Rugby at Ballyclare High School offers exceptional and unique opportunities to boys and girls of all ages. The journey you go on as a rugby player with our school is first class. We provide challenging and fun training sessions, regular Saturday fixtures, playing against a range of schools from Ulster, Leinster and the occasional touring side always keen to play us.

We have annual Leinster fixtures with Wesley College, St Gerard’s and Blackrock College at relative age levels. Trips and tours are arranged to offer personal growing opportunities and to mix with folk from other backgrounds. Our most recent tour was in 2015 when our senior rugby took a development squad of 44 boys to New Zealand and Australia following this our Medallion XV visited Portugal and our year 8 tour to Dublin each year. We have an upcoming tour to South Africa in 2020 which is sure to be a wonderful experience for all tourists. The senior rugby 1st XV take part in training camps in Dublin annually also.

We field a wide spread range of teams at year 8, currently 2 teams at Year 9, 10 and Medallion Rugby. Senior Rugby on Saturdays are primarily for 1st and 2nd XV, however we will complete 3rd XV fixtures when opposition are able to. Our 1st XV have recently reached consecutive Subsidiary Shield finals in 2017 and 2018, winning the later Vs Down High. Senior rugby 2018/19 competed with 4 senior teams in cup competitions and will continue to do so in 2019/20 season.

We are very fortunate to have 4 very well taken care of rugby pitches, a sports hall when required for indoor training and the opening of The Knox Gym in 2015 has assisted in our training, development and our conditioning. Rugby offers a strong discipline to life and assists in thinking skills, time management, organisation and life skills form dealing with high pressure scenarios.

My role in simple terms; Is that I wish to develop a conveyor belt of better players coming through and leaving the school who enjoy the game and understand it better. The children are a joy to work with and love to be challenged, which makes it challenging to me, I love it! We are one of a few schools that host a Rugby Faculty, established 2014, which assists in the guiding of player development over their time with us. This is simply a model designed by myself to aid in player development and ensuring that it is player focused and not around a team. It allows a journey for a player through rugby, this includes and focuses on 5 key areas of rugby; Catch/Pass, Tackle, Ruck, Evasion and Link. It also includes the education of game appreciation, nutrition, sport psychology, strength and conditioning. In 2016 Ballyclare High School was selected as one of five schools, who have been identified as implementing a rugby program that focuses on the key elements of this initiative and are Ulster Rugby Academy Partners. The partner schools are regularly invited into Kingspan Stadium, the home of Ulster Rugby, for a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training days and week long courses during the summer where they will benefit from exposure to the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy, Age-Grade pre-season programmes and the Ulster 1st XV pre-season programme.

Ulster Rugby will provide information and access to resources on key aspects of player development including personalised video analysis, strength and conditioning, nutrition and lifestyle management. The schools will also be able to attend a number of CPD events organised by Ulster Rugby, which will involve engagement with Ulster Rugby Academy staff, professional team staff and players. Commenting on the announcement of this new initiative, Head of the Hughes Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy, Kieran Campbell, said: “This partnership will support the schools as they develop their top level players, but it will also engage younger players as they step out on to a rugby pitch for the first time, so we hope it will have the dual result of ensuring talented players fulfill their potential while also encouraging participation at all levels throughout the schools.

In the summer of 2018 I was selected as an Ulster Rugby Talent Coach and worked with age grade squads in Ulster Rugby at U16, U17, U18 and Academy. Gaining experience as a coach from working with the best talent across the province but also sharing ideas with Ulster Rugby Academy staff.

For 2019 summer, I will continue to work with Ulster Rugby at U18 school level as their backs and attack coach. We currently have several boys in each age level of age grade representative rugby from U16-U19 level.

I lead all games during the week and have the seniors after school 3 days a week and I will mix from spending 2 additional afternoons with the medallions or mix between medallion and year 10. Girl’s rugby train once a week to allow girls from other sports to “try” something new and different. The girl’s rugby has progressed each year from Ulster Schools’ cup ¼ finalists in 2014, semi-finalists 2015, Finalists in 2016 to now this season fielding junior and senior sides. We offer additional training sessions for the boys in the morning times, which range from touch rugby, gym sessions or positional specific training for their development.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the staff at Ballyclare High to develop and grow to provide even better coaching to what we currently do. And the continuation of our rugby faculty can only become stronger.

The most important bit about rugby at Ballyclare High School is that we enjoy it!


Director of Rugby,

Mike Orchin-McKeever