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University Rugby

University Rugby

The Irish Universities Rugby Union (IURU) is the representative body for University Rugby Union in Ireland. The IURU and its member clubs are committed to developing the full academic, personal, and sporting potential of all our players and members in a respectful, safe, and enjoyable environment.

Working closely together with the IRFU, the IURU is dedicated to the growth of Third Level rugby through maximising opportunity, participation, and accessibility to the game of rugby for all players, male and female, regardless of standard.

The IURU works in close association with Student Sports Ireland (SSI) in respect of student rugby competitions and through representation on the IRFU Third Level Sub-committee.

You can follow them on twitter and instagram @IURU_Irish_Unis

Domestic Competitions

The IURU organises four domestic 15-a-side tournaments. The competitions are run as four standalone competitions, on different dates and at different venues, with the 2023/24 Season results as follows:

Senior Men: Dudley Cup

The background to the Dudley Cup starts in 1903, when King Edward VII visited Cork. The King wished to donate a memento of his visit. It was suggested that this be “a cup for the rugger” and the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Dudley, arranged for a silver cup (Dudley Cup) of the highest quality to be supplied by Weir & Sons of Dublin to contested between the three Queen’s Colleges at Belfast, Cork and Galway and it was initiated in 1903/04 season.

In the early 1900s, Irish University rugby was very strong and the three Queen’s Colleges had won, between them, nearly half of all the Senior provincial cups which had been played for in their respective provinces. However, Dublin University did not participate in the Dudley Cup since it was an independent university and not affiliated with the Queen’s Colleges. As for University College Dublin, it was only affiliated to the Leinster Branch as a Junior club. Senior status was formally granted in 1919.

The first Dudley Cup match was played at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday 1st March 1904. Queen’s Belfast beat Queen’s Galway 8-0 and won the trophy the next day by beating Queen’s Cork 19-3 at the Turner’s Cross ground.

Galway won in 1904/05 and Cork in 1905/06. By 1914, Belfast and Cork had both recorded 5 wins. UCD first participated in the Dudley Cup in 1919/20 and won beating Queen’s Belfast a try to nil”.

The following season,1920/21, Dublin University first participated in the Dudley Cup, but then withdrew and did not participate again until the1970s. In 1925, Queen’s Belfast withdrew, leaving the Dudley Cup to be competed for by the three “National” universities.

UCC then dominated the competition winning it four years in succession but were beaten by UCD in 1928/29, but they won it again the following season beating UCD in a “most strenuous game”. UCD then withdrew from the Dudley Cup leaving just UCC and UCG. Soon the competition lapsed and the Cup was safely stored in the vaults of UCC.

The Dudley Cup was displayed at the UCC RFC centenary banquet in 1974.The Irish Universities Rugby Union then organised the Dudley Cup between Queen’s, Trinity, UCC, UCD and UCG in the 1975/76 season.

In the first season of the revived competition, Trinity won the Dudley Cup convincingly. Over the next 3 decades UCD and UCC were frequent winners.

In 2018/19, the format of the Dudley Cup was changed to a “challenge” basis. UCD, as the then Dudley Cup holders, were challenged by UCC in October 2018 at Belfield ina match that doubled as an All-Ireland League Division 1A fixture.

In Challenge I, UCD retained the Dudley Cup, winning 39-28 but they thenlost Challenge II to Queen’s 29-24. The trophy is contested by the five IURU members playing in the AIL, UCD, Trinity (Dublin University FC), UCC, Queen’s and Maynooth (MU Barnhall RFC). All five have held the trophy at least once since the new format was adopted.

Trinity are the current holders They defeated UCD RFC in Belfield in October 2021 in Challenge VII of the new format and retained the trophy in four subsequent challenges. Their most recent victory was in March 2024 when they saw off UCD 22-13 in Challenge XI in College Park.

Challenge XII will take place in the 2024/25 season, most likely with UCC challenging Trinity. The new format has already provided to be very successful and has invigorated this prestigious competition.

Wins (Traditional Format 1904-2018)

UCD 22; UCC 20; Queen’s 12; Trinity 5; Galway 2.

