Sunday, February 28, 2021

Front Five - 28.02.21

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.


ICYMI click here for our
Leinster v Glasgow preview


"I suppose today was an accumulation of both weeks (v WAL & FRA) coming together, but it doesn’t mean everything is fixed now."


Gavin Cummiskey - Irish Times
(possibly behind paywall)

It’s tempting to call this latter crew the Leinster B team...except there is nothing second-rate about the ones left behind to mind the shop. 


Garry Doyle - The42.ie

...three penalties from Callum Sheedy's boot moved Wales clear before Cory Hill completed the job in the dying minutes.


Jon Doel,Katie Sands & Ben James - WalesOnline

There would be greater clarity over this case if the decisions of the Disciplinary and Appeal Committees had been published.


Rugby And The Law

"Toxic, embarrassing, disgraceful, appalling. Just some of the feedback I’ve had."


Observer Sport

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Preview : Leinster v Glasgow Warriors

Given how the 2012 Pro12 Final finished, this might not be a good time to draw reference from it, especially when Leinster’s opposition was the Ospreys and not Glasgow.  But looking at the two lineups from that day at the RDS the comparisons are interesting, at least to my nerdy eye.


Let me get the less relevant links over with now.  Current Leinster coach Leo Cullen was the captain that day, no surprise there.  Devin Toner and Sean Cronin both started, as they do in this fixture, and also Dave Kearney was wearing 23 for the final.   But my research on the teamsheets had more to do with Friday evening’s match at the Kingspan between our Conference A rivals Ulster and the Ospreys.


Starting for the home side last night were John Cooney and Ian Madigan, and just as I suspected, both were on the bench for that final (though neither got a game) and just to complete the cycle, the one player to feature both then and now for the Welsh region was another halfback, namely Rhys Webb.


The reason I point this out is that much like Leinster in 2012, Ulster found out last night just how good the Ospreys can be in the second half of a campaign.  Maybe they eventually fell short on Friday, but they were very unlucky not to be ahead at the break and played with the kind of attacking rugby that could definitely put them in contention for honours should they repeat it for a whole season.


But as far as Leinster are concerned, two positives came from the encounter in Belfast.  First, although we must also face Toby Booth’s pesky birds before the season is out, that’s not until the final round.  The second is more obvious;  since Ulster failed to secure a fourth try and the bonus point that came with it, we now have a chance to extend our lead to six which would guarantee us staying in 1st whatever happens next weekend.  


And one final point to make ahead of looking at our chances...we were reminded during the week that it’s not just a pro14 title left to play for this season, as the EPCR announced how it had decided to play out the remainder of the Champions’ Cup.  It was pretty much as I expected, with a round of 16 to be played ahead of the quarterfinals and Leinster’s 2 wins from 2 ensuring us home advantage at least then. So even though there’s a higher-than-normal presence of boys in blue wearing green this weekend in the Six Nations, there are still plenty of places up for grabs in big knockout matches between now and the end of the campaign so there’s a lot to play for on Sunday evening in D4.


Sorry for going a bit overboard setting the scene!   Preview only from here on in, I promise...


What we have in this Leinster lineup is our first chance to see the exciting young creative trio of Harry Byrne, Ciarán Frawley and Jimmy O’Brien on the same pitch since the match against Cardiff in November, one of the biggest features of our impressive start to our Pro14 campaign.  Their ability to keep the opponents guessing has been a joy to see.


And it’s not unlike the rest of the backline is shabby either, which is amazing given the Irish 9-15 in Rome also hail from the province.  Luke McGrath is having an amazing season and is thus unlucky not to be in the Six Nations mix, while both Kelleher and Kearney have been among the tries and Rory O’Loughlin is a great crash ball option.


In the pack, Scott Fardy and Michael Bent join Cronin & Toner as the wise old heads and there’s an interesting switch in the back row as Penny moves to number 8 to accommodate the return of Josh van der Flier.  All in all it’s an extremely well rounded starting XV.


When it comes to the bench, well...recent history has taught us we should never question anyone making their debut for the province and on Sunday we add yet another to the ranks of our back row options if Alex Soroka takes to the field. 


