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Ravenhill will play host to special festival

By Niall Crozier

Ravenhill is preparing to host Ireland's biggest-ever rugby festival for people with learning disabilities.

Saturday, June 7 is the date for the eighth now-annual Wooden Spoon International Tag Rugby Festival and on this occasion more than 400 players from 26 schools and clubs in the UK and Ireland will be participating, a record number.

Ballymena Bears, Cedar Lodge (Belfast), Clare Hares (Ballyclare), Coleraine Chargers, Errigle Eagles (Letterkenny), Glenveagh School (Belfast), Harberton Seahorses (Belfast), Killard Cougars (Donaghadee), Newforge Taggers (Belfast), Now Project (Belfast), Portadown Panthers, Seaside Sharkies (Donaghadee) and Stevenson Sharks (Dungannon) are the teams from Ulster.

The regional chairman of Wooden Spoon – a rugby-based charity which has contributed over £600,000 to projects helping disadvantaged or disabled children in Ulster – is Willie John McBride, captain of the all-conquering 1974 British and Irish Lions who this year are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their conquest of South Africa.

Endorsing the festival, he said: "Tag rugby is the type of thing we want to support because it's giving kids a lot of fun and the chance to meet others. It will be terrific for them to play at Ravenhill."

The Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure (DCAL), Belfast City Council and a number of local businesses have also given the event their backing.

The day-long festival – to which admission is free – will run from 10am-5pm, with non-stop entertainment in the form of live music, dancing, face painters and circus acts as well as the rugby.

In addition, fans can pose for photographs with the RBS Six Nations trophy, of which Ireland are the holders. It will be at Ravenhill all day. And Ulster and Springboks scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and Sparky, Ulster's match-night mascot, will be there too.

Belfast Telegraph

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