Ballyclare Mini Rugby tour cancellation has charity silver lining

Ballyclare RFC’s P7 Mini Rugby Squad of the 2019/2020 season had been planning a trip to Butlin’s Minehead in England in April last year to take part in the Tigers Challenge Tournament until its cancellation due to the Covid pandemic.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 11:31 am

The tour party comprised of 60 people. The cancellation was a devastating blow to both parents and children who had been building up to this event after training and playing together for the previous seven years. Planning for the tour involved a significant amount of fundraising effort via several bag packs at Asda Ballyclare as well as social events. This was bolstered by generous sponsorship from businesses.

Once it became clear the tour could not go ahead, all the sponsors were contacted and the consensus of opinion was the funds raised should be put to a good cause within the club and local community.

The P7 children and parents were particularly humbled by the generosity of the community during bag packs at Asda and felt that a donation should be made to acknowledge this with the food bank at Ballyclare Presbyterian Church chosen.

Mark McCalmont, president of Ballyclare Rugby Club, presenting a cheque for £3000 to Eleanor Abraham (left) and Yvonne Houston

It is part of a network of food banks in the Newtownabbey area that operate with support of the Trussell Trust charity. Club president Mark McCalmont and PRO David Campbell visited the church and met with volunteers Eleanor Abraham and Yvonne Houston, who briefed them on the work of the food bank. Mark presented a donation of £3000 on behalf of the tour squad to the charity.

The remainder of the tour funds raised will be used to supplement a grant awarded by Moy Park to build an outside Covid-safe structure that can be used by the whole Mini Rugby Section on Saturday mornings.

It is also something that can be used by all sports people and the community at The Cloughan for events.

Meanwhile, gamified touch rugby sessions were enjoyed by two Ballyclare RFC squads and their neighbouring counterparts last week.

Ballyclare senior rugby welcomed Carrickfergus RFC for a fixture with head coach MikeOrchin-McKeever as referee.

Ballyclare RFC U20s travelled to play Larne RFC on Wednesday. The following evening, it was the turn of the senior squad which hosted games against Carrickfergus RFC.

David Campbell, Ballyclare RFC’s public relations officer, reported: “A good workout, in a fun environment was enjoyed by all. Late spring evenings are ideal for rugby. Scores and results are irrelevant but more just delighted to welcome a return to some form of rugby.”

His sentiments were echoed by Mike Orchin-McKeever, Ballyclare RFC head coach, who was also delighted to see the number of people getting to play rugby and wear their club jersey once again after such a period of time out during the pandemic lockdowns.

Mike summed up the experience: “Player centred, designed for creativity and driven by fun.”

Ballyclare RFC U20 squad returned to action at Larne.


Click here to read: Ballyclare player gets game time for Ulster A in inter-provincial clashes


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U20s in action at Larne.

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Players enjoyed getting back on to the field again.
Coaches Ryan McIlwaine and Aaron Playfair assisting the players during a pause in play.