Since their return after the Christmas holidays the rugby teams have been very busy – both in training and in competition. Almost every boy in the College plays rugby and, over the past five weeks, have experienced both the jubilant buzz of winning and the piercing numbness that comes with defeat. The players and their coaches have been working hard and progress is being made. Skills and fitness are improving and the teams are gelling together better than ever.

Our youngest boys in Form Primary & I, the Ducks, have played five games from January to half term with mixed levels of success. The boys had three good wins over Sallins, St. Andrew’s B’s and Wilson’s Hospital while going down to Temple Carrig and Clongowes C’s.

Our Leps (comprising boys from Form II and less experience players from Form III) have played four fixtures in as many weeks, with some mixed results. After a heavy loss to St. Paul’s on their return to the College after Christmas, the Leps regathered and played out of their skin in a tour-de-force performance against Belvedere U14 D’s. Unanswered tries from Mikhail Sukhachev (2), Ben Sigurvinson, Edward Onyeka Patrick and Killian Morrell along with a Patrick Hare penalty and brace of conversions saw the boys claim the victory 32-0. A few days later they participated in a cracking match against St. Michael’s U14 C’s. Despite some great tries from Edward Onyeka Patrick (2), Borys Shvalov and a Harry Petch conversion, the defensive solidity from the previous game was lost and the game ended 38-17 to St. Michael’s. Just before the exodus weekend they sadly lost to a Temple Carrig’s Form II team 35 – 5, with their try scored by Javier Ledo San Nicolas. Despite the loss the boys are really enjoying their rugby and making great progress.

The Junior Cup Team have been involved in both league and friendly fixtures in the past few weeks, with mixed fortunes. Back in mid January they suffered a heavy defeat to Clongowes J3’s, who played a simple but effective brand of rugby. A week later they lost again to St. Michael’s J3’s. Thady McKeever was in great form and scored two tries (converting both) while Andrew Pollock also grabbed a five pointer. But again the defence was porous to say the least and St. Michael’s scored a bucket of tries, winning the game comfortable 38-19. There was frustration amongst the players and coaches and plenty of “work-ons” for training. Unfortunately, a few days later there was another heavy defeat – this time to Kings Hospital JCT. A comprehensive win 69-12.

The fixture congestion eased for the J’s and the coaches, Aoife Thomson and Mr. Peter Stevenson, were able to really focus on a number of key skills in training. Defence was a big problem but also the boys were lacking confidence after some heavy defeats. Earlier this week the JCT travelled to local rivals De la Salle Churchtown needing a boost. Fixtures between the two schools are generally close affairs, and keenly contested, and this was no exception. St. Columba’s had to fight for every inch but succeeded in coming away with the victory. A hat-trick of tries from Sam Lawrence – a superstar in the making – along with another from slippery Matthew Russell (he also scored three conversions) saw the boys edge the fixture 28-22.

With confidence high, the boys played their second fixture of the week earlier today, against Gonzaga J3’s. Sam again scored a brace while Thady and Sakhile also dotted down. Thady also added two conversions. It was a super performance – in attack and defence – with the boys winning 29-12 in the end.

The Senior boys rugby teams – the SCT and the Senior Development XV (generally comprising of Form IV and V pupils)- have shown great progress over the past few weeks. Some eye-catching individual and team performances have produced some excellent results but, more significantly, revealed the potential within the group. After their recent run of results the SCT now have a league semi final to look forward to – against Drogheda Grammar.

Back in mid-January, after their confident return to action after the Christmas break the previous week (against Terenure) the Senior Development side hosted Clongowes Wood 5th Year XV. St. Columba’s started brightly and soon got on the score board through George Guinness. He added another later in the game to compliment the tries from Sean Cooper, Ivan Moffitt and Callum Pery Knox Gore. Henry Carroll added four conversions and the team were well satisfied after securing a comfortable 33-12 win.

