Players from across the province descended on the Ballymena venue from approximately 10am in what has now become a two part, all day feast of rugby.
First it was the turn of the P3, P4 and P5 squads to take to the field and provide the huge turnout of spectators with a sterling display of their collective skills.
The matches commenced simultaneously to the sound of a klaxon horn on the carefully laid out pitches, then it was game on. Teams of pitch co-ordinators and match officials ensured the smooth running of each age group’s series of games.
At the klaxon sound, all games stopped, players lined up, shook hands, and moved on to face their next opponent. This was the scene until lunchtime, when lead coaches returned with a hamper of rations for their hungry troops.
As the players eagerly devoured their hot dogs, lovingly prepared by teams of devoted parents, it was left to the coaches to reminisce and debate the finer points of the morning’s high drama.
Up next, the boys of the P6 and P7 squads strutted their stuff. Their stylish play was matched by the colourful dash of their Raspberry Ripple Wacky Sox. The boys weren’t just making a fashion statement. Each young BRFC player across the age groups sported the socks in support of local cancer charity, NICFC and raised over £1000 for the charity on the day.
Speaking after the event, local Mini Festival supremo, Ally McKay said: “I’m delighted with the day we’ve had today.
“Firstly, all the boys have been a tremendous credit to themselves, their clubs and their families. Its been fantastic to see so many different clubs represented here. What with the recent severe weather I’m just so relieved that we didn’t have to postpone.
“We’re determined to build this Festival into one of the biggest and friendliest feasts of mini rugby in Ulster. But we can’t do this on our own. We’re indebted to the generosity of our lead sponsors, Bank of Ireland, Sainsburys, Barr’s Butchers, Spar Fry’s Road, Cubic3 and Calor Gas who helped make today’s event such a success.
“It would also be remiss of me not to mention the huge army of volunteers, who helped with everything from car parking, match programmes, grounds layout, to running the matches to time.
“I’m also grateful to the small dedicated organising committee who have an ambition and drive to make this Festival, and BRFC’s Mini Section thrive and succeed,” added Ally.