ABOUT BALLYMENA RFC
OUR CLUB | OUR HISTORY | OUR PEOPLE
Ballymena Rugby Football Club was founded in 1887.
Ballymena RFC was first affiliated to the Northern Branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union in 1887, but the Club as we know it today, began after the First World War, in 1922, and entered the Junior League in the1923-24 season, playing their games in the local Demesne. Within the next 10 years, they twice won both the Provincial Towns· Cup and the Junior Challenge Cup, and even competed, albeit with little success, in the Senior Challenge Cup. Some old Photos Below.
The Post War Era
At the end of the Second World War, the Club reformed, and were now playing at the Showgrounds, using the changing facilities provided by Ballymena Academy, whose Headmaster, the late W.H. Mol, had taken over the position of Club President.
Ballymena a Senior Club
After a number of successful years, which produced successive Junior League Championship wins in 1950-51 and 1951-52, an application was made to the Ulster Branch for admission to the senior ranks, and so, in the 1952-53 season, Ballymena became a Senior Club.
Two years later, they moved to their present home at Eaton Park, then a modest 9 acres, which they had acquired from the Mid-Antrim Sports Association, and where other sports like Cricket, Tennis, Men’s Hockey and later Athletics, were being catered for.
Only the first of these has survived and continues to flourish as a very successful and thriving Section of the Club. The following couple of decades saw Eaton Park expand to 30-odd acres, and the erection of a pavilion, a function hall, training floodlights, a grandstand and a clubhouse with kitchen facilities.
After acquiring senior status in 1952, Ballymena had to wait ten years for their next playing success, winning the Senior Cup in 1962-63, benefitting from the leadership and superb place-kicking of captain Jonathan Moffett.
Ulster Senior Cup: Winners 15 times
Stevenson Shield (Ulster Senior League): Winners 12 times
Ulster Senior League/Cup Doubles: 1988/89, 1989/90 and 1996/97
ALL-IRELAND DIVISION ONE CHAMPIONS: 2002-2003
In 1970, Ballymena blazed a trail in Irish rugby by appointing a principal coach, adopting a squad system and setting up a club coaching scheme, and the stage was set for the golden decade that was to follow, during which Ballymena were arguably the foremost club in Ulster and Ireland. They contributed many players to the Ulster Provincial side and to the Irish International team during this period, which came to a climax in 1980 with a major Club tour to Canada.
Ballymena British & Irish Lions
Syd Millar – 1959, 1962, 1968, 1974 (coach), 1980 (Tour Manager), 2001 (Chairman)
Willie-John McBride – 1962, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1983 (Tour Manager)
Trevor Ringland – 1983, 1986
Stevie Smith – 1989
Tommy Seymour – 2017
Syd Millar, Willie-John McBride, Barton McCallan, Jonathan Moffett, Ian Dick, Jimmy Dick, Joey Gaston, Robin Gregg, Wallace McMaster, Ian McIlrath, Harry Steele, Trevor Ringland, Steve Smith, Philip Rainey, Brian Robinson, Gordon Hamilton, Derek McAleese, Jonathan Bell, David Tweed, David Humphreys, James Topping, Dion O’Cuinneagain, Gary Longwell, Paul Shields, Matt McCullough, Andrew Trimble, Bryan Young, Isaac Boss, Paddy Wallace, Ian Whitten, Dan Tuohy, Luke Marshall, Tommy Seymour, Robert Baloucoune, (to be continued…..)