and second row. Prop Gary Hume who broke his leg last season is not expected to play this season. Randalstown are hoping to call on the services of former prop Neil Foster who has been playing rugby in Dublin at AIL and Junior level. Second Row Craig Barclay is expected to be unavailable for part of the season as he travels to USA. Dean McCrory who came from Antrim Grammar last season can provide cover. The Strength and Conditioning programme has been popular with players with over 50 players attending. Other players to return this season include Daniel McGlade . Winger Jordan Foster who played for Ballymena Academy and the 1st xv last season is expected to be available this season. The winger scored a breakaway try in the defeat to Portadown in the Playoff match.


Director of Rugby: Brett Campbell

Head coach: Des Jackson

Assistant coaches: James Blair

1st xv Team Manager: Alan McCully and Johnny Wright

1st xv captain: Dan Morgan

1st xv Vice Captains: Adam Johnston and Jake Stevenson

2nd xv Managers: Brett Campbell and Sam Hall

Players in:

Players out: Bernard Mullan and John Allen (Coleraine), Ollie Millar (City of Armagh), Stephen Logan (Isle of Man to work), Stuart Ballantine (Omagh), Denis Posterick and James Perry (City of Derry), Jack Bolger, Calvin Galbraith and Jack Lewis (Ballymena), Adam Jamison (Lisburn).

The 1st xv will be dependent on front five forwards Dan Morgan, Michael Smith, Callum Boardman, Gary Burke and Jake Stevenson who provided the experience in the pack last season. In the backs Adam Johnston, Chris Allen, Hayden Maxwell and David McCluggage who scored 25 tries last season with provide the experience and cutting edge for the team. It will be a few weeks before academic registration is completed and new players are identified. The season got off to a good start with the Students winning the Ophir sevens two weeks ago.

Rugby Consultant Brian McLaughlin is coming in to improve the skill levels of the players during the season. Des Jackson is a former Leinster out half who will add considerable experience to the coaching team in place of Jonny Black who has joined Benjy Van Der Byl at Coleraine.

Fixtures Saturday 25th August 2018 Kick off 2.30PM


Ballynahinch v City of Armagh –

Malone v Banbridge – Gibson Park

Queens University v Ballymena- Dub Lane


Belfast Harlequins v Dungannon

City of Derry v Bangor

Omagh v Rainey OB


Cooke v Coleraine

Dromore v Instonians

Enniskillen v Ballyclare

Grosvenor v CIYMS


Ballynahinch seconds v Portadown

City of Armagh seconds v Carrickfergus


Clogher Valley v Lurgan

Limavady v Ards

Randalstown v Academy


Ballymena seconds v Ballymoney

Larne v Malone seconds

Omagh seconds v Lisburn

UUC v Banbridge seconds

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