The Ireland ‘A’ team is to be renamed the Ireland Wolfhounds, resurrecting a name that has been synonymous with Irish rugby over a period of nearly 50 years.
The Ireland Wolfhounds was initially the brainchild of Irish rugby legends Karl Mullen and Jack Kyle.
Created in 1956 as an invitational side to spread the rugby gospel among the towns and villages of Ireland, over the years Irish internationals such as Brendan Mullin, Willie John McBride and Sir Anthony O’Reilly all represented the Wolfhounds in their distinctive green and white hooped jerseys.
The Wolfhounds played games all over Ireland and provincial towns such as Athlone, Westport and Waterford have all entertained the nomadic Wolfhounds team who, like the Barbarians, had no home ground of their own.
The final recorded appearance of the Irish Wolfhounds was in 1987 when they played against Greystones at Dr. Hickey Park to celebrate the club’s golden Jubilee.
The Ireland Wolfhounds was selected as the new name for the Ireland ‘A’ team following a competition among members of the Irish Rugby Supporters Club.
Conor Smyth, from Carrickmines in Dublin was the lucky supporter who suggested the use of the Wolfhounds identity, linking the past and future of Irish rugby.
The debut of the Ireland Wolfhounds’ name will be next Friday (February 5) at Ravenhill when they will play Scotland ‘A’ under floodlights (kick-off 7.30pm).
Tickets for that game are available from www.UlsterRugby.com, the Ravenhill Ticket Office (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm), the Ticket Hotline 028 90 493 222 Option 2 (Mon-Fri, 10am to 12pm) and SS Moores (6 Chichester Street, Belfast, 028 90 322966).
Before the home clash with Scotland ‘A’, the final appearance of the Ireland ‘A’ team under that identity is this coming Sunday against England Saxons at the Recreation Ground in Bath (kick-off 2pm, live Sky Sports 2). The final team has been named from the initial 22-man squad selected on Tuesday.
Denis Hurley has failed to recover in time for the game from his leg injury, so Gavin Duffy comes into the squad and will start at full-back. Winger Johne Murphy, who was also named in the initial squad, is now unavailable and his place is taken by Fionn Carr who starts on the right wing.
Marcus Horan and Rory Best start at loosehead prop and hooker respectively as they aim to increase their game-time after recovering from injury.
Paddy Wallace and Peter Stringer form the half-back partnership, alongside Fergus McFadden and Keith Matthews at centre.
IRELAND ‘A’ Team & Replacements (v England Saxons, Recreation Ground, Bath, Sunday, January 31, kick-off 2pm):
15 – Gavin Duffy (Galwegians/Connacht)
14 – Fionn Carr (Galwegians/Connacht)
13 – Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
12 – Keith Matthews (Buccaneers/Connacht)
11 – Ian Dowling (Shannon/Munster)
10 – Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
9 – Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
1 – Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 – Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster)
4 – Mick O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster) (capt)
5 – Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster)
6 – Shane Jennings (St.Mary’s College/Leinster)
7 – Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 – John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht)
16 – John Fogarty (De La Salle Palmerston/Leinster)
17 – Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
18 – Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon/Ulster)
19 – Niall Ronan (Shannon/Munster)
20 – Isaac Boss (Ballymena/Ulster)
21 – Ian Humphreys (Ballymena/Ulster)
22 – Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)