Mr Dunne commented, “Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Northern Ireland with a growing youth and women’s game, and it was good to meet with David Dobbin and David Johnston to discuss the development of the game. Ulster Rugby itself is a great success story with the Kingspan Stadium regularly hosting some of Europe’s top rugby teams, offering young people a direct route from school level, through the amateur leagues and clubs, right up to the elite professional game, including the four Ulster players currently doing us proud as part of the Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup.
To continue the growth of the sport, Ulster Rugby needs support in a variety of forms, and it was recently awarded £5.1m from the UK Government’s Levelling up Fund which will be spread across the 29 amateur rugby clubs within Northern Ireland. These clubs are the lifeblood of the sport in the region and this funding will help to make the sport more accessible and inclusive and allow the game to further develop and grow. This will include upgrades to club infrastructure, such as floodlights, changing rooms, playing surfaces, and clubhouses. It was also good to see first-hand the progress that is being made on the installation of a 3G pitch at the stadium as the new rugby season kicks off soon for Ulster Rugby.”