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Serbia star guides Port' pupils

Not many primary schoolchildren have the opportunity to be coached by a current international rugby player, but that is exactly what seven primary schools in the Portarlington area have experienced. Aleksander Mijahlovic, club community rugby officer (CCRO) for Portarlington RFC, is preparing to make his international comeback for Serbia next month after a lengthy hiatus.

Although by no means are Serbia a rugby superpower, international rugby is international rugby regardless and the game of rugby in the Portarlington area can surely only benefit from the experience of a man who has represented his country while also playing professionally in England.

If the success of the minis and women's sections in the club are anything to go by, then rugby is indeed benefiting from Aleksander's experience.

This year, Portarlington have seen an invasion of kids looking to experience the game for the first time with 60 new arrivals in the minis' age groups alone.

Consider also that Portarlington brought 286 to the Leinster-Clermont match in the Aviva and it is clear that rugby is booming in the Laois town.

Aleksander concurs. "We've had a massive influx of players over the last 12 months. Our minis and youth sections have seriously boomed," he said.

The high level of interest has been reflected by the establishment of a rugby side in Monasterevin secondary school for the first time. Portarlington have also fielded three new women's sides this year.