Courage, respect, and personal responsibility coupled with understanding and acceptance of others are all valuable characteristics that can be learnt from the game.
These attributes are carried with pride by our Under-16 squad. The young lads will be travelling to Dublin on Saturday, February 23 to play a friendly with Suttonians and then head to Croke Park to support Ireland against Scotland. The players do not just represent Malone's strong youth tradition. They represent much more.
Malone RFC is the last inner city club in Belfast. Its location, in the heart of a working class area of east Belfast, has lead it to be caricatured as 'The Cregagh Working Mens Club'. Whilst the club always welcomed anyone who wanted to play rugby, in the past its location meant players were primarily (though by no means exclusively) from one side of the community.
Times have changed and the squad that travels to the John J McDowell grounds is fully integrated. Strong efforts have been made over recent years to broaden the appeal of the club and this is now reflected in the balance of the team with players coming from every section of society.
In particular the work of our volunteers in association with Ulster Branch development officers has brought rugby to the fore in the local Catholic Grammar schools, not just bringing more players to Malone but also establishing rugby in schools were it was rarely played in the past.
Saturday's trip is an important and deliberate step in strengthening the relationships and friendships that exist within our U-16 squad. For many of them it will be their first trip to an international - hopefully there will be many more and maybe one or two of them might make it on to the pitch some day!
Thanks to Alan Rodgers and Roger Wort of Malone RFC