A young rugby team from Mallusk will represent Ulster at the prestigious Rodez Top 12 Mini Rugby Tournament in the Aveyron region of south-west France this week.
A squad of 20 under-12 boys and six coaches from Academy RFC, along with a vociferous 30-strong fan club of parents and friends, will be travelling to the tournament which kicks off on Friday and continues over the course of the weekend until Monday.
"This is the ninth year running that Academy will have participated in this prestigious tournament and this says a lot for our performances and how the boys have conducted themselves at past tournaments," stated Philip Ingram, Mini Rugby Convenor at Academy.
"It is a fabulous way for our boys and coaches to complete their five-year mini rugby journey with Academy RFC.
"Most of the boys will now go on to play school rugby and we wish them well and hope that, in the future, they will come back to Academy to play their senior rugby after school.
"We are very fortunate to have been invited to the International Tournoi Benjamin Rodez 2014 and are Ulster's only representative at the tournament."
Twelve nations will have sides involved in the competition, with teams coming from as far as Argentina and South Africa.
Ingram added: "The European Heineken Cup giants such as Toulon, Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse will all be attending so it is a fantastic opportunity for the 19 boys from north-Belfast and Newtownabbey to play against the best that Europe has got to offer.
"Not only will the boys enjoy the trip but it will be beneficial to them both in terms of rugby and culturally.
"We'd like to thank Osborne King as our main shirt sponsor, Brett Martin, Farset International Hotel and Conference Facility and Esportif Sport Management for sporting local community sport in this way.
"Without our sponsors these sorts of opportunities would not be available."
The travelling squad is Louis Adams, Luke Anderson, Zach Burton, Stephen Cunningham, Noah Davis, Tom Davis, Scott Dennis, Eliot Donaldson, Jonathan Forbes, Ben Jackson, Jack Johnston, Michael Kane, Luke Kelly, Brett McDowell, Jude Moorehead, Edward Pook, Ben Reid, Lee Russell, Ryan Simpson and Corey McDonald.
Academy RFC Mini Rugby takes place every Saturday morning from 9.15am to 10.30am at BRA School Playing Fields, Roughfort, where boys and girls from P1 to P7 are welcome to come along and pit their abilities against one another.