Rugby Update message from Peter Bradley - Chairman Instonians Rugby

Dear Instonian,

I hope my e-mail finds you well and that you are all coping in this
unprecedented time as well as possible. I had thought it appropriate to
reach out to the members of the rugby club with an update and ensure all
members both playing and non-playing are kept up to date with all things

As most of you may know, the season 19/20 has been cancelled and the
remaining fixtures vs Dromore and Cooke will not go ahead. The season
has been finished with Instonians in 5th place in the league with eight
wins, one draw and six losses. A somewhat disappointing year when
compared with our aspirations but plenty of lessons were learnt and
we'll be back next season.

The 2nd XV had an equally tough year, in what was a difficult season
fielding a consistent team, with many of the players for the 3rd XV
having to move between the two sides; the strengthening of the 2nd XV
under Gerry Colan O'Leary is high on next seasons agenda. The 3rd XV had
a solid year with the only negative being that we weren't able to blood
as many of the U18s coming through this season as last year with the
season ending early, I hope they come next season for their first games
and initiations, I would like to thank Gavin Oakes and Curtis Barrett in
coaching the side.

At youth level the U18s were once again under the solid stewardship of
Stephen Lamb and Scott Hanley and they produced another good season, mid
table in their division and strong contenders to retain their cup, thank
you to Scott and Stephen. The U16s improved as the season went on with
some good friendlies partnering with Academy to ensure that we got
meaningful 15 a side rugby. We have an exciting and enthusiastic U14
coming the season ahead, the bulk of this year that trained were U13s. 
It would also be worth mentioning our U12 went through the season
unbeaten, a fantastic achievement! An important part of the club
development has seen Ally McKee and Michael Fairbanks introducing rugby
to non traditional secondary schools such as St Josephs, Rathmore, St
Marys, Al Saints and Malone Integrated to name a few. In In a short
period of time we have had great engagement with these schools and a
number of new players have came to the club. To facilitate the growing
youth numbers we have identified and upskilled new coaches through the
appropriate IRFU rugby courses to deliver meaningful and safe rugby
sessions next season. I would like to thank all those who supported the
senior and youth teams throughout the year, specifically; Ken Bamford,
Clem Boyd, Ken Keane, Mike Bentley, Chris Noble, Roy Lawton, Michael
Fairbanks and Will Dawson.

Mini rugby was a great success throughout the year, Roy Lawton organised
and implemented hours of coaching to schools not usually associated with
rugby and we saw high numbers turning out every Saturday morning.
Fantastic to see the P1s being a great success with growing numbers,
partly due to the decision to move indoors during the winter months and
greatly helped by Ash Stewart and his coaching team; looking after over
30 P1 kids at a time is challenging and requires patience and
understanding. Really unfortunate that the P7 tour to Italy had to be
postponed and hopefully a date will be agreed in the near future. To all
the P7s we look forward to seeing you with the U12s next season on your
continuing rugby journey. A special mention must go to our new
mini-rugby convenor Michael Fairbanks, who successfully accredited
Instonians rugby club with what is called a 'Clubmark NI', This is a
great step forward for the club. Thank you to all the coaches, families
and volunteers that make the Seahorses such a success.

At committee level much has been done in regards to recognising the
clubs values, which were decided upon by a large cross section of the
rugby club and these will be part of our new club app launching and all
of our literature going forward. The committee has added a few new faces
to compliment some returning older ones. Many great initiatives have
been brought forward including a ladies day organised brilliantly by Pam
Gillies and the rest of the girls who made it a fantastic day; Ken
Bamford had mentioned in dispatches how much he enjoyed the event and
can he come next year even though not President?! A special mention must
also go to Neil Gillies, who has taken on the head of sponsorship role
and did a fine job pulling together a Sportsmans dinner. The dinner has
been initially postponed until Saturday 3rd October which is something
we can all look forward to.

Moving onto next season, (whenever it begins) I am pleased to announce
that Paul Pritchard will be moving up to Head Coach whilst still playing
for the side, Paul completed his Stage 3 IRFU coaching award, has been
capped by Ulster and brings a wealth of experience from the All Ireland
Leagues. I would like to thank the efforts of Rupert and Jason this
season and all the players who gave their all. Our goal for the 20/21
campaign is promotion to Senior status once again. In the background a
lot of effort is going into player recruitment for both new and
returning players, which will make for an exciting team to watch and hit
our pre-season goals.

Lastly, during this difficult period please ensure we look out for one
another. If anyone is in need of any help, especially the older members
of the club. If you need shopping/jobs done or if you just want to lift
the phone to talk to someone please ensure you do so. Reach out to the
greater network and don't suffer alone, the club should rally around now
more than ever, even though we are not on the pitch.

All the best,

Peter Bradley
Chairman Instonians Rugby Club