This blog series will look and recognize the secondary schools and local rugby clubs who are to the fore in underage rugby player development. They are at times the forgotten piece of the jigsaw. Without these schools and rugby clubs, there would be no talent pool outlet for the Irish provinces and national team to prosper.
This article focuses on Ulster Rugby. The statistics are based on the indigenous born players who have come through the Irish or Northern Ireland educational system. The statistics may surprise some but it is an exercise which provides key trends going forward.
Ulster Rugby Squad: Age profile
The Irish born player age profile in the current first team squad is around twenty-five years. The current first team squad’s eldest player is Rory Best (36). The playing squad has a good blend of youth and experience. The emergence of academy talent such as Eric O’Sullivan, Robert Baloucoune and Angus Kernohan this season bodes well for the club long term.
The school county breakdown for the Ulster Rugby squad is: Antrim (23), Dublin (7), Armagh (1), Down (1), Limerick (1), Cork (1), Tyrone (1), Offaly (1), Donegal (1), Fermanagh (1).
- The conveyor belt of talent from the Ballymena Academy is self evident in these numbers; currently provide nine players in the current provincial setup.
- The emergence of talent from Fermanagh, Donegal is good to see as well as the influx of Dublin school based players up to Ulster Rugby in recent years.
Grass Roots Rugby Club Association:
The local rugby club scene is well represented in the Ulster Rugby squad ranks with Ballymena, Ballynahinch, Banbridge, Dungannon, Malone, Queen’s University well represented.