THE coach of Bangor Academy’s Danske Bank U16 Plate-winning rugby squad is hopeful their success in the competition can be a platform for success at senior level.
David Coey was speaking at a trophy presentation at the school on Tuesday afternoon, where Norman Gault from the Ulster Branch IRFU was in attendance to congratulate the 27-strong squad – captained by Steven Boyd – on their achievement and present them with their medals.
The Academy saw off Foyle College in a comeback win to advance to the final of the competition, in which they recorded a hard earned 33-10 victory at Lurgan College to clinch the silverware.
“We have been dipping our toe in the Medallion Shield and Schools’ Cup, but it was the first time we had entered this competition so it’s a good achievement for these boys to be playing in another grammar stream competition,” explained David.
“We try to get the boys to do a bit of everything, but the great thing about rugby is that it caters for everybody and it’s a good carrot for some of the boys who maybe don’t particularly enjoy school,” he said.
“We played in the Schools’ Cup for the first time last year, and every year we’re trying to do something a bit more. The ultimate goal would be to be playing full-time in the grammar stream of the Schools’ Cup, but there are a lot of things we need to put in place before we can get there.
“Because we play in all the competitions, the problem can be managing the game time,” added David. “It’s full on and a balancing act at times – it’s about giving the guys enough rugby so that they enjoy it, but not so much that they get sickened by it.”
David also revealed a major factor in the young Academy team’s success has been the partnership between the school and Bangor Rugby Club, where he used to be the youth convenor.
“The relationship between ourselves and the Club is immense, I think that’s why we have flourished,” he continued. “I think all of the boys bar one from this squad play at the club, which makes a huge difference.
“We toured Italy last year and we’re going to Portugal next year, so we’re always trying to drive things forward and we get huge support from Mr Pitts (Principal) and Stewart Donald (Head of PE), which makes it easy because you’re never having to fight for anything.
“We are actually attracting kids here for lower sixth from the likes of Campbell College, Sullivan and Bangor Grammar because they want to play rugby and that’s fantastic.
“You find that there’s plenty of banter and craic, but there’s also that respect which I think is massive and it bodes well for when the boys leave school.”