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Furlong's UCG missed

UNIVERSITY rugby has made a worthy contribution to the game in this country, a breeding ground for talent carried on by UCC, Trinity, UCD and Queen's, who continue to produce players for their provinces through the All-Ireland League.

The notable absentee is UCG, now the National University of Galway, who dropped out of senior rugby after a succession of hammerings in the early-to-mid 1990s. It is a club that has featured many fine players over the years, led by Lions and Triple Crown-winning captain Ciaran Fitzgerald and including the likes of Liam Toland and Graham Heaslip.

Their last international was winger Neville Furlong, who had a short but memorable Ireland career when he played both Tests on the 1992 tour to New Zealand. Ireland came agonisingly close to one of the greatest shocks in history in the first Test, but the inevitable backlash saw the All Blacks triumph 59-6 in the second.

However, it was Ireland who scored first through Furlong, who, leg hanging off him from an early injury, limped over the line past New Zealand right wing John Kirwan.

Furlong departed straight after but, legend has it, not before issuing the bemused World Cup-winning legend with a parting shot.

"Hey Kirwan, call yourself the best winger in the world? You couldn't even tackle a cripple."

Kirwan's reply is not recorded.

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