...Current Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll in the colours of Blackrock College RFC, back in 2001...
Irish Rugby statistician Des Daly takes a look at the relationship between two neighbouring Dublin clubs, Blackrock College RFC and UCD RFC, who meet in AIB League Division One on Saturday.
Alex Spain played flanker on the Blackrock College teams which won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1949 and 1950. As an undergraduate at UCD he captained the rugby club to a 14-12 victory over Dublin University in the second official Dublin Colours Match back in December 1953. This season, 52 years later, he is the President of UCD RFC.
Unfortunately, Spain did not complete his personal double as the Belfield students lost out to Trinity College in this season's Colours Match just a few weeks ago.
On Spain's side all those years ago, there were four other former pupils of Blackrock College. And, until recent times, that has been the situation over the past half century. The south County Dublin college has supplied UCD with a multitude of fine players, including eleven captains, during this period.
Fourteen of UCD's international players received their early and teenage rugby coaching on the fields at Williamstown. Most of these players are well known in rugby circles. Fergus Slattery, twice a Lion and an Irish captain, Niall Brophy, also twice a Lion and an IRFU president, Johnny Quirke, who at 17 years and seven months was one of the youngest players ever to be capped by Ireland, hookers Aidan Brady, John Cantrell and Harry Harbison, the Kavanagh brothers Ronnie and Paddy...and so on!
Ciaran Scally, the captain, and Brian O'Driscoll formed the Blackrock school's half-back partnership in 1997. Advised by their fathers, Derek and Frank (the latter played for UCD in five Colours Matches), the two young players appeared in UCD a few months later. Their arrival coincided with the opening of the UCD Rugby Academy, which has flourished ever since.
O'Driscoll made the First XV after Christmas in his first year and played in the first of two winning Colours Matches in March. His senior freshman contribution of 148 points, including ten tries and 26 points in successive AIB League games, lifted the club to the top of the Division Three table. UCD were promoted into Division Two at the end of the season and O'Driscoll went on to be capped by Ireland on the Australian tour in June 1999.
...Ciaran Scally whose rugby career was devastatingly cut short by a knee injury in 1999, just a few weeks short of his 21st birthday...
Like most of the Blackrock former pupils who play their student rugby years with UCD and TCD (Hugo MacNeill and Brendan Mullin must get a mention here) and remain on in Dublin, O'Driscoll made his way to Stradbrook to further his rugby career. During his short rugby stint at university level the former Blackrock schoolboy, like many before him, had certainly left his mark.
Blackrock College RFC was founded during the 1882/83 season and played their first senior match in October 1899. UCD RFC was established in 1910 although students from the old Catholic University were playing in the Leinster Minor League in the early 1890s. UCD entered senior rugby ranks at the start of the 1919/20 season. Blackrock are currently playing in the top tier for the seventh consecutive season while UCD were promoted into Division One at the end of the 2000/01 season.
This Saturday at the Belfield Bowl, UCD entertain Blackrock in a top flight encounter (kick-off 2.30pm). Two former players from the Dublin universities - Alex Spain (UCD) and Job Langbroek (TCD) - are presidents of UCD and Blackrock this season. Recent UCD club Presidents - Adrian Burke, Tom McGeady and Jimmy Scally - and current UCD rugby chairman Derek Scally, who are all former Blackrock College pupils, will be on hand to ensure that the visiting players and officials are well looked after regardless of the result.
Seventeen years ago, the family of the late Jerry Fogarty presented a cup for annual competition between the two rugby clubs. Fogarty, an Irish final trialist in the front row, was yet another of many players to wear the colours of both clubs during his rugby career.