Christmas Presents for Rugby Fans

At Irish Rugby Tours we are bonkers about rugby. Some of us had a day off recently and what did we do? Yes, that’s right, we went to watch a rugby match. We can’t get enough of it and it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. Given that it is soon to be the most wonderful time of the year, we thought we’d window shop around on your behalf to see what Christmas presents you could get those rugby fans in your life. Here is a list of just a few.

OUR TOP 5 CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR RUGBY FANS

Santa Rugby Ball

Does exactly what it says on the tin, or should that be the skin?, anyway it’s a rugby ball, it’s made by Gilbert and so it’s good quality if a little garish. There are not that many of them around. It would appear that Gilbert have suspended their manufacture but a little look on the internet reveals some are selling. In terms of novelty this is a ten out of ten and your rugby fan is sure to break out in a smile when they gets this passed out of the Christmas scrum.

Christmas Presents for Rugby Fans

Santa rugby ball by Gilbert

Rugby Ball Cufflinks

A great man once said that every man should have at least one great pair of cufflinks. Hear, hear say we and we have the perfect pair right from the Cufflink Super Store.

A bargain at just €12.95.

Christmas Presents for Rugby Fans

 

The Battle, Paul O’Connell

A great read

There is violence, silliness and injuries, lots of injuries, in this mammoth biography from the former British and Irish Lions Captain.

We get fascinating insights into Declan Kidney, Eddie O’Sullivan and Joe Schmidt as well as a journey through O’Connell’s head, his battles with injuries, success and the pain-killer Difene.

An intelligent, sports-mad athlete who harboured dreams of being a professional golfer, he took the decision, with some help from his father, to concentrate on rugby. It turned out to be a great decision for Munster and Ireland but only time will tell if his fifty-year-old body will feel the same.

Find out about some more great rugby reads from our post this summer 

Jersey Time

It is as old as the game itself but no rugby fan is ever disappointed by a brand spanking new rugby top. If you want to be safe, go for something a little different. Lifestyle Sports have this colourful kids training top (pictured) for €45 for example. It’s available in store or online.

Munster Training Top

If none of those float your boat Barbarians tops though seen less often than before are still pretty cool and they are different. You could also try going down the vintage line and see what simple treats from the sixties, seventies and beyond are on offer. This cracking French shirt is a replica of that worn in 1924. It’s available from Toffs.

O-la-la replica French rugby top from 1924

An Irish Rugby Tour Six Nations weekend away

We are keeping the best til last. This is the kind of present that will exalt the gift giver to new heights. Only NASA could calculate the unparalleled brownie points for this kind of gift and with good reason – it’s a humdinger. Chat to us today about our packages for the upcoming tournament and enjoy the rewards! We have packages available for Ireland v Wales and Ireland v Scotland 2020 and we look forward to seeing you here.

A weekend in Dublin with Irish Rugby Tours

 

 

 

South Jersey Rugby celebrate fifty years with rugby tour to Ireland

To celebrate fifty years, South Jersey Rugby Football Club wanted to do something that little bit special. Earlier this year, they jetted across the Atlantic to Ireland for what they later described as a “great planned rugby tour that was carried out…to perfection”.

Irish Rugby Tours at the Guinness Storehouse

Time to quench that thirst at the Guinness Storehouse

The tour was organised by global rugby tour specialists, Irish Rugby Tours, who bring their distinctly attentive touch to tours all over the world. Irish Rugby Tours has over twenty years experience of looking after groups from both home and abroad. The company has built up long and strong bonds with the rugby community in their native Emerald Isle and thus was the obvious choice for South Jersey RFC.

“We would and will be recommending Irish Rugby Tours to others and we will definitely be using them again.”

“A local university had used Irish Rugby Tours before,” says Bob Carr, South Jersey RFC. “They came highly recommended and now we know why. They did a great job. They were always accessible and ready to answer any questions or give information. Our guides and drivers were terrific and on the rugby side of things, the matches that were provided were very fair; we didn’t play against a team that was far superior. The post match that was provided was great fun too and a lot of people got involved with the music and dancing.”

