ULSTER scrum half Ian Porter has returned to Rifle Park after signing for Banbridge.
He is one of five new signings made by coach Daniel Soper as the locals prepare for life in Division 2A this season.
Porter, who started out his rugby career in Banbridge’s mini ranks before continuing the sport at Banbridge Academy, signs from Belfast Harlequins, where he played a major part in the Belfast side’s push for promotion to Division 1A in the past season.
He joined Queen’s on leaving school, taking up a place in the Ulster Academy; and his performances for the university side earned him the Club Player of the Year Award at the Ulster Rugby Awards in 2008 and a second nomination the following season.
He turned professional in 2009 and has made eight appearances for Ulster in the past two seasons. Alongside this he has represented Ulster at U19 level, and Ulster and Ireland at U20 level.
Porter will no doubt look forward to lining out alongside his younger brother John who has already made a number of appearances for Banbridge’s First XV.
Jerretzpass man Jonny Graham has joined Banbridge from Ballynahinch. The second row/number 8 has a wealth of All Ireland League experience gained over seven seasons with the Ballymacarn Park outfit. He has also represented Ulster and Irish Schools, Ulster and Ireland U19, and Ulster U20.
Fullback Gregg Taylor also makes the move from Ballymacarn Park to Rifle Park in a move that, like Graham, will allow the former Friend’s School pupil to ply his trade closer to home.
Former Ballyclare High School pupil Matthew Johnston joins from Queens to link up with his schools rugby coach Daniel Soper. Johnston can play either in the centre or on the wing.
Meanwhile former Portadown prop Matt Wilson is currently playing his rugby at Soper’s hometown club Alexandra in Otago, New Zealand, and will be returning to Ireland to join the Rifle Park ranks.
Wilson has been playing in the front row for Alexandra alongside Banbridge’s David Weir who is spending the summer in New Zealand and both were recently selected for Central Otago representative sides, competing in the Topp Cup. Coincidentally, Wilson lined out alongside former Banbridge player Vaughan Dowling who is back with his local club, Maniototo.
A player’s meeting has been arranged for Tuesday June 26 at 7pm, followed by touch rugby. All players are very welcome.