Chambers Park provided the setting for this week’s Nutty Krust-sponsored under 18s’ tournament - with the 37th season bringing a format change from knockout to group games.
The draw was made by Portadown’s Bobby Stewart - the current Irish Rugby Football Union’s Ulster branch president - with key support from Brian Irwin, a member of the Nutty Krust committee and chairman of competition sponsors Irwin’s Bakery.
Nine clubs have signed up to compete across three groups as follows:
GROUP A: Banbridge, Ballynahinch, Omagh.
GROUP B: Ballymena, Dromore, Rainey.
GROUP C: Armagh, Malone, Randalstown.
The full schedule is as follows:
ROUND ONE (January 27) - Banbridge v Ballynahinch; (February 3) - Ballymena v Dromore; (February 10) - Armagh v Malone.
ROUND TWO: (February 17) - Ballynahinch v Omagh; (February 24) - Dromore v Rainey; (March 2) - Malone v Randalstown.
ROUND THREE: (March 16) - Banbridge v Omagh; (March 23) - Ballymena v Rainey; (March 30) - Armagh v Randalstown.
SEMI-FINALS: Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13.
FINAL: Wednesday, April 27.
Free weeks have been scheduled from March 9 and April 6.
“The group winners and highest-placed runners-up will progress into the semi-finals,” said a tournament spokesman. “A fresh draw for the semi-finals will be made when all qualifying teams are known.
“A detailed list of criteria will be drawn up to show how each team can score points and show how the highest-placed runners-up spot will be decided.
“A win will equate to four points and try bonus points can be achieved, as can losing bonus points.
“The emphasis will be on enjoyment and encouraging attacking play.
“The organisers have decided to schedule the opening series of game on a group basis to ensure each team will play at least two games.”