Domestic Rugby Preview for Saturday 30th march 2019 by George Millar

Instonians Bit First

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 1 
Congratulations to Instonians 1st xv on retaining the league title they won in 2017/18. John Andress and his players came through a very competitive game against Cooke to win 30 - 18. On the Final whistle they learned league favourites Ballyclare were defeated 17 - 13 at home by 3rd place Dromore. Instonians will now go forward as the Ulster representatives in the Round Robin tournament when they play Leinster winners Enniscorthy at Shawsbridge this weekend followed by games away to Connemara and home to Clonmel.

 

SAT 30 MAR

INSTONIANS

14:30

ENNISCORTHY RFC

 

CLONMEL

14:30

CONNEMARA

       

SAT 6 APR

CONNEMARA

14:30

INSTONIANS

 

ENNISCORTHY RFC

14:30

CLONMEL

       

SAT 13 APR

INSTONIANS

14:30

CLONMEL

 

CONNEMARA

14:30

ENNISCORTHY RFC

Some good details about the Round Robin

https://www.irishrugby.ie/video/connemara-battle-hardened-for-all-ireland-league-qualifiers/ 

 

THE FUTURE FOR DOMESTIC CLUB RUGBY IN IRELAND 
Have been taken aback by the number of Ulster teams struggling to be competitive in the All Ireland League this season. Several people have said to me we don't have enough quality players to be competitive in the AIL. Is it we have too many teams representing the province in the AIL. We have had the ongoing discussions about the future for the AIL. It is clear we need to have Section One with the present structures in place to support the Professional game in the four provinces. Clubs are telling me the financial commitments to supporting teams in the AIL are impacting annually on their budget. Is it not time we made the decisions required to return the teams playing in Section two to playing in Senior league structures within their provinces. As I have pointed out the island of Ireland is littered with the skeletons of clubs who tried to match the professional game to compete in the AIL. 

ALL IRELAND LEAGUE REVIEW 
You would have to say Ballynahinch are the best placed Ulster team to win Div 1B this season with Malone and City of Armagh contending for a playoff place. Queens University along with Rainey OB in Division 2A and 2B are well placed to make the playoffs with Omagh needing two wins to make the playoffs again this season. What alarms me is the number of Ulster teams involved in relegation battles. Ballymena are already relegated from DIV 1B with Banbridge fighting to keep their place in this Division. In Division 2B both Ulster teams Dungannon and Belfast Harlequins have much work to do to keep their place in this Division. The situation is equally alarming in Division 2C with both City of Derry and Bangor in urgent need of league points to keep their place in the All Ireland League. 

DIV 1B 
It was a mixed bag of results for the Ulster teams in this Division. Ballynahinch are the best placed Ulster team after defeating Old Belvedere 34 - 27 at Ballymacarn Park to sit in 2nd place - level on points with leaders Old Wesley with former Ulster and Jersey winger Ross Adair scoring three of their four tries along with winger Richard Reaney contributing 14 points from six kicks. Malone bounced back from a three match losing run to defeat City of Armagh 16 - 7 with their winger Mark O'Connor contributing 11 points in the Ulster derby at Gibson Park to sit in 3rd place five points behind the top two teams with City of Armagh dropping down to 5th place - one point behind 4th place Naas. With the relegation of Ballymena confirmed after their 74 - 15 at St Mary's College all eyes are on who will finish in 9th place and go through the Playoffs to keep their place in Div 1B. With five points separating St Mary's College, Old Belvedere, Banbridge and Buccaneers in 6th - 9th place the remaining games involving these teams will ultimately decide who finishes in the Playoff place. Banbridge have lost 4/5 games and suffered a heavy 42 - 21 defeat at home to Naas on Saturday. They find themselves in 8th place two points ahead of Buccaneers with games to play against Buccaneers and Old Belvedere. With the remaining rounds in the AIL to be played on the 6th and 13th April we will experience plenty of drama in these games before team placings are finalised. 

