The third annual Irish Universities Rugby Union (IURU) Festival of Rugby, sponsored by Maxol Group, was held over 2 days and two venues in October 2017 marking the 25th year of the sponsorship.
17 different teams from 10 universities participated in 3 competitions. The festival kicked off on Wednesday 18th October with the Kay Bowen Cup up for grabs at Maynooth University Barnhall playing grounds in County Kildare.
While the women’s competition was accompanied by perfect autumn sunshine, the same could not be said of the weather 3 days later on Saturday 21st of October at Terenure College RFC, where Storm Brian impacted both the Maughan Scally and Conroy Cups.
Both competitions were successfully completed on the day, with players and supporters happy to retreat to the sanctuary of the clubhouse for the prize-giving ceremonies!
KAY BOWEN CUP
Ireland’s largest women’s rugby tournament, the Kay Bowen competition is named after Kay Bowen, the first female President of a Senior Irish Rugby Club – Dublin University Football Club.
On the day, there was over 220 players representing 10 Universities and Colleges competing for honours. Third level institutions from all four provinces participated in the event including, The University of Ulster, Queens University of Ulster, NUI Galway. University of Limerick, University College Cork, Waterford Institute of Technology, University College Dublin, Dublin University, Dublin City University and hosts Maynooth University.
Two separate titles were played for within the tournament, a Tier 1 Cup competition for experienced players and a Tier 2 Trophy competition for those players new to the game.
The Tier 2 Kay Bowen Trophy was won by University of Limerick who led from the front by team captain Rosie Newton; saw off a spirited Maynooth University side in a high scoring and entertaining final.
The Tier 1 Kay Bowen Cup was won by Dublin City University who, in their first year competing at this grade, defeated holders NUI Galway in a tight hard-fought encounter, which took extra time to separate the teams.
Following a number of withdrawals due to the difficult weather conditions, the Conroy Cup for Under 20 Men’s teams was contested by three sides, with University College Cork playing Maynooth University first, and the winners playing Dublin University in the decider.
The semi-final was keenly contested in wet and very windy conditions, which made ball handling difficult for both sides. Maynooth made the most of a strong backing wind with an early converted try and a penalty.
University College Cork came back strongly in the second half and seemed to have forced extra time when they levelled the score at 10-all with the second of two unconverted tries, as the final whistle loomed. However, Maynooth replied immediately with an excellent try, leaving the final score: Maynooth University 17; University College Cork 10.
The final between Maynooth University and Dublin University followed after a relatively short break, giving the Kildare students little opportunity to recover. Dublin University quickly took control of the match scoring a couple of excellent tries. Despite late scores by Maynooth, Dublin University recorded their fourth successive Conroy Cup triumph by a margin of 30 points to 10.
MAUGHAN SCALLY CUP
Late withdrawals also affected the Junior (J2/J3) men’s competition, where ultimately four teams braved the weather to compete. Returning champions University of Ulster Coleraine were joined by, Queens University Belfast, University College Cork and Dublin University Football Club.
Dublin University played Queens in the first semi-final. Queens were the more clinical side and despite a late period of domination, the Dublin side were unable to get back to parity having gone two tries down earlier with the match finishing 10-5. The second semi-final saw University of Ulster lay down a marker with a dominate display, to see off University College Cork and set up an all-Ulster final.
Before the final, Dublin University secured third place with running rugby more suited to spring time than the prevailing conditions. University College Cork suffered from the quick turnaround from the semi-final.
The wind picked up again for the final between University of Ulster Coleraine and Queens University, and played a significant part in shaping this game. With University of Ulster having the benefit of the elements in the first half, they kicked themselves into a 6-0 lead at half time. It could have been more but for the relentless tackling of the Belfast side.
While Queens dominated the second half, it was University of Ulster Coleraine who made the decisive play, intercepting the ball in mid field and putting the game behind doubt in taking a 13-0 lead.
Queens continued to battle hard for the remainder of the game, but the University of Ulster Coleraine line was never breached. In the end, the Cup returned to Coleraine, for a second consecutive season.