Youth rugby: New school of thought producing the goods
Youth rugby in Ulster is on the up-and-up.
A 7.5 per cent rise in registered youth players in the last 12 months confirms that Ulster Rugby's undertaking to promote the game at youth and high schools levels is bearing fruit.
It is no coincidence that this impressive growth has come in tandem with Portadown-based Ulster Carpets being enlisted as sponsors of the province's youth and high schools rugby 15 months ago.
That backing has helped non-traditional schools establish a more structured approach which has seen over 120 additional games played in the last year.
Ulster Rugby has committed itself to improving the quality of players coming through the youth and high school channels.
Ireland and Lions player Stephen Ferris is a product of non-traditional route rugby in Ulster.
Chris Webster, Ulster's domestic rugby manager, said: "We are making huge strides at grassroots level. The support of Ulster Carpets over the past couple of seasons has enabled us to apply more resources to growing the game in high schools and within club youth rugby."