DIV 2A 
Queens University continue their remarkable run of form in the second half to their season - extending their unbeaten run to five games with an eleven try runaway 73 - 7 win away to struggling Galwegians in Galway at the weekend. They remain in 4th place eight points ahead of 5th place UL Bohemians knowing one more win from their two remaining games with guarantee the students a place in the Playoffs. 

DIV 2B 
Rainey OB backed up their win at Galway Corinthians with an impressive 35 - 19 win over 2nd place Greystones at Hatrick Park. They have opened up a six point advantage over 4th place Sligo knowing one more win will guarantee them a place in the playoffs in all probability away to 2nd place Greystones. Out half Andy Magrath illustrated his importance to the team contributing 15 points. The availability of experienced players Timmy Barker, Damien McMurray and Paddy McGowan could prove vital to the ambitions of the team to secure promotion to Div 2A this season. The crucial relegation match at Deramore Park was decided in favour of Belfast Harlequins with number 8 Ben Alexander scoring his teams second try in their 10 - 8 win over Dungannon. Both Ulster teams find themselves in 8th and 9th place with Belfast Harlequins four points ahead of 10th place Sunday's Well. Belfast Harlequins travel to Cork in Round 17 to play Sunday's Well in what will be a must win game for both teams followed by Galway Corinthians at home in Round 18 who also find themselves in danger of being relegated. Nervous times for Quins Head coach Nicky Wells and his players. Dungannon Head coach Andy Hughes and his players will be disappointed they lost a game they should have won - failing to turn scoring opportunities into points in a dominant second half performance. They have Sligo at home and Skerries away in their remaining fixtures. A lot of work needs done by both these Ulster teams if they are to avoid finishing in the bottom two places. 

DIV 2C 
Omagh have had to rely on their home form since Xmas to keep them in contention for a top four finish after defeating Thomond 24 - 10 . They trail 4th place Malahide by three points with the two teams meeting in Round 17. Can Omagh make the playoffs for the second season running. They have two Cup Finals coming up with leaders Ballina at home in Round 18 to complete their league programme. 
Bangor came up just short against 2nd place Midleton at Upritchard Park losing out to a last minute drop goal to lose 22 - 20. They find themselves in 8th place level on points with 9th place Tullamore and one point behind 7th place City of Derry who are level on points with 6th place Seapoint. Bangor make the journey to Thomond in Round 17 knowing a win can safeguard their place in this Division with Malahide at home in Round 18. City of Derry will find points difficult to come by from their two games at home to Bruff and away to Tullamore in Round 18. With Seapoint playing Thomond and Tullamore playing City of Derry could it be these two matches that decide the teams that will finish in 9th and 10th place. Hopefully both Bangor and City of Derry have the playing resources to hold on to their place in the All Ireland League. 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 1 
Congratulations to Instonians 1st xv on retaining the league title they won in 2017/18. John Andress and his players came through a very competitive game against Cooke to win 30 - 18. On the Final whistle they learned league favourites Ballyclare were defeated 17 - 13 at home by 3rd place Dromore. Instonians will now go forward as the Ulster representatives in the Round Robin tournament when they play Leinster winners Enniscorthy at Shawsbridge this weekend followed by games away to Connemara and home to Clonmel. Saturday was not only about deciding the league winners with 9th place in the league to be decided at Chambers Park between Portadown and CIYMS. The Belfast side had built a comfortable 13 - 0 lead only for a Stuart Lamb inspired performance in the second half turning around the deficit for the Portadown team to win 28 - 23. The defeat has consigned CIYMS to a playoff match on the 6th of April against the team who finish in 2nd place in Div 2. Two points separate Limavady, Clogher Valley and Academy at the top with the final games in Div 2 taking place this weekend. It was a nervy time for Cooke and Enniskillen who were closely monitoring the progress of events at Chambers Park. Enniskillen came back from trailing 22 - 14 at halftime against Grosvenor to win 35 - 27 and finish in 6th place with their out half John Maguire contributing 15 points. Carrickfergus proved too strong for Coleraine at Toms Simms Memorial Park winning 45 - 5 with their inform scrum half Conor Cambridge scoring three of his teams six tries to finish in 5th place. They await the outcome of the Round Robin tournament to see if they will compete in the AIL Junior Cup next season. 

