Grand Slam women inspire 300 new recruits to pick up the oval ball
ALMOST 300 rugby novices had their first introduction to the oval ball as Ireland's Grand Slam winning women's team showed what can be achieved by an amateur squad.
As part of the build-up to today's Heineken Cup final, almost 300 boys and girls from non-rugby playing schools and youth clubs were at Irishtown Stadium in Dublin for the "European Challenge".
Organised by European Club Rugby (ECR), Dublin City Council, the IRFU and Leinster Rugby, teams from Finglas, Darndale and Ballymun played under the banner of rugby giants such as 'Leicester', 'Leinster' and 'Toulon'.
A smaller team of under-15s novice players were then selected to line out as 'Dublinia XV' and played their first-ever rugby match against a team from St Michael's College on the back pitch of Lansdowne Road. The newcomers received training from Leinster Rugby staff in preparation for the clash.
And while 'Dublinia XV' ultimately lost the match, they succeeded in impressing Leinster and Ireland international Eoin Reddan who encouraged them to stay involved in the game.
Meanwhile, the Irish women's rugby team were honoured by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar at a reception at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park. The Six Nations champions, who won their first Grand Slam this year, were credited with lifting the spirits of the nation.