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30 December 2020, Shona Sullivan

Ulster Rugby takes a look back at some of the key events in the 2020 domestic rugby calendar.

Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup final: Enniskillen 18 City of Armagh 2s 17

The first major club rugby event of 2020 was the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup final hosted at Kingspan Stadium on 7th January. Enniskillen saw off City of Armagh 2s by 18-17 to clinch the cup for the first time in the Co. Fermanagh club’s history.

Deep River Rock Towns Cup semi-final draw

On 24th February, captains and representatives from Ballyclare RFC, Ballynahinch 2s, Banbridge 2s, Carrickfergus and Dromore attended the Deep River Rock Towns Cup semi-final draw.

Ballyclare went on to defeat Dromore and Ballynahinch 2s and Ballynahinch beat Banbridge 2s in the semi-final fixtures on 7th March. Unfortunately, the finalists were unable to compete in the final due to COVID-19 truncating the domestic season.

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final: Royal School Armagh 29 Royal Belfast Academical Institution 22

On 3rd March, Royal School Armagh defeated Royal Belfast Academical Institution by 7 points in a pulsating game, which ended with a stunning try by Armagh full-back, Ethan McAtarsney.

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final: Wallace High School 22 Methodist College Belfast 17

Wallace High School booked their place in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup final, after claiming victory over Methodist College Belfast by 22-17 in a thrilling encounter at Kingspan Stadium on 4th March.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal School Armagh and Wallace High School were unable to play the final, and the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup was shared between the two schools.

Bank of Ireland Senior Cup final: City of Armagh RFC 38 Ballynahinch 34

In a high-scoring encounter at Kingspan Stadium on 6th March, City of Armagh claimed the Bank of Ireland Senior Cup title for the third year running, after a hugely entertaining game against Ballynahinch.

Celebration of women and girls’ rugby

Several hundred players from rugby clubs across the province took part in a celebration of the women and girls’ game at City of Derry RFC on International Women’s Day – 8th March

The hugely successful Festival of Women and Girls’ Rugby was hosted by the North West Sporting Pathways programme, funded by the North West Regional Development Group, in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and the Irish Government. The progamme is aimed at strengthening the athletic pathways from grassroots participation to talent across the region.

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield final: Campbell College 20 Royal Belfast Academical Institution 15

On Wednesday 10th March, Campbell College collected the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield after defeating RBAI in a superb game of rugby. A highlight of the game was winger Jay Davis’s solo try in the 28th minute.

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Girls’ X7s final: Enniskillen Royal Grammar School 12 Erne Integrated College 10

It was an all-Enniskillen affair for the final of the schoolgirls’ competition on 11th March, which took on the format of X7s rugby, a faster-paced game played seven-a-side over four periods of seven minutes each on a half-size pitch. Enniskillen Royal Grammar School emerged victorious, defeating Erne Integrated College by 12-10, and securing their second consecutive title.

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U16 High Schools’ Trophy final: Craigavon Senior High School 46 Ballyclare Secondary School 12

It was a repeat of the 2019 U16 High Schools’ Trophy final, which saw Craigavon Senior High School facing Ballyclare Secondary School on 11th March. The Co. Armagh school proved to be too much for Ballyclare, with Craigavon clinching the title after a 46-12 victory.

Rugby clubs supporting the community

Although rugby activity had to pause due to the impact of COVID-19, clubs across the province were quick to take action to help support their local communities. From prescription runs to delivering food parcels; from collecting donations to calling vulnerable members, several clubs provided assistance to residents in their area.

To name a few clubs, Lurgan, Coleraine, Dungannon, Letterkenny, City of Derry, Lisburn, Malone, Randalstown, Portadown, Banbridge and Ballynahinch all provided support during this time.

Ulster Rugby would like to sincerely thank all of the volunteers who gave – and continue to give – their time and effort to help their local communities.

SONI Real Rugby Heroes bursary and Volunteer Awards

In July, SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) and Ulster Rugby announced the allocation of the Real Rugby Heroes of COVID-19 bursary fund.  A total fund of £8,000 was made available by SONI to help support community rugby with the anticipated expenses of a post COVID-19 return to activity.

To view all of the winning clubs, click here.

In August, SONI and Ulster Rugby’s annual awards programme, Real Rugby Heroes, recognised volunteers who make an invaluable contribution across community rugby.

Ulster Rugby Domestic Rugby Awards

From 22nd to 26th June, Ulster Rugby recognised and celebrated the best of the domestic game in a virtual awards ceremony.

Club rugby return

In the first weekend of September, the domestic game took its first tentative steps back to action with competitive action across the province, and Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie delivered a message to clubs.

Rugby activity has unfortunately since halted due to the pandemic.