Grosvenor and Cooke complete the one outstanding league match in this league when they play at Gibson Park on Thursday night 28th March 2019 with a 7.30PM KO. 

DIV 2 
Clogher Valley proved too strong for promotion contenders Randalstown at Nelisbrook on Tuesday night winning 29 - 10 with their out half Paul Armstrong scoring 17 points. This means that only two points separate the top three teams Limavady, Clogher Valley and Academy going into their final league games this weekend. Clogher Valley meet Limavady at the Cran in Fivemiletown knowing nothing less than a bonus point win will guarantee them the league title. Academy will be targeting the maximum five points when they travel to Ballymoney. A draw between Clogher Valley and Limavady could see the league title going to Academy. Like last Saturday in Division One there is plenty of drama to unfold before the final league placings are decided. Ards are targeting a 5th place finish after defeating Ballymoney 26 - 17 at Hamilton Park. They travel to UUC followed by their final game against Randalstown at Hamilton Park on Wednesday 3rd April 2019 with a 7.30PM KO. 

Lisburn will play Monaghan in the Div 2/Div 3 Playoff on Saturday 20th April for a place in Div 2 next season. 

DIV 3 
Donaghadee will take another step closer to the league title when they host Strabane at Donaldson Park this week. They have a seven point advantage over 2nd place Monaghan who have played one game more with two league games remaining. 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
Much has been said about the fixture scheduling in Ulster. Sufficient to say that the teams involved in playing three matches in eight days have had to manage a significant increase in injuries due to tired and fatigued bodies being asked to play in such games. We have talked about this subject for several seasons without reaching any compromise. I know Club Officials are focused on revenue with coaches concerned about the demands being placed on their players. We live in a much changed social environment with changes needed from clubs to be more flexible in the staging of fixtures. Many young players will tell you they don't want to have to give up a whole Saturday to play rugby. Revenue may be important for clubs but we have to recognise that the social habits of players and supporters have changed. Keeping players involved in playing domestic club rugby is essential to sustaining the future of the domestic game we are all so passionate about. Without the players we don't have a game to watch or support. 

Interested in taking up the whistle for the best seat in the house at the best sport in the world? 
The Ulster Society of Rugby Football ReferFormer ees (USRFR) can help - whether you just want to stay involved in the game after your playing days are over or you have aspirations to be the next World Cup final referee. There are opportunities for male and female referees at all levels of the game in Ulster and beyond. 

We run a comprehensive Induction Program (expertly led by John Crothers who is assisted by Chris Russell) which starts with a one day course covering all the key aspects of refereeing. You'll then be coached and mentored through a selected range of games including touch judge duties and opportunities to shadow experienced referees. In conjunction with experience on the pitch you'll attend a number of workshops focusing on key areas including communication, control, game management, Law and other technical aspects of the game. If you think you're already a rugby expert why not test yourself? 

Throughout the process we have experienced referee assessors to support you with formal and informal advice, helping you focus on your personal development. Self-assessment is also vital in the process to reach your full potential as a referee. We meet regularly as a society and in smaller area groups to discuss and share experiences and on-going topical refereeing issues. You'll also have the opportunity to make new friends through a range of social activities. 

We provide kit for all members and graduation to full membership gives you access to discounted Ulster Rugby season tickets as well as a 'right to buy' international tickets for the Aviva Stadium. 

Depending on your availability, commitment, aptitude and fitness you'll have the opportunity to progress at the pace that suits you and to achieve your goals as a referee including reaching the top levels of the professional game. 

This season we've brought 30 new referees through the Induction Program, some of whom are already refereeing at higher levels of the domestic game in Ulster, with realistic aspirations to move on further. Rugby in Ulster needs new referees every season so why not challenge yourself and give something back to the game you love? 

