Letterkenny’s Jason Black was the keynote speaker at the Ulster Rugby Referees’ dinner in the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran on Saturday night and he made quite an impression.
The dinner, hosted by the Ulster Referees’ President, Shane Toolan, was held outside of the six counties for the very first time and Toolan invited the Letterkenny man to be his special guest.
And you could have heard a pin drop as Black addressed the assembled guests, mostly from Ulster Rugby club, but with with representatives of the other three provinces also included.
The man who has conquered Mount Everest told his personal story of being severely bullied at school and dealing with the death of his mother and brother, and the part played by rugby in his salvation.
His connection with Shane Toolan came when he played his first ever game of rugby for Letterkenny Rugby Club against Monaghan when Toolan was referee. “I scored a try on that first day” said Black, who added that being part of the rugby club was critical to him recovering his self esteem and confidence.
He went on to tell those present about the importance of sport and also the importance of honesty, integrity helping people who may need a leg up.
Black’s story is an inspirational one and took the guests at the President’s dinner somewhat by surprise, but at the end they were captivated not alone by the story, but also by the modesty and sincerity of the delivery.
The President, Shane Toolan’s standing among the rugby fraternity, was reflected in the attendance and the comments by different speakers. Among those present was a delegation from Shane’s local club, Ballyshannon.
After the dinner, there was plenty of discussion of games and memories. Most of the attendance were staying overnight and they enjoyed both the Roguey walks and golf at the adjacent Bundoran Golf Club over the weekend.