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25 July 2018

The Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy squad for the upcoming season has been confirmed, with 6 new entrants named among the roster of 19.

Joining the programme are Malone RFC star Matthew Agnew, who played for Ireland in the recent U20 World Cup, and the Ballymena Academy trio of fly-half Bruce Houston, centre Stewart Moore and back row Azur Allison, who captained Ireland U19s last year. Double Schools’ Cup winner with RBAI, David McCann, will be another familiar face to followers of schools’ rugby. The final place in the Academy is awarded to Iwan Hughes, a pace-laden Irish-qualified outside back who joins the Ulster setup from Bristol.


 
Robert Baloucoune and Graham Curtis will also both be looking forward to their first full season in the Academy, after joining later in the season last year. Baloucoune, who developed his game at Portora Royal School and Enniskillen RFC was part of the Ireland team that won the Challenge Trophy at the Rugby World Cup Sevens last weekend, while scrum-half Graham Curtis will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of his brother Angus who made his senior debut last season.


 
Four players, who have all made notable impressions at PRO14 and Champions Cup level, have been rewarded with upgraded senior contracts – Greg Jones, Adam McBurney, Jonny Stewart and Nick Timoney.
 
It has also been confirmed that Rory Butler, Peter Cooper, Alexander Clarke and John McCusker have all departed the full-time Academy programme to pursue other opportunities.
 
Commenting on the announcement of the Academy squad, Kieran Campbell, Head of the Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy, said:
 
“It is always an exciting time of the year when we welcome in the new crop of young Academy players and, once again, we are delighted with the level of quality coming in. Our player development pathway from U16 through to Academy is going from strength to strength, evidenced by 36% of Ulster representation on Irish National Talent Squads and 46 Ulster senior caps won by Academy players last season.
 
“The quality of players and their level of application is driving competition within the pathway and the current crop are full of enthusiasm and keen to get stuck into the programme, so we’re all really looking forward to seeing how they progress over the season.”


 
ABBEY INSURANCE ULSTER RUGBY ACADEMY 2018/19
 
Year 3:
 
Angus Curtis   
Position: Fly Half / Centre
DOB: 26/03/1998
Height: 176cm
Weight: 89kg
Club: Malone
 
Aaron Hall
Position: Back Row
DOB: 26/06/1998
Height: 193cm
Weight: 98kg
Club: Ballynahinch
 
Zack McCall
Position: Hooker
DOB: 10/02/1995
Height: 180cm
Weight: 100kg
Club: Ballynahinch
 
Marcus Rea
Position: Back Row
DOB: 08/09/1997
Height: 189cm
Weight: 105cm
Club: Ballymena
 
Year 2:
 
Robert Baloucoune
Position: Back Three
DOB: 19/08/1997
Height: 193cm
Weight: 89kg
Club: Ballymena
 
Graham Curtis
Position: Scrum Half
DOB: 12/09/1999
Height: 174cm
Weight: 85kg
Club: Malone
 
Matthew Dalton
Position: 2nd Row / Flanker
DOB: 16/11/1998
Height: 197cm
Weight: 112kg
Club: Malone
 
Joe Dunleavy
Position: Flanker        
DOB: 22/12/1998
Height: 190cm
Weight: 101kg
Club: Malone
 
James Hume
Position: Centre
DOB: 07/09/1998
Height: 184cm
Weight: 95kg
Club: Banbridge
 
Michael Lowry
Position: Fly Half
DOB: 20/08/1998
Height: 170cm
Weight: 81kg
Club: Banbridge
 
Eric O’Sullivan
Position: Prop
DOB: 30/11/1995
Height: 186cm
Weight: 115kg
Club: Banbridge
 
Tom O’Toole
Position: Prop
DOB: 23/09/1998
Height: 185cm
Weight: 116kg
Club: Ballynahinch
 
Jack Regan
Position: 2nd Row
DOB: 09/05/1997
Height: 197cm
Weight: 112kg
Club: Ballynahinch
 
Year 1:
 
Matthew Agnew
Position: Back Row
DOB: 20/11/1998
Height: 180cm
Weight: 95kg
Club: Malone
 
Azur Allison
Position: Back Row
DOB: 19/04/1999
Height: 192cm
Weight: 99kg
Club: Ballymena
  
Bruce Houston
Position: Fly Half
DOB: 26/08/1999
Height: 192cm
Weight: 92kg
Club: Ballymena
 
Iwan Hughes
Position: Back Three
DOB: 06/04/1999
Height: 173cm
Weight: 77kg
Club: Ballynahinch
 
David McCann
Position: Back Row
DOB: 13/06/2000
Height: 190cm
Weight: 94kg
Club: Banbridge
 
Stewart Moore
Position: Centre
DOB: 08/08/1999
Height: 183cm
Weight: 91kg
Club: Malone