Banbridge RFC has revealed its vision for an ambitious redevelopment of the player facilities and clubhouse at Rifle Park.
Members of the local rugby community came together at an open evening on Friday. Reminiscing over photographs and archived material from throughout the club’s nine decades, there was clear excitement for the club’s future.
President Sam Grattan opened the event and welcomed club trustee, Kenny McElroy, who shared anecdotes and fond memories of the club. With gentle humour and great articulation Kenny recounted the conditions the Banbridge players considered normal such as having to run through a thickly brambled path to access their pitch located on bogland, which regularly flooded and at times required a small rowing boat to retrieve a knocked-out ball!
He also recalled the humble changing facilities which were originally located at the back of the Downshire Arms Hotel and affectionately told tales of the great friendships forged over the years.
Sam Grattan then brought future into focus for the audience, detailing the proposed development of the club’s property on Arderys Lane and revealing full visuals and drawings.
He stated: “The development project will be undertaken in three phases, the first being an extensive addition to playing facilities including additional changing rooms, toilet block and gym.
“A key benefit to this project will be the ability it gives the club to develop women’s rugby – a focus for Banbridge RFC in the future.
“The club’s centenary is just seven years away and the executive committee wants to ensure Banbridge has the best facilities to compete at the highest level of rugby in Ireland.
“This is why we are embarking on this ambitious project and wish to get the whole club and wider Banbridge community behind it so that we have top class facilities for the whole Banbridge district to enjoy and which will ultimately lay a secure path for the prosperity of the club and ensure that all our future needs are met.”
Fundraising committee chairman, James Mathers announced a number of key fundraising initiatives for 2019 which will progress phase one of the expansion project.
A Grand Summer Ball will take place on Saturday, 1 June followed by a Fight Night boxing exhibition on Saturday, 8 June along with a Buy a Brick Campaign running throughout the year.
For more information, visit the club’s social media pages or www.banbridgerfc.co.uk