Many congratulations on your promotion this season to Division 2B of the AIL. I wish your First XV in the AIL and all teams across all levels every enjoyment and success throughout the season.
Greetings also to club President Des Cosgrove.
I am aware that, as I write, discussions are being held regarding the future of the AIL and it is as yet uncertain what the format will be for 2019/2020.
Since its introduction in 1990/91 it has been the primary inter-club competition in Irish rugby and year on year its significance is evidenced by the substantial number of talented players who progress to Provincial and National sides as a consequence of having showcased their talents on club pitches throughout the campaign.
This recognition of talent, while creating some short term issues for clubs, also creates a pride and a ‘feel good’ factor within for those who have coached and encouraged these players, often from Mini Rugby days.
Such is in keeping with the wishes of the IRFU who are committed in their resolve to have in place a healthy club and grass roots environment across the Island of Ireland.
I will continue to be an advocate for clubs and for those within them who work tirelessly and largely without recognition, towards the personal and rugby development of young men and women, boys and girls.
On behalf of my Union colleagues I thank all club volunteers for their loyal and much appreciated support.
We are hugely indebted to you.
Enjoy the season.
President – IRFU.
Meet the President of the IRFU
Ian McIlrath, the former Ireland centre three-quarter, was elected the 130th President of the Irish Rugby Football Union at the annual Council Meeting of the Union in the Aviva Stadium on July 13th, 2018.
A long standing stalwart member of Ballymena RFC – he was club President from 2000 to 2008 – he played for Ulster between 1970 and ’78 and won five international caps for Ireland between the 1975 and ‘77 seasons.
McIlrath is the second member of Ballymena RFC to hold the highest office in Irish rugby, following in the footsteps of Syd Millar in the 1995-’96 season.
A school teacher by profession, he was head of PE from 1974 to 1989 at Ballymena Academy and was then Head of Buick Memorial Primary school from 1989 to 2006.
Appointed to the Ulster Branch, IRFU in 2000, he joined the IRFU Committee in 2008, since when he has played a key role on a variety of committees.
These include as Chairman of the Rugby Committee and Chairman of the All Ireland League sub committee; the IRFU Management Committee, the Referees sub Committee, the Irish Exiles Committee, the Club Sustainability Working Party and as a Trustee of the IRFU’s Charitable Trust for seriously injured players.
Married to Pamela, he has one daughter Anne and grand-daughter Beth.