Ballymena date for Irish rugby coach on Friday

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt will be special guest at an eagerly-awaited rugby function in Ballymena this week.

Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt is the special guest at a Ballymena Academy fund-raising event on Friday.

The New Zealander, who has coached Ireland to back-to-back Six Nations titles, will be the star attraction at a fund-raising event organised by Ballymena Academy’s rugby section.

The function - entitled ‘An Evening in the Company of Joe Schmidt’ - will be held in the Great Hall, at Galgorm Resort and Spa this Friday, May 15.

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The event sold out some time ago, with 312 guests due to attend.

They will include British and Irish Lions legend Syd Millar, and former Academy pupil Luke Marshall, one of Schmidt current Ireland squad members.

Other guests will include former Ulster Rugby coach Brian McLaughlin and local man Ian McIlrath, who will become chairman of the IRFU’s rugby committee this summer.

The eagerly-awaited dinner has been organised by the school’s marketing coordinator Alistair McKay who said: “The development of rugby, indeed all extra curricular sport, is something that the school has worked tirelessly at in the last few years.

“A number of our sponsors and supporters have held us to improve our facilities and broaden the experiences of our young people in terms of sports available and the quality of the coaching we provide.

“To have Joe Schmidt visit us is a ringing endorsement of the esteem in which Ballymena Academy and indeed all rugby in Ballymena, is held,” added Alistair.