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UUJ Making Great Strides

UUJ Making Great Strides

The University of Ulster, Jordanstown players, under the baton of head coach Mike McKeever, are busy preparing for their much-anticipated Irish Colleges Division One semi-final, which is a great achievement for the student club considering it is only their second season in the top flight.

There is a buoyant mood surrounding rugby at University of Ulster, Jordanstown, after the Mike McKeever-coached team qualified for the semi-final stages of Irish Colleges Division One.

UUJ, who are captained by Armagh centre Peter Elliott, will host their upcoming semi-final as they finished first and unbeaten in Irish Colleges Division One North.

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Head coach McKeever said: “This is a great competition and great experience for players to grow within the game.

“It gives them a chance to develop a greater game-understanding and play competitive rugby for a side with less pressure on them than there might be on them at their clubs or for those who maybe only play a small role in their club.’

Certainly, this is a great achievement for the student club, who are only in their second season in Division One.

Jordanstown won Division Two during the 2006/07 season and this season they have also had a ‘B’ team, captained by Simon Martin, competing in Division Two.

On several occasions, they have had two teams playing at the same time in different venues, showing the development of the club’s size and quality to compete in two leagues.

UUJ have also, this season, entered into the O’Boyle cup (freshers only competition) in which they have competed strongly in and are in contention for a quarter-final spot.

McKeever added: “The date for the Irish Colleges Division One semi-final has been initially set for March 25 at Jordanstown, where we hope to have a large support at the game from within the rugby club and other sports clubs.”

Players who represent ÜUJ also play club rugby at the weekends for various clubs, including Instonians, Armagh, Malone, Dungannon, Dromore, Ballymena and some others.

With a current club base of 65 players, the UUJ squads have the added benefit of getting to use the indoor 3G pitch at the Jordanstown Sports Centre and the strength and conditioning suite.

18 players from UUJ have represented Ulster at Schools, Under-19 and Under-20 level in the past two years.

18 UUJ players have lined out for Ulster Colleges this season in the interprovincial series and eight of those have gone on to represent the Irish Colleges side, including the likes of Peter Budina, Josh Devitt and Andrew Semple.

UUJ have a busy schedule ahead of them with the semi-final on March 25, the BUSA Sevens and Irish Colleges Sevens tournaments in April and the players will also compete in the Carrick Sevens competition in early May.

For more information on UUJ Rugby, please visit the club website.