Irish forecourt group Maxol has launched its sponsorship of the Ulster Rugby Mini Rugby Festivals for 2016-2017.

The first eight dates and venues have been confirmed province-wide, and eight more festivals will be confirmed shortly that will take place at primary schools across the province, culminating in a four-day finals blitz at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

The mini rugby festivals offer thousands of boys and girls aged 6-12 the chance to gain their first taste of the sport as well as develop their skills while interacting with other players, and the opportunity to meet some of their Ulster Rugby heroes. Almost 1,500 children from over 40 local rugby clubs and 32 primary schools from across Northern Ireland are expected to take part in this season’s events.

Looking ahead to this season’s mini rugby festivals, Brian Donaldson, chief executive officer of The Maxol Group, said: “This is our fourth year as title sponsor of Ulster Rugby Mini Rugby Festivals, and it has kicked off with a great day at Rainey Old Boys.

“Our forecourts and retailers are very much at the heart of communities across Northern Ireland and our partnership with Ulster Rugby has really enabled us to foster and build stronger long lasting relationships with our local customers and audiences. We are committed to supporting rugby from a grassroots level and in doing so, feel we are playing our part in helping to shape the Ulster stars of the future.”

Neil Hanna from Ulster Rugby said: “We are delighted to have the continued support of Maxol, a well-known and respected family owned business with its roots dating back to1920 in the province. We are looking forward to another successful series of events in 2016/17 and in welcoming all of the teams and their supporters this year.”