Irish Rugby Tours at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

South Jersey Rugby at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland

All teams represented

The touring group consisted of over sixty people representing both women’s and men’s teams from South Jersey RFC. Over six days, they packed in two matches, against Athy RFC in Leinster and Monivea RFC in Connacht. In Dublin, the group witnessed a full international as Ireland took on Italy at the Aviva Stadium. From the home of Irish rugby it was on to the home of Guinness for a pint of the famous Irish ‘medicine’ before heading into the West and along the Wild Atlantic Way to the Cliffs of Moher. A highlight for many was the free day to explore the delights and charms of Galway City while many others welcomed the chance to use the pool and steam room in the Connacht Hotel after the bruising encounter with the aforementioned Monivea RFC.

 

South Jersey Rugby get ready for their game against Monivea RFC

“As many of us had not been to Ireland before the places we toured and visited were perfect,” says Bob. “Since we got home, I have been talking with a bunch from our group and we all have some great stories from the trip. We would and will be recommending Irish Rugby Tours to others and we will definitely be using them again. It was worth every penny. There was nothing else we could have asked for.”

Irish Pubs in Japan

Irish Rugby Tours fully expect the multitudes of Irish fans travelling east to the Rugby World Cup to enjoy their time in a new land and dive head first into the rich and colourful culture of Japan. But we are aware that after such a long haul, there may be some who feel a slight twinge of heartache for home. For those who are easily struck down by homesickness, we have compiled a very short list of Irish pubs in Japan. In fact we have found you at least one Irish pub in each of the four pool match locations…and one for the final! #MonIrelan’

An Solas, Tokyo

Irish Rugby Tours recommends An Solas - Irish Pubs in Japan

Seeing the light in An Solas

Ok, so we know Ireland don’t have a game here…yet. But whatever happens you’d be an eejit not to visit Tokyo while in Japan and it’s for that reason this Irish pub in Japan makes the cut.

This little corner of Tokyo is about as close as you’ll get to Tubbercurry in Japan. Guinness on tap, daysent grub – soda bread and cider included, Irish staff and a trad group replete with both rams and banjos. It’s in the old part of town too, so after you’ve got your taste of home you can get back out there and do what you’re there for – experiencing Japan! Paddy Maloney’s favorite Irish pub in Tokyo.

 

The Green Sheep, Yokohama

Irish Pubs in Japan

Apart from being a great BAA (sorry), the great advantage of this spot is that it’s a straight run on the Blue Line to the stadium. They also do food and they have an outside seating area. It’s spacious and the staff all speak pretty good English. If you are a nervous traveller this is exactly the spot to go to before the game against Scotland kicks off. It’s easy.

A Boy Named Tsu – the owner told us he only knew ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’

Giggle, Shizuoka 

Irish Pubs in Japan

A Boy named Tsu

Of all the Irish pubs in Japan on our list this is probably our favourite. Giggle is run by a boy named Tsu who plays banjo and loves Irish music. He runs trad sessions here every week and can probably tell what Shane McGowan had for breakfast. We once asked him if he knew the famous Johnny Cash song ‘A Boy Named Sue’,  and he told us he only knew ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’. He is a bona-fide legend and deserves honorary Irish citizenship.

During happy hour they have pints of Carlsberg on tap for 700¥ (that’s about €5.60) but it’s probably as good as it gets. Japan is not cheap. Tsu is however worth is weight in gold…out the end of a rainbow of course.

 

Avery, Kobe

Kobe is famous for its beef. Apparently, it comes from cows who are given the finest grass and early morning massages. If  you are staying on after the first two games, this might be the perfect place to give your ego a little gentle massaging too. As well as the beers and stouts you’d expect, Avery’s does a decent line in craft beers. It’s small and poky but that just makes it all the more cosy. After all the mania, you can expect the Irish contingent here to be a little less raucous. This would be the perfect spot for a few quieter pints. Find out how to get there here.

 

The Hakata Harp, Fukuoka

Irish Rugby Tours recommends Hakata Harp - Irish Pubs in Japan

It has a haka and harp. What’s not to like?

