Mini rugby is all about fun, participation and inclusion.

This ethos can be seen throughout the province, as 24 Connacht clubs now have their mini rugby season up and running.

Around 3,000 children are taking part in mini rugby in Connacht over the coming weeks, with many U7 & U8s getting their first introduction to the game.

This wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers, mini rugby coordinators, and parents who turn up each week and put in the work to ensure there is a place for these kids to play.

One of the clubs where the game is thriving at the moment is An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí.

It coaches rugby entirely through Gaeilge and is proud to be bringing the game to the children of South Connemara.

Brian Daly is one of the cooridnators of An Ghaeltacht’s mini rugby programme.

Taking place each Saturday morning in Carraroe, Brian is part of a team who welcomes children from all over South Connemara and introduces them to the game of rugby.

Discussing this, he said: “There was around 85 boys and girls at minis this weekend, which is brilliant. An Ghaeltacht has a huge catchment area, with players coming all the way from Furbo to Carna to play rugby and have fun. It’s a serious commitment for the families to go to each week, but they get a lot out of it too, and the kids really love it.

“In the past, we have even had players come over from the Aran Islands to experience the game with us. Once people get involved with the club, they usually stay (as) it is a real family environment.”

Brian was also keen to appreciate the team who introduced rugby to the area, along with those who keep it going.

He added: “Cian de Buitléar, along with Micheál Ó Domhnaill, set up the club in 2004. Without them it wouldn’t be here. They are still involved today, with the likes of Cathaorlach Seán Ó Cualáin also helping the club grow into the future, as well as Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin, whose grounds host the minis.

“There is also a wonderful community of parents and volunteers who give up their time to make it all possible”.

Since the club started in 2004, hundreds of children have gone through their ranks, with some going on to play senior rugby.

For instance, Eoin and Colm de Buitléar (sons of founder, Cian) came through the club and represented Connacht, with Eoin currently in South Africa preparing for the side’s upcoming game against The Bulls.

However, as Brian states, mini rugby is about more than preparing children to play at a higher level. It’s about fun, participation and inclusion.

“Rugby minis gives children the chance to try their hand at rugby. But it also brings these families together and creates a lasting a community in the area”, he added.

An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí minis takes place every Saturday at 10am in Páirc SCC in An Cheathrú Rua. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focussing on other clubs around the province as part of our mini rugby series. 

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