The first club to be approved for the new IRFU/AIB Funding scheme, Ashbourne RFC are in the midst of a long term evolution that now sees them with serious ambition both on and off the pitch.
IrishRugby.ie visited Ashbourne on a cold Thursday in September and witnessed first hand the change, the growth, the ambition and not least the justifiable pride that exists in this club on Meath/Dublin border.
It is an easy run out to Ashbourne on the N2 and not having been there in a few years I was unsure what to expect. I had read the development plans but they do not do justice to what awaits you.
The signposts guide you in through the new housing estates to a site just outside the town. Park your car and wander around the grounds and you know within minutes that this is a club that is serious about sport. Match standard floodlights adorn two immaculate pitches. Training floodlights mark the third pitch and youths training area.
Get talking to the people though and you really start to get the buzz. A few words crop up constantly: community, development, youth, family and of course rugby!
This is a junior club with a full-time youth development officer who works with schools in the area to promote the game.
This is a club with two floodlit astro turf pitches that generate revenue seven days a week and bring people from other sports to their club.
This is a club that recognises the changing work/life balance and so schedules games to suit, organises entertainment to attract families and arranges transport to ensure a safe night for all.
This is a club with over 250 players and growing; it is attracting players because one look around tells you, as a player, that this is a good place to play!
"If you build it, they will come" - the tag-line from the film 'Field of Dreams' could have been written for Ashbourne RFC. Founded in 1974, 'Ash' now have serious ambitions to get into the AIB League, this is a club with a sense of pride. Check the Ireland teamsheet in a few years time and don't be surprised to see Ashbourne RFC listed after a player's name!
Do not take our word for it. Friday night (October 5) is a perfect chance to see it all in action. Ashbourne RFC will officially open their two new floodlit pitches with the action starting at 6.30pm. They will host a double header, both games kicking of at 7.30pm with the Ashbourne first team hosting Skerries first XV in the North East Area McGowan Cup fixture. On the second pitch, Ashbourne host Monkstown in a J3 friendly, while preceding both will be action from the Under-9, Under-10 and Under-12s against Ratoath.
Club Funding Scheme