Thursday, 5 March 2015
OK gang, I need you to do something.
Regular readers of this increasingly irregular blog may have read here that this year's Ulster Schools' Cup would see Coleraine Inst 1st XV grace the world's second oldest rugby competition for the last time. After 155 years, CAI is due to merge with the girls' High School in September to become Coleraine Grammar.
Those of us fortunate enough to have attended the school and worn the famous maroon jersey on the rugby field have found this to be an emotional experience. And, when on Tuesday the 1st XV controversially lost their Schools' Cup semi-final to a disputed Belfast Inst try, it was tough to take.
But one man who kept his head when all around were losing theirs was CAI Head Coach Richard Beggs.
Have a look at this tweet referring to comments have gave to the Belfast Telegraph immediately after the heat of battle.
Given his role, most reasonable people would probably have forgiven Richard for showing a touch less grace. Not only was it his boys who had just had their dreams snatched away, after a year of ceaseless preparation. He too had his own dream shattered on the very same Ravenhill pitch when a losing member of CAI Schools Cup Final team of 1991. But most significantly of all, he knew that the name of Coleraine Academical Institution would never again appear on the famous old trophy.
So let me make a little suggestion in an attempt to cheer us all up and, in so doing, provide Richard with some recognition for his efforts.
When I played with Richard in the 1990 Schools' Cup (we were stuffed by Methody in the quarter-finals), CAI was a school of around 1,200 boys. Rugby was compulsory in junior school and the coaches had the pick of the large numbers of players on show.
Fast forward to 2015, and pupil numbers have fallen by a third and the choice of sports at the school has widened to include football.
But, despite these handicaps, Richard has managed to guide his boys to three semi-final appearances in the last five years. Quite an achievement by anyone's reckoning.
Earlier today, I took a few minutes out to nominate Richard as Coach of the Year in the Youth/School/Mini-Rugby category of the Ulster Rugby Coaching Awards 2014-15.
I humbly invite you to do the same by clicking HERE - then spread the word.
Ah, go on. Nominations close next Tuesday (10 March).