 It’s got a haka and a harp so this has to be a rugby pub! In fact a quick look at its website gives the impression that it’s endorsed by the Irish government. We are not sure it is but they sure have a comprehensive food menu fit for Toaisigh! 

 

NOT Going to Japan? Here’s 5 Great Japanese Restaurants in Dublin to get you in the Mood

So you might not be heading all the way out to the land of the rising sun for the Rugby World Cup but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of Japan as the sun goes down over Dublin of a Friday or Saturday night. Yes indeed much has changed since the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 when the most exotic things we got when eating out were Vol-au-vents and Turkish Delight. We are not even sure there were any Japanese restaurants in Dublin back then but things sure have changed and there are now more than you could shake a chopstick at.

Whittling the list down to just five was a tough task but we here at Irish Rugby Tours think we have a good crew assembled here. So why not get your buddies together the day before a game and ‘go on a bento’ at one of these top notch eateries.

Ukiyo, Wicklow Street, Dublin 2

Irish Rugby Tours Japanese Restaurants in Dublin

Ukiyo in Dublin is the real deal

Excellent place for both lunch and dinner with the added advantage of being one of the few places in town where you can do karaoke. They serve up a serious Bento Box (€12) at lunchtime and offer up top class sushi, tempura and noodles. The staff are friendly. Many of them have been there for a quite some time and always greet you like a long lost son or daughter – always a good sign. 

“…one of the few places in town where you can do karaoke.”

 

Zakura, Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Ok first things first, these guys have a BYOB policy which means you’re starting your night off on an absolute winner. It gets busy and the seating can be a little tight but make no mistake, this is top notch. At a recent outing to this restaurant we spent €25 per head and ate the place clean. The service was quick, friendly and a bit of craic but the most impressive thing was without doubt the extent of the menu which covers several distinct styles of Japanese cuisine, including gyoza, tempura, yakitori, sushi and sashimi. The portions are extremely generous but so tasty that it is very difficult to know when to stop ordering. Top notch and informal.

“The service was quick, friendly and a bit of craic but the most impressive thing was without doubt the extent of the menu…”

 

Yamamori, Georges Street, Dublin 2

Having established itself in 1995, Yamamori must be one of the oldest continuous Japanese restaurants in Dublin. This place seems to be open around the clock and is very good at catering for large groups. Again they have an extensive menu and always pull out flavoursome food. Right across the street, their sister establishment, Yamamori Izakaya and Sake Bar serves great informal sushi, sake, cocktails and Japanese craft beers.

 

Ku Raudo, Townsend Street, Dublin 2

Irish Rugby Tours Japanese Restaurants Dublin

A taste of Tokyo at Ku Ruado on Townsend Street

This tiny little spot in a dark corner of Dublin looks like it has been transported from the centre of old Tokyo. Their lunch specials start at €6 for a sushi bento at lunchtime and work their way up to the full bento box for €9. There’s more where they came from too. Impressively competitive and really rather cosy. Oh and it is also a BYOB!

 

Taste at the Bonsai Bar, George’s Street, Dublin 2

Irish Rugby Tours Japanese Restaurants Dublin

You’ve got to love Dylan McGrath – he is fearless. One of his latest ventures is the Bonsai Bar on George’s Street

He has described it as “a twisted authentic version of Japanese pub food” which he has matched with some very cool Japanese cocktails. Bonsai Bento is available in Bonsai Bar from Wednesdays through to Saturday from 4 pm until 8 pm and is quite the taste sensation. Worth it for the Kakigori desert alone but be prepared to pay a little extra.

 

 

5 Super Summer Rugby Books

Summer holidays are a great time to get through some rugby books. Though the men and women of the rugby world might be taking a well-deserved break from the oval ball, it doesn’t mean that we, the rugby mad fans, have to do the same. With that in mind, the gang at the offices of Irish Rugby Tours huddled together and came up with a list of some literature on lineouts, ligaments and lads on tour that we think you might enjoy.

