The Ulster Branch of the IRFU held its annual Maxol Primary Schools Mini Rugby Festival at Ravenhill earlier this month, running from Tuesday through to Friday. 32 schools took part from across the province.
This was Maxol's first year of involvement as sponsor and the Mini Rugby Festival proved to be a big success.
Each school got the opportunity to play three matches against other primary schools followed by a packed lunch provided by Maxol and an opportunity to meet an Ulster star at the end of the day. This year the players present were Rory Best, Robbie Diack, Paddy Wallace and Stephen Ferris(pictured below).
The participating schools came from right across the province, with three schools attending the Maxol event for the first time - Carniny PS (Ballymena), Millburn PS (Coleraine) and Ballyholme PS (Bangor).
A big thank you from Ulster Rugby to all the schools for taking part - they showed tremendous enthusiasm and skill throughout the festival.
Thanks also to the Ulster Society for providing referees and of course to sponsors Maxol - with their help, Ulster Rugby have managed to increase the number of schools playing mini rugby in Ulster to 92.
In order to be eligible to play at Ravenhill, each school must affiliate to the Ulster Branch of the IRFU and take part in a regional qualifying blitz of which there are eight throughout the province.
Over the past two-and-a-half months, the IRFU provincial academies have been hard at work preparing for the new season. Below is an insight into the work that is being done in the Connacht Rugby Academy which is managed by Nigel Carolan.