Ballyclare prepare for International Festival


Ballyclare Rugby Club’s Clare Hares preparing to welcome hundreds of players to international festival

THE Annual Wooden Spoon International TagRugby Festival for young people with a learning disability will be held at Ballyclare Rugby Club on Saturday 8th June.

The event will be the biggest ever and is due to be attended by over 900 players and coaches from England, Wales and the whole of Ireland.

The event has full support from all four home unions – the Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby Union, Welsh Rugby Union and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Clare Hares is the disability section of Ballyclare RFC. Clifford Gilmore, from Clare Hares and a member of the organising committee, said:

“Planning for the event is almost completed. We would like to thank Wooden Spoon, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and all the local businesses for their sponsorship. Without their financial support it would have been very difficult for the club to host such a major event.”

Teams from as far away as Hampshire, Oxford, Stockport, Witney and Swanseawill be making the journey to Ballyclare along with Wasps from London who will be attending their first Wooden Spoon festival.

Ireland will be represented by teams from Bantry Bay, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin and all points in between. There will also be a very strong contingent from Ulster - not just club teams but also teams from some Belfast special schools.

Games lasting 15 minutes will be played from 11am to 4pm with each team playing six games in total.

Lunch will be provided for all players and coaches and following the final game there will be a presentation to all players – everyone is a winner.

Tag rugby is a non-contact version of the sport. A tackle is made by pulling a tag from an opponent, there are no scrums or line outs and the games are restarted by a simple pass from the ground.

Tries are scored in the normal way. Referees will ensure that the games are all played in the best spirit of rugby ensuring that the day is enjoyed by all.

Following the presentations,dinner will be served to the players followed by a disco. Everything will be on site for an enjoyable day at Ballyclare Rugby Club - bouncy castles, slides and food stalls including ice cream and doughnuts.

Clifford Gilmore said: “Rugby is not all about the professional games. It can be enjoyed by all and can also help to build confidence for those with a disability. It is truly heart-warming to see the enjoyment players get from participating in a team sport. “We would encourage people to come along and see how much fun the young players have playing rugby. Support at the side of the pitches would be very welcome.”