Kingspan goes wild for Schools Cups RBAI v Campbell clash
The annual St Patrick's Day pilgrimage to the Kingspan stadium saw thousands of rugby fans go wild as RBAI lifted the Schools' Cup for the second year in a row.
A 7,000-strong crowd descended on the Belfast stadium for a match that ended with a 13-3 Inst win over Campbell College Belfast.
As the trophy was held aloft, the crowd - many with painted faces and others with banging drums - erupted in a huge cheer for the young Inst players.
Adding their voices were former pupils of the school and self-dubbed "armchair rugby idiot" Des Thompson and friend Gil Grummitt, whose father John Halliday was a former RBAI principal.
"We're here to see Inst win," said former vet Mr Thompson (77), who played for the school from 1954 to 1956 as a flanker.
Despite being beaten in that final by Campbell, Mr Grummitt exacted revenge as a prop-forward in 1957 when he was part of the winning Inst team against Methodist College.
Retired Mr Grummitt (76), from Holywood, added: "It's all about the winning and we are here to see Inst win. At that age, it's the taking part that counts also, playing in front of thousands. It's a great atmosphere and great experience."
Before the hotly contested duel, Campbell vice-principal Will Keown said: "We are so proud of the boys having reached this far. They've trained really hard and bonded as a team.
"No matter the outcome, they have done the college proud."
Victoria College Sixth Year Laura Glover (18) travelled from Annahilt to back Inst.
"We're here to support our brother school and some of my friends who are playing," she said. "The atmosphere is great with everybody coming to support their team."
Perhaps the youngest fan was Jack Fletcher-Brown (4), from Dundonald, who came with dad George (24), a player for Civil Service RFC, to support Campbell.
A member of Rugby Tots in east Belfast, Jack hopes to play for Ulster and Ireland one day.
Mr Brown said: "It was a tough match and well-played by both of the sides."
Judith McBride made the journey with her family from Lisburn. Sons Sam (7) and Daniel (5), both pupils at Inchmarlo, donned their kits in support of Inst. "It's not like football, everybody comes together to support their teams and it's very family orientated - it's a fantastic day," she said.
And it wasn't the only St Patrick's Day final taking place as St Patrick's, Maghera, enjoyed a 5-7 to 1-9 win over St Paul's Bessbrook, in the MacRory Cup final.
Meanwhile, De La Salle's footballers were crowned Senior Cup champions for a record ninth time with a 3-1 win against St Malachy's College.