PBC’S initiative in upgrading its rugby programme reaped an almost immediate reward with a first Munster Schools Senior and Junior Cup double since 2007, winning the famous trophies for the 31st time in both instances.
The seniors’ 24-0 win over neighbours CBC in the final, made noteworthy by the manner of their attractive attacking style, was followed by the 20-8 junior triumph over Ardscoil Ris in a successful title defence.
Brian McMahon is the school’s Rugby Director and he is no doubt about the reasons behind the memorable season.
“It’s all down to the rugby programme and the buy-in from everybody,” he said. “We have record numbers playing, four teams in first year, three or four in second all feeding into our junior teams and then senior.
“And we’re still only in the infancy of that programme always with the aim of playing expansive rugby. This is only our third year at it and hopefully we will get better at it.
McMahon referenced the on-going development at their Wilton base as a central plank in the overall rugby structure.
“We’re about to complete our high-performance centre there in the next month or so and we will have a full summer programme during June, July and August.
“The only time we have off are the two weeks after Easter and the second that is done, we’re back into our pre-season for juniors and seniors.
“We have a huge unit built thanks to the support of our parents, sponsors and past-pupils investing in us and it includes a fully kitted-out gym which allows 50 kids work-out there at the one time.
“It will be spectacular, when it’s finished and still that is only the tip of the iceberg. The school management has bought in big time, too, upgrading our facilities every summer, when there’s work going on.”
Ger Burke heads up the senior coaching team and Paul Downes the junior and the pair are strong advocates of the heads-up-ball-in-hand approach, the Pres way of playing.
Even though the seniors leaked a lot of scores early on in the season, Burke wouldn’t be shifted from their style and it paid off spectacularly in the end.
Downes outlined the level of commitment involved.
The junior final was played in wet conditions, but Pres had trained the day before and were accustomed to the problems associated with a slippery ball and surface while also sticking to their expansive approach.
The pair are just two of the many coaches giving up their time across the age grades. “At the moment we’re spoiled with the quality of coaches,” McMahon commented.
“We have a lot of good coaches and yet we can’t get enough of them because we have so many kids playing.
“The more coaches we have the better and we’re constantly looking to get more. Parents and teachers give of their time relentlessly and endlessly and without them we’re going no place.
“People don’t see the commitment and the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s not just the hour-and-a-half training sessions on the park because every session is planned.
As for the double? “I can’t tell you what it means. There are no words to describe the atmosphere in the school.
“Our boys live for their rugby. They adore their school and they adore their sport. Our aim is to get as many kids playing the game and enjoying the game.
“We say at the outset that there is a place for all in Pres rugby and all we ask of every single child is to be the best they can be,” McMahon concluded.