But altogether our replacements have 40 Leinster appearances with Jack Dune being the “veteran” with 11.  I wouldn’t call this a concern, but another good feature of our performances this season has been an ability to defend in the final quarter so after shipping a couple of late tries against the Dragons, we’d be hoping this group of 8 younglings will be able to come on and keep the tackles rolling.


On Glasgow’s side of things, they have been able to benefit from the postponement of the France v Scotland match and will come to the RDS with a host of recognizable names like Nakarawa, Gray, Harley, Wilson and Jones.  With just 3 wins from their 11 matches to date they’ll be far from favourites but there’s certainly enough talent there to strike if we don’t meet our standards.


But when it comes to predictions I can’t see anything more than a home win and with that HB/CF/JOB axis restored to the lineup they really should be pushing for the bonus point we’re looking for.  Bookies have us winning by 17 but I’m going to put down a challenge to that young bench and say we’ll “only” win by about 8-10 pts in the hope that they prove me wrong and keep the visitors out.


Here’s to another good display by the boys in blue - as always follow me on Twitter throughout and at the full time whistle leave your thoughts on the Facebook page.  JLP

Glasgow Warriors : 15. Ollie Smith 14. Rufus McLean 13. Huw Jones 12. Sam Johnson 11. Cole Forbes 10. Adam Hastings 9. Jamie Dobie
1. Oli Kebble 2. Grant Stewart 3. Enrique Pieretto 4. Richie Gray 5. Leone Nakarawa 6. Rob Harley 7. Thomas Gordon 8. Ryan Wilson > (C)
16. Johnny Matthews 17. Aki Seiuli 18. D’arcy Rae 19. Gregor Brown 20. TJ Ioane 21. Sean Kennedy 22. Ross Thompson 23. Robbie Fergusson.

Guinness PRO14 2020/21 - Round 13
Sunday, February 28, 2021
KO 5:30pm
RDS Arena

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
AR1: Chris Busby (IRFU)
AR2: Robert O'Sullivan (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

Live on eir Sport 1, Premier Sports 1, Super Sport (SA), ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.

Front Five - 27.02.21

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our
Italy v Ireland preview


The postponement of Scotland’s Six Nations match against France has allowed Glasgow coach Danny Wilson to name a stronger than expected line-up


Stuart Bathgate - The Offside Line

The four match points for Ulster leaves them a point behind Leinster at the top of Conference A, with Leo Cullen’s side having a match in hand


Ciaran Donaghy - Belfast Newsletter

Carbery’s conversion was the moment to cherish, ending a nightmare 18 months


Simon Lewis - Irish Examiner

...it is believed...that the Lions have block-booked two hotels for July and August on the island, which is among the places in the British Isles least affected by Covid-19


Gerard Meagher - The Guardian

 It may not have been their best performance but ambition and nerve deserves to be rewarded.


Garry Doyle - The42.ie

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Friday, February 26, 2021

Preview : Italy v Ireland

Let’s face it - there is absolutely nothing this Ireland team can possibly do this weekend that will appease the criticism which has been levelled at the Andy Farrell regime.  In fact, if we win, the bigger the margin, the more we’re going to hear “well that’s only because he put out his strongest team”.


Does this mean I’m setting myself up to defend them against all negativity?  Well I guess my opening paragraph makes it look that way doesn’t it.  But I wouldn’t see it so much as a defence, rather an attempted reset towards reality.


Obviously our match against Italy each season is meant to be an opportunity to give some game time to fringe players in the squad as well as young prospects.  But a lot of things are “meant to be” which aren’t these days.  


I suppose my stance on the Andy Farrell tenure so far can be summed up like this - while I agree with the view that we are yet to see a discernible approach that is much different to his predecessor, I find it hard to understand how he seems to be getting absolutely no mitigation whatsoever for all that has happened since his first match kicked off against Scotland over a year ago.


Sure, the COVID thing is a big factor in that, although it can’t be the only one since everyone on the planet has that on their plate right now.  I tend to be more sympathetic based on a spanner thrown in the works of BOTH his Six Nations campaigns before they had even lasted 20 minutes.


