Keeping pace with a venerable tradition
Club Focus: Blackrock Col RFC
One of the names synonymous with rugby in the province of Leinster is Blackrock College RFC. Down through the years, they have played a major role in providing rugby opportunities to the people of Dublin.
The club was founded in 1882, making it one of the oldest senior clubs in Ireland. While it bears the name, and is closely affiliated to the world-renowned school at Williamstown, it is an open club welcoming all who share a passion for the game of rugby.
The club's philosophy is to strive to be as successful as possible in all areas of the game. It fields adult men's and women's teams, U-20s and has a thriving minis and youths section, all of whom are actively involved in the various competitions throughout Leinster.
The men's senior adult team in Blackrock College RFC are in Division 2A of the AIL. Last year saw them secure a mid-table finish in the league by producing a mixed bag of seven wins and 11 losses. Although they lost their opening game of the season to Highfield last weekend, they are optimistic of a strong league campaign.
The club have a massive roll of honour that includes eight Leinster Senior Cups, four Leinster Senior Leagues and an AIL Division 2 title in 2000. The women's section of the club have also added to the trophy haul with five All-Ireland League successes along with three All-Ireland Cups all since 1993.
They have also actively sought to develop a comprehensive U-20s academy, striving to provide an environment in which aspiring rugby players can thrive.
Notable The club has a long tradition of producing players for the international side many of whom have also represented the Lions such as Fergus Slattery, Willie Duggan, Mick Doyle, Brendan Mullin, Hugo MacNeill and, more recently, Shane Byrne, Brian O'Driscoll and Luke Fitzgerald.
Additional notable players include Leinster coach Leo Cullen and technical analyst Emmet Farrell. In the last season, they have also seen Katie Fitzhenry and Jeamie Deacon represent Ireland at the Women's World Cup on home soil, while Andrew Conway was part of Ireland's tour to Japan.
The club are also very proud of their home at Stradbrook. Since 1962 it has been their home with their 50th anniversary back in 2012 an important milestone for the club.
The Executive Committee and various dedicated members of the club set out four years ago to upgrade facilities. The recent upgrades include building a gym, installing floodlights on the main pitch and the final piece has been upgrading the showers, medical room and physiotherapy centre which will be officially opened tomorrow, with dedication to the late Barry O'Keeffe.
The completion of the project now provides players at Stradbrook with the best facilities of any club in Ireland. The addition of a modern ice chamber will provide immediate rehabilitation of stressed muscles and prevent joint fatigue.
This project is a tribute to commitment and dedication of club members who donated generously to the building works and the opening will finish off a project that saw the Niall Brophy Gym opened in 2015 and the new state-of-the-art floodlights a year later in 2016.
The Blackrock College RFC Mini and Youth wing of the club is composed of the Executive and a number of age groups from U-6 to U-19.
The Executive is responsible for mini and youth club-wide matters such as registration facilities, accounts and treasury, website and IT, the organisation of hosted festivals and other club events, and any other matters which are not particular to one age group.
Each age group operates with a high degree of autonomy in relation to rugby matters. This is natural as they train and play together under different rugby rules for each age group.
Efforts are made to ensure that all age groups operate to a high and consistent standard and comply with all IRFU regulations per age grade.
The club is also strong on the view of providing responsibility for the welfare, health and safety and enjoyment of rugby for each and every child, regardless of ability, physical stature, school, or background.
While making sure that they are giving themselves the best chance of being successful, it is important that they also have one eye on the future.
On May 17 last, a five-year strategic plan was launched to help guide the club forward with structure and purpose.
The steering committee and executive were delighted at the turn-out to the presentation and the strategic plan is the work of over 60 volunteers.
Widely heralded as one of the most exciting and important ventures in the last 20 years for the club, every element in the life of the club, with rugby at its core, was reviewed to learn from the past and to perform to their best in an ever-changing environment with fresh volunteers and renewed focus.
Blackrock are always on the look-out for new members especially now with renewed focus and plans for the future. They hope to continue the momentum with an influx of volunteers to bring the strategic pillars to life over the next five years.
If you are interested in joining the club, their door is always open, whether it is on the administrative front or on the field of play. A club continuing to look to the future while also providing time and effort in the present.
Blackrock College RFC
Grounds: 'Somerset House', Stradbrook, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Division: All-Ireland league Division 2A.
Youth and Minis: U6 -U19.
Club President: James Scott-Lennon.
Next week's club focus is on Co Carlow