THE future of rugby in Coleraine looks to be in safe hands.
The club is bracing themselves for what looks set to be an exciting season at underage level. A new coaching team is in place and there is a return for the Under-17 squad.
But perhaps the most significant news is the appointment of Daniel McAuley as the club’s first ever Community Rugby Officer.
The main role of the U17s Head Coach will be to promote and develop rugby in schools and the greater community. Daniel will be co-managed by both the club and the Ulster Rugby Branch NW Regional CCRO Shaun Bloomfield.
Twenty-two year old Daniel was a formidable and popular player at Coleraine until injury regrettably ended a promising rugby career. But never one to lie down he began studying Sports Development & Fitness at NRC Coleraine where he graduated this year.
A qualified Level 1 Coach, Daniel began learning his trade at Coleraine in 2007 under some very successful and influential Youth Rugby Coaches until being handed the reins of Head Coach of the U17s this year, ably assisted by Seamus Sweeney (CRFC Youth Convenor).
“I’m grateful to Coleraine for sticking by me when I was injured and for giving me an opportunity to develop as a coach,” Daniel told Times Sport.
“I see my appointment as U17s Head Coach and CCRO as a way in which I can pay back their faith in me and bringing fresh talent to Rugby Avenue. My heart lies with Coleriane but I would like to explore the option of going further in this field.”
Daniel can take a great deal of credit in helping establish an U13 squad to the Club last season which was largely drawn from the region’s non-rugby playing schools such as Dunluce, North Coast Integrated College and Coleraine College. Many of last year’s U13s have stepped up into the current U15 squad, making room for fresh recruits some of whom have stepped up from Coleraine’s Mini section.
The Coleraine club are fully behind Daniel and the entire revitalised Youth Section as they clearly see the future has to lie in developing and nurturing home-grown talent for future first fifteen squads.
“We need to establish a bridge between our own Mini players and the Youth section and from the Youth into the Senior Squads,” said Daniel.
“Already some of last year’s U19s have had a run out with our Firsts and Seconds, which shows that we are seeing the fruits of many years dedicated coaching within our own club grounds.
“I also see my setbacks through injury as being strength in helping young players understand the importance of fitness and safety while enjoying one of the best competitive team sports in the world.
“Finally, I’d like to say that I view the word Community in its truest sense and see the need for being completely inclusive of all young people from all religious, cultural and social backgrounds. So come on and try rugby at Coleraine, where we are building players for the future.”
Coleraine’s Youth season begins on Saturday 6 October with a tough away fixture to Portadown and their first home game will be against Newry on October 20th so come along and see tomorrow’s senior players in action for yourself.