Ulster Bank League profiles: UCD boast next crop of Leinster stars

“Our model is slightly different in that all the other players. All the players we have are students in the university. They start in first year and you hope they stay with UCD RFC for the duration of the degree.  We haven’t really recruited anyone else because you have to be a student to play.”

They have no shortage of talent in their ranks, the students, but that is not always good in a dynamic league of Division 1A’s nature.

The likes of Josh Van Der Flier, Ross Molony, James Tracy, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath and Garry Ringrose cannot be relied on too much due to their provincial duties and players of their caliber will be sorely missed.

Having said that, UCD can still  call on a promising stock of players. This includes Ireland U20 stars Hugo Keenan and Andrew Porter, as well as Adam Byrne, Greg Jones, Peadar Timmins, Michael Moynihan, Ross Byrne and Jeremy Loughman, in a bid to compete in the top-half of the table.

They have also acquired James Ryan, the captain of Ireland U20s, from Lansdowne. Although he has secured a contract with the Leinster Academy, the powerful second row will be a big asset to UCD’s campaign.

Finishing fourth last season, the students were defeated by two points in their opening round against the champions Clontarf. Poor discipline was cited by the director of rugby Bobby Byrne as their downfall.

“We would have been a bit disappointed with the result against Clontarf because the game was in the balance with 10 or 15 minutes to go. Our own self-discipline let us down a bit and we gave away a couple of penalties that were costly.”

Now looking ahead to the college derby at the weekend, Byrne is wary of the momentum Dublin University have gathered since coming up from Division 1B.

“Trinity are always unpredictable. There’s a lot of pride at stake and Trinity, obviously coming up from 1B, have a lot of momentum. They had a very good season last year and had a very good win away from home against Terenure. It’s going to be a tight game and hard to predict the outcome.”

Coaches: Bobby Byrne

Captain: Jamie Glynn

Last year’s finish: 4th

Last title: Never.

First four fixtures: Clontarf (H) Dublin University (A) Terenure (A) St. Mary’s (H)  

Betting: 10/3

Players In: James Ryan (Lansdowne).

Players Out: Number of players graduated.

Hopes and Expectations

We’ve been lucky enough to maintain the core of our first team. As a university club, our squad can change from year to year. So our initial objective is to maintain our status in Divison 1A. We had a third place finish and a fourth place finish in the past so for us to be the third or the fourth ranked team in the country is a fantastic achievement. We have a lot of talented players but they’re very young. If we can maintain our Division 1A status, we’re going to be in the mix by the season of the end.

Player to watch

It’s very difficult to pinpoint one player because we have a lot of talented guys.

Some of the players are pursuing a professional rugby career and Andrew (Porter) and James (Ryan) are guys you’d hope would move on to that level in the next couple of years.

We have a lot of players who aren’t involved in the professional ranks that we depend on on a weekly basis. They’re crucial to our success.

Biggest obstacle

Availability of players. We obviously have a lot of players who are involved in Leinster in the British & Irish Cup and the senior squad. We have a lot of players pulled and we accept that as a part of their development but it makes it very difficult to get consistency in performances. When we have those guys we’re very strong. If a lot of them are needed elsewhere that’s a big challenge for us.  We would have been a bit disappointed with the result against Clontarf because the game was in the balance with 10 or 15 minutes to go. Our own self-discipline let us down a bit and gave away a couple of penalties that were costly.

A word on the club scene:

“I think it is a fantastic competition, particularly Division 1A.  You only have to look at the results last weekend. There were five away wins and all the losing sides got a losing bonus point. There’s nothing between the sides. I would like to see it get a bit more publicity. The general public isn’t aware of the standard of the rugby and unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that the professional game overshadows it. It’s definitely a significant competition.


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