For further information contact Richard Kerr, Ulster Rugby Referee Development Manager on:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >; or 07493 868388 

We also have a range of information for our members and anyone interested in refereeing in our section of the Ulster Rugby website: 

https://www.ulsterrugby.com/rugby-in-ulster/rugby-development/referees/

Chris Russell 
USRFR 

NUTTY KRUST UNDER 18 TOURNAMENT 
In the first semi - final at Chambers Park on Tuesday 26th March Holders City of Armagh defeated Banbridge 68 - 5. The second semi final will be played on Wednesday the 27th March between Enniskillen and Rainey OB with the Final to be staged on Wednesday 10.4.19 with a 7.45 PM KO. 

WEEKEND RESULTS/TEAMS LISTS SATURDAY 23RD MARCH 2019 
ALL IRELAND LEAGUE 
DIV 1A 
Dublin University 37 Cork Constitution 13 
Garryowen 12 Clontarf 29 
Lansdowne 57 UCD 31 
Shannon 12 Terenure College 18 
UCC 13 Young Munster 10 

DIV 1B 
Old Wesley 29 Buccaneers 13 
Ballynahinch 34 Old Belvedere 27 
Banbridge 21 Naas 42 
Malone 16 City of Armagh 7 
St Mary's College 74 Ballymena 15 

DIV 2A 
Blackrock College 14 Navan RFC 39 
Nenagh Ormond 10 UL Bohemians 5 
Highfield 27 Cashel RFC 24 
Old Crescent 14 Dolphin 15 
Galwegians 7 Queens University 73 


DIV 2B 
Skerries 29 Wanderers 26 
Sligo 11 MU Barnhall 22 
Sunday's Well 55 Galway Corinthians 13 
Belfast Harlequins 10 Dungannon 8 

Rainey OB 35 Greystones 19 

DIV 2C 
Bruff 31 Tullamore 5 
Malahide 38 Ballina 17 
Bangor 20 Midleton 22 

Seapoint 33 City of Derry 13 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 1 
Ballyclare 13 Dromore 17 
Carrickfergus 45 Coleraine 5 
Cooke 18 Instonians 30 
Enniskillen 35 Grosvenor 27 
Portadown 28 CIYMS 23 

ULSTER PREMIERSHIP 2ND XV LEAGUE 
City of Armagh seconds 48 Omagh seconds 21 
Malone seconds 8 Ballynahinch seconds 38 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 2 
Ards 26 Ballymoney 17 
Limavady 52 Larne 17 
Lisburn 0 Randalstown 26 
Lurgan 20 Academy 38 
Randalstown 10 Clogher Valley 29. Played Tuesday 26.3.19. KO 7.30PM 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 3 
BHSFP 23 Holywood 54 
Newry 20 PSNI 17 
Ophir 10 Donaghadee 76 
Virginia 71 Civil Service 0 

FIXTURES SATURDAY 30TH MARCH 2019 KO 2.30PM 

ALL IRELAND PROVINCIAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND ROBIN QUALIFIERS 
Clonmel (Munster) v Connemara (Connacht) 
Instonians (Ulster) v Enniscorthy (Leinster) 

ULSTER PREMIERSHIP 2ND XV LEAGUE 
Ballynahinch seconds (2) v Omagh seconds (3) 
City of Armagh seconds (1) v Malone seconds (6) 

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 
DIV 2 
Ballymoney (5) v Academy (3) 
Clogher Valley (2) v Limavady (1) 
Lisburn (9) v Larne (8) 
Lurgan (7) v Randalstown (4) 
UUC (10) v Ards (6) 

DIV 3 
Cavan (11) v Virginia (5) 
Civil Service (9) v BHSFP (10) 
Donaghadee (1) v Strabane (8) 
Holywood (3) v Newry (6) 
Ophir (12) v Letterkenny (7) 
PSNI (4) v Monaghan (2) 

Very much the business end of the season with promotion and relegation issues to be decided. 
Please continue to support your local Community Rugby Club. 

Cheers 
George