Irish Rugby Tours top 5 Rugby Books for Summer

The Last Amateurs, Jonathan Bradley

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

In the early autumn of 1997, Ulster suffered a record-breaking 56-3 defeat away to Wasps in front of a jubilant crowd of four and a half thousand. Few would have wagered then that just over a year later they would be lifting the Heineken Cup. 

The Last Amateurs by Belfast Telegraph journalist, Jonathan Bradley, tells the story of how a team went from zeros to heroes in the most unlikely of fashions. 

This is a compelling read based on interviews with key members of the squad, including David Humphreys, Mark McCall, Simon Mason, Andy Ward and many more. The book focuses on the players, their varied backgrounds and how the team came together to become Ireland’s first European champions.

 

 

 

Proud: My Autobiography, Gareth Thomas

First published in 2014, Proud tells the story of the great centre’s struggle to deal with his own identity. A gay man in an outwardly heterosexual world of rugby, the only place where he could find any refuge from the pain and guilt of his secret was, somewhat paradoxically, on the pitch where he excelled.

All his success didn’t make the strain of hiding who he really was go away however. His fear that telling the truth about his sexuality would lose him everything, drove him close to the edge on at least two occasions, both of which are vividly described on these pages.

As well as his struggles, with his sexuality, we discover much about the former Welsh captain’s leadership skills and his desire to be the best in the game. Winner of the British Sports Book Awards Sports Book of the Year, this is a compelling read of a true rugby trailblazer.

 

Playing the Enemy, John Carlin

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

Another oldie but goodie. Playing the Enemy by John Carlin tells the story of the of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final and the role it played in creating a post-apartheid South African nationalism (for a while).

Originally published in 2008, Carlin interviewed many of the big players both within and without the immediate world of rugby.

Much of the squad and its management are involved but so too are Nelson Mandela’s bodyguards, ANC insiders and the head of the apartheid South African intelligence service. Carlin skilfully weaves their lives and reactions to the game into the fabric of South African society during its immediate transition to democracy. This book was the inspiration behind the movie Invictus.

 

 

 

The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby, Tony Collins

Tony Collins tells the often complex history of rugby and its development and doesn’t hide away from the game’s less than proud moments. While the oval ball has united nations such as Ireland it has divided others and excluded groups based on ethnicity. And it we are not just talking South Africa.

In 1921, the Springboks played the Maori All Blacks in New Zealand and won by a point. Because that win was too close for comfort, and would have cut against apartheid theories, Maoris were excluded from selection on tours to South Africa for many succeeding decades.

In 1949, New Zealand’s prime minister, publicly explaining why non-white citizens were being excluded, said otherwise New Zealand would not be able to tour South Africa. There are nuggets like this right throughout this excellent history which will give you a clear picture of the game’s history – both good and bad.

The Battle, Paul O’ Connell

Irish Rugby Tours recommends 5 great books for summer

There is violence, silliness and injuries, lots of injuries, in this mammoth biography from the former British and Irish Lions Captain.

We get fascinating insights into Declan Kidney, Eddie O’Sullivan and Joe Schmidt as well as a journey through O’Connell’s head, his battles with injuries, success and the pain-killer Difene.

An intelligent, sports-mad athlete who harboured dreams of being a professional golfer, he took the decision, with some help from his father, to concentrate on rugby. It turned out to be a great decision for Munster and Ireland but only time will tell if his fifty-year-old body will feel the same.    

 

 

 

 

Irish Rugby Tours chats to Union Cup Rugby ahead of Dublin Tournament

LGBT+ Rugby Tournament comes to Dublin this weekend

Union Cup Rugby Irish Rugby Tours

Rory Best gives the Emerald Warriors some tips

Ahead of the much anticipated Union Cup Rugby event in Dublin, Irish Rugby Tours had a quick chat with the organisers.

Starting Friday, 45 teams from 15 countries will be in Dublin to participate in Europe’s largest and best-known LGBT+ inclusive rugby tournament. The Union Cup has come a long way since it started with just seven teams back in 2005.

That inaugural tournament was held in Montpellier in France. Since then it has been hosted every two years in cities across Europe.

