Wednesday 23 May 2018

Bright future emerging from small beginnings

Club Focus: Stillorgan RFC

Stillorgan’s U-7s at a recent blitz
Stillorgan’s U-7s at a recent blitz

Brian Lowry

From humble beginnings, Stillorgan RFC is now thriving with three adult men's teams, a growing minis section, and it is one of the only clubs in Ireland to run a 'tots' section, introducing two to five-year-olds to the game.

Founded in 1973 as Salesians RFC, the club was originally based from Maynooth and featured players who were mostly from outside of Dublin and had attended school in the Salesian Colleges in the likes of Pallaskenry, Limerick; Warranstown in Meath and Ballinakill in County Laois.

The 1986/87 season saw them move to the CUS Sportsgrounds in Clonskeagh before the club took the decision to re-name to Stillorgan RFC in 1994 in a bid to connect to the local area.

During their time there, they progressed on and off the field and by 2009 they were entering a third team in the Metro league for the first time.

Two seasons ago, Stillorgan RFC relocated to the Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club on the Grange Road in Rathfarnham.

With a rugby presence now in Rathfarnham, the club have seen a rise in numbers from adult level down to the tots.

Stillorgan RFC fields three men's teams, competing in divisions 4, 9 and 11 of the Metro league.

The club has more than 100 active men's players and has developed a reputation as being competitive on the pitch and great craic off of it.

With a strong social scene, the club holds regular club events including tours, nights out and the legendary annual club poker tournament.

Every player is welcomed to the club irrespective of fitness or experience.

The club's first XV competes in Metro division 4 and mainly consists of players who have a higher level of rugby experience.

The second and third XV compete in Metro divisions 9 & 11 respectively and are regarded as social rugby teams, featuring a mixture of beginners, veterans and other players who enjoy social rugby on a Saturday.

Recruitment

The club's men's teams operate an open-door recruitment policy, and new members are invited to join at any stage during the season.

The club also has a long tradition of touring, and has visited Southampton, Edinburgh and Spain in previous years.

This year will see a return of the club tour to Nice, the home of club sponsor Ma Nolan's Irish Bars, run by former player Thady Nolan.

A 60-strong contingent travelled to Nice in 2016 and the club are hoping for similar numbers again.

Stillorgan RFC has invested heavily in its minis section over the last number of years and the club now has more than 50 registered minis players, all of whom make their way to Three Rock Rovers pitch on Sunday mornings for training.

They recently competed at the U-7s Kieran Burke Festival of Rugby and performed admirably while new players are welcome to join at any stage during the season in age ranges from U-7 to U-12.

In addition to minis, Stillorgan RFC also offers tots rugby. Not every club offers this as they look to provide a gentle introduction to rugby and general sports skills for two to five-year-olds.

Run every Sunday morning in the warmth of Ballyroan Community Hall, the tots section has grown rapidly with more than 30 tots now signed up for the present season.

The hope is that the kids will come up through the ranks at the club and one day feature for the club at adult level.

New tots members are invited to join from the September 2019, and Stillorgan RFC invites interested parents to contact the club for further information.

In recent years, the club has created a strategic plan to ensure that the club could continue to grow and thrive into the future, and the basing of the club in the Rathfarnham area is at the centre of these plans.

Last year saw SRFC make its proudest announcement yet by announcing that Stillorgan RFC had acquired lands in Rathfarnham for the development of pitches and a clubhouse which will finally mean that they can have a place for the club to call home.

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council has recently granted planning permission for the development, which will be known as Heavey Technology Park and located on the Tibradden Road, Rathfarnham (close to M50 and St Columba's College).

These excellent developments will facilitate sod turning at the site soon, with the club playing home games from the Heavey Technology Park in a couple of season's time.

SRFC hopes that the project will allow the club to further embed itself in the Rathfarnham area, and that it will be the site of many future great days to come.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the foundation of the club, and a gala dinner is planned in April to celebrate the success of the club on and off the field.

A great night lies in store, and such is the interest in the occasion tickets are almost sold out.

Stillorgan RFC epitomises all that is good about grassroots rugby and the success and development of the club is testament to the hard work of the club's committee and volunteers over the last number of years.

Stillorgan RFC

Founded: 1973

Grounds: Three Rock Rovers, Rathfarnham. (Moving to Heavey Technology Park, Rathfarnham in coming seasons).

Division: Metro leagues 4, 9 and 11.

Youths and minis: Tots (2-5) and U-6 to U-12

Captain: John Ryan

President: Maurice Ryan

Irish Independent

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