This article appeared in the Scarlets PRO 12 Match Day Program
It is our busiest time of year with schools cup, towns cup and leagues coming to an end. The Leinster Schools Senior cup, sponsored by our own sponsors Bank of Ireland, moved into the quarter final stages last week and there were a number of great games. The appointments were as follows:
Gonzaga v Roscrea – Brendan Cutriss
Clongowes v St Mary’s College – Cillian Hogan
Blackrock College v Terenure College – Brian McNiece
Belvedere v St Michaels – Helen O’Reilly.
Well done to all referees on great performances. The cup now moves into the semi-final phase. After defeating Roscrea in an 11-try thriller to qualify for their first ever Senior Cup semi-final, Gonzaga were the first team out of the hat. They were drawn against Blackrock College, the school with more Senior Cup titles to their name than any other. This meant the two teams left were the holders, Belvedere College, and 2014 finalists, Clongowes Wood College.
Gonzaga College v Blackrock College will be refereed by Paul Haycock whilst Belvedere College v Clongowes Wood College has yet to be appointed. The Schools Junior Cup quarter final fixtures will be played next week and appointments for those games will be made in due course. We have been delighted with the officiating in both competitions and have received great feedback. Obviously the new 4G pitch in Donnybrook has helped a great deal and it was also great to see all games aired on Eir Sport and online.
The Womens Six Nations moves into round three next week and sees Sean Gallagher refereeing England v Scotland at the Stoop and Helen O’Reilly refereeing Italy v France in Parma. Helen will be celebrating St Patricks Day in Cumberland Scotland when she runs the line for Scotland v Italy. Sean recently refereed his third Guinness Pro 12 game.
Speaking of schools rugby, I caught up with a few referees over the last few weeks and asked them about their memories of schools cup games.
Alain Rolland a former Blackrock College student has refereed on the biggest stage of all but still has great memories of his involvement “It’s been a while since I did one but I have great memories from doing some in Donnybrook. There is nothing like the commitment from both the teams and the supporters and the signing from the stands is always fantastic! I refereed Belvo v Marys in the final a few years back in the snow on Paddy’s Day but I can’t remember the year. It was one of the coldest matches I have ever done and I don’t know how the boys played as well as they did.”
Dudley Philips is a member of St Mary’s College RFC and an international referee, refereed the 2015 final. Sadly he has seen his alma mater lose more than they have won. “No matter the venue, the weather or the teams I always found a Leinster Schools Cup match a great experience. With fanatical supporters shouting on their school mates for the entire 70 minutes each match could have been a cup final. The atmosphere experienced in Donnybrook on a big match day is something only a small percentage of players get to experience and having experienced this as both referee and player I consider myself very fortunate. Season 2008/2009 offered me the chance to referee the SCT final when Blackrock and Terenure met in a competitive match and a great advert for the game. As I meet colleagues from around the country they are in awe of the Leinster competition and admire the quality of the teams and support every team gets.”
David Keane, a former Clongowes boy, and international 7’s referee also has great memories. He was one of the youngest referees to referee a schools cup final. “I did the final in 2003 between St Mary’s and Terenure. It was an epic derby battle which Terenure won 3-0 and it was played in the Old Lansdowne Road. The experience of games like these will live long in the memory. It is an invaluable experience for any referee lucky enough to be given the honour of officiating at this show piece.”
So there you go. We all know what a big occasion schools cups are for the players but also the referees. Many happy memories that will last a lifetime.
If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook and Google + pages, our website www.arlb.ie or through twitter @leinsterreferee.