The only way is up for Roscrea RFC

In the first of a new series profiling Rugby clubs in the area, Roscrea RFC come to the fore as a storied history is married with a recent uptake in fortunes

Brian Lowry

Reporter:

Brian Lowry

Email:

brian.lowry@iconicnews.ie

The only way is up for Roscrea RFC

Roscrea celebrated 70 years in existence by winning the league this year

Formed in 1950, Roscrea RFC celebrated their 70th year in existence by landing the Leinster league Division three trophy just last week.


Trail blazing all season up and down the province of Leinster, the Roscrea men got the job done just in time before the sporting world prepared to go into lock down due to the coronavirus.


It was significant too. For years they had been in the doldrums in the lowest division in the league but now they have a fresh outlook on all things Rugby as a blossoming minis, girls and youths section coupled with the resurgence of their senior side has them looking firmly forward.


As well as serving the community of Roscrea and the surrounding areas, the club have made their mark on the playing front down through the years, especially during a purple patch in the 1970's.

Like most clubs, they began with modest beginnings. Things were done a lot differently in 1950 but in March of that year, Roscrea Rugby Football Club was born.
The man elected as the first president of the club was Mr HM Read and he was ably assisted by vice-presidents Dr J Wallace and WB Woods.


Along with these men, a combination of E Gilmartin and CT Dougan took on the role of honorary secretary while LT Maher had the all-important job of maintaining and looking after the financial aspect of the club in his role as treasurer.


One of the first jobs the club had was to select their club colours but this wasn't straightforward. After the colours blue and white were chosen, a problem arose with getting them registered. As legend has it, a club member rambled over to nearby Birr one day to see Galway take on Tipperary in a hurling match and upon his return, he portrayed his fondness for the maroon and white of Galway - leading to the club adopting those colours.


The summer of 1950 saw them affiliated to the Leinster Branch and the new club were up on their feet and ready to start their voyage.


With the club now sanctioned for on-field activities, they needed a home and after options around the town were investigated, they acquired a site at Mount Heaton courtesy of Tom Lalor.


October 1 will forever sit as a landmark date for the club as it was on this day in 1950 that they played their first match, taking on Birr and defeating them. Seamus Power helped himself to a brace of tries while Tom McCann also got in on the scoring act.


The club eventually went on to purchase their own grounds at Streamstown.


While the town of Roscrea is in Tipperary and Munster, their grounds on the Shinrone Road out of the town is just about on Tipperary soil as its located just 500 metres from the Offaly border.


They boast two pitches, a training area and a clubhouse that was originally built in 1978 but refurbished recently in 2015.
They have the capability of holding functions and parties, have full bar facilities and use it as the main base for club meetings and events.


In terms of success on the field, their two Provincial Towns Cup successes in 1975 and 1980 are perhaps their most famous triumphs. They won both by just a point. In 1975 they defeated the Curragh 8-7 and went on to defeat Portlaoise 11-10 in the 1980 decider.


The club have also claimed the Provincial Towns Plate on three occasions - in 1977, 1985 and most recently in 1998.
A walk through the clubhouse will see a host of pendants acknowledging these wins along with a host of underage success such as the Gale and Culleton cups.


Three seasons ago, a new venture took off in the club. Girls' rugby was introduced and they played in their first blