is Closing Down


This will be the final post on

I’ve loved every second of the eight years working on this site. It began as a blog about Connacht club rugby, then, slowly, over time as a site catering for all four provinces. The idea was to create something a little different. A news hub for the grassroots rugby follower. The aim was to shine a light on the forgotten side of the game. I like to think that to a large extent, we managed to do that.

Many projects like this don’t have a conclusion, it can be rare in life to get a chance to see something through to the bitter end, I guess that makes this a little different. I explored every last crevasse in my attempt to produce a news hub for amateur rugby that would stand alone as a trustworthy and honest source of information. A ‘click bait’ free zone if you will.

It meant that the revenue models were limited and sustainability would be a huge challenge. We tried it all at different junctures, banner adds, subscription models and chasing big brand partners. We came agonisingly close to a major breakthrough in 2012, first winning a place in the final five of the Irish Times Digital Challenge – where we spent two months in their offices devising a revenue model that might work. That had us sitting in front of a major brand and on the verge of an investment that would have made all of this a sustainable full time project. However all the way through we met the same response, the idea is innovative and exciting but we are just not sure where the money can come from.

In Irish rugby, between the four provinces and the union themselves. The Leinster Branch stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to innovation in communication strategies. They met us last year, expressing an interest in coming on board, ultimately however, we needed a full time employee to get things off the ground and that was too much for their budget.
Hardly surprising when you see a downward trend in domestic games spending around the island. Unfortunately for us, money for rugby projects that have nothing to do with the professional game is thin on the ground.

Sharp Decline in IRFU Funding of Amateur Rugby

Westport Monivea Cup Final

In our final feature on the decline of community rugby in Ireland, Rob Murphy and Alan Deegan have dissected the IRFU’s official financial reports to illustrate a stark reality for those involved in grassroots rugby. 


LET”S take stock. Ireland are Six Nations Champions on the double, serious World Cup contenders and matching England and France for European club titles in the last decade.

Rugby is clearly thriving on this island, well, to be more accurate, professional rugby is thriving because the amateur community rugby landscape is a very different story.

In short, the amateur game is in an alarming state of decline and few within the Irish rugby community seem even remotely concerned by all of this. What’s worse is that the clubs and schools, the heart and soul of community rugby are staying silent on the issue.

Player numbers are falling, investment from the governing body has been dramatically cut and the very definition of the term ‘domestic game’ has apparently been altered to include elite player development as a cornerstone.

The IRFU are arguably the most successful and well run sporting organisation in the land. Between 2010 and 2015 their revenue increased by over 20% despite all the economic challenges facing the country and a general trend of decline across sport in most codes. That equates to a €15 million increase in revenue. A phenomenal success.

During that same period of time, the domestic side of rugby in Ireland has seen a reduction in spend by 20%. In the last five years the IRFU reduced their investment into the domestic game from €11.1 Million in 2009/10 to €8.8 million last season. A drop of €2.3 million.

Drop in Playing Numbers

DLSP Dundalk

In the Village magazine this month, former Leinster player Jim O’Callaghan’s outlined a key issue facing those involved in developing rugby around Ireland.

The article Rugby Surrendered its Social Benefit, discusses the rapid decline of rugby at amateur level pointing to the American football model as the possible direction we are heading.

This week,’s Alan Deegan went in search of some numbers to see if it is true. Are player numbers declining at amateur level? What he found was alarming to say the least.

UPDATE: We’ve had a few comments highlighting the fact that a clean up of the player registration system could be a major factor in the decline. We’ll be investigating that a little more next week.

Last season was hugely successful for the professional game at the highest level in Ireland, but in contrast it appears that participation rates of adult men playing rugby has fallen off a cliff.

Using figures from the IRFU Annual reports there was a drop of 23% in men playing the game last season, and an even more staggering 48% drop in the last 5 seasons.

Information Underload

Crowd Clonmel Shannon

Less Really was More

Ten years ago, the idea of being able to follow every detail of your local amateur team in your favourite sport seemed ridiculous. Five years ago, it seemed just around the corner. Today, it seems further away than ever.

The vast majority of clubs in Ireland have Twitter, Facebook and web pages but as of September 2015, it seems to be the case that the news and details emanating from club rugby in Ireland is more sparse, fragmented and incomplete than at any point in history.

For sure, there are some clubs that are very much on top of things, mastering this vast and overwhelming new world with team news for every game, accurate details of fixtures, updates on postponements, news on games, match results and details of who scored what and when clearly highlighted.

The best clubs have even mastered the art of consistently producing this information on a wide range of platforms but that takes a huge effort and it is often down to a one or two determined and skilled individuals that just happen to be involved in the club at a given point in time. A co-ordinated centrally driven and well informed effort is almost non existent.

It is time to go back to the drawing board.

Women’s AIL Previews

Galwegians St Mary's

Women’s All Ireland League

Blackrock v Old Belvedere (Sunday 1pm)

The clash of last year’s finalists, where Belvo’ prevailed in a 26-5 scoreline that didn’t do Rock justice.  Rock accounted for newcomers Queens in a massive 13 try away win last week, whilst Belvo signalled their intentions in a bonus point defeat of Highfield in the opening round.  Belvo’s tougher game against Highfield might stand to them more than Rock’s facile win against Queens.

Verdict:  Away by 10

Team News: Womens AIL

Railway UNion Highfield Women

Womens AIL Team News.

The Womens All Ireland League kicks off today at 1pm. We have team news in from four of the eight clubs involved.

We have a full preview of the season and all the round one games elsewhere but for now here’s the selected starting line ups of some of the sides involved.

