Dublin rugby schools embrace round ball

BLACKROCK COLLEGE, Gonzaga, Belvedere, St Mary’s, St Michael’s, these are rugby schools.

Their very mention calls to mind tense senior cup clashes and famous alumni who represented the Ireland rugby team.

These institutions have a reputation for excellence when it comes to rugby, owed mostly to the professional ethos within which they operate. An ethos which necessitates the exclusion of all other sports. Or so we would believe.

Last Friday Belvedere College enjoyed a handsome victory over rivals St Mary’s to get their hands on some silverware. But we’re not talking about the senior cup, that was claimed by Clongowes Wood back in May.

Belvedere’s most recent triumph came in the Dublin ‘Rugby Schools’ senior Gaelic football final.

Having lost out by a point to Mary’s in the opening round of this one-day tournament, Belvo rallied in the final to clinch a 3-13 to 2-7 victory.

CBC Monkstown and St Michael’s made up the other contestants who left their egg-chasing instincts behind for a day of football.

While Munster rugby schools such as Cork’s Chirstian Brothers College and Presentation Brothers College have something of a GAA tradition, the same cannot be said for Dublin’s rugby elite. But this stereotype is now dated.

“Two of the emerging hurling schools in Dublin are Terenure and Templeogue,” said GAA officer for Dublin schools, Tom O’Donnell.

“They would be drawing a lot of their players form the likes of Ballyboden and Kilmacud Crokes and Faugh’s and teams like that which are primarily hurling clubs.

Just because they are going to those schools doesn’t mean that there’s no Gaelic in them.

“In the past we have arranged tournaments with the likes of Templeogue and Terenure College and St Paul’s, Raheny. All of those colleges, along with Blackrock and St Michael’s have come in and are now part of our official competitions.”

As Saturday’s remarkable Heineken Cup final proved, rugby is by no means suffering in the east of Ireland, but O’Donnell believes a shift in attitude is palpable among certain rugby schools in Dublin.

“Speaking to the Belvedere guys after the match on Friday, they were saying that they would love to come into our competitions,” he said.

“The big problem is that if they are also playing rugby, the rugby timetable conflicts almost exactly with what happens in our senior football competition. Obviously they have a rugby background and rugby is their priority.

“It was interesting on Friday to see the amount of club players that were involved.”


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