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!
A fascinating battle lies ahead in the Ulster Bank Junior Cup final on Saturday, as Enniscorthy aim for their second title in three years and Instonians bid to lift the trophy at their very first attempt.
Friday Night Lights action returns to the top flight of the Ulster Bank League when Clontarf host Terenure College in a crunch Dublin derby, while Saturday's schedule in Division 1A includes the meeting of third-placed Garryowen and a resurgent Lansdowne team.
The Ulster Bank League resumed last weekend with last year's champions Lansdowne hosting current table toppers UCD. Check out the best of the action from an exciting Division 1A encounter on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.
Ireland's U-18 School and U-18 Club players were part of a three day camp over the Christmas period and received specialist training and advice workshops as they continue their development path. We spoke to Team Manager John McKinney, Caoches Noel McNamara and Mark Butler and IRFU High Performance Manager Colin McEntee about the structure of the three days and the season ahead for the players.
The IRFU High Performance Unit, under Colin McEntee, and Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek brought together coaches from all four provinces and Ireland representative teams to share ideas and look at recent trends in scrummaging. We spoke to Colin and Greg on the day.
Watch the IRFU/Ulster Bank 'Your Club, Your Country' Grand Draw which took place at Irish Rugby headquarters. The winning tickets were drawn by IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan and Lionel Mahon of Ulster Bank, with Aidan Connaughton of Grant Thornton overseeing the draw. The full list of winners is available here - http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/36203.php.
Table toppers Clontarf entertained Galwegians in Ulster Bank League Division 1A, hosting the game on their new 4G pitch which was officially opened on the day by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan.
With the Ulster Bank League resuming this week, we take a look back at a cracking Division 1A contest from the last round when Old Belvedere got the better of defending champions Lansdowne at Anglesea Road.
There was huge excitement surrounding the Aviva Irish Schools Rugby Festival last Sunday as 32 boys and girls teams got to play at the home of Irish Rugby. We hear from IRFU National Age-Grade Manager Hendrik Kruger, Shane Culleton from St. MacDara's, Ireland Women's star Jenny Murphy and some of the players involved on the day.
We take a look back at one of the best games from the opening four rounds of Ulster Bank League Division 1A - Galwegians' memorable 41-20 defeat of reigning champions Lansdowne at Crowley Park last Saturday.
Highlights of Lansdowne's 24-10 Friday Night Lights victory over Terenure College on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch, as Mike Ruddock's men maintain their unbeaten start to the Ulster Bank League season.
Galwegians head coach Matt Brown talks about his side's return to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, while New Zealander Josh Hrstich, captain of Garryowen, looks forward to their campaign - including this Friday's derby clash with Young Munster.
The Ulster Bank League kicks off on Friday night and fans can tune in from around the world for IrishRugby.ie's live stream of the Division 1A opener between UCD and Clontarf at the Belfield Bowl (kick-off 7.30pm). We hear from captains Stephen Murphy and Ben Reilly.
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.