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Rugby Shorts: December 8

Rugby Shorts: December 8

…Shannon To ‘Meet The Parents’…McCarter Wins BBC Radio Foyle Award…Rainey Death Shocks Rugby Community…Spoons Stir It Up In Dubai…Did You Know? December Internationals…

SHANNON TO ‘MEET THE PARENTS’: Remember those halcyon days when a top level AIB League match could draw a crowd close to 10,000? Well, Division One champions and current leaders Shannon have come up with a novel idea to boost their attendance at Saturday’s tie between the Limerick men and Ballymena at Thomond Park.

With upwards of 350 underage players attending training sessions and games in Coonagh on Sunday mornings, Shannon are looking to the future of Irish rugby to provide the present day support for their clubs and have come up with the concept of “Bring A Parent Day”.

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Shannon PRO Andrew McNamara revealed: “It’s a simple idea which will see any parent accompanying their Shannon underage player gain access to the game on Saturday – free of charge. The underage players must have their membership cards with them.

“There are many tangible benefits to such a concept for all involved. Shannon’s underage players and their parents will get to see many present and future Munster stars in action at a time when tickets for Heineken Cup games are at a premium.

“The Shannon senior side will be most grateful of the extra support especially from the always vocal underage players. Shannon RFC are treating this Saturday’s game as a pilot scheme and will be looking at further at other such concepts in the future.

“We are hopeful that other clubs will carry out similar exercises, which will hopefully strengthen the AIB League and attract the many thousands that once flocked to venues to watch grassroots rugby,” he added.

MCCARTER WINS BBC RADIO FOYLE AWARD: City of Derry fly-half Richard McCarter has been voted as the BBC Radio Foyle North-West Sports Personality of the Month for November.

McCarter, whose father Gerald is coaching both Derry and the Ulster ‘A’ team this season, was a deserving winner after he made his debut for the Barbarians in their 45-6 win over the Combined Services on November 15. McCarter filled the number 10 shirt at Newbury, linking well with Portuguese international Luis Pissarar at half-back.

The Baa-Baas, coached on the nightby former All-Black Zinzan Brooke, were captained by ex-Springbook Bobby Skinstad, who was one of seven try scorers against the Services.

McCarter, a student at Queen’s University, told the Derry Journal of his call-up: “To be honest, my initial reaction was one of total shock, it came completely out of the blue.has represented Ulster at Schools, Under-19 and Under-21 level, and was a member of the Ireland Under-19 squad at the 2003 World Cup in France.

“The Barbarians have a tradition of giving young players the chance to play on the big stage. In the last couple years they’ve let other young Ulster backs like Andrew Trimble and Ian Humphreys play in big games so hopefully I can continue in that mould.”

McCarter previously represented Ulster as Schools, Under-19 and Under-21 levels, and was also a member of the Ireland squad at the 2003 Under-19 World Cup in France.

RAINEY DEATH SHOCKS RUGBY COMMUNITY: The death of Ards clubman David Rainey, who suffered a heart attack while playing for the club’s Thirds XV last Saturday (December 3), has shocked the rugby community at large.

The 49-year-old television repair man from Comber, Co. Down, had travelled to Hamilton Park to spectate as the Ards Firsts XV took on Wanderers in an AIB League Division Three match. However, when two players cried off the Thirds side that were due to play Cooke, veteran flanker Rainey volunteered himself as a replacement for one of them.

An Ards club member since the age of 16, Rainey, known as ‘DR’, was no stranger to the pitch as both a player and coach, but having not played for a number of seasons, tragically, midway through the second half, he collapsed at the side of a ruck suffering from a massive heart attack.

Nothing could be done to revive Rainey, who was well-known figure in the locality.

Ards Firsts manager Robin Johnston said: “Davy Rainey was a club man at heart, he will be very sadly missed at Ards rugby club and throughout Ulster rugby circles, where he was very, very well known.

“He has left a gap at Ards that will be difficult to fill, but he has also left a lasting legacy in terms of the high standards he set for others to follow with his enthusiasm and dedication.”

Rainey is survived by his wife Pat and four children. May he Rest In Peace.

SPOONS STIR IT UP IN DUBAI: Some former Ireland internationals showed last week that there’s life in the old dog yet by playing in the International Veteran 10s event at the IRB Dubai Sevens tournament (December 1-2) in the Emirates.

Skippered by ex-Ireland and Lions prop Paul Wallace (34), the Wooden Spoon charity-backed “SpoonAAs” side qualified for the quarter-finals of the Veteran 10s but fell 5-0 to the UK Marauders in their last-eight clash.

Wallace’s on-the-field lieutenants in Dubai included former Ireland international back rows Ben Cronin (37) and Eddie Halvey (35) and scrum-half Stephen McIvor (36). Halvey had an interesting week as he dashed from the Dubai Exiles ground back to Dublin airport on Friday evening for Shannon’s AIB League trip to Dungannon the following afternoon. The Limerick man made his presence felt by scoring a try in the Division One champions’ 27-0 win.

*The “SpoonAAs” is a partnership between the renowned Anti-Assassins Rugby team and Wooden Spoon – the charity of British and Irish rugby – that supports disadvantaged children in the UK and Ireland. In the past two years Spoon has looked to increase its rugby profile in order to make more people aware of the charity’s work. For more information, log onto: www.woodenspoon.com

DID YOU KNOW?: That Ireland have not played a Test match in the month of December since 1997. Next Tuesday (December 13) marks the 130th anniversary of the first ever international rugby match played in Ireland – Ireland’s 4-0 defeat by England at the Leinster Cricket Ground in Rathmines.

Since 1875, Ireland have lined out a further nine times for December internationals, unfortunately winning just two of them and losing seven.

The most recent one saw Ireland travel to Bologna for a December 20 meeting with Italy back in 1997. Having been locked level at 9-9 at half-time thanks to three penalties apiece from the Azzurri’s Diego Dominguez and Ireland fly-half David Humphreys, the home side burst clear in the second half to record a surprising 37-22 win.

Irish winger Daragh O’Mahony scored a try which replacement Eric Elwood converted, but nothing could stop the Italians, who had the benefit of number 10 Dominiguez being in stunning form. The Italian talisman scored 27 points in all – a try, two conversions and six penalties.

Ireland’s record in December since 1875 reads, as follows: 1997: December 20: Italy 37 Ireland 22, Bologna; 1988: December 31: Ireland 31 Italy 15, Lansdowne Road; 1963: December 7: Ireland 5 New Zealand 6, Lansdowne Road; 1960: December 17: Ireland 3 South Africa 8, Lansdowne Road; 1951: December 8: Ireland 5 South Africa 17, Lansdowne Road; 1947: December 6: Ireland 3 Australia 14, Lansdowne Road; 1931: December 19: Ireland 3 South Africa 8, Lansdowne Road; 1928: December 31: France 0 Ireland 6, Stade Colombes, Paris; 1888: December 1: Ireland 4 New Zealand Natives 13, Lansdowne Road; 1875: December 13: Ireland 0 England 4, Rathmines, Dublin.