To be fair, the final score actually flattered CUS. Yes, they were the bigger team in both individual size and pool numbers and, yes, they played good clean rugby, passing on the run (occasionally forwardly) and contesting the scrum with considerable strength and technique, but 47-7 does not tell the true tale of a well-played, competitive match of schools rugby which did the august setting of Donnybrook Stadium and both schools proud. We are in the midst of a ‘rebuilding year’, having lost so many essential players of last year’s championship squad to graduation, while CUS are at the cusp of a recent surge of development and are favoured to go far in this tournament and these facts showed on the day: they seemed to have an endless, interchangeable set of forward-sized backs and even bigger forwards rolling on-and-off the pitch as our boys manfully sucked it up and battled on, proving that heart and fighting spirit are not measurable in inches and stones.
Early on we seemed a bit nervous, perhaps as it has been a while since we have had a competitive match. Two tries went over for them and the threat of a rout loomed clearly on the cold horizon. But Captain Ross Murphy settled the side with his words of encouragement and strong play and his guided missile Colin Duffy and hitman Oisín Allen started whacking their counterparts into the French cheese section of Donnybrook Fair. In the second half, we began to tire and the CUS section of the crowd was baying for blood but our many supporters, including plenty of Junior School kids and nearly the whole Class of 2016, rose up as one and willed the team to a stirring try, with Mati Remi touching down with minutes to go after a true team effort marching up the pitch. Our Sixth Years certainly led the way, but there were plenty of signs of maturing and emerging talent, from Gavin Nugent’s emphatic open-field tackle through Joe Hyland’s scintillating runs to PJ Terry’s pony-tailed daring on the wing. Gavin and the boys walked off the pitch disappointed but with heads held high and it is clear that St. Conleth’s Rugby is in a very good place going forward, indeed.
A big thank-you to our SCT sponsors, Ballsbridge Motors.