Tuesday 25 July 2017

Living up to a long and illustrious history

Club Focus: Dublin University FC

Jack McDermott takes a kick for Dublin University
Jack McDermott takes a kick for Dublin University
Dublin University’s home ground, College Park

Brian Lowry

A club for life' is a fitting motto for the oldest rugby club in continuous existence in the world today.

Trinity Rugby, also known as Dublin University Football Club (DUFC), boasts a long and illustrious history dating back to 1854.

The club has fared well in recent times too and last season, 2015/16, was one of their most successful in recent times.

Not only were Trinity promoted to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, having spent the previous decade in 1B and 2A, they also reached the final of the World Universities Cup in Oxford, beating New Zealand.

Mixed bag

This season has been a mixed bag to date. The early part of it was decent and they led the division at one stage but they have since slipped back to seventh.

They do sit ahead of college rivals UCD however, who they also beat in last year's Colours match, a fixture that dates back to 1952.

The two face off again for Colours in early April and it will be interesting to see if Trinity can repeat their epic performance under the lights of College Park last year.

Despite this season's results, DUFC have lots of reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Three of the club's players have just been announced as part of the Ireland U-20 squad: Jack Kelly, Colm Hogan and Charlie Connolly. Leinster's Kelly has been named as captain.

DUFC's formation in 1854 came 25 years before the formation of the IRFU and the club have remained a constant through the good times and the bad.

A lot of clubs disbanded around the time of the World Wars but Trinity bucked the trend, and based on strong foundations, they have stood the test of time.

There were many men who played huge roles in getting rugby off the ground within the college but perhaps the most remarkable of these was Charles Burton Barrington, who captained the club from 1867 to 1870 and is seen as one of the fathers of Irish rugby.

Trinity was the venue for a crucial meeting when the two rugby unions of Ireland were merged back in 1879. The meeting also featured strong inputs from Trinity men WC Neville and JG Cronyn as the provinces agreed to come together and form the IRFU.

DUFC then handed its crest, consisting of a sprig of shamrock, to the newly formed union to be used as the Irish crest.

Membership

Besides providing a large membership to the committee of the newly formed Union, Trinity provided the captain and eight other members of the Irish team that took the field against Englishmen at the Kennington Oval in 1875 in Ireland's first international match.

Being the oldest rugby club in Ireland, DUFC has won its fair share of trophies over the years.

Their promotion to the top flight of the All-Ireland League last season came when they finished second to St Mary's College in 1B.

In addition to the World Universities competition and the Colours clash, in recent times Trinity also won The Dudley Cup (Irish Universities series) and they recorded significant victories against Oxford University (twice) plus a good win over a very strong and highly rated Durham University side. Earlier this season they beat Cambridge University 50-0.

The club fields seven other teams, apart from the first XV, including two at U-20 level and two women's teams. The junior teams compete in the Metro leagues while the U-20s are in the JP Fanagan Premier and Pennant leagues.

Last season, the U-20 'Premier' side won the JP Fanagan League for the first time and they reached the final of the McCorry Cup.

The 'Pennant' side also contested the final of their section, the Purcell Cup.

Players past and present all agree one of the things that makes DUFC so special as a club is playing on their home ground - at College Park on the Trinity campus. They also have grounds in Santry that are often used for their Junior sides.

The club has produced more Irish internationals than any other, with over 150 members gaining caps. The club has also produced English, Welsh, South African and American internationals and supplied many presidents of the IRFU.

Over 150 players have gone on to represent Ireland, including current mainstay Jamie Heaslip, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Brendan Mullin, Des Fitzgerald, Hugo MacNeill and former Tanaiste Dick Spring.

Former player Niyi Adeolokun, the club's top try scorer for 2012/13, is the most recent alumnus to be capped for Ireland.

The women's arm of the club is also thriving. They play against other colleges in the Women's Student Sport Ireland (SSI) league Division 1B while also playing in the All-Ireland League.

Along with the student experience at Trinity College, they take their rugby very seriously with top class facilities, coaching and attitude towards getting the best out of themselves.

Their next AIL game is against reigning AIL champions Clontarf at College Park, tomorrow at 2.30.

Dublin University FC

Founded: 1852

Grounds: College Park, Trinity College, Dublin.

Division: All-Ireland League Division 1A

Teams: Senior, junior x 3, U20 x 2 and women's x 2.

Club captain: Brian Slater

Club president: Roger Brownlee

Next week's club focus is on Navan RFC

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