Tony D’arcy, the former Wallaby tight head prop and Director of Rugby at Ballymena RFC has now put in place a number of key appointments for next season.
The most notable is the appointment of former Club Captain Ollie Smith as Head Backs coach to the Senior Squad. Whilst Ollie is better known as the twin brother of Lions hooker Stevie Smith, he was nonetheless an outstanding three quarter being equally at home playing out half, centre or wing.
Commenting on the appointment, Tony D’arcy stated that not only does Ollie possess an in depth knowledge of the game, being acutely aware of the skills of a modern three quarter but is passionate about Ballymena RFC and its future. I am delighted he has accepted the Club’s proposal and I am sure that the younger players in our Senior Squad will especially benefit from his input. This is an interesting coaching liaison because 25 years ago Ollie played for Ulster Schools against Tony who was with the touring Australian Schools team. Ollie made his First XV debut in 1979 playing over 450 First XV games over 15 seasons starting anywhere from 9 to 15 for Ballymena, in what may be an Irish Club Record.
In addition to Ollie Smith’s appointment, Tony D’arcy has appointed a number of specialist coaches to address specific skills areas. Former Ulster, Barbarians and Ireland A tight head prop Peter Millar will continue to assist with the scrum. Brian Robinson the former Ulster and Irish No 8 will conduct line out and back row clinics whilst former Irish internationals Philip Rainey and Trevor Ringland will provide input and guidance on wing three quarter and full back development. Davie Smyth, the former Ulster Captain will address ruck and maul development and Stanley McDowell who will continue to play AIL rugby will assist Ollie Smith in back play development.
Former Lions hooker Stevie Smith will address general positional play but specifically line out throwing, a skill which is a current issue in Irish rugby. Former Irish Schools back row forward and First XV stalwart Ian Hughes is made responsible for school’s level development.
Derek McAleese, former Club Captain, Ulster and Irish out half will be taking a series of kicking clinics as well as discussing general positional play.
Tony D’arcy further commented that with the calibre of this coaching staff and the depth of playing and administrative resources at the Club, Ballymena RFC are looking forward to the next number of seasons as a period of development and growth.