Saturday 21 October 2017

Rugby, GAA clubs to share pitches

Blackrock RFC and Cuala sign agreement to use Stradbrook playing grounds

Old Belvedere v Blackrock College RFC
Old Belvedere v Blackrock College RFC
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

BLACKROCK College RFC, one of Ireland's best-known rugby clubs, has signed a historic agreement with a GAA club which will see both sporting groups sharing Blackrock's pitches.

The rugby club and Cuala GAA have announced a ground sharing agreement for the use of the facilities at Stradbrook, Blackrock, Co Dublin.

A memorandum of understanding, which will enable the development of Stradbrook as a multi-sport facility, was signed by both clubs on Friday. It is due to go before members of both clubs for approval next month.

Should both sets of members accept the proposal, it is expected that the move will be completed within six to 12 months.

In the memorandum, Cuala GAA, based in Dalkey, Co Dublin, agreed to purchase the lands at the lower section of Blackrock College RFC's grounds. In addition, it would involve the development of a fenced all-weather playing facility, general pitch upgrades, floodlight installation and the provision of a new gym.

Both clubs have welcomed the new pitch sharing agreement as an opportunity to develop a world-class sports centre.

"This agreement is in keeping with our vision to develop Stradbrook as a multi-sport facility and marks the beginning of a new era for Blackrock College RFC," John Smyth, president of the club, said.

Mr Smyth said that the "rugby only" business model was not sustainable in the new world of the professional game in Ireland.

"We firmly believe that this innovative initiative will support the future development of both clubs," he added.

Chairman of Cuala GAA, Peadar McAdam, echoed Mr Smyth and said the agreement would produce a support network for both clubs to grow and perform at the highest levels.

"It opens up the facility to a much larger community of members and will only serve to promote sport amongst our youth," he added.

Blackrock College RFC was founded in 1882, making it one of the oldest senior rugby clubs in Ireland. Its membership of almost 1,200 consists of players, coaches, associates and life members. They also operate one of the largest mini-rugby programmes in Ireland.

The club's men's first team compete the AIL Division 1B and its ladies' first team are in AIL Division 1.

Cuala GAA was established more than 30 years ago and has developed into one of the largest GAA clubs in the country.

Its membership of almost 2,000 consists of players, mentors coaches and social members. At adult level, both its senior hurlers and senior footballers play at the top level.

Irish Independent

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