Dublin: 4°C Saturday 27 November 2021

There's another tournament bid that's well worth backing for Irish rugby this weekend

The Emerald Warriors are aiming to bring the Union Cup to Dublin in 2019.

IN A YEAR when the IRFU are making extras effort to present this country as a safe, viable option to host major sporting events, the Emerald Warriors are hoping to bring a slightly smaller tournament to these shores long before the 2023 Rugby World Cup comes around.

This weekend, the Warriors travel to Madrid to compete in the seventh Union Cup, a tournament welcoming gay rugby teams from across Europe and beyond. With a little luck they’ll come home with more than just a cup run.

Before the matches begin on Saturday, the Warriors take on rivals from Manchester and Cardiff off the field tomorrow as they bid to bring the 2019 Union Cup to Ireland.

Source: Emerald Warriors/Vimeo

On top of the above video, which features prominent images from the 2015 Marriage Equality referendum, the bid is bolstered by letters of support from Minister for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan, Failte Ireland, Leinster Rugby and, crucially, they have secured the St Mary’s RFC grounds at Templeville Road to host the event.

“It’s very similar to an event we ran in 2008, the Bingham Cup, where we had over 1000 players and we were based out in DCU,” says Warriors PRO and bid committee member Shane Raftery.

“It’s a big money-spinner. You’re talking about 2,500 people coming in for the weekend. They’re from all across Europe, so they would be after all the usual tourist attractions.”

The club’s players will travel to the Spanish capital in small groups throughout this week, but will assemble as a unit before a reception at the Irish embassy tomorrow before the tournament’s official opening ceremony and the whiskey-laden gift bags herald the start of the bid.

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While Raftery is concerned that block voting from the numerous English clubs may work against their chances of securing host status, there will be plenty of action on the field to keep minds occupied before the results are announced on Sunday evening.

We have to represent ourselves well over the weekend and then, hopefully, Sunday night will be good news.”

The Emerald Warriors have been pitted in Pool 2 of the tournament alongside the second team of Kings Cross Steelers, Johannesburg’s Jozi Cats and Lisbon club the Dark Horses.

“I am really proud to be leading this team of great guys to Madrid, we are going to do the club proud,” says team captain Simon Murphy.

“It’s been a year of growth for us as a club. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, but we’ve stuck together, trained together and played together, regardless of the weather, or opposition, and we’ve kept coming out stronger on the other side.

“We are head and shoulders above our old selves, not only as a team, but also in terms of individual player development.”

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Sean Farrell

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