Great lift for Blessington No 1 School as Ireland Prop opens new pitch
Ireland and Leinster Prop Andrew Porter made a special appearance at Blessington No 1 School today (Wednesday November 24). The player, who featured prominently in the recent Autumn Rugby Internationals, traded the hallowed turf of the Aviva Stadium for the Blessington primary school’s brand new all–weather pitch.
Fresh from Ireland’s encounters with Japan, New Zealand and Argentina, he cut the ribbon at the official opening of the school’s fantastic state of the art facility. The new pitch is the result of extensive fundraising by the school community and the pupils were keen to emphasise the benefits of having a clean, dry pitch to play all their sports on all year round.
Rector of Blessington Union of Parishes, Canon Leonard Ruddock, invited Andrew to perform the official opening after a conversation with pupil Olly Cains about the new pitch. “I said, you never know maybe some of our students will go on to achieve great sporting success and then I thought of Andrew, who I knew as a 5th and 6th class pupil, who has achieved great sporting success for Leinster and Ireland,” he recalled.
Canon Ruddock was a Curate in Stillorgan and got to know Andrew and his family when he was a pupil in St Brigid’s National School in the south Dublin parish. He said Andrew was a fantastic role model. He is an ambassador for the Irish Cancer Society and the school community is holding a collection for the charity which will include a donation from the board of management.
Andrew addressed 5th and 6th class pupils who gathered in the hall while the rest of the classes were able to watch as proceedings were live streamed to their classrooms. He said it was wonderful to have such a great pitch at their school. “It’s not called the number one school in Blessington for nothing. You’re incredibly lucky to have such a great pitch. That’s where it all started for me – playing rugby and football with my friends in school – and now I’m playing for Leinster and Ireland,” he said.
He answered a huge range of thought provoking questions from the pupils who were keen to find out what his favourite food is (steak), what he eats before a game (mashed potatoes and beans) and if he was intimidated by the Haka (not really – it’s an honour to face the Haka). There were many other topics covered. Some members of Blessington RFC’s minis will be playing at half time during the Leinster game at the weekend and he wished them well and said they would love it.
School principal Lillian Murphy thanked Andrew for coming before bringing him and the entire school out to the yard to witness the ribbon cutting after Canon Ruddock led the school community in prayer.