BIG KICK-OFF: Senior clubs all set for SONI Ulster Premiership kick-off

Clubs all set for SONI Premiership kick-off
Clubs all set for SONI Premiership kick-off

The SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership gets the domestic season underway tomorrow.

The SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership encompasses 12 domestic rugby teams, which play in the All Ireland League.

SONI Director Nick Fullerton, Ulster Branch President Stephen Elliott and representatives from all of the clubs attended the launch to celebrate the sponsor’s support of the grassroots game for the fourth year running.

The Premiership is split into two divisions of six with the winners of Division 1 being awarded the Stevenson Shield at the end of the season. Armagh are once again the ones to beat; having retained their title in 2017/18.

SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) which is responsible for the safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity into the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, announced its title sponsorship of the league in 2015. Since then, in addition to supporting the Premiership, it has rewarded 10 clubs across Ulster with bursaries between £500 and £1,000 via their popular Community Champions Award.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Nick Fullerton from SONI said they are delighted to continue to support the grassroots game: “Club Rugby at a grassroots level plays an integral role in young players’ lives and benefits many communities across the province.

“Not only does the game engender an open and inclusive environment for all young people, regardless of age, gender and ability, but it inspires young people to be the best they can be, promoting team spirit and good sportsmanship. That’s something we’re very proud to support. “

This season will also see the return of the Community Champions Award, which recognises and rewards the efforts of club volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the domestic clubs, at Ulster Rugby’s end of season awards ceremony.

Nick continued: “We’re thrilled to bring back this initiative which has become increasingly popular since its inception in 2015. It’s been a pleasure getting to know some of the hard working volunteers from previous years and witness first-hand the benefits their volunteering brings to the lives of young people. We look forward to announcing more details on this year’s award soon.”

Chris Webster, Domestic Rugby Manager at Ulster Rugby said: “SONI is an important supporter of club domestic rugby and we are delighted to have its continued backing. Grassroots rugby clubs are more than just teams – they provide a focal point for communities to develop, grow, participate in and enjoy the game and genuinely enrich the lives of many young people. We’re thrilled to have SONI’s continued commitment to the domestic game.”

This weekend’s fixtures:

Division One

Ballynahinch v City of Armagh

Malone v Banbridge

Queens University v Ballymena

Division Two

Omagh v Rainey OB

City Of Derry v Bangor

Belfast Harlequins v Dungannon