On Monday 21st October, 67 players across Years 8 and 9 and five members of the sports department set out on the eagerly anticipated Junior rugby tour in Dublin, Ireland. Our hosts for the week would be Gormanston Park and Masterclass Sports Events, with Gormanston Park boasting excellent playing fields and sports facilities on site.

The players had access to self-led coaching sessions and professional coaching sessions led by Ulster Rugby and Master Class. Our first fixtures came around quickly on Tuesday afternoon against Kilkenny College (U14A & U14B) and Willow Park (U13A & U13B). Both schools were fantastic hosts and challenging opposition for all four teams, with the U14B team taking the spoils winning 29-18, much to Mr Leigh’s delight.

Wednesday was spent on site at Gormanston Park, reflecting on the previous days’ matches and focusing on improving during a Master Class rugby session in the morning. The afternoon was spent on the Foot Golf Course and in the sports hall with some friendly inter-team competition.

On Thursday the touring party headed into Dublin and visited the historic GAA Stadium at Croke Park. The boys experienced an all-access guided tour of the stadium and had the opportunity to visit the changing rooms, walk out through the tunnel with an audio crowd cheering them on and a chance to experience a variety of Gaelic games in the interactive GAA Museum.

The junior rugby players at Croke Park, Dublin

On Thursday afternoon the U14A and U14B teams travelled to Terenure College in the heart of Dublin and the U13A and U13B teams travelled to arguably the strongest rugby playing school in Ireland; St. Michaels. The school has a rich history of producing international rugby players and is the direct feeder school for Blackrock College, the former home of Ireland International and British & Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll.

The tour was a huge success and a true reflection of the Lower School’s enthusiasm to participate in Emanuel’s co-curricular activities. It was fantastic to give 67 players the opportunity to represent the school overseas against some of the best opposition Ireland had to offer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Rogers, Mr Leigh, Mr Booth and Ms Johl, for without whom the tour would not have been the success it was, and to the players for upholding the core values of the game and representing myself, the school and themselves so well.

Mr Gaynor (Director of Rugby)