Ballyclare RFC sees U20 level as platform for development

Ballyclare RFC has welcomed an initiative from Ulster Rugby and concentrated development of U20 level at the club with the latest return to rugby following Covid-19 restrictions.

The club has made a concentrated effort to cater for this age group and has seen interest swell. It has accommodated 44 players over the past three weeks with a regular 35 on average each night.

“We still have solid numbers at senior sessions, anything between 32 to 40 players but we aim to keep the U20 as a squad to develop them further as a peer group,” said Mike Orchin-McKeever, Ballyclare RFC head coach.

Kris James, 1st XV manager said: “Within the U20 group they have players ranging in ability and rugby backgrounds. Club U18 players need transitioning into senior club rugby and U20s will be a super platform for them to develop their rugby; the likes of Adam Warren Robert White, Aaron Shaw, Evan Coey and Andrew Herron.

A welcome return to training sessions at Ballyclare RFC.

“We also have players moving from schools rugby to club rugby - Carrickfergus Grammar pupil James Weir along with Ballyclare High School’s Scott Martin, Jack Turner, Rory Lyttle, Robert Reid Harry Beckington and Harry Clarke.

“We have also had some players returning, having not played for two years in James Logan and Conor Archer.”

Head coach Mike agrees with the outlook of sport psychologist Johan Fallby “As many as possible, as long as possible, in the best environment as possible” and he went on to say that “it is fantastic to see these guys getting on the pitch together, reconnecting, getting exercise and having fun”.

“The real success will be in September that they all represent the club in a game of rugby. The facilitators are doing a superb job at providing an environment for the lads to play and have fun.”

Ryan McIlwaine, U20 coach, said: “The U20 programme has been a great intervention post lockdown for getting young guys back into playing rugby.

“The boys all seem to love it and it’s something I would have enjoyed. The talent on show in the 20’s really leaves the club in a good position.”

U20 player Adam Warren commented: “Training has been really good the last few weeks since I’ve started back and I’ve enjoyed starting to train again and to meet and play with new people who make the sessions enjoyable by still working hard.”

Jack Gamble, who recently represented Ulster Rugby at A and 7s, said: “It’s been great craic getting back into it. Catching up with some old mates and meeting new ones. There’s a great energy about the place at the moment and I can’t wait to get back to some real rugby.”


Click here to read: Northern Ireland players inspire Newtownabbey pupils


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