Bangor Minis have an Italian adventure to remember


By Roger Corbett

BANGOR Rugby Club’s P7 Mini Rugby team – the ‘Lions’ – have capped off their incredible season by returning home from their tour to Italy having defeated Imperia Rugby to lift the Colombanus Cup and bring the trophy back to Bangor for the first time.

The Bangor Lions took part in the Pino Valle di Imperia Tournament in the Imperia region, which saw them compete against U12 teams from all over Italy. The Lions squad performed incredibly well under the unfamiliar conditions of rock hard pitches and blistering sunshine, something that their home field of Upritchard Park rarely delivers.

The squad of players were coming together for a final farewell having enjoyed being a team for seven years through Bangor’s burgeoning mini rugby section.

The Lions were buoyed by messages of support from a wealth of rugby royalty, including Bangor, Ulster and Ireland’s own Stuart McCloskey, former British and Irish Lion Jared Payne and most fittingly, Dick Milliken, a member of the 1974 British and Irish Lions ‘Invincibles’ tour and grandfather of current Bangor Lion, Oliver Campbell.

The boys gave a very good account of themselves by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament before being defeated by the eventual tournament winners Biella from Milan. However, the Lions did bring home some silverware by defeating their hosts Imperia Rugby 5-0 with tries from Sonny Bryans, George Armstrong and Robbie Parker among others. The victory secured the Bangor Lions the Colombanus Cup in front of a jubilant crowd of Bangor supporters, who made the most of the great hospitality that was afforded to them during the tour.

The Colombanus Cup was established last year by both Bangor and Imperia Minis as part of the Colombanus Project and it is testament to the talent of this group of young men that they were able to put in such an incredible performance away from home.

The coaching staff were incredibly proud of their team for being able to round off their mini rugby journey in such style. An honourable mention must go to Adam Downey, who won the Player of the Tournament award, as he came on during one game and almost single-handedly won the match, scoring a brace of tries to add to his incredible list of achievements during this season.

A huge thanks from Bangor go to hosts Imperia Rugby, who not only encountered a formidable team of young players but also a formidable group of parents and coaches who all did their town proud and savoured every minute of this incredible tour.

A final thanks goes to all of the sponsors who made the tour possible: Mortgage IQ, Lisney, Perdix Consulting, Medical & General Financial Solutions, Glasswall, ALT Animation and Action Renewables, as well of course to the players, parents and coaches who made sure that this tour will live long in the memory.