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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020
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An Irish rugby side have already made it to a World Cup final this month

Trinity College went all the way to the final.

THE WORLD CUP may still be in the early rounds of the pool stage, but an Irish representative have already come pretty close to a World Cup of their own, with Trinity College this week making it to the final of the World University Rugby Cup.

They came crashing back down to earth with a 35-24 defeat in Ballymena yesterday, but the Division 1B side could be excused for their tiredness, in what was their sixth game in 12 days.

An invitational tournament that’s been in the works for a number of years, the Dublin University were asked to compete towards the end of last season, they joined two university sides from England as well as sides from New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Russia and Japan in the eight team tournament, which is set to become a permanent fixture alongside the main World Cup every four years.

Speaking to The42, Trinity’s captain for the tournament Paddy Lavelle said the professional set-up in Oxford made for a memorable week getting to test themselves against rugby sides from around the world.

“Everyone was blown away by the organisation around it. they really pulled out the stops and we were really well looked after.

lavella Paddy Lavelle leading his side out Source: DUFC Rugby

“It’s something we’ll all look back on with a lot of pride, although we’re disappointed we lost out in the final.”

While the tournament meant a week away from their All-Ireland League commitments, Lavelle, an inside centre and soon-to-be graduate in Business and Economics, says that it was far from an early season jolly on the sauce.

“It was our full senior 15, our full AIL team. As strong a team as we could have brought aside from a few injuries.

“We were playing against a lot of scholarship athletes from other universities, and the Cape Town team we played in the final had two of three guys who have already signed pro deals for when they finish college so it was a pretty high standard.”

Rest days have been a topic of discussion in the World Cup so far, but with as many as five shortened games to be played in the six day tournament, the physical demands were enormous.

The opening day saw two 40 minute games against their Russian and Canadian opponents, before defeating New Zealand on Friday in their final pool game to claim a semi-final spot. Later that afternoon Oxford bit the dust, before Monday afternoon’s final against Cape Town proved a hurdle too high for the Irish representatives.

“Our first game was against Siberian Federal University, so we didn’t really know what to expect, we were wondering if they’d be half-men, half-bear, but they were really good defensively and well drilled.

haka Facing the Haka against New Zealand Universities. Source: DUFC Rugby

“Then we played British Columbia University in the afternoon and got the better of them. They’re a big side, a lot of Canada A players and Canada U20s. On Friday we had the last pool game, effectively a quarter final against New Zealand Universities and got to face the Haka which was a great experience.

“We played Oxford then in the afternoon and beat them pretty comprehensively. I think there were a lot of tired bodies at that stage, and we just got an early lead and defended it well.”

As well as the fatigue, there was also the unknown. Playing at a high club level in Ireland, they go into their games knowing their opposition inside and out.

With Siberian Federal and British Columbia on day one, instinct had to take over, and Lavelle says it felt alien standing opposite a side whom they knew literally nothing about.

“It was completely different to what we were used to. It was just the first day we were going in blind, because games had been recorded and put up online so we were able to do our usual analysis for the Friday games and the final.

“But it was a case of not having a clue what was coming for the first two games.”

In the end, Cape Town had too much in the final, beating them to the trophy 17-0. Here’s hoping Joe Schmidt and his troops can go one step closer next month.

Full results:

Pool 2

Trinity College Dublin 14 Siberian Federal University 3

Trinity College Dublin 8 University of British Columbia 0

Trinity College Dublin 11 – New Zealand Universities 10

Semi final

Oxford University 0 Trinity College Dublin 21

Final

University of Cape Town 17 Trinity College Dublin 0

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About the author:

Neil Treacy

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