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After almost six months of relative inactivity, Rainey Old Boys are now back in training for another season, which starts later than usual and has had to be tweaked around quite a bit in view of the uncertainty of the situation.  All rugby fans are looking forward to a return to action, while fully aware that things could turn pear-shaped at any time.


With Ulster and Ireland facing a hectic schedule in the autumn, the AIL will not start until January.  No changes have been made to the teams in each division, which is very tough on the sides who were odds-on for promotion late last season.  Clubs will only play each other once, with Rainey enjoying home advantage on only four occasions.  There will be no promotion or relegation.


Rainey will have two friendlies at Hatrick Park (Belfast Harlequins on Sept 12 and Malone on Sept 19 ), before opening their defence of the Ulster League Section 1 title against three-in-a-row Senior Cup winners Armagh, back in the top division at the expense of Ballymena.  This competition will finish before Christmas.  The Old Boys have a bye in the Senior Cup, but will have to wait until April for the competition to continue.


Stephen Rutledge, Club Captain last season, comes in at Chairman for Oliver McShane who led some very useful initiatives during his tenure.  Welsh Wizard Dylan Davies is an inspired choice as successor to Paul Flanigan as President, while Ronan McCusker takes over as Captain after his spell in Boston.  His father was, of course, Captain back in 1992-93 and he and his wife Carol are avid supporters of their three sons.


Brad Roberts was a deserving winner of the Division 2A Player of the Year award, a great honour for player and club.  He was due to test himself at a higher level in Wales, but things are still a bit up in the air over there, so it would be no real surprise to see him in Rainey colours for the opening games - stranger things have happened!

 

Scrum-half Jason Bloomfield, a great asset who led the side on many occasions last season, is taking a break from the game to deal with other commitments.  We can only hope that he will be back some time in the future.


While young prop Jack McIntosh is going up to City of Derry to hopefully get more 1stXV experience, the club welcomes back Scott McLean, Mark O' Connor, Darren Corrigan and Sammy Sufferin.  A few other young lads will join a squad of very talented prospects, many of whom did well on the Firsts last season when called upon.  And having Tommy O' Hagan available again helps.  The progress that young centre Conor Fitzsimons was making in partnership with Damien McMurray was notable.  Unfortunately, he has a hip problem which will keep him out of action for some time.But, he will be back.