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Posted 10 November 2010

Visitors claim victory in rugby centenary challenge

Victory for an impressive Combined Universities side over UCD failed to dampen spirits at the Belfield Bowl in last Friday’s centenary match, organised to commemorate UCD RFC’s affiliation to the Leinster Branch of the IRFU in 1910.

It was looking good for College early on, as James Thornton crossed for a try within two minutes.  But, led by hooker Gareth Megaw, the visitors fought back to lead at half-time.  The Combined Universities proved their worth after the interval by running in three tries to UCD’s two as they won pulling up.

The hosts were up and running early on as the newly-formed lineout malfunctioned on the edge of its own 22, and number 8 Richie Bent reacted quickest to pounce on the ball.

College moved the ball to Thornton who grubbered ahead and collected to touch down, adding the extras to give his side an early 7-0 lead.

The signs looked ominous for the Combined side, but they regathered and went up the pitch for David Joyce to pull back a penalty after UCD went over the top at the ruck.

Photo far right: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

They then put pressure on as Shane O’Meara knocked on and his opposite number Conor Spence pounced to kick for the corner. The Combined side mauled the ball towards the line, but the ball spilled out and UCD escaped.

Thornton extended the lead to 10-3, but as half-time approached the visitors got over the line and it was Queens hooker Megaw who crashed over from close range in the corner.  Joyce missed the conversion, but Megaw crossed again before the break after a host of pick and goes and the pressure finally told.  Things got even better for the visitors as replacement Andrew Burke scorched over for a try within two minutes of kick off, before adding the conversion.

As College looked to force their way back in, substitute prop Paul Kayariannus intercepted a pass and ran home from the half-way line.  Dave McSharry pulled a try back for the hosts, taking a sharp line off a Thornton half-break to scorch over, but UCC’s restored the lead through UCC’s Brian O’Callaghan.  Keelan McKenna broke a tackle and went over late on, but the last word went to the victors as William Walsh brought the scoring to a close with an injury time try.

The Combined Universities squad, coached by Conor Twomey of UCC and Tony Smeeth of Trinity and managed by Alan Miller, was selected following the recent Dudley Cup competition.

UCD, coached by Bobby Byrne, Gary Coakley and Killian Keane, and managed by Kevin Kenny, have had a strong start to their Centenary season; winning 8 of their first 9 matches. They have reached the final of the Leinster Senior League Cup and have won the Dudley and Conroy cups. They are currently in 3rd position in Division 2 of the All Ireland League.


SCORERS -- UCD – J Thornton 1 try, 1 con, 1 pen; D McSharry, K McKenna try each; N Earls 2 cons.

Combined Universities – G Megaw 2 tries, A Burke try, 3 cons; P Kayariannus, B O’Callaghan, W Walsh 1 try each.

UCD – S Gillespie; J Conroy, A Cummiskey (capt) (R Ailwright 60), D McSharry, T Fletcher; J Thornton, S O’Meara; JA Lee, A Pollard, L Hyland; B Cawley, M Flanagan; M Cawley (S Grennal h-t), D Kenny (K McKenna 35), R Bent.

COMBINED UNIVERSITIES – W Walsh (UCC); S Hanratty (DU), C Colclough (DU), J Reekie (QUB) (D Joyce 75), C Quinn (QUB); D Joyce (DU) (A Burke (UCC) h-t), C Spence (QUB) (B Slater (UCC) 60); John Ryan (UCC) (P Kayariannus (QUB) h-t), G Megaw (QUB) (M Murdock (DU) 58), J Gettings (DU, capt); C McDonnell (DU), P Donnellan (UCC); A Mathews (DU), B O’Callaghan (UCC), J Ryan (UCC) (G Crowe (NUIG) 26).

REFEREE – B MacNeice (ARLB).

Match report: Ruaidhri O'Connor.


100 years of rugby at UCD

UCD RFC was affiliated to the Leinster Branch of the IRFU as a junior club on January 10th 1910. The Club played its early home matches in Jones’ Road on the site of Croke Park. On April 11th 1914, the Club won the Leinster Junior Cup making it eligible for senior status.

After World War 1, the Club played its first senior match versus Trinity but ended up on the losing side. The first victory was recorded in October 1919 against Blackrock College RFC.

The Club’s first representative players were Andy Courtney and Paddy Stokes who were capped for Leinster in 1919/20 with Courtney becoming the first UCD player to be capped for Ireland.

Since then, the Club has been a nursery for other Clubs and for the provinces, most notably Leinster.  Sixty nine former and current UCD players have been capped for Ireland, eight of whom have captained their country; Eugene Davy, Bill Mulcahy, Jimmy Kelly, Ray McLoughlin, Tom Grace, Shay Deering, Fergus Slattery and Brian O’Driscoll.  Ten former or current players have toured with the Lions. Former UCD prop forward Dave Hewett went on to win 22 caps for the All Blacks.

The UCD Academy, which has been in place since 1996, under the direction of Director of Rugby, John McClean has been a significant feeder for Leinster and Ireland since the emergence of professional rugby. Of the current Irish set up, Sean O’Brien, Fergus Mc Fadden, Kevin McLaughlin, Rhys Ruddock, Paddy Wallace, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll all came through the UCD Academy.  Scores of Academy members have gained representative honours on Irish and provincial underage teams.

“It is particularly appropriate that we are celebrating our Centenary with a fixture against the Combined University, says Hugh Brady, President of UCD and of the Rugby Club in its Centenary season.  “There is such a rich history in Universities’ rugby in Ireland but it is arguably more important today to the future of Irish rugby, given the combined emphasis on developing the potential of talented young players with an active, supportive approach to ensuring they receive a good third level education.  We see the benefits of this in UCD year after year and importantly, so do the players.”


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Visitors claim victory in rugby centenary challenge photo ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
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