Ironically Peter O’Mahony was involved each time - we all know about the “chicken wing” a few weeks ago but also he was the one to come off the bench when Caelan Doris’ test debut was prematurely curtailed.  Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean I’m blaming “The War God”; my point is that when you go into a major tournament with a fixed formation and plan in mind, it really does pull the rug from under you when you have to go back to the drawing board before the team’s kit has gotten dirty.


All of which means I reckon the main reason this side is so strong for this is that Farrell & co want to show us at the earliest opportunity what he can do with his best available squad of players.  Maybe to use a poker analogy, an “all-in” bet that once we see them playing at full tilt and see what they can do, we might feel better about the upcoming challenges against Scotland and England.  


Remember - I’m not saying it’s a gamble that’s likely to pay off, but if it’s true I can definitely see the logic in it and I’d have to give respect to someone who sticks to their own beliefs rather than ripping up the playbook altogether as so many seem to want.


Well, that’s my “hot take” anyway, I guess we’ll never know.  What say we harp on how the match is likely to go.  If I had to name one position where I thought we’d certainly “take a punt” it’s at 9.  Starting Craig Casey against Italy would at least take some of the edge off not playing him against France.


But instead, we have Jamison Gibson-Park given another chance to show he’s more than just a “ good impact sub” at this level, a point he’s only really likely to prove once he’s allowed to go with his instincts as opposed to being forced to kick more often than not.


As for the rest of the back line, well, as soon as I saw it was entirely made of Leinster players I knew the judgement would be harsh.  To be fair, when it comes to James Lowe I understand the defensive issues which many have pointed out, although each time he has been found wanting there were also questions to be asked of others earlier in the sequence.


What we should be asking ourselves instead of “what they can do wrong” or “why are they all from the same province” is this : “what can they actually provide?” and given we’re likely to face an Italian defence which despite being at home is likely to attempt to “park the bus” without the ball, you have to admit there’s a lot of game-breaking ability from 9 to 15.


During the week in the podcast I spoke to Mark Jackson about how underused Garry Ringrose has been in our attacking set up since he got to senior level, and with our half-backs likely to kick for territory and such an explosive back three on call, we’re unlikely to see that change much here.  I just don’t think we employ Garry’s rugby brain to its full potential and when he does contribute it tends to be in broken play.


Anyway, into the forwards; I have to say I like this front row, and I wonder if this could be the day where Dave Kilcoyne puts the whole “Porter shifting to loose head” debate to bed once and for all.  I definitely see the logic in that shift mind you, it’s just I have long been a fan of “Killer” in green and I can imagine how all that talk must sound from where he’s standing.


Ronán Kelleher is another who was originally tapped by Andy Farrell only to succumb to injury so he too has a chance here to stake his claim for a regular spot.  His try against France might have had a touch of luck to it but he still finished it very well and he certainly put himself about.


The engine room needs no justification - both Hendo and Ryan are born leaders and if we can’t back them to link with Kelleher for the good supply of lineout ball we regularly crave (especially with the coach behind them) then we might as well give up.


Another thing we discussed on the pod was the back row.  With so much talent available around the four provinces, surely that gives us an “a la carte menu” or sorts that allows us to select based on our plan for a given opposition?  Tadhg Beirne switching to 6 seems to provide us with a trio that should punish the Italians for having the audacity for running at us.  Basically whenever Will Connors applies his trademark chop tackles, Tadhg or CJ should be on hand to contest.


Then there’s the bench.  It would of course be cruel not to give young Casey at least 15 minutes no matter what is happening on the scoreboard, but it’s more the introductions of Messrs Baird and Conan that will interest me, not because of their province rather one making his debut and the other making a much deserved return to this level.


Obviously I was as disappointed as anyone to see Rhys Ruddock’s name left out of the 23 altogether but like I said that may have been more of a tactical choice and besides, if this means he’s available to play in Belfast next weekend then at least Leinster get some benefit.  Whatever the reasons I’m sure they will have been explained to him.


What of the opposition?  Well, I never like to see them get an absolute tonking, though if they defend like they did in their first two matches this could be another one.  On the attacking side I reckon Canna’s presence at 12 is much better for both the young halfbacks as well as Brex outside him although with the Henshaw/Ringrose pairing assigned to snuff out their points of attack they won’t have things all their own way.