This year’s Union Cup comes to Dublin off the back of hard work put in by local club and this year’s hosts Emerald Warriors. 2019 sees the introduction of a tournament held for women while men will compete in three separate tiers. All of the games take place in Dublin City University Campus. There will be an opening ceremony held on Friday and games begin the following morning.

Organisers are also offering coaching clinics in the build-up to the event and should you wish to get involved there is still time to volunteer.

Rory doing his Best to promote the game

Rory Best chats to the Emerald Warriors ahead of the Union Cup in Dublin

“Irish captain Rory Best took a training session with the Emerald Warriors on Tuesday,” says Head of Communications, Emily Cramp. “We’ve been inundated with requests for coverage and there has been immense support from everywhere. Particularly within the rugby community.”

As well as rugby there is plenty of fun to be had over the three days. On Saturday, tournament goers will be treated to An Evening with The Outing Festival which includes Blind Date, DJs and ‘traditional’ Irish Dancing. With a closing ceremony to be held in the city centre on Sunday this is sure to be a weekend to remember.

“It is very important because people are allowed to be themselves and play the game they love,” says International Referee, Nigel Owens. “Maybe they are at a stage where they feel they can’t play the game in another environment, so this allows them to enjoy the great sport of rugby. It also shows how much rugby has moved forward as far as inclusiveness goes.”

Canadian High School’s “amazing experience” on Rugby Tour to Ireland

Last month Strathcona Girls High School Under 18s Rugby Team spent nine glorious days on a rugby tour to Ireland. The team from Alberta are a major player in Canadian High School Rugby and we were delighted to look after them during their Irish rugby tour.

“The girls had an amazing time and I’ve heard nothing but good words,” said Head Coach, Kara Haslam. “They came home with huge smiles and lots of stories of a great experience and happy memories.”

 Canadian High School rugby tour to Ireland

The Canadian School’s itinerary was packed with both rugby and non-rugby activities and showcased Ireland as a place for people with a wide variety of interests. With the help of our partners we were able to balance the team’s pursuit of all things Irish rugby and sport with the students’ interest in culture and history.

Strathcona High had three matches against top class teams; St Mary’s RFC in Munster, Ashbourne RFC and Wexford Wanderers in Leinster. They also had three training sessions with former rugby internationals and coaches in Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

Action Packed Nine Days on Rugby Tour to Ireland

 

The team from Alberta were treated to a visit to Ireland’s largest stadium and the home of Hurling and Gaelic Football, Croke Park. They were later invited to try their the hand at the same games at the nearby Experience Gaelic Games in Glasnevin.

After a visit to Dublin Castle, the squad headed west to the home of the Irish language, The Aran Islands, before setting sail past the dramatic rock faces of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.

Strathcona Girls High School - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To Ireland

One of the highlights of the tour was a morning spent Kayaking on Britain and Ireland’s longest river the River Shannon in Limerick. There was too a visit to Bunratty Castle and Heritage Centre where the team learnt all about life in ancient Ireland.

The squad spent a night under the twinkling hilly lights of Cork City before travelling to the sunny Southeast and the spectacular Curacloe Beach, famous for the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and the more recent Oscar-nominated movie Brooklyn.

Strathcona Girls High School - Irish Rugby Tours, Rugby Tours To Ireland

“As a trip leader and head coach, this was my first time planning an international rugby tour for high school students,” said Kara. “I would definitely travel with Irish Rugby Tours again in the future and plan to recommend Irish Rugby Tours to other club and school groups. Thank you for a fantastic experience.”

About Irish Rugby Tours

Irish Rugby Tours is based in the heart of Munster. The company has been organising and hosting both Irish and international rugby tour groups for over sixteen years. In that time, it has built strong and trusted relationships with rugby communities, rugby coaches, activity and accommodation providers across Ireland, the UK, continental Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

 

Virginia University WRFC return from “Incredible” Rugby Tour to Ireland

A Rugby Tour to Ireland that “surpassed…expectations”

Virginia University Women’s Rugby Football Club, a powerhouse of USA rugby, have just returned from their “incredible” rugby tour to Ireland. The tour, which Head Coach Nancy Kechner described as having “surpassed…expectations”, was organised by Ireland’s most experienced rugby tours specialists Irish Rugby Tours.

