Last weekend the Sin Bin Event Centre in Longford RFC hosted a celebration dinner honouring Pat Fitzgerald following his inauguration as Irish Rugby Football Union President. (article from Leinsterrugby.ie)
The Longford clubman received the highest office in Irish rugby at the annual council meeting of the sports governing body following a long and distinguished contribution to the game at club, branch and Union level.
Among those in attendance was Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, former Irish international and British and Irish Lions loosehead prop Philip Orr and up-and-coming Ireland cap Robbie Henshaw as well as a host of officials, club mates and friends of the new President.Caption: Tony Headon President Longford RFC, Mel Diffley, Warren Turner, Paddy Quinn Trustees of Longford RFC, with Pat Fitzgerald and Joe Schmidt. Pic: Leinster Rugby website.
Although born in Kildare Pat is associated with Longford RFC since joining the club in 1972. Following a distinguished playing career as a scrum half/centre, he contributed to the club’s affairs on various committees.
In his address the President of Longford RFC Tony Heydon paid tribute to the new IRFU President for his commitment to the club. “Pat Fitzgerald has been an integral part of the club for 40 years. In that time he has made a great contribution to Longford Rugby. He served as President of the club from 1983 to 1985 and has also contributed in his role as a trustee since.
“In the last four decades Pat has been involved in many of the initiatives that the Club has moved forward with. His election is a tribute to the volunteers up and down the island. Volunteers who put in a massive amount of work. They can see that no matter what level they played at they contribute at the highest level.”
At national level Pat’s administrative path included his nomination as Chairman of the Midlands Area of Leinster Rugby in the late 1970s and subsequently, as the longest-serving Leinster Branch member, he had the distinction of serving on every committee – most notably in the area of commercial and marketing.
Pat takes over the helm from outgoing president Billy Glynn. In his address to Saturday night’s gathering he thanked the guests for their turnout: “I am really overwhelmed by the support I have received here this evening. Being an elected representative is a shared honour for me, my family and for my club, the Midlands area and the Leinster Branch.”
The IRFU President paid tribute to his comrades from the club: “In rugby we are blessed that the game provides with a lifetime of experience which we make friends that last forever. Longford is a wonderful example of this quality. I treasure the countless friendships that I have made here. I am humbled and honoured to be able to thank the club for all they have done for me in earning this distinction.”
The celebrations for the new President of the rugby governing body continued well into the morning. Pat Fitzgerald has formed a part of the IRFU council since joining the marketing committee in 1997. He became a full member of the union council in 2000 and has served on every committee in his time on Lansdowne Road.