Coleraine and Ballymoney rugby fans have a treat in store on Boxing Day as the two teams battle it out in the league – and also for the annual Tweed Cup.
It is always a big occasion when the two sides meet and this year they are again pitted against each other, at Coleraine, in the league, this time the Kukri League Section Two.
It is also a great social occasion as local people home from work and study for the festive period meet up at the clubhouse to catch up and enjoy a great game of rugby.
On the last occasion the two clubs met, the first round of the Towns’ Cup last year, crowds estimated to be over 1,000 watched a fascinating and entertaining game. On that occasion Coleraine, sponsored by “Cookstown”, were the victors but in the world of local rugby derbies there is no guarantee as to who will triumph and both sides will be going all out for the win on Saturday.
The two sides will also be playing for the Tweed Cup, presented by Bill Tweed in honour of the fact that he had played for both clubs, the fiercely competitive annual fixture coinciding this year with the Kukri league game.
And to add even more drama to the day Coleraine 3s and Ballymoney 4s will battle it out for the Lenny Robinson Cup, another competitive annual fixture. Plans are also in hand to have a showpiece mini-rugby game just prior to the big match.
Speaking yesterday Coleraine head coach Richard Boyd said his men are ready for the game.
He said: “The players and coaching staff are really looking forward to the local derby against Ballymoney on Boxing Day. There will be a big crowd at the game and it is another challenge for our young squad to express themselves and maintain our proud home record in the league.
“We should be at full strength for the game apart from long term absentees Andrew Neely and Conor Simpson and will be working hard at training this week to ensure we keep improving and are focused for the game.
“Ballymoney have had an indifferent season and will be looking to pull away from a relegation battle over the next few games. They have been unlucky with a number of key injuries but will be coming to Coleraine with real purpose and will be very tough opposition on the day.
“It should be an exciting game of rugby and it would be great to see a big turn-out of Coleraine supporters to get behind the boys and enjoy the festive atmosphere at the club.”
Members, friends and supporters of both clubs will descend on the Rugby Avenue club from lunch time on Saturday. There is a pre-match lunch sponsored by Hampton Conservatories and Zing and there will be catering and refreshments available throughout the run up to and during the games.
Because of the anticipated numbers, people are asked to be considerate when parking, making sure they don’t obstruct footpaths and gateways, and using the nearby parking facilities safely. Police are aware and will be in the area.