Class of '98 head roll of honour from thriving Suttonians nursery
The 91-year-old Dublin club Suttonians RFC has been using the hash tag #NorthsideRugbyNursery this season.
It is an appropriate description after winning three Leinster Branch League Finals. They hold the Leinster U-14, U-16 and 18s titles. These teams have also contested several Leinster Cup finals.
This hasn't just happened overnight but is the result of many years of work by Stephen Hughes and Robert Forbes, Leinster Rugby CCROs and the many hundreds of active volunteer coaches and the players' parents.
The hard work has resulted in more than 250 Minis training and playing blitzes throughout the province every weekend. The current U-7s squad boast 57 players in the club every Sunday morning.
The club's "98s" who are now the 2016 Leinster U-18 league champions have won 13 of the 17 Leinster branch trophies from competitions they have participated in since they started playing together. This squad of nearly 50 has seen some players develop into Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Cup champions with Belvedere College and also Leinster and Ulster club interprovincial honours. The most prestigious honour of an Irish U-18 international cap was awarded to Jack Aungier in 2016 and he hopefully has a bright future as a tighthead prop.
Suttonians RFC has focused on developing the game of rugby in the community and has worked closely with their neighbours St Fintan's High School. The school teams have developed in tandem with the club's underage development. Five years ago, a group of first years in St Fintan's wanted to play the game representing the school and a group of parents got behind this initiative.
From a development cup team five years ago, they will enter the Section B league and compete to enter the Leinster Branch Senior Schools Challenge Cup in 2016/'17.
This season's honours list has seen the fruits of a lot of hours spent developing the game and is a true representation of why Leinster rugby chose the tag line 'From The Ground Up'. We hope to see many more international players from the club where Ian Keatley learned to play as a Mini.