Rugby has been the main sport of the school throughout its history and the school has a great tradition of producing renowned players and administrators within the game.
Recent international representatives include Luke Marshall and David Humphreys, the current Director of Rugby at Gloucester, but the two most famous ex-internationals are British Lions and world rugby legends, Syd Millar and Willie-John McBride. Indeed, the 1st XV pitch (Millar- McBride pitch), located on the school’s grounds on the Galgorm Road, is named after these two great icons of the game. Another great ambassador for Ballymena Academy rugby is the current IRFU President, Ian McIlrath, who is a former pupil, teacher and governor of the school.
The tradition of supplying representative players continues to this day with the current Ulster professional squad containing 4 fulltime professionals, 5 Academy players and 1 sub-Academy member who attended Ballymena Academy, giving the school the largest representation of players from any school in Ulster.
The school last won the Ulster Schools Cup final in 2010 when they defeated Belfast Royal Academy by 10 points to 7, having beaten a very strong MCB team in the semi-final. Previous wins were recorded in 1972 and 1981. The school has also won the Subsidiary Shield on seven occasions.
The Medallion (under 15) team reached the final of the 2019 Shield narrowing losing to Methodist College, Belfast. In 2018 Ballymena Academy won the Ulster Schools Medallion Shield, having defeated Campbell College in the final, a competition which the school last won outright in 1970. A share of the Shield was also secured on 2 other occasions after drawn finals.
Ballymena Academy has a long-standing relationship with Methodist College and the schools compete annually for the Allan Young Cup, a trophy presented by the Young family to commemorate the life of Allan, whose last game for Ballymena Academy, before succumbing to illness, was our traditional October fixture.
Now Including Cian Mawhinney's Photographs. Photographs of this afternoon’s Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield Final played against Methodist College Belfast Medallion A XV at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast.Read more
Rugby Annual Report 2017-18
The 1st XV were able to field a team containing seven Ulster Schools’ representatives and early season form showed they would be a force to be reckoned with. The Young Cup Competition was lost narrowly to Methodist College in a thrilling game played on the Millar-McBride pitch, with Ulster Coach, Les Kiss in attendance.
A harsh winter meant the team only played one game throughout January, lacking in match preparation coming into the Schools’ Cup campaign. The first round draw was an away fixture to a highly fancied Enniskillen team, but training Camp preparation meant we went into the fixture well organised and confident. After coming through that tie, the Quarter Final threw two of the favourites for the Cup together, being drawn away to Campbell College, Belfast. Unfortunately, we lost 12-10 in a tremendously tight game and can only think what might have been as the Campbell team went on the win the Competition with relative ease.
The 2nd XV competed regularly each week and finished off the season as one of the top teams at this level. History repeated itself, as again they lost to Wallace High School in the Quarter Final of their Competition.
The 3rd XV were very competitive throughout the season and progressed through the Plate Competition to lose out at the Semi-Final stage.
The Medallion XV were the leading lights this year and provided the school with their annual visit to the Kingspan Stadium to claim the ‘Medallion Shield’ for the first time in 48 years. The strength in this team came from the numbers playing and their commitment to the School’s Athletic Development programme. Being able to field A and B teams throughout the whole season meant training was competitive and enjoyable for the whole squad.
The run through the Competition started with a trip to Ballyclare High School, followed by a home Quarter-Final against Belfast Royal Academy; both games were won comprehensively with some superb rugby on display. The Semi-Final draw meant a trip to Royal School, Dungannon to play against Enniskillen, a team that had beaten our boys in the Final of the O’Kane Tournament in the previous season. The team started like a ‘steam train’ and scored three unanswered tries in the first half, the second half was a little nervy at times but the final whistle sounded and celebrations began as the team had secured a trip to the Kingspan Stadium to play against Campbell College, Belfast in the Final.
Approximately 1,000 pupils and staff left the school with high hopes of success and a chance to get their hands on the trophy for the first time in almost 50 years. The boys did not disappoint and won a thriller 10 – 8 to bring the silverware back to Ballymena.
The U.14s were a very strong squad and had no problem in fielding an A and B team throughout the season. The competed in the RBAI Tournament and the O’Kane Tournament which brought the season to a close in mid-March. The team won the O’Kane Tournament on home soil and can look forward to the challenge of retaining the Medallion Shield this season.
The U.13s fielded A and B teams regularly and enjoyed plenty of victories throughout the season. The MCB Tournament was cancelled due to bad weather so unfortunately the boys did not get to experience the Competition bringing the top sides in Ulster and Ireland together.
Year 8 rugby was up and running from early September, with a mix of ability and playing experience. As the season went on the squad was regularly fielding A, B and C teams in the 12-a-side format. The season came to an end with two annual Tournaments held at Dalriada and Coleraine. The ‘A’ team won the main Tournament to lift The Arthur Topping Shield and the ‘B’ team won the Development Cup.
The Coleraine Tournament brought together some of the top schools in Ireland and the group stage brought some tough opposition, with wins against M.C.B., Omagh, Dalriada and Dungannon, taking the team through to play Coleraine in the Semi-Final. Unfortunately, the boys lost a very tight game which brought an end to the season for this exciting, young skilful team.
Bruce Houston – Ireland U.19
Oisin Jordan – Ulster U.19
Joshua McAuley – Ulster U.18
Stewart Moore – Ulster U.19, Ulster ‘A’ and Ireland U.19
Ben Savage – Ulster U.19
Mark Thompson – Ulster U.19