Bangor Minis set to embark on Italy tour

By Roger Corbett

THE Primary 7 team from Bangor Rugby Club’s Mini section will jet off to Italy tomorrow (Friday) to take part in the 10th Pino Valle di Imperia Tournament.

The trip will see ‘the Lions’ – who are the only team from outside of Italy to be involved in the tournament – take on teams from all over the nation including Fiamme Oro (Rome), A.S.D. Moncalieri (Turin), Vespe Cogoleto (Genoa) and Biella Rugby (near Milan) as they look to build upon an incredibly successful season which saw them go undefeated at both the Ballyclare and Ballymena Blitzes as well as defeating the visiting Scottish team Cumnock RFC.

Bangor’s mini rugby section is one of largest in Ulster, with hundreds of children between the age groups of P1 to P7 taking part every Sunday during the rugby season. In addition to the tournament, the Bangor Lions will also take on Imperia Rugby, the mini rugby section for Union Riviera Rugby, in the second annual Columbanus Cup which was established last year by both clubs as part of the Columbanus Project. Bangor’s Lions will be looking to bring the trophy back to Bangor for the first time.

Coaches Jamie Foulkes, Dave Charman, John Armstrong, Daren Byers and Tim Bryans will travel with the team along with a large group of parents, and everyone is extremely excited by the opportunity to represent not just the club, but also Ulster and Ireland at this international event.

Looking ahead to the tour, Tim Bryans said: “What a fitting way to end this part of their rugby careers, before they embark on the next stage at secondary school. We’ve been with some of these boys since P1 and we are delighted that we have been able to give them an opportunity like this to repay all of the hard work and effort that they have shown us over the last few years”.

The coaches greatly appreciate all of the hard work of the parents who have helped raise the funds for the tour and made it possible for the Lions to gain this fantastic experience.

“We couldn’t have done this without the incredible support and help of the parents, so a huge thank you to them for their help with tuck shops, barbeques and quizzes and for giving us the opportunity to coach their kids,” continued Tim.

“And a final thank you must go to our sponsors, Mortgage IQ, Lisney, Perdix Consulting, Medical & General Financial Solutions, Glasswall, ALT Animation and Action Renewables, whose donations have been invaluable to help us reach our goal of getting the squad over to Italy.”

The touring party held their official shirt presentation at Upritchard Park on Tuesday, May 21, where Ulster and Ireland 7s star Aaron Sexton – a former Bangor mini rugby player – was on hand to take part in the presentation and offer his support to the players.

In total, five coaches and 18 parents will fly from Dublin to Nice on Friday before travelling to Imperia in the Italian region of Liguria, where the tournament is being hosted. They will play a series of group games on Saturday, with the Columbanus Cup scheduled to take place on the same day.

The group will be treated to some Italian hospitality for three nights before they return on Monday with a head full of memories and hopefully some silverware to go with it.