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!
Amidst the excitement of the Women's Sevens Dublin tournament, at which Ireland won a place on the World Series, there was one section of the final day devoted to the development of Women's rugby. Eight teams made up of Under-18 girls got the chance to train with players from the Ireland Women's Sevens and 15-a-side squads.
The Rugby Growth and Participation Manager will provide strong leadership and strategic direction of the IRFU's work to grow participation within the game and to integrate social forms (i.e. Touch, Tag & Community Sevens) of the game more effectively into its overall strategic plan.
Ireland Women's internationals Nora Stapleton and Niamh Briggs talk to Irish Rugby TV about the IRFU's new Long Term Player Development Model for Women's rugby. For more on Women's LTPD, please visit www.irishrugby.ie/womensltpd.
The launch of the IRFU Long Term Player Development programme for Women's rugby is an important milestone in the game. Michael McGeehin of Coaching Ireland and Louis Magee, former IRFU President, speak about the programme.
The Irish Rugby Football Union will help clubs make the most of the upcoming Rugby World Cup with a number of initiatives designed to make clubs 'THE' place to support the men in green during England 2015.
MU Barnhall RFC hosted their first ever Special Needs Tag Rugby Blitz last weekend. Great fun was had by the players and coaches from the Barnhall Buffaloes, Salmo Eagles, Westmanstown Taggers, Terenure Tigers and Mullingar Lions as they showed that rugby is a sport for all.
The sun shone on the Aviva Stadium for the Aviva National Mini Rugby Festival and there was a special guest appearance from Luke Fitzgerald and the RBS 6 Nations trophy. The real stars, however, were the players!
We look back at some of the winners of the 2015 Ulster Bank League Awards, and hear from Ulster Bank's Doug Munro, Ulster Bank Rugby Ambassador Alan Quinlan, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Louis Magee.
We caught up with Division 1A's Coach of the Year John Staunton (Young Munster), Rising Star Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne) and Top Points Scorer Josh Glynn (Old Belvedere) at the 2015 Ulster Bank League Awards.
A nail-biting Ulster Bank League Division 1A final saw Lansdowne crowned 2014/15 champions with an 18-17 win over Clontarf. Take a look behind the scenes at the Aviva Stadium - the home of Irish rugby.
Lansdowne captain Ron Boucher is primed to lead out the HQ club at the Aviva Stadium in Saturday's Ulster Bank League Division 1A final. We spoke to him this week about the challenge of playing last year's winners Clontarf.
Looking forward to Saturday's Ulster Bank League Division 1A final against Clontarf, Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock said: "It's a fantastic opportunity for both teams to showcase their talent. I'm sure it will make for an exciting game."
Clontarf head coach Andy Wood says they are focusing on 'our performance and the challenge that Lansdowne present us', as they prepare for Saturday's Ulster Bank League Divsion 1A final at the Aviva Stadium.
A large crowd turned out at Lakelands Park where three penalties from the boot of Matt D'Arcy steered defending champions Clontarf to a hard-earned 9-0 semi-final win over hosts Terenure College. Check out highlights of a closely-fought Ulster Bank League Division 1A play-off.