Reddan sets standard for ambitious club on riseClub Focus: Old Crescent
As many of his former team-mates were a couple of weeks into their new Pro12 season, it was fitting that the recently retired Eoin Reddan was back home at Old Crescent RFC to accept the honour of being the club's third Lifetime Membership recipient.
On hand to make the official presentation were the only two previous recipients of the honour, Louis Nestor and Jim Roche, but it brought a fitting end to a professional career that always held links with the Limerick club.
Reddan played for Ireland, Connacht, Munster, Wasps and Leinster before he retired and wherever he played the work ethic he learned from an early age at Rosbrien was brought with him. Old Crescent are massively proud of one of their greatest sons.
"We very much value Eoin's achievements and he has always had an ongoing relationship with Old Crescent over the years," said club president Pat Monaghan.
"He's a guy we are very proud of, his family are steeped in the club's traditions. At the start of this year we gave him honorary life membership of the club. That's a very defined membership, he's only the third person to receive that honour in the club.
"When he got the opportunity to list his home club when he played for Leinster he took the opportunity to name Crescent. The club was very proud of that, it was great to see our name alongside Eoin's in an Ireland team announcement. Although he travelled far and wide, he always kept a strong link here."
The Rosbrien that Reddan and his team-mates grew up in is very different nowadays, and the recent purchase of an 11-acre site next door has allowed Old Crescent to expand further and dream even bigger.
"We now have ownership of a site that's 22 acres, which includes our clubhouse, dressing rooms and pitches. It's a significant footprint now. That was done under the stewardship of last year's president Gerard McNamara," said the president.
"Since we bought that 11 acres we redeveloped the thirds' pitch that we had used for training, and we have since extended into a fourth pitch that we will be kicking a football on very soon."
'Ambition' and 'participation' are two words that constantly spring up when Old Crescent are mentioned. They are known for an attacking brand of rugby that is fostered from the first moment the youths enter the gates, but according to Monaghan, kindling that love for the game is key.
"Like a lot of clubs we have a great underage structure. It's very active and our policy at underage is all about participation. We concentrate on that and we want all of the boys to be active and have a chance to play rugby.
"Crescent would be regarded as employing an expansive game, we base our game on using the width of the rugby pitch. We try to play an attractive brand of rugby, with full participation.
"That ethos has paid us back over the years. Boys mature at different ages and if you can keep them interested and enjoying the fun of rugby they'll stay interested. The boy that you looked after and minded usually turns into a great club man later on. Even young boys from 10 years ago are bearing fruit now into our senior team.
"We have a very strong volunteer group, which we are very proud of, which runs multiple events and multiple fundraisers for us. Our playing numbers are very strong and that is based on the active work of the rugby committee. I think we have more than 200 youngsters playing with us, which is the real heart of the club.
"Tommy Pratt is our chairman of rugby, Anthony O'Dwyer is our underage chairman, and Eugene McGovern is our director or rugby. Between them and our army of volunteers we are seeing a real stream of talent coming through the club."
With such a buoyant club there needs to be a regular flow of funding, and much of that comes from the tag rugby game. Old Crescent regard themselves as the 'home of Limerick tag', a deserved moniker if their blue riband event 'Pig 'n' Porter' is anything to go by.
Pig 'n' Porter
"We are big into tag rugby down here. We like to consider ourselves as the home of Limerick tag. We run spring, summer and autumn tag events and our centrepiece is the Pig 'n' Porter event on July 15.
"Pig 'n' Porter attracts over 100 tagger teams from all over Ireland and the UK - we even had a team from Australia. The event takes over the club for the full weekend and traditionally training starts for the new season the week after. Teams can apply anytime now on our website, but it's a great occasion.
"It is a revenue stream for us, but for the city of Limerick it is a huge occasion that attracts between 3,000 and 4,000 people to the city. We are proud that it portrays Limerick in a very positive light, while giving a boost to the local economy.
"Again, it is a massive volunteer effort and a huge logistical event, but after a couple of days' hard work, the club returns to normal pretty quickly."
All the foundation level building work culminates with the seniors on a Saturday and their recent form in the AIL has been hugely positive. Last year's Division 2C winners are still pushing for a play-off spot that could yet see them competing in Division 2A next season.
"We won Division 2C last season, which was great and we were promoted up to 2B. We are pleased with our progress in 2B to date.
"We're sitting fourth and driving for a play-off position, which we are keen to maintain. Getting into a play-off would be a good achievement for us in our development.
"We are ambitious elsewhere, we'd love silverware like the Munster Senior Cup too. We have multiple ambitions.
"Our objective is to continue to seek promotion, be ambitious, while continuing to develop players from a young age by encouraging participation. We have solid foundations already and we want to build on from there."