We saw trophy titles in four different disciplines at last Saturday's 2014 IRFU Volkswagen Tag All-Ireland Championships.
Teams from the wide array of host clubs around Ireland all descended upon this year's All-Ireland venue, Old Belvedere RFC, and played in more than 140 games throughout the course of the day as over 1,200 people were welcomed through the gates at this huge day in the tag rugby calendar.
As always in the mixed competitions, C and D (Beginners) Grades comprised the largest tournaments with twenty-four teams taking part in each. Mixed B Grade saw two groups compete for the Cup and Plate and for the first time ever, four Men's Vets teams competed for the Cup and Plate in their relevant tournament.
Conditions were monsoon-like with humidity levels high and little breeze this year but a shower or two did little to dampen the atmosphere at any time.
With Volkswagen setting up the VW Fan Zone on-site, visitors, spectators and players were able to try themselves in various rugby skills tests. Many also took part in the Volkswagen Guess 'N Win competition where they attempted to guess the number of rugby balls packed into the latest model of the Volkswagen Up! Winners will be contacted by Volkswagen where they will find out whether they have won VIP match tickets to the 2014 Guinness Series at the Aviva Stadium, RBS 6 Nations or indeed the superb signed Irish team jersey.
Speaking of the RBS 6 Nations, the well-earned trophy was on display throughout the day and scores of people took advantage of this great opportunity to get a picture with this much prized silverware.
On the games front, the day commenced with Mixed D Grade kicking off at 11am. Some very tight groupings developed thus making winners of the various trophies up for grabs anyone's guess. Winners of the D Bowl were Citi Sharks who defeated Invaders by 8 points to 4. In the Plate, TBD beat Rhode Runners 6-3. The D Cup was one of the three games which were the first ever games streamed live. Viewers saw Tag My Pitch Up defeat Warrior Credentials by a golden try in extra-time following a 4-4 game in normal time. Could not have asked for a better match to watch!
As the D Grade playoffs got underway, so too did the Mixed B Grade along with the Men's Vets making their All-Ireland debuts. Again these were close and unpredictable encounters that followed a very exciting group stage. For the Plate Final, Rhode Runners lost out to TBD, 6-3, with both team having overcome The Holy Shows and Sock Bandits respectively. Ruggerbandits who play at Cork's premier venue, Ballincollig RFC, toppled Tag's Most Wanted 4-2 in one Cup semi-final, thus setting up a showdown against Belfast Harlequins RFC's (and All-Ireland regulars) Lurgan Lions who beat Thunderstruckers in their own semi-final (scoreline 5-2). In front of a pitchside and live web audience, Ruggerbandits came out as eventual winners by 8 points to 6. A fantastic game and one which exemplified the spirit of tag rugby and how it should be played.
The Vets Plate saw Flying Crocks beat Grey Stallions, 7-3 while the rivalry stakes between Tag Stars and Lansdowne Legends went in favour of the former in the Vets Cup Final who matched Lansdowne's solitary try with 8 of their own.
As these trophy tournaments wound down, the Mixed C Grade took up the reins for the second half of the day. Yet again, group tables yielded little more than narrow margins for teams to qualify for their various trophy quarter-finals.
The Bowl Semi-finals delivered more superb games to watch with the Spartagans defeating Tarfy Bulls 11-6 and the Grubber Bandits losing their game against Team Damage by 7 points. Team Damage edged the final over Spartagans 7-6 thus winning the Bowl. The C Grade Plate final was won by Tag Run Colliders who won their semi against Star Taggers. For Cancer Focus Crew this year was not to be as they lost their own semi-final by 10 pts at the hands of At Least We're Tryin'.
In the C Grade Cup competition, Friesian Taggers, who had been showing some classy skills and teamwork won their semi-final against Al-Tryeda, 6-2, then played Cork Dubs, the winners of the Golden Try close-fought semi-final against D4 Dazzlers. Friesian proved too much for the Corkonian Dubliners/Dubliner Corkonians in this one, winning comfortably by 15 points to 2.
Trophies were presented to each winning team and runner-up team by IRFU President, Louis Magee and IRFU Junior Vice-President/Chairman of IRFU Rugby Committee, Stephen Hilditch, who were also accompanied by IRFU committee members Philip Orr and Ben Gormley, director of Irish Rugby Development and the Club Game, Scott Walker.
Quite a day and already teams have been asking about next year's tag season, which is already shaping up to be even bigger and better as more clubs join the programme.
We would like to thank the following for their part in the success of these All-Ireland Championships and all of IRFU Volkswagen Tag: Our sponsors Volkswagen Ireland, Barry O'Carroll and our All-Ireland host club Old Belvedere RFC, Blazing Kitchen Catering, St John's Ambulance, INPHO, John, Paul, Brian and Conor of VideosOnTheNet, all of our amazing referees for their knowledge, time (and patience!) and last but certainly NOT least, each and every player that frequents our host clubs week in week out. We hope to see you all during the regular rugby season, be that at an international game, provincial game, club game, schools game or a minis festival. Thank You!
The IRFU would like to invite applications for the position of Participation Rugby Operations Manager. Reporting to the Participation Rugby Manager, the role holder will lead the operational delivery of IRFU's game wide strategy for TAG/Touch/Play Rugby programmes implemented by the IRFU and Provincial Branches.
Portlaoise RFC played host to hundreds of boys and girls from all over Ireland in the second Aviva Mini Rugby Festival of the season. We caught up with Ireland's Rhys Ruddock and Nora Stapleton and some of the young players at last Saturday's event. There was also a guest appearance by the Men's and Women's RBS 6 Nations trophies.
Adam Griggs came off the bench to score the match-winning try as Lansdowne beat Cork Constitution 27-20 to secure home advantage in the Ulster Bank League play-offs. Two players who caught the eye during the game were Cork Con winger Darren Sweetnam and Lansdowne centre Tom Farrell.
The IRFU, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and the ISPCC have joined forces to 'Stand up against Bullying' with the development of a new 'Shield your Club' toolkit which will allow rugby clubs review, audit and improve their anti-bullying policies. Clubs can email email@example.com for more information.
The Ireland Club team will play French Clubs at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night after the RBS 6 Nations clash. We spoke to captain Matt D'Arcy, centre Mark Roche and head coach Paul Cunningham. Match tickets are on sale from www.ticketmaster.ie.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and the CARA National Adapted Physical Activity Centre, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality, have launched the Xcessible Youth Sport Initiative 'Special Schools Tag Rugby'.
Rory Scannell turned in a man-of-the-match performance at out-half as his 24-point haul, including two terrific individual tries, helped Dolphin claim a bonus point in Saturday's 34-15 Ulster Bank League win over UCD in Cork.
Lansdowne have moved seven points clear at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, but they had to endure a nerve-jangling finish against Old Belvedere whose goal-kicker Josh Glynn missed a late conversion on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.
Mick McGrath is one of the latest players to make the step up from Ulster Bank League rugby to the professional game. The young Leinster winger has scored tries against Cardiff and Edinburgh so far this season.
Speaking at the launch of the Ulster Bank League Awards, Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss says he loves getting out to watch club rugby with one of his recent games being Armagh v Greystones in Division 2B.
Ulster Bank rugby ambassador Alan Quinlan talks about the importance of the Ulster Bank League to Irish rugby - as a pathway to the professional game and a platform for players to represent their local communities.
Irish Rugby TV brings you highlights of UCD's Ulster Bank League Division 1A win over Lansdowne, with Ireland Under-20 out-half Ross Byrne scoring a try and three penalties for the victorious students.