On their nine-day rugby tour to Ireland, the 28-strong squad played two matches. A tough contest in Dublin against Suttonians was followed by a game in Galway against the mighty Irish province Connacht. The games proved invaluable in terms of experience and offered the team priceless insight into how two of the best teams and players in the British Isles approach the game.  

Virginia WRFC at the Aviva Stadium on their Irish Rugby Tour

Top Class Coaching

As well as game time against top opposition, the team were given three training sessions with former Irish rugby internationals and coaches.

Over its sixteen years in business, Irish Rugby Tours has developed and refined its relationships with the finest exponents of the game in Ireland. We deal with only the best minds in the business.

The squad were also treated to a visit to the home of Irish rugby, The Aviva Stadium, and witnessed a stunning Six-Nations international victory for Ireland over France.

During their time in Dublin the group paid a visit to Oscar Wilde’s Alma Mater, Trinity College Dublin, host of the world-famous Book of Kells.

After a great night out in the Galway, the City of the Tribes, the team drove The Wild Atlantic Way through the lunar like landscapes of UNESCO World Heritage site, The Burren, before reaching the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Picture of rugby tour to Ireland

Virginia WRFC leaping for a lineout against Connacht on their rugby tour to Ireland

“We had the most incredible experience on our tour,” says Nancy Kechner, Head Coach Virginia University WRFC. “Great competition,  great outings, and great value all around. Irish Rugby Tours did an incredible job. In particular, our guide, Michelle, and driver, Ian, went out of their way to make the trip for us.”

Picture of training session on a rugby tour to Ireland

Virginia WRFC gather round after a training session on their rugby tour to Ireland

 

Irish Rugby Tours & United States Rugby

Irish Rugby Tours has been organising and hosting both Irish and international rugby tour groups for over sixteen years. In that time, it has built strong and trusted relationships with rugby communities, rugby coaches, activity and accommodation providers across Ireland, the UK, continental Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Our history with USA Rugby goes all the way back to 1987, when our chairman was one of the head coaches to the USA Eagles prior to the first World Cup in New Zealand. He was also the first head coach of the Irish Women’s Rugby Team.

Irish Rugby Tours has strong connection with USA Women’s Rugby. We work with the US team during the Women’s World Cup as well as high school, club and college teams on their first trip abroad. This experience has given us a keen understanding of the needs of teams and their coaches.

 

7 things you (maybe) didn’t know about Sevens

Shorter game times, less set pieces and more fluid, free flowing rugby have meant that for many sevens has a broader appeal than the fifteen-a-side game. Purists may slate is as something of a modern gimmick; a symptom of late twentieth century impatience. But sevens, or seven-a-side rugby, has a long and proud history that stands up when compared to its more eminent cousin.

With the sports greatest competition, the Hong Kong Sevens, set to kick off this weekend, we give you seven things you (maybe) don’t know about sevens.

Sevens is old…

OK so it might not be as old as the game allegedly conceived by William Webb-Ellis but Rugby sevens is till pretty old. Sevens was dreamed up by two butchers from Melrose in Scotland. In 1883, Ned Haig and David Sanderson, put together a fund-raising event for their local club, Melrose Rugby Football Club and sevens rugby was born.

Ireland missed out on a (kind of) World Cup…

The first-ever officially sanctioned tournament for national teams was the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament held at Murrayfield. Although it is not officially recognised as being a World Cup, there was a tacit acceptance that it was. Eight teams took part in two pools of four. Pool toppers, England and Ireland contested the final. In injury time, and with Ireland leading 18-16, KEith Fielding latched onto a loose pass and ran the length of the pitch before touching down to win the tournament.

