Wednesday saw forty players and members of management from Ulster Rugby get put through their paces by the Northern Ireland Army Recruiting Team during an intensive one-day course at the Ballykinler training base in County Down.
The Ulster squad underwent a series of physical tasks, including the formidable assault course and climbing wall, command tasks, a field exercise and a rifle and clay target shooting competition.
“The Ulster players and management staff got an insight into how the Army develops character in individuals so they might better contribute to the team and thus benefit from the Army’s team-building expertise. What we were aiming to achieve was to develop enhanced team and communication skills among the players,” explained Colonel Rafferty.
“The Army Recruiting Team has been running week long residential work experience courses for young people for many years now. These courses not only give students an insight into Army life but also develop self confidence and highlight strengths and weaknesses so that each might play to their strengths and better contribute to the team effort. With this in mind we condensed the week long course into a one day package which is free of charge.”
Ulster coach Mark McCall had discussed the desired outcomes of the day’s activities with Colonel Rafferty before coming down to Ballykinler and thus both parties achieved their collective aims.
Describing the day’s events, McCall said: “We were split into four teams of ten each, led by some of the younger players. The day was challenging but good fun, and for the players a welcome break from the normal routine.
“We want to thank Colonel Rafferty for facilitating the day and I believe the skills developed here today will be put to good use on the pitch at Ravenhill.”
Ulster out-half David Humphreys, the former Irish international, added: “The whole programme was very challenging but all in all great fun as well! It goes without saying that fitness was tested on several of the day’s activities but what was highlighted to everyone was the importance of communication and team-building skills, whether completing the assault course or a tough command task.”
Ulster play the first of two pre-season friendlies on Friday week with Leeds Carnegie the visitors to Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm).