WARINGSTOWN man Ollie McCollum is getting used to playing at Twickenham - the hallowed home ground of English rugby.
The 20-year-old, who plays for Durham University Rugby Team, has played in the last two BUCS (British University and College Sport) Shield finals.
He was on the losing side in 2012, but made up for that disappointment with victory over Cardiff Metropolitan University in this year’s showpiece earlier this month.
Ollie, who is studying Economics, told the ‘MAIL’: “We went into the final as underdogs given that Cardiff play in the southern league which is generally regarded as a better league. They were also a much bigger team than us.
“There was a great atmosphere. There was a crowd of about six to eight thousand all packed into the bottom tier. After the final whistle the celebrations started on the pitch, then the changing rooms and then into a big room at Twickenham that had been hired for us. We went out that night in London.”
Ollie is in his second year at Durham University in the north-east of England. When he arrived he informed the coach of his rugby playing credentials including several appearances for Ulster youth teams. This secured him a place at pre-season training.
The Waringstown man comes from a sporting family with his father Ross having played for the Irish international cricket team during his time as a player with Lurgan. Ross is the current chairman of Cricket Ireland.
Ollie himself can turn his hand to cricket and has done so for Lurgan, but rugby remains the sport closest to his heart.
He has played rugby for his hometown club as well as Methody and Ulster Under 18s and 19s.
Ollie has found himself between the first team and second team at Durham University, providing cover for the first XV props when necessary. He’s been on the bench for the last two finals, and has been fortunate to get game time at Twickenham in both matches.
Durham University have been in the last three BUCS finals since coach Alex Keay took over. In that time they’ve lost only one match - the BUCS final of 2012.
The rugby lads will be going on tour to Australia this summer when they’ll be taking in a few of the British and Irish Lions games as well as playing some local sides.
The Durham University team boasts such former players as England and British and Irish Lions stars Will Greenwood and Will Carling.
Ollie said: “If given the chance I’d like to try my luck as a professional rugby player, but it’s good to have a career to fall back on.”