Monday 17 December 2018

Leo prepares for a rolling maul in Brussels

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tries to get to grips with Brian Tyrrell from Tallaght Fire Station, as the Dail and Seanad XV played DFB Dublin Fire Brigade XV in a charity rugby match at Donnybrook Stadium in aid of Suicide or Survive. Photos: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tries to get to grips with Brian Tyrrell from Tallaght Fire Station, as the Dail and Seanad XV played DFB Dublin Fire Brigade XV in a charity rugby match at Donnybrook Stadium in aid of Suicide or Survive. Photos: Frank McGrath
MATCHED: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar chatting with former Irish international Mike Ross Photos: Frank McGrath
Leo with referee Su Carty. Photos: Frank McGrath
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar flies to Brussels this morning to scrum down with other EU leaders for the Brexit summit and yesterday he got in some last-minute training with the Dail and Seanad rugby team.

Mr Varadkar joined politicians taking on members of Dublin fire brigade in a rugby challenge in Donnybrook.

Given the diplomatic flash-fires which will inevitably accompany the talks today over the so-called backstop and the Border, the Taoiseach might have been tempted to garner a few tips from the firefighting professionals.

Surprisingly, the Oireachtas team proved doughty competitors against the firemen, although the Dail and Seanad had a ringer in the form of Mike Ross, the retired Leinster and Ireland prop.

The referee was former player, coach and now senior administrator Su Carty, the IRFU representative to the World Rugby Council.

The game was hosted by Old Wesley RFC at Energia Park and the teams made light of cold conditions but scores were in short supply.

The TDs and Senators eventually broke the fire- fighters' defensive line and converted to lead 7-0, but the Taoiseach missed a tackle as the match neared the final whistle and it looked as though the firemen would strike back with a try of their own.

However, the Taoiseach's blunder didn't result in a score and the Dail and Seanad ran out the less than convincing winners 7-0.

Mr Varadkar was perhaps reluctant to bring a black eye and cauliflower ear to Brussels and rarely got into contact at the breakdown.

But he was braver than his environment minister Eoghan Murphy and Minister of State John Paul Phelan, who were happy to cheer on from the sideline and then enjoy the lunch afterwards in the Old Wesley clubhouse, ahead of the national team taking on the USA at the Aviva.

Minister Murphy is a Wanderers man.

The real winner yesterday was Suicide or Survive (SOS), the nationwide Irish charity focused on breaking down the stigma associated with mental health issues and ensuring those affected have access to quality recovery services that are right for the individual.

Last week members of Dublin Fire Brigade organised a bucket collection for the charity in Dublin city centre ahead of yesterday's match.

Sunday Independent

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