Fixtures (Sunday 1pm)
Old Belvedere v Highfield
Queens University v Blackrock College
St Mary’s v Galwegians
Ul Bohemian v Railway Union
Bye: Cooke.

Caption: Action from Last year’s AIL Cup final between Railway and Highfield. Pic: Cian Ryan, Railway Union Facebook Page

Team News

Railway Union (15-9, 1-8): Claire Ryan; Martina McCarthy, Emma Murphy, Niamh Byrne, Danielle O’Sullivan; Mere Baker, Alisa Hughes; Aoife Maher, Shirley Corcoran, Lucky O’Sullivan; Sarah Cranley, Susan Fogarty (c); Ali Bird, Jeannie Finlay, Lindsay Peat.

Replacement: Lisa Callan, Jude Cleary, Caroline Flynn, Faye McKeown, Alex Lynch.

UBL Results Round Up

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE RESULTS: Saturday, September 19


BALLYNAHINCH 13 UCD 47, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Try: James McBriar; Con: James McBriar; Pens: Richard Reaney, David McIlwaine
UCD: Tries: Peadar Timmins 2, Jamie Glynn, Barry Daly 2, Adam Byrne, Nick McCarthy; Cons: Conall Doherty, Billy Dardis 2; Pens: Bobby Holland, Conall Doherty

HT: Ballynahinch 6 UCD 22

BALLYNAHINCH: David McIlwaine; David Busby, Stuart Morrow, Richard Reaney, Aaron Cairns; Manihera Eden, Conor Spence; Kelvin Hamilton, Jonny Murphy, Craig Trenier, John Donnan, Michael Graham, Thomas Donnan, Paul Pritchard (capt), Lorcan Dow.

Replacements: Zack McCall, Jonny Blair, Keith Dickson, James McBriar, David Nicholson.

UCD: Billy Dardis; Adam Byrne, Stephen Murphy (capt), Conall Doherty, Barry Daly; Bobby Holland, Jamie Glynn; Andrew Porter, Sean McNulty, Jeremy Loughman, Brian Cawley, Emmet MacMahon, Josh Murphy, Mark McGroarty, Peadar Timmins.

Replacements: Michael Moynihan, Gordon Frayne, Donagh Lawler, Nick McCarthy, Tom Fletcher.

Women’s AIL – Week 1

Old Belvedere Women

Women’s All Ireland League (Week 1)

This Sunday sees the commencement in what looks like the most competitive Women’s All Ireland League ever, with almost all teams having ambitions of a top four finish. will be bringing you full coverage of the league, with previews every Friday and reviews on Monday.
There is one All Ireland League Division in the women’s game, with all other clubs playing in provincial leagues where a round robin playoff entitles those teams to promotion.  The league is made up of nine teams, with four teams from Dublin, two from Belfast and one each from Cork, Limerick and Galway. 
All teams play each other once, with the top 4 qualifying for the semi-final play-off.  The league concludes with the final on 12th December, which then leads into Ireland’s 6N campaign.
Today, we preview those teams who make up the league and look forward to Sunday’s fixtures.

UBL 2a (Tier 3) Weekend Guide

Skerries Naas

Ulster Bank League Division 2a (Tier 3)

What happened in round one?

Queen’s University are top of the pile after a rip-roaring performance in Galway on Saturday afternoon. The bonus point 30-18 victory was fully deserved and underlines a feeling that the club will be a major contender for promotion into the top 20 clubs in Ireland for the first time.

The Friday night lights encounter perhaps produced the most notable result however as Naas delivered a hugely impressive debut 16-0 win in the Division against the home side Skerries. The Kildare side had Johne Murphy in their ranks, the recently retired professional has decided to keep his rugby going with his old club. A great boost for the profile of the league.

In Belfast, Banbridge won a one score battle against Malone to mark their early season intent to compete well in this league.

In Limerick, Cashel won a one point encounter away to Thomond to kick start their season with a very impressive away scalp. Nenagh Ormond and UCC didn’t play last weekend.

Skerries 0, Naas 16
Corinthians 18, Queen’s University 30
Malone 20, Banbridge 23
Thomond 15, Cashel 16

UBL 2b (Tier 4) Weekend Guide


Ulster Bank League Division 2b (Tier 4)

What happened in round one?

Definitely the most finely balanced of the five Divisions. Four of the losing teams last weekend picked up a losing bonus point and there were two one point games in the league.

Armagh won a local tussle with Dungannon in what was a huge marker for the club in their AIL history.

Bective Rangers survived a thrilling battle with Highfield to lay down an early season marker while the result of the day went to City of Derry who didn’t just win away to MU Barnhall, they picked up a bonus too.

Armagh 21, Dungannon 20
Bective Rangers 28, Highfield 27
MU Barnhall 20, City of Derry 32
Seapoint 18, Rainey OB 21
Sunday’s Well 15, Greystones 20

UBL 2c (Tier 5) Weekend Guide

Kanturk v Wanderers-2816

Ulster Bank League Division 2c (Tier 5)

What Happened in Round one?

A hatful of tries across a number of games. We had a thriller in Louth as Boyne edged Midleton so those who followed the live audio from the home club must have been glued to their computers/phones/tablets in the closing minutes.

If that wasn’t enough we had an equally dramatic tussle in Cork as Kanturk were just pipped at home to Wanderers in the latest of their recent series of gripping encounters with the Dublin side. The visitors picked up some valuable points.

Bruff produced a notable performance away to reigning Leinster champions Dundalk to get a bonus point win from their long trip on the motorway, while Navan were in free scoring form against Sligo running up 54 points in an impressive start.

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