Rugby is officially on the map in North Clare thanks to the newly established Lisdoonvarna RFC and their successful running of the Canterbury Give It A Try programme.
The club were awarded membership by the Munster Branch Committee in June 2021 and on July 27th hosted their first training session for girls aged 8 to 14 to learn rugby in a fun and safe environment.
It’s their first official rugby offering and club founders are already confident the Give It A Try programme will grow into something really special over the next 8 weeks and beyond.
Frankie Burke is the club’s Honorary Secretary and Canterbury Give It A Try coordinator. He was inspired to make Lisdoonvarna RFC a reality when he saw what kind of a positive experience girls were having in a neighbouring club.
“We were down in Lees Road in Ennis in 2018 with a soccer team and we could see Ennis Rugby Club training on a pitch in the corner,” he told IrishRugby.ie. “All we could hear was laughter and we wanted to see if we could make that happen for ourselves in Lisdoonvarna. We reached out to Munster Rugby who were a great help and it started from there.”
So the chance to offer girls a positive sporting experience through rugby turned into the establishment of a brand new rugby club in Munster. It made total sense to Frankie.
“There’s a big catchment area for us between Ennis and Gort. The 20×20 campaign had a lot to do with it and the fact that I’ve three daughters had a big bearing as well! There was a lot of support there in getting set up and we found that there were a lot of rugby supporters in the area who were happy to help out, once they found out what we were doing.”
The first players to pick up a ball were part of a tag rugby team for 15 to 17 year olds that won a shield competition at a blitz in Ennis. Some of those players are now coaching the Canterbury Give It A Try programme back in Lisdoonvarna.
Lisdoonvarna Fáilte had a vital role to play in making a facility available, the club now has it’s official crest and a social media presence is helping them get the word out but when it comes to sustainability, they’re finding an inclusive approach is really bearing fruit.
Lisdoonvarna RFC also understand that being inclusive is more than just saying you are open to all. “You have to pick up the phone and make the call,” says Frank.
That’s what helped a group of young asylum seekers from the local accommodation centre feel welcome to get involved. After their first taste of rugby, they’re looking forward to coming back for the next seven weeks of Give It A Try.
The club have more plans to offer older girls in North Clare the chance to play rugby, including non-contact and 7s.
Those players and coaches who were there for that very first session of Canterbury Give It A Try will always be able to say they were there when it all started. #NothingLikeIt