Three Wallace High School First XV rugby players had the summer of a lifetime, not only enjoying their school tour to South Africa but also visiting the Rainbow Nation with the 26 strong Ulster Elite Development Squad.
When the South Africa Airways strike caused massive disruption to Wallace’s tour schedule, the three boys, Gary Crowe, Matthew Nelson and Harry McAleese were luckily able to join their Ulster Elite team-mates for a longer spell.
Lower Sixth pupil Gary and Upper Sixths Matthew and Harry were selected for the Development squad following extensive trials, joining 23 others from throughout the province on the final touring squad.
Tight head prop Matthew Nelson explained, “The Squad tour really gave us a chance to get to know one another. We are now firm friends and working as a very close unit on the pitch, however I’m quite sure that once the school rugby season starts in earnest our school rivalries will re-surface!”
Whilst in South Africa the Elite Squad played two matches, one in Cape Town against Western Provinces Under 19 and the other in Durban, against the Natal Academy.
Second Row/flanker Gary Crowe commented, “These matches were very tough, particularly the one against Western Provinces, yet these experiences will undoubtedly provide a great platform for both school rugby and future Ulster fixtures.
The Ulster coaches were very stringent with us and we trained a great deal on tour. We also learnt a lot about nutrition and fitness, providing us with a wonderful glimpse into the world of professional sport.”
Scrum half Harry McAleese concluded, “We’ve brought a lot of the training methods back to Wallace. A highlight of the tour was receiving a personal skills coaching session with the Natal Sharks’ Coach. We also had the opportunity to see the TriNations match between South Africa and New Zealand. We’re now looking forward to this autumn’s Interprovincials as well as a tour to play Lancashire Schools.”
Last modified: October 16, 2007