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Ulster Rugby Team Goes Paddleboarding at Bangor Harbour

27th January 2022
Ulster Rugby (l to r) Ross Kane, David Shanahan, Greg Jones and Andrew Warwick go paddleboarding on Belfast Lough
Ulster Rugby (l to r) Ross Kane, David Shanahan, Greg Jones and Andrew Warwick go paddleboarding on Belfast Lough

SUFTUM which means Stand Up for the Ulster Men is the rallying cry for the Ulster Rugby team and is of course part of the Ravenhill Roar heard most enthusiastically reverberating around the Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill when Ulster play at home. But on Monday (24th) Standing Up meant most of the Squad out in Bangor Harbour on (and in) the wintery cold water on Paddleboards, under the watchful eye of Iain McCarthy of Suphub NI. Somewhat different from playing in the 34 -31 victory over Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Champions Cup on the Saturday before.

Iain McCarthy who runs SuphubNI says one of the objectives was to deliver team building. And last week he had an enquiry from Ulster Rugby about accommodating the whole 45 strong squad and numerous staff. Now when Ian set up the school, he had six boards and as he says “ I always knew this would be a great way to bring teams and groups of people together. Water is a great leveller and as a school that has gone out of its way to source everything from boards, paddles, wetsuits, buoyancy aids etc for every size, shape and style of person possible to make the sport as accessible as possible, I can tell you even I was questioning if we had enough kit to accommodate this group of lads and lasses. Whilst this was a great test of that ambition, we passed”.

Ulster Rugby paddleboarders (l to r) Marty Moore, Alan O'Connor, Jack McGrath and Billy BurnsUlster Rugby paddleboarders (l to r) Marty Moore, Alan O'Connor, Jack McGrath and Billy Burns

As it turned out Iain managed to get 30 afloat and others including the injured watched from the pier. One of the squad called the break from usual training ‘Enforced fun’! It was the first time the Mega SUP which is a large board designed to take 8 people, looked small. And when a 6ft 7in player approached and said he tried paddleboarding before and couldn’t nail standing, he was instantly and confidently pointed to a board that gave him the support and stability he needs, and off he goes and flies”.

Once they’d all been around the coast to Brompton, two miles west of Bangor, and back, they had a ‘muck around’ and a swim, and hot chocolate and scone from a nearby deli rounded the session off nicely.

Iain says “All sport means a lot to us. Many of the team have played various sports to a high level and our ambitions are to raise the standard and accessibility of Paddleboarding in Northern Ireland.

Good luck to Ulster at home to Welsh side Scarlets on Friday 28th at the Kingspan Stadium.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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