Ulster Legend Stephen Ferris Visits Bangor RFC Ahead Of Ireland’s Clash With Reigning Champions South Africa

Former Ireland flanker, Stephen Ferris, has gone back to his roots in Ulster by visiting local club, Bangor RFC, to send a message of support to the Ireland team, ahead of their clash against reigning champions South Africa this Saturday. As part of a campaign to celebrate National Lottery funding into grassroots rugby union, Ferris visited the Northern Ireland club, which counts current international centre Stu McCloskey amongst its former club members.

The visit aims to shine a light on the impact grassroots rugby clubs have on the sport, and how early experiences in the game are essential to the future of Irish rugby.

Ferris met young squad members for a training session, alongside officials from the club who are guiding future generations of potential Irish rugby stars, to hear about how funding has been essential to their growth and success as a club. Bangor RFC’s 3rdteam played on Wednesday night with Ferris cheering them on from the side-lines.

The club is one of the thousands of projects across the UK which benefits from the £30 million raised by National Lottery players every week for good causes. Bangor RFC is one of 50 local clubs governed by Ulster Rugby, which has received £605,000 of National Lottery funding over the last two years from Sport Northern Ireland. Funding has gone towards participation programmes for children and young people, increasing participation and support for women and girls, coaching and refereeing workshops, supporting high-performance athlete pathways to National squads, and disability programmes. Since 1994, The National Lottery has invested more than £185 million into rugby union from grassroots to elite level, providing vital support to clubs throughout the UK.

With the help of The National Lottery’s funding for grassroots clubs, generations of players have had the chance to take up the game for the very same teams who’ve helped kick-off the careers of a myriad of professional players.

Stephen Ferris said, “Grassroots rugby is at the heart of our sport – I came through the Portadown youth system before going on to play for Ulster. I’ve had a terrific day here at Bangor RFC, meeting the teams and touring the grounds, seeing the impact that funding from The National Lottery has on the sport. Investing in the grassroots game is essential – it helps nurture talent, create strong bonds between people, and reinforce a strong sense of community.”

Across Northern Ireland, lives are impacted every day by the extraordinary projects that The National Lottery helps to fund, as well as the people that make them happen. From maintaining clubhouses and pitches, to providing equipment and kit, this funding enables organisations to do extraordinary things in their communities and beyond.

Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, added: “Every week National Lottery players raise over £ 30 million in funding for good causes across the UK, including support for clubs such as Bangor RFC. Funding for grassroots clubs is essential to keep young people invested in sports, as it teaches them invaluable life skills. With the upcoming tournament, what better occasion to celebrate the work that Bangor RFC and other grassroots clubs do to secure the future of the sport.”

For more information on The National Lottery funding go to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/funding

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