Ireland at last year’s World Cup in San Francisco. Pic: Inpho/Billy Stickland

World Cup

The first official Sevens World Cup was held in Melrose in 1993. There have been seven tournaments since then. New Zealand have won three of those, Fiji have the won the tournament twice while both England and Wales have won the trophy once.

 

Find out more about our Rugby Tours to Spain

 

Hong Kong Sevens

Many argue that the Hong Kong Sevens tournament did much to modernise rugby. Started in 1976, it was the first rugby tournament to attract corporate sponsorship. It also gave the gave a much needed dose of glamour and in many respects internationalised the game of rugby. It is still the showcase tournament of Rugby Sevens and this weekend it promises to be greater than ever.

Hong Kong Sevens

Olympics

In 2016, Rugby Sevens made it to the Olympics in Rio. In the men’s competition, Fiji won the gold medal, Great Britain took silver while South Africa won bronze. The women’s gold medal was won by Australia, with New Zealand taking silver and Canada bronze.

Marika Vunibaka

Vunibaka, now forty-four, is the top try in World Cup with 23 tries. The Fijian was top scorer in 1997 when his country claimed their first World Cup. He also appeared in 2001 and popped up again to wreak havoc on defences when Fiji were crowned champions for the second time in 2005.

Some of the rules are a bit funny

Well it is a different sport after all and the whole point of the game is attack, entertainment and speed. Each half is just seven minutes long but usually stretches out to ten as tournaments reach their grand finales. HAlf time breaks are just two minutes long and with only five substitutes allowed you can be sure that everyone is duly knackered by the end of the day. Conversions are always drop goals and you only have thirty seconds in which to knock them over. Another curiosity about the sevens game is the rule that the team who has just scored restarts the game thus handing the impetus back to their opponent.

 

It’s a funny old game

 

Would you like to find out more about taking your team to play in a Sevens Tournament? If the answer is yes, please get in touch with us at Irish Rugby Tours. 

 

 

Three Things Irish Rugby Gave the World

For a small nation, Ireland punches well above its weight on the global stage. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Whether its music or literature, cinema or stage, you will find little nuggets of green gold at the bottom of all of life’s many rainbows. Rugby is no different, and we thought we’d look at three rugby phenomena, terms, phrases, call them what you will, that the Irish have given to the greatest sport on earth.

The Garryowen

Perhaps the most famous linguistic  gift we have given the game is the term garryowen. In its basic form, the high up and under kick is designed to put the opposing team under pressure, by allowing the kicking team time to arrive under it and compete for the high ball. The term comes from the Irish club of the same name,  Garryowen RFC, who are based in Limerick. The club has been on the go since 1884. Legend has it that the term became part of the rugby landscape when the club won a hat-trick of Senior Cup titles between from 1924 to 1926 and made the garryowen an integral part of its tactics. It must have been frightening!

Garryowen’s Conor Murray in 2009
©INPHO/James Crombie

The Choke Tackle

The choke tackle to the world via Ireland’s defence coach, Les Kiss, in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup. Rule changes had decreed that the side taking the ball into a maul and not emerging with it would lose it. The change in the law was duly noted by Kiss who saw an opportunity to exploit it. IN his mind there was little point getting the ball carrier to the ground and trying to turn the ball over when you could hold the same player up, stop him from moving and win your team the ball. It caused something of a seismic shift in rugby and became something of a trademark for Irish rugby teams. That was until others began to use it. Still, we’ll chalk it up as one of our ideas.

Stephen Ferris in 2011.

The 99 

Definitely not an ice-cream and one that harks back to a somewhat rougher times in the sport’s history. During the controversial 1974 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, captain, Willie John McBride came up with an odd call. It wasn’t a move or a line out code but was something of a call to arms. The tour was marred by violence with more boxing than box kicks and fisty-cuffs than fly-half flare. The 99 ball was allegedly based on the emergency telephone number 999 and the concept was simple – when there was a fight and the 99 ball was called, every Lions player on the pitch was expected to dive in and take part.  Rather than causing any actual physical harm, the point of the call was more to obfuscate the referee’s view and therefore discourage him from sending any one individual from the pitch……so were told anyway.

Willie John McBride in 1974