All in the scrum
A rugby miscellany compiled by JOHN OSULLIVAN
THE UCD Smurfit School were recently crowned MBA rugby world champions after winning a bruising tournament in America.
The team captained by Robert Downes and coached by Barry Gibney cut a swathe through several American universities and one English one to take the title.
They beat their hosts Duke (22-12), the University of Texas (35-12), UCLA Cal state (22-7) before holding off Wharton (17-14) in a hard fought quarter-final, literally as two Smurfit players required hospital treatment, while the Pennsylvania team also had two players receive a red card.
Tight encounters were to become a feature of the knock-out stages as the Dublin college edged past the London Business School 12-8, claiming victory with a last-minute try.
The final, against Harvard, was another nail biting affair with UCD Smurfit holding out following a series of five-metres scrums to prevail 13-10.
It was definitely a thoroughly merited and hard-earned success following 320 minutes of uncompromising rugby over three days. Seapoint’s Stephen Verso was the only member of the squad who regularly plays AIL rugby.
Getting t-shirty: Here's one for Nacewa
THE Leinster rugby supporters club have produced a number of t-shirts in the past dedicated to a number of their star players – Brian O’Driscoll’s Triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) – is just one example.
Former Leinster player and himself a recipient of a special t-shirt, Malcolm O’Kelly might just have hit on an appropriate one when eulogising about the performances of current fullback Isa Nacewa.
The Fijian has been absolutely outstanding for Leinster over a long period and in his honour the supporters might put together a t-shirt bearing the message, ‘Céad míle fáilte romhat, a Isa, a Isa!’
* EARLIER in the season this column noted Oatlands College in Stillorgan’s first competitive rugby match; a fine victory for a school with a proud tradition in Gaelic games, soccer and athletics.
They added to their laurels as they recently won the Dublin Development Cup, beating Rathcoole 22-15 in the final, which was played out in Clondalkin Rugby Club. An impressive opening campaign.
Rebels with a cause: Beale signing could see Cipriani out
THERE is a rumour that former Wasps and England international Danny Cipriani could be on his way out of Super 15 franchise The Melbourne Rebels during the summer after just one season.
The speculation has been fuelled by the Rebels capture of Australian fullback Kurtley Beale on a two-year deal.
Signing the 22-year-old is a significant coup as Beale had also received offers from the Western Force and rugby league outfit South Sydney Rabbitohs. Waratahs coach Chris Hickey admitted: “Kurtley will give his reasons when he makes his announcement but he has informed us of his decision.
“It’s particularly disappointing because the Waratahs have played such a large part of Kurtley’s career and we would have liked to have kept him. But quality players are always going to be difficult to keep.”
Beale, who was nominated for the IRB Player of the Year award in 2010, is believed to have been offered a handsome stipend, heavily bolstered by third party deals. Reports suggest he has the potential to earn $1 million (Australian dollars) next season if his test payments and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) contract are added to the kitty.
Beale was also attracted by the Rebels outlining great business opportunities in Melbourne, with the team offering to help him expand his work as an indigenous ambassador for the game – an area he’s passionate about.
The Australian media have been speculating that Beale’s arrival will coincide with Cipriani’s departure.
DUBLIN University will have enjoyed their 31-22 victory over UCD in the annual Colours match.
It was a victory that not only denied their arch rivals a 100 per cent success rate in their final outing in the Ulster Bank League Division Two but also denied the Belfield students the title as they were overtaken by Ballynahinch at the weekend. UCD’s consolation was promotion to Division One B for next season.
Woodward's words were no tour de force
ON THIS DAY – April 18th, 2005
Clive Woodward’s ill-fated British and Irish Lions tour to New
Zealand got underway as the squad met for the first time outside Cardiff.
Woodward’s cast of thousands – the squad eventually expanded to more than 50 players – endured a torrid time against the All Blacks losing the test series 3-0 and their captain Brian O’Driscoll to an infamous incident in the opening throes of the first test.
Woodward was quoted at the time as saying: “This is the day it has all become real. I am determined we leave no stone unturned in our preparations and this is the first opportunity for me to sit down with the players to discuss that. I am very impressed by them.
“They are totally up for it, focused and committed to doing the best possible for their clubs, countries and the Lions.
“I want this tour to be different from any other with each player enjoying the experience, acting as an ambassador for their country as well as focussing on winning.”
It didn’t quite pan out that way.