SLIDESHOW: Ireland rugby coach special guest at Academy dinner

Over 300 Ballymena Academy Rugby players and supporters enjoyed An Evening in The Company of Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt on Friday.

Joe was the star guest at a fundraising dinner to support the school’s rugby actvities.

Ireland rugby team head coach Joe Schmidt is welcomed to the Ballymena Academy rugby dinner by the schools 1st XV captain Josh McIlroy. Included are senior team members, principal Stephen Black, Gavin Murray and Alaister McKay. INBT21-236AC

Ireland rugby team head coach Joe Schmidt is welcomed to the Ballymena Academy rugby dinner by the schools 1st XV captain Josh McIlroy. Included are senior team members, principal Stephen Black, Gavin Murray and Alaister McKay. INBT21-236AC

International players past and present, British and Irish Lions legend Syd Millar, current Ireland player Luke Marshall, school 1st XV players, corporate sponsors and school supporters were entertained to Joe’s views on the Six Nations’ Campaign and the upcoming World Cup.

BBC Sport’s Jim Neilly acted as Master of Ceremonies for an excellent evening supported by some 26 local businesses.

The Dinner was organised by the school’s marketing coordinator Mr Alistair McKay who said: “A number of our sponsors and supporters have held us to improve our facilities and broaden the experiences of our young people in terms of sports available and the quality of the coaching we provide.

“To have Joe Schmidt visit us is a ringing endorsement of the esteem in which Ballymena Academy and indeed all rugby in Ballymena, is held,” he added.