Ballyclare High’s Director of Rugby, Mike McKeever, reflects on the school’s summer tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Why tour to New Zealand?
The All Blacks are the best in the world for a reason... rugby is their main sport: they live, eat, and breathe rugby!
They don’t train any harder, they aren’t taught any special skills or tricks... they just have a library of knowledge and experiences from a younger age to assist their development and how to perform under pressure.
Did you have any background or experience of NZ?
I used a lot of personal contacts built over the years since leaving school and from family connections.
I am a firm believer that rugby is the best sport in the world and my aim was to provide pupils from Ballyclare High School with the best tour they could ever possibly imagine.
Tell us a little about the tour itinerary ...
We had 10 matches - eight in NZ and two in Australia, A and B level - over 16 days on a 20-day tour. We also packed in excursions.
Not only was this tour about playing rugby and developing as players it was an educational opportunity to learn about different cultures.
What was most pleasing was the feedback from local people on on how well-mannered and friendly the pupils had been.
All the boys had an excellent trip but I have to give special mention to those who the staff rewarded with special prizes on tour: Forward of the Tour, Adam McConkey; Back of the Tour, Jake McVicker; U16 Best Tourist, Patrick Dougan; U15 Best Tourist, Josh Young; Most Improved and Developed, Lochalinn McKenzie; Forward Man of Steel, Johnny Crockett; Back Man of Steel Jack Lewis;
Boomerang awards: Jamie Cross, Ross Reynol.
A huge thank-you to our school, headmaster, parents and carers who assisted with fund-raising events.
We look forward to the future two to three years at school and hope the boys enjoy playing the game and develop even further under the guidance of the excellent staff we have at school.