Greystones RFC: Promising future for a club making right moves
With over 600 minis crossing the white lines every week, Greystones RFC are looking to build for the years ahead, writes Brian Lowry
This season sees Greystones RFC celebrate 79 years in existence dating back to their foundation in 1937. The club has always had a strong rugby tradition, with the Wicklow club now a constant and formidable senior outfit playing out of the All-Ireland League Division 2B
Starting with humble beginnings back in 1937 after a meeting in the Carnegie Library, Greystones RFC have grown to the force they are today thanks to generations of hard work and dedication to their club. One of the men at that historic meeting is still going strong today and is an active member of the club.
Eric Archer was only a schoolboy in the late 1930s but today stands as a link to their decorated history. This year the club set up the Eric Archer Jubilee Fund appeal whereby all monies raised from people becoming patrons of the club will be put towards Capital Investment for projects such as pitch upgrades, facilities for ladies' teams and a gym for all members.
When an application to the Leinster Branch to form a club was accepted Greystones were allowed to play as a Metropolitan Club. Success on the field first arrived in 1944 when the club won the Metropolitan League before the men from Greystones went on to repeat that feat again in 1946.
One of their most famous sons is their former coach Reggie Corrigan, who has represented Leinster and Ireland over the years while still maintaining his links to the club. Corrigan made over 100 appearances in the front row for Leinster while also playing for Ireland in two World Cups. He also captained his country back in 2003.
Paul McNaughton was the first Greystones player to be capped by Ireland, and that came in the momentous year of 1978 - when the club were awarded senior status after a three-year trial period. Following on from McNaughton's 19 caps, John Robbie, Johnny Murphy, Tony Doyle, Tony Ward, Nick Popplewell, Brian Rigney, John Murphy and Corrigan have all worn the green jersey with pride, with the club equally as proud of their achievements.
Further to the international honours, both John Robbie and Nick Popplewell were attached to the club when they gained their British and Irish Lions caps.
Throw in Pieter Muller, Tom Curtis and Manu Samoa, who all won caps with their respective countries, and you have confirmation that Greystones have been quite the supplier of top-class internationals down through the years.
The club played in Division 1 of the AIL back in the 2007/2008 season after finishing second in Division 2 the year before, claiming a promotion spot. They were sent back to Division 2 after one season in the top flight but are still a top-class Senior rugby side now, operating out of Division 2B.
They have started the season well and only sit behind the high-flying Armagh in the race for promotion. They lost out to that side last weekend in a top-of-the-table clash, but they remain in second place with six wins to their name and only two defeats.
Last season saw them narrowly miss out on promotion to Division 2A. Spurred on by that near-miss, and a proud history that also includes three Leinster senior cups, captain Bobby Clancy and head coach Kevin Lewis are back in situ this season to go one better and power the club up the senior ranks.
Leinster pennants adorn the clubhouse and the club has always been particularly proud of their Leinster representatives. Their underage system is also a source of great pride, as Greystones are a club that values the impact that home-grown players progressing to senior level can have on the club.
They are a club that are making all the right moves, and with over 600 minis togging out every Sunday, the future looks bright.
The club has a superb youth policy that has produced many fine players who have also gained honours at Under-20 level and other underage groups, and contribute handsomely to the playing population of the club.
A massive refurbishment of the clubhouse and its playing facilities has taken place over the last few years, which sees the club as one of the best maintained in the country - with a first-class stand and terraces, gym, dressing and club rooms, bars and club shop, while their pre-match luncheons are considered to be one of the best in the country.
The women's team, in their fourth season, is a continuously growing sector of the club.
With a steady progression, they have become an integral part of the senior section of the club. Boosted by the transition of players from Under-18 teams, they are more than holding their own in Division 3 of the Leinster league.
Always looking for new players, the club welcomes established players and those looking to try new sports. With an infectious enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, it's no wonder they are making waves.
Another innovative wing in the club is the Special Needs Tag Rugby. The Greystones 'Seagulls', as they are known, were set up to give people with intellectual disability the chance to enjoy the game of rugby in a safe and controlled environment.
The 'Seagulls' play every Sunday morning at 11am and the joy on the faces of the those involved is a must-see for anyone in the area wishing to come down and have a look.
Grounds: Dr Hickey Park
Club Colours: Green and white jerseys, white shorts and green socks with white trim
League: All Ireland League Division 2B
Youths: Under 7 to Under 19
Club Captain: Bobby Clancy
Club President: Jerome O'Brien
Next week's club focus is on Dundalk RFC