A week later, the Senior Development XV travelled to Blackrock to take on a Transition Year side – their TY B’s – in a league match. It took time to gel the defence and a few soft tries were leaked. However, SCC scored a couple of good tries from Aifo Abeleghe and Sean Cooper but it wasn’t enough as the home side won out: 36-12.

A few days later, just before the January exodus, the Senior 1st XV took on Mount Temple in the league. It was probably their most complete performance of the season to date and they won handsomely 44-0. There was a brace of tries from Aifo Ebeleghe and others from Hector Wright, Douglas Boyd Crotty, Thomas Meijer, George Guinness, Sean Cooper and Max Hopkins. Henry Carroll added two conversions while the SCC defence kept Mount Temple scoreless.

After the exodus weekend, the Senior Development XV took on ST. Michael’s Senior 5ths. These fixtures are a great chance for coaches to develop players, combinations and new tactics. On this occasion the tactics didn’t quite get across and St. Michael’s won easily on a score of 40-3.

The Senior 1st XV travelled to Mullingar and Wilson’s Hospital school for a league fixture. In a hard fought game St. Columba’s didn’t get the rub of the green (or some of the referee decisions) and eventually lost out 29-14 to the home side.

And just before half term the Senior Development XV took on Rathgar’s High School Senior 3rds, winning on a score line of 20-10, with tries coming from Max Hopkins, Sean Cooper, Hector Wright and Alex Russell. With this season closing to an end there is considerable potential within this group, which bodes well for the coming years.

The season comes to a close in the coming weeks but there is a sense of all teams building towards next year. Look out for the end of season report in the coming weeks.

A few weeks back 28 pupils and 5 staff travelled on the Junior Cultural Trip to London. Now that the dust has settled, Form IV pupils Caspar von der Schulenberg reflects on a busy but enjoybale trip.

As some of you may know, several pupils from second, third and fourth form were participating in the London Trip over the January Exodus. During our 4-Day-voyage we were accompanied by Science teachers Mr Jones, Mr Jackson and Ms Harrahill and by History teachers Mr Finn and Ms Duggan.

We left the school on early Friday morning and from the moment we set foot on English ground the excitement began. Our itinerary was packed to the edge with visits to museums, famous London attractions and entertaining facilities. Speaking of “packed”, undoubtedly everyone’s favourite aspect of the trip were the stunning “packed lunches”, provided by the hotel staff who managed to make every single ham-and-cheese sandwich a unique experience.

On our first night we had the gratifying pleasure of experiencing the “Lion King Musical” live in the Lyceum Theatre. For me, that was the highlight of our tour. The setting, the performances and of course, the singing were absolutely breath-taking. Speaking of “breath-taking”, I cannot get around of mentioning that the travel in the London Tube System was a particularly suffocating and claustrophobic experience. I can accurately recall Julius Reblin nearly being decapitated by the sliding doors and William Zitzmann losing half his hand in the locking mechanism. Just kidding!

Anyway, the following days we visited The National History Museum and The Science Museum which especially fascinated Mr Jones, Mr Jackson and Ms Harrahill, while at the Imperial War and the Churchill Museum Mr Finn and Ms Duggan were very much in their element. When visiting the National Portrait Gallery, we bitterly regretted not inviting our Art Teacher Mr Watts on the Tour.

In midst all the turmoil and pouring rain, we especially liked the more relaxing functions we did, such as the visit to the Odeon Cinema and the London and General Knowledge Quiz, which we did on the final night. How guessing the ages of our teachers has anything to do with general knowledge is beyond me, but, in the name of my time, I would still like to apologize again to the absolutely youthful Mr Finn for slightly misjudging his age.

Overall, the Trip turned out to be an enjoyment for everyone involved and I would like to thank all the teachers and people that gave up their free time to make this trip possible.

I think it is the job of the Principal (or Warden to be precise) to look at the big picture, to have dreams and then work towards realising those dreams. It is easy to have ideas. I have many of them every day and it is the task of those around me to listen and tell me bluntly when I am barking up the wrong tree. They often do. However occasionally I might stumble across something really good and something that will really add value to the experience of the pupils in the school.