Before I give my expectations of the result, I first want to lay out what I want to see that will make me “happy” going back to my opening statement.  Basically if I’m right about their desire to show us what they have always meant to do with this team, I want to be shown it.  Hopefully the rugby gods will spare us the injury or controversy this time to make that impossible but I’m willing to admit I’m impressed if I see anything that warrants that, no matter what the opposition might be.


The bookies are saying we should win by 22.  I reckon that’s a reasonable target for us to try and beat.  Remember, Farrell says three wins is still very much doable so if we’re really going to go for that we’ll have to rack up the points to make sure that gets us into the top three.  So with a decent attack plan, good execution, solid set-pieces and D, rugby gods smiling….with all due respect to our hosts, I reckon we should expect a margin of 25 or more from all of that.


Now lads, there’s your challenge - go out and show all the doubters you can do it.  JLP


As always, be sure to follow me on twitter throughout and after the full time whistle head over to the Facebook page and leave your thoughts. 



Italy : 15. Jacopo Trulla 14. Luca Sperandio 13. Juan Ignacio Brex 12. Carlo Canna 11. Monty Ioane 10. Paolo Garbisi 9. Stephen Varney
1. Andrea Lovotti 2. Luca Bigi > (captain) 3. Marco Riccioni 4. Marco Lazzaroni 5. David Sisi 6. Sebastian Negri 7. Johan Meyer 8. Michele Lamaro
Replacements: 16. Gianmarco Lucchesi 17. Cherif Traore 18. Giosue Zilocchi 19. Niccolo Cannone 20. Maxime Mbanda 21. Callum Braley 22. Federico Mori 23. Mattia Bellini.

Six Nations 2021 - Round 3
Saturday, February 27, 2021
KO 2:15pm
Stadio Olimpico

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
AR1: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
AR2: Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Romain Poite (France)

Live on Virgin Media One.

Front Five - 26.02.21

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our weekly list of
upcoming rugby on Irish TV


"He's at the front of the class with his notepad the whole time, taking everything in. His attitude is infectious."


Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

Carbery did make a brief return for Munster last season but his most recent appearance was in January 2020.


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

Stockdale returns to the side for the first time since the Munster match while...Baloucoune will make his first appearance of the season if he comes off the bench


The Front Row Union

Young half-back pair Stephen Varney, 19, and Paolo Garbisi, 20, are again entrusted by Smith


RTÉ Rugby

...the panel will now review Fagerson's schedule and "consider the consequences of the postponement".


SkySports.com

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Rugby on TV : Feb 25-Mar 4

Rugby on TV is brought to you by
the IrishRugby TV YouTube channel


I understand the TV companies pay for the right to dictate the rugby schedule but if I were a Dragons fan I'd be pretty pissed off my team was kicking off just half an hour after the Welsh started against England.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25

5PM
PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS
FREESPORTS

5PM
DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

10:50PM
THE PRO 14 HOUR (R)
EIR SPORT 1

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26

5:30PM
BENETTON V CONNACHT (L)
PRO 14
TG4
PREMIER SPORTS 2

7:45PM
SALE SHARKS V EXETER CHIEFS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

8PM
CARDIFF BLUES V MUNSTER (L)
PRO 14
TG4
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 2

8PM
ULSTER V OSPREYS (L)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2
PREMIER SPORTS 1

8PM
SIX NATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

9:55PM
ULSTER V OSPREYS (H)
PRO 14
TG4

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27

10AM
CARDIFF BLUES V MUNSTER (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

11:40AM
SOUTH AFRICA V LIONS (R-1997)
THIRD TEST
SKY SPORTS MIX

12PM
NEW ZEALAND V LIONS (R-2005)
SECOND TEST (DAN CARTER : THE PERFECT GAME)
SKY SPORTS ARENA

12PM
EDINBURGH V SCARLETS (L)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 1

1PM
BRISTOL BEARS V LEICESTER TIGERS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

1:45PM
DAN CARTER : A PERFECT 10
DOCUMENTARY
SKY SPORTS ARENA

2:15PM
ITALY V IRELAND (L)
SIX NATIONS
VIRGIN MEDIA ONE
ITV

3PM
NEWCASTLE FALCONS V HARLEQUINS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