Wins (Challenge Format 2018-2024)

Trinity 5; UCD 2; Queen’s 2; Maynooth 1 UCC 1.

Wins (Total 1904-2024)

UCD 24; UCC 21; Queen’s 14; Trinity 10; Galway 2; Maynooth 1.

Under 20 Men: Conroy & Coughlan Kelly Cups

The Conroy Cup (U20 Men) has been contested 32 times since its establishment in 1988/89. The 2023/24 event was held in the University of Galway grounds in October 2023, with four teams competing, UCD, Trinity, UCC and Galway took part, with UCD emerging as victors.

The day also saw the introduction of a new Freshers competition for the Coughlan Kelly Cup in which teams from UCD, Trinity and UCC took part, with Trinity emerging as the initial winners.

Scores, photos and presentation video with IURU President John Sexton are visible on Twitter link, https://twitter.com/iuru_irish_unis

As part of the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the University Rugby club, which was founded in 1874, Galway will again host the Under 20s Cups on Saturday 26th October 2024.


UCD 18; Trinity 8 (1 shared); UCC 5 (2 shared); Queen’s 2; UL 1 (1 shared).

Women: Kay Bowen Cup

The Kay Bowen Cup was first played in 2012/13 and has been contested on 9 occasions.

The 2023/24 Kay Bowen Cup was played at MU Barnhall RFC, Parsonstown, Leixlip in January 2024, with separate competitions for 15s and 7s.

In the 15’s competition, 3 teams took part, UCD, DCU and Galway, with UCD winning.

6 teams played in the 7’s competition, SETU Carlow, Trinity, TUS Midlands, Maynooth, UCC and Queens, with Maynooth won this competition.

Scores and photos are on the Twitter link https://twitter.com/iuru_irish_unis


Galway 3; DCU 3; UCD 2; Trinity 1.

Junior Men: Maughan Scally Cup

The Maughan Scally Cup has been played 13 times since it was presented in 2009/10.

The Maughan Scally Cup was played for in blitz format in University of Ulster grounds in Jordanstown in March 2024. 4 teams took part, UUJ, Queens, UCD and Galway with UCD beating Galway in the Final.

Scores and photos are on the Twitter link https://twitter.com/iuru_irish_unis

Details of Maughan Scally, photos and previous winners are listed on this Facebook page> https://www.facebook.com/MaughanScallyCup


Galway 5; UU Coleraine Magee 3; UCC 2; UCD 2; Queen’s 1.

Collectively, these competitions demonstrate the breadth, depth, and vibrancy of rugby activity across the Universities of Ireland.

Ireland Students

The IURU organises Student representative fixtures against other representative sides inside and outside Ireland. In the past, the Combined Universities have played against full International touring sides, including the famous victory over the Springboks at Thomond Park in 1965, the first victory by an Irish representative side over Southern Hemisphere tourists.

In recent years, the Irish Universities have organised fixtures against other European Student representative sides.

2016 saw the revival of the third level international representative team in the guise of the Ireland Students, and this fixture, organised by the IURU, was designed as a launch-pad for the reintroduction of regular international matches for Irish student teams. Since this revival, the Ireland Students have completed the following fixtures:

  • April 2016, a home loss to a very strong English Students at College Park. Ireland Students 10; English Students 57.


  • April 2017, a thrilling draw away to English Students at Iffley Road, Oxford. English Students 36; Ireland Students 36.


  • February 2018, a tough away win to Scottish Students at Peffermill Playing Fields, Edinburgh, Scottish Students 17; Ireland Students 33.


  • February 2019, an entertaining home win over Scottish Students at The Dub in Belfast as part of the celebration of Queen’s University Belfast RFC’s 150th anniversary season. Ireland Students 31; Scottish Students 3.




  • May 2022, an unexpected away win over France Universitaire at Stade Chat Locussol, Jonzac in the Cognac region of France. France Universitaire 10; Ireland Students 53.


  • February 2023, a narrow home loss to France Universitaire at the Mardyke, Cork. as part of the celebration of University College Cork RFC’s 150th anniversary season. Ireland Students 26; France Universitaire 31.



University Club Website Links





NUI Galway

MU Barnhall

Ulster University