There were two things that I was quick to pick up on when I arrived here, one because I noticed it myself and the other because it was mentioned to me before term even began. The first was that we are a mixed school and yet we do not provide any communal space for boys and girls to meet. It is incumbent upon the College to encourage wholesome and positive relationships between boys and girls but how can we expect that to happen when there is nowhere for them to meet except outside in the cold?

The second thing is that although we are a boarding school we have a significant number of day pupils. In some areas the accommodation for day pupils is fine but not universally and it is vital to make sure that their experience is as good as that of the boarders. Some early comments to me made it clear that the day pupils do not always feel as integrated into the College as much as the boarders. I would love to put that right. Of course if you board here you are bound to feel more involved with everything that is happening, particularly in the evenings and at weekends, but as a community I think we can do more for the day pupil component.

Bearing those two things in mind I am very eager to create a substantial space in the centre of the College that can serve as a social hub for the entire community, boys and girls, day pupils and boarders, staff and even staff families. It could also be a space for the Parents Association to meet or for visitors to be entertained. The idea would be that it would contain a café, not to replace or act as competition to the dining room, but for pupils to buy drinks and snacks (healthy ones!)…young people are always hungry! And of course it will provide a place to relax in the evenings and at the weekends.

The other thing that I like about this plan is that it is something from which everyone in the College will benefit. Building a new boarding house, for example, might be desirable, but it is only going to benefit a minority of the pupil body.
OK, so the theory is great. I have some plans, but now I need to persuade the Fellows that this is a worthwhile investment…oh, and find some money from somewhere too. Watch this space.

Mark Boobbyer, Warden.

We are delighted to annouce details of St. Columba’s College’s second Mental Health Awareness Week, beginning next Monday February 13th 2017. We have a jam-packed programme of events, centred around the theme ‘Mind Your Mind’. Pupils and staff will get an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including yoga, mindfulness, stress management workshops, sound baths (well worth a Google), movie nights (with a positive mental health message of course), a fun run and a phone free day. We also have some visiting speakers including Joseph Dixon from the Cycle Against Suicide – a fastastic chariable organisation who raise funds and awareness in the area of suicide prevention. The school will also participate in their #SchoolsGoOrange awareness day, where pupils and staff will be invited to wear orange instead of their normal school uniform.

We hope that our Mental Health Awareness Week will help everyone in the school community realise that it’s ok to not feel ok but to seek help when needed. Follow the College Twitter feed for photos and updates of the week’s events. To see the full programme of events click here.

The annual Junior Play production this year is, like last year’s, actually two (short) plays, both about expectations being turned upside down.

The first is a gentle comedy by Irish writer Lennox Robinson (1886-1958), author of the 2015 production Drama at Inish, Crabbed Youth and Age (1924). The story centres on three young women, who are dismayed that gentlemen visiting their house are rather more interested in their mother than themselves. The performers are Grace Goulding, Lucy Maher, Aurora Higgins Jennings, Ellen Homan, Matthew Keaveney, Fintan Walsh and Harry Oke-Osanyintolu.

Entirely different is The Virtuous Burglar, a hectic farce by the Italian writer Dario Fo (pictured), who died last year at the age of 90. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and is best known for Can’t Pay Won’t Pay and The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. The Virtuous Burglar (1958) was his second play, and features an hilarious scathing vision of the middle classes when their amorous arrangements are thrown into disarray by a visiting burglar. The performers in this are Ross Magill, Casper v d Schuelenberg, Catherine Butt, Isabelle Townshend, Maybelle Rainey, Toby Green and Ailbhe Matthews.

The performances are on Friday 10th and Saturday 12th February in the Big Schoolroom starting at 7pm, and ending at about 8.30pm. There is no charge for entry and no booking is required. Visitors should note that entry is via the lower door only (the main door on Chapel Square will be blocked off).