Tap And Go: Winner of our rugby writer for a day competition delivered witty and constructive critique

Alice McManus (16) gets over the line with standard of entries incredibly high and a fantastic variety of angles

When we set out to find the winner of our Tap And Go competition, to help find the next generation of sports writing talent, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We deliberately left the criteria wide open – we asked for 400 words on any match in the Six Nations.

As any of our reporters working in the sports department will tell you, being given a blank canvas to write anything you like is often the toughest test of all. You have to trust in your own unique perspective and go from there. If that’s difficult for sportswriters with decades of experience, imagine what it’s like for schoolkids between 12 and 16.

We needn’t have worried. To our delight, the standard of the responses was incredibly high and came at us from a fantastic variety of angles. Given the limitations – 400 words is not a lot to work with – the range of writing styles was commendably wide and varied. Around a third of the entries were written by girls – in an industry that is crying out for female writers, that is most encouraging of all.

Ultimately though, it had no bearing on our choice of winner. Alice McManus (16) won not because she’s a girl but because her entry was the best one. Her critique of the Scotland v France match was witty, incisive and constructive. Her writing was clean of grammatical and spelling mistakes (not always a given in the sports department!) and her rugby knowledge shone through. In the space of 400 words, you can’t ask for much more than that.


As a result, Alice will be in the press box for the Ireland v Scotland game this weekend. You can read her account of the Six Nations decider in your Irish Times on Monday.

Noel O'Reilly

Noel O'Reilly

Noel O'Reilly is Sports Editor of The Irish Times