Captain Alan Whitten says Instonians’ return to the Energia All-Ireland League is a massive moment for the club after a gripping 25-21 win over Bective Rangers in the Round Robin Qualifying final at Dundalk RFC.
“I was in the team that got relegated seven years ago and I’ve been trying to get back ever since,” said Whitten, who had a fine game at tighthead prop, helping Inst to dominate at scrum time.
It was a busy day for the Whitten family with his older brother Ian in action for Exeter Chiefs in the Heineken Champions Cup, while his younger brother David played at number 8 for Queen’s University in Division 2A of the Energia All-Ireland League.
“It’s massive for Inst because we were always a senior club and to get back there is huge for everybody concerned. It was a hard game. Both sides were really physical. I think I’m missing half a tooth!,” he joked.
“Bective really brought it. We stamped our authority early on, then Bective came back with some really hard carries. Their 6 (Jamie Lawless), in particular, was a really physical player. We’re just glad we got over the line in the end.
“We’ve won the Ulster league a couple of times and we’ve always lost in the play-offs. I think this might be our fifth time in the play-offs. It’s been a while coming.”