3PM
WASPS V LONDON IRISH (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

3:15PM
GLOUCESTER V WORCESTER (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

4:45PM
WALES V ENGLAND (L)
SIX NATIONS
VIRGIN MEDIA ONE
BBC ONE
S4C

5:15PM
ZEBRE V DRAGONS (L)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 1

10:45PM
BENETTON V CONNACHT (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

10:50PM
SIX NATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA TWO
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28

1PM
NORTHAMPTON V BATH (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 2

3PM
FRANCE V SCOTLAND (L)
SIX NATIONS
VIRGIN MEDIA ONE
BBC ONE
(POSTPONED)

5:30PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (L)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 1

7PM
ITALY V IRELAND (R)
SIX NATIONS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 2

10:25PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

11:15PM
SIX NATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

MONDAY, MARCH 1

5PM
BENETTON V CONNACHT (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 1

5:30PM
CARDIFF BLUES V MUNSTER (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

7:30PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 2

8PM
AGAINST THE HEAD
RTÉ TWO

9PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (H)
PRO 14
TG4

TUESDAY, MARCH 2

7PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

7:30PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 2

9PM
CARDIFF BLUES V MUNSTER (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3

5PM
IRELAND V AUSTRALIA (R-2011)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

9:50PM
THE PRO 14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

11:30PM
PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS
BBC TWO

THURSDAY, MARCH 4

5PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 1

5PM
BENETTON V CONNACHT (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

11PM
PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS
FREESPORTS

********************

L = LIVE
R = FULL REPEAT
T = TAPE DELAY
H = HIGHLIGHTS

Times for live broadcasts generally refer to kickoff
Check local listings for repeat showings
Feel free to let us know if something is missing! paganoblog@gmail.com

Front Five - 25.02.21

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Gary Halpin RIP

ICYMI click here for the latest episode of
The HarpinOnRugby Podcast


With James Ryan restored to the secondrow, such has been Tadhg Beirne’s form that he is likely to be moved to blindside at the expense of Rhys Ruddock.


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times

Halpin was responsible for one of the most iconic moments in Irish Rugby history


Ciarán Kennedy - The42.ie

Leinster Rugby, along with Racing 92, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster Rugby will each be guaranteed a home fixture.


Conor Sharkey - LeinsterRugby.ie

"I have only ever had eyes for Ireland"


Independent.ie

"Forget it, it’s a poor call"


Rugby Onslaught

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Podcast S02E32 : “Lions Selector Panel 2.2 & thoughts on Ireland squad featuring Mark Jackson (@hoomanbear)”



Listen to the pod using the player above or better still,
subscribe to our feed we're on most major platforms

On this week’s pod I was joined by Mark Jackson who gave us his updated Lions selection, and naturally we couldn’t harp on that without bringing up how the Ireland squad is looking right now.  He offered some great takes from a coach’s perspective on Garry Ringrose being underused, Andrew Porter’s versatility and our range of back row options among other things.

Mark Jackson’s first Lions selection is here > http://www.harpinonrugby.net/2020/12/s02e24-lions-selection-panel-12.html

Follow Mark on Twitter > https://twitter.com/hoomanbear

Front Five - 24.02.21

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for Part 2
of our series of club rugby profiles
by guest contributor Mark Strange


“What am I going to say? That I’m guaranteed to be at the next World Cup at my age?”


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times
(possibly behind paywall)

26-year-old Byrne, who started for Ireland against Argentina in 2017, last played for his province in December 2019.


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

His return might not happen until next week’s clash with Connacht at Thomond Park, or Scarlets or Benetton in the subsequent weeks


John Fallon - Irish Independent

...the results of Monday night’s testing points to an easing of the crisis.


Planet Rugby

...it is now likely that the Springboks will bring an A team to play in the midweek games, rather than the four South African franchises.


SARugbyMag.co.za

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Irish Club Rugby Profiles by Mark Strange : Part 2 - Dublin University FC

 Introducing a new series of posts by guest contributor Mark Strange featuring a different Irish rugby club each week.  

Mark recently appeared on The Harpin On Rugby Podcast to preview the series.


Part 2

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

When one thinks about the history of Ireland, never mind the history of Irish rugby, one thinks of Trinity University. Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, the university is a centerpiece of the city of Dublin and a huge tourist attraction. Their rugby club is also a piece of history, founded in 1854, it can lay claim to being the oldest continuous rugby club in the world.

Guy’s Hospital FC in London was founded in 1843 but was inactive for a period in the late nineteenth century meaning that DUFC has been continuously playing rugby for coming up on 170 years which is an incredible feat. The man who is often credited with introducing the game of rugby to not just Trinity but to Ireland is Charles Barrington who brought a somewhat organised game of rugby to the university.

The excellent club history section on the club website tells of how the first game of ‘Rugger’ played on College Green was made up largely of “bystanders who just so happened to turn up” as finding opponents for this new sport was difficult to come by. Sometimes, the Dublin Garrison would throw together team but, often, the game was played amongst the various schools in the college. In 1868, the TCD rugby club drew up a list of laws which can be found on the club website that bears a remarkable similarity to the game we know and love today.

Speaking of that famous College Green, Trinity rugby plays host to one of the most beautiful and unique grounds in world rugby at College Park on Pearse Street in the heart of Dublin. The grounds can be seen from Grafton Street and are surrounded by historic buildings. It truly is one of the most picturesque sports grounds in the world, not just Ireland.
 
Unsurprisingly, in those formative days, the club provided the fledgling Irish international team with a host of players. No fewer than nine players from the club represented Ireland in 1875 with GH Stack captaining the side. Recent internationals who have represented the club include Malcolm O’Kelly; Brendan Mullin; Trevor Hogan; Jamie Heaslip and Niyi Adeolokun.




Niyi Adeolokun lines out for DUFC at a club sevens event covered by HarpinOnRugby in 2011


The last name on that list is the perfect example of what a breeding ground the university can be for athletes. Adeolokun was born in Nigeria but moved to Dublin aged 11 and could turn his hand to pretty much any sport. He represented Templeogue Synge Street GAA and Shelbourne soccer while also being a part of the Leinster U19 development squad and playing schoolboy rugby for De La Salle College. After leaving school, he studied and played rugby at Dublin University for four years before his performances caught the attention of Connacht where he was part of the famous Pro12 winning squad of 2016 – the same year he appeared for Ireland against Canada.

This is just another case study of how Dublin University – and the AIL in general – is a breeding ground for top-level talent while being a superb standard of rugby to watch. Trinity men Ryan Baird; Max O’Reilly; Thomas Clarkson; Rowan Osborne and Dan Sheehan were all part of the Leinster squad who defeated the Dragons in Newport at the weekend and the club has long been part of the fabled Leinster Rugby production line.

Another part of the club’s rich history includes those who have worn the white of DUFC and the red of the British and Irish Lions. Heaslip was a tourist in 2009 and 2013 while Phillip Orr, John Robbie and Hugo MacNeill toured in the 70s and 80s. 

Another all-rounder both on and off the pitch to represent DUFC is former Tánaiste, Labour Party leader and Kerry footballer and hurler Dick Spring who was capped three times for Ireland during the 1979 Five Nations.

It was fascinating to dive into the rich and long history of Dublin University Football Club and, truthfully, I have just scratched the surface. It is impossible to tell all of the wonderful stories from the world’s oldest rugby club in continuous existence in just one piece. I, for one, cannot wait to visit College Park soon and watch more chapters of this incredible club be written.

Next week, we’ll stick to the universities and profile Dublin University’s Colours Match rivals, UCD.




Mark Strange (@realmarkstrange) : I am a freelance sports writer who has been published in soccer, rugby and baseball. I am also an avid fan of ice hockey and just returned last year from a year living and working in Vancouver. I previously played and was PRO for Randalstown Rugby Club before a knee injury cut me down in my prime! I became a Leinster fan when I was younger due to a certain Felipe Contempomi and I am the only blue in a sea of white in Ulster.

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Series lead photo taken from tallaghtrugby.com

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D4tress

D4tress
Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019