Sports

Stars of tomorrow set to descend upon Armagh

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Stars of tomorrow set to descend upon Armagh thumbnailOne of the City of Armagh RFC mini-rugby teams that competed in the 2016 mini-rugby festival at the Palace grounds.

THIS Saturday the City of Armagh Rugby Club will play host to one of Ireland's biggest mini-rugby blitzes.

Over 1,300 players from across the island will descend upon the Palace Grounds with dreams of following in the footsteps of Acton native Rory Best and gaining selection for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

The organisers have confirmed that teams are coming from as far away as Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin and across Ulster for the event.

One of the organisers of the event, Ian Hutchinson, said that the festival has continued to prosper and grow and said that such was the interest in the event that they had to limit entries.

“The mini-rugby blitz has continued to grow and expand over the years and this year simply due to the space available, we have had to limit the number of teams to 70.

“We have 1,300 young players coming to the Palace Grounds and there will be a large number of spectators in attendance.

“A shuttle bus system run by Slane's Coaches, will be in operation from the Christian Brothers' School on the Keady Road to ensure that traffic doesn't become an issue in and around the Palace Grounds

The mini-rugby blitz, which is sponsored by Domino's Pizza in Armagh, will officially get underway with a procession from the Whitewater Pipe Band and the Lord Mayor will declare the festival open at 9.30am, with the first game kicking off at 10am.

Ian admitted that a lot of work has gone in behind the scenes to make the event a success and paid tribute to those who have helped in any way.

“There has been a lot of work gone in to attracting as many teams from across Ireland and we are all volunteers and have given up a lot of time to organise the festival.

“We have had club members, coaches and parents all lending a hand and we have been delighted with the support of local businesses.

“SONI have sponsored trophies for the winners and St John Ambulance will be in attendance to keep an eye on everyone.

“Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon have been very supportive of the event and they have provided us with funding."

Ulster Rugby have also gave their backing to the hugely popular event and at least one player from the current Ulster squad will be attendance to hand out the trophies and sign autographs on the day.

Ian admitted that they are now applying the finishing touches to the organisation of the event and said that everyone at the club is looking forward to it.

“It has been a fantastic couple of weeks for the club and it should be an exciting day for everyone on Saturday, with the 1st XV facing Old Crescent in the play-off final after the blitz is finished in the afternoon.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming some of our good friends back to the city and the likes of Greystones are making a full weekend of it and staying over night.

“It promises to be an exciting day all round and it will be fantastic to see so many kids taking to the field and enjoying their rugby."

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