Bangor P7s returned victorious from their tour of France (May 24 to 27). Facing highly competitive teams from the Pyrenean heartland of French rugby, including host club Coarraze-Nay plus Benejacq Olympique and Bagneres, the Bangor players were divided into two squads who each played four matches, with both teams coming out on top.
Bangor were presented with the tournament trophy by Coarraze-Nay President Robert Heure at the post-match reception in a packed clubhouse with over two hundred players, spectators and parents coming together to enjoy the special French hospitality.
The weather had suited the Bangor team as it rained throughout the Sunday of the tournament. Bangor faced strong and determined French opposition who tackled well, kicked tactically and of course in true French style could run with the ball.
However, all the Bangor players raised their game for this tour – they tackled aggressively; took good running lines against the opposition; their passing out of the tackle was exceptional.
And above all the rucking and counter-rucking was sublime meaning Bangor came away from contact situation with turnover ball on many occasions.
In all, Bangor scored 36 tries on the day. The behaviour of the boys on and off the field was excellent and they were fine ambassadors for their town.
Afterwards in the clubhouse the players sang, to the delight of our hosts, ‘Ireland’s Call.’ And the young French players replied with a lusty rendition of ‘La Marseillaise.’
All the players contributed to this successful result and deserve to be mentioned. They are: Jack Dornan, Rory Wilson, Andrew Kennedy, Zac Bailie, Christopher McQueenie, Conor Rutledge, Christopher Weir, James Fox, Adam Stephenson, Jonny Bell, Patrick Lyle, Mathew Mulligan, Mathew Nesbitt, Mathew Neill, Ryan Miskelly, Finn Garbutt, Sam Wilson, Harry Wilson, Jordan Brickley and Conor Mackey.
In all, a tour party of 42 players, siblings and parents travelled to this lovely snow-capped mountain region. In addition to the rugby, the party took time to go on a 15-mile white water rafting trip down the fast and furious Lestelle River and then took on the heightened pleasures of the adventure tree-climbing park at Aramitis.
The team would like to thank their tour sponsors, Paul Fox, Andy Weir, ServiceHeat, As It Is Consulting, David Wilson Architect, Do 4 You, Mackey Opticians and Peugeot, without whom this trip could not have been run.
Coaches Craig McQueenie, Craig Napier, Mark Mackey, Ben Stephenson, Stephen Bell and particularly the one and only Richard Kennedy are also to be thanked for their continual help and encouragement.