The Waterford Tag Rugby team: Back row: L to R: Andrew Gault, Jack Jacob, Storm Le Roux, Cian Lally, Geoff Deegan, Hugh Connors, Seán Fitzgerald. Front row: Lana Hogan Dowling, Kate Hegarty, Sara Hobson, Kate Foley, Aoife Keena, Brianna Heylmann and Aoibhe Shanahan.
Since its arrival in to Ireland in 2000 Tag Rugby has gained popularity and is played by Men and Women all across the Island. The game itself is a fast version of rugby league introducing the removal of tags in place of tackling.
Every year Team Ireland hold the regional championships bringing together all the best players both north and south of the border. This year Waterford went to compete in the Mixed Development category in Galway. Also competing were Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Clare, Ulster, UL, Anzac (Australian and New Zealand players), and London (London touring sides; London Irish and Turtles)
The Waterford team of 14 players consisted of guys and girls from both Waterpark RFC and Waterford City RFC as well as non affiliated players.
On the day, Waterford were up against it from the start competing in a tough group. The Waterford players got a rough awakening in their first game at this level. Dublin’s second team (Baile Átha Cliath) had already warmed up with a previous game. Dublin started quickly breaking the line frequently and scoring unanswered trys. With half the game gone and already 10 points adrift we managed to find our feet and adjust to the high pace of the game. We gained confidence scoring with Aoibhe Shanahan in the corner but we were unable to close the gap. The game finished 20-9.
Going into the second game against Limerick the confidence was growing but the Limerick experience showed. Our attack struggled to break down the Limerick defence and they broke four times to touch down. Waterford had the last say with Seán Fitzgerald on a length of the field run beating defenders before offloading to Aoife Keena to claim the two points. Another loss but more closely contested at 7-2.
This quickly led into the third game against Galway. This was an evenly contested match with neither team able to gain a lead. A long range sprint from Geoff Deegan and precise grubbers from Storm le Roux meant Waterford held the lead going into the final stages of the game. Galway’s grafting lead to a try in the corner to tie the match at 8-8. Galway were happy to take a point. That Galway team made it to the final before being beaten by Dublin.
Waterford’s last game of the day was against their southern neighbours Cork. For the first three quarters of the game Waterford looked to be taking home the bragging rights. Some great interplay between Jack Jacob and Hugh Connors to finish in the blue box meant we entered the latter stages two points in the lead. However the long day of running was taking its toll and Cork showed their ruthlessness to grind out a narrow win. Cork celebrated as they remained unbeaten and through to the knock out stages of the championship.
The ITRA regional championships is also a formal trial for Team Ireland. I am delighted to report that during the day three of our Waterford players were spotted by team Ireland coaches and management. They have been offered a spot training with Team Ireland with a view to potentially playing for Team Ireland in the future against other ITF nations including Great Britain and who knows may even play for Ireland in the 2021 ITF World Cup.
We would like to thank our sponsors BayWa r.e. BayWa r.e. is a leading global renewable energy developer, service supplier, wholesaler and energy solutions provider. They have operations throughout Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, and are strategically investing in new and emerging markets.
BayWa r.e. are responsible for Bann Road solar farm, Irelands biggest solar farm providing energy to 14,000 homes through SSE Airtricity.
Waterford are delighted to be associated with one of Irelands leading energy developers especially during this current climate. And we are extremely happy to be provided with this superb kit with its Celtic Viking influences.
Next year we hope to take more teams and will be looking to recruit next summer.