Bruff and Lansdowne will be facing each other in the new surrounds of Division 1B next season, but first there is the small matter of coming out on top in Saturday’s AIB League Division 2 final at Anglesea Road (kick-off 2pm).
Having narrowly missed out last season as Ballynahinch and UCC came out best in a three horse race for promotion, Lansdowne were desperate to gain promotion this time out.
They set a vicious pace out of the traps and burnt off all those around them, playing some spectacular rugby as they went.
But it was a 3-0 win over Highfield on a glorious day at the RDS that saw them over the line. Now they want to put a gloss on their season.
Meanwhile, Bruff could have been left reeling from a heavy home defeat to Saturday’s opponents early on, but they bounced back from that 54-13 loss and their form since indicates that Old Belvedere’s ground should see a closer affair.
Former Connacht and Leinster prop John Lyne will lead out Lansdowne at the weekend. He is not a man to talk up his team and played down their stunning successes this season.
But he admits that his club have gotten their structures right in recent seasons.
“I wouldn’t say that now,” he said when asked if his side were runaway leaders.
“We were a little lucky at parts of the year and good on the day sometimes. That’s the way it happens, we had some players to make the breaks and I wouldn’t necessarily call it that – runaway – it was hard-fought all the way.
“We’re carrying a few injuries now and looking through the squad, we’ve plenty of good players now who have come up through the under-20s and the foundations now – similarly to Bruff – are starting to come through.
“We got our goal of promotion and that was the main thing. Yeah, it would be great (to win the title), but it will be an extremely tough match and since we played Bruff both teams have only lost one game. It’s going to be an absolute battle on Saturday.
“We’ll have to see what lads are fit because we’re carrying a few knocks and we’ll just give it a crack when we get out there. It’s going to be an interesting match, I played Bruff twice at U-20s and lost twice.”
Limerick side Bruff have experienced stunning success over the last few seasons as they marched from the junior ranks up to AIB League Division 2, and next season will rub shoulders at the top table.
They did not get there without some knocks along the way, and skipper Brian Cahill says that the early season defeat to Lansdowne was an important moment in his side’s season.
“We wouldn’t be historically a big club in Irish rugby,” explained the out-half.
“But there’s been steady growth since the Under-20s and at underage level. The growth of the club came from those age groups and all the success there.
“All of the players came from that success and through to the first team and then there’s been gradual growth from junior rugby to Division 3 to Division 2 and now up again.
“The growth is still happening, thank God. Player numbers are increasing every year in underage and adult rugby.
“We played Lansdowne in our second game and it was a reality check. It’s easy to say that you are going to get promoted, but it’s harder to get it done.
“There’s a lot of rugby that has been played since that day, and we have confidence in our team, in our rugby. That was a tough day but we’ve come out all the better for it.”
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