November saw the IRFU launched its Long Term Player Development Model, a six-stage development plan titled "6 to Six Nations." The first stage of this plan is the FUN-damental stage. Mini Rugby is all about fun, an enjoyable and safe experience that is for some the first step to a great rugby career.
This is why Simon Best was the ideal choice for the role of Patron. Best, who is currently in camp with the Irish squad, said: "It is with great pleasure that I accept the role of Patron for Mini Rugby in Ulster. Having begun my rugby career playing Mini Rugby as a six year old at Banbridge RFC, I am well positioned to appreciate the role it plays in the development of not only core rugby skills of running, passing and tackling, but also in the encouragement of participation, team work and havin fun."
At the launch at Newforge, Best was joined by kids from Lisburn's Killowen Primary School, who wore jerseys from a range of schools and clubs, representing the widespread delight felt throughout the province at the announcement of their new Patron.
Best added: "I have enormous respect for the vast number of volunteers who put in so much of their own time to offer children the opportunity to play rugby. I will endeavour to support these people by helping to promote and raise the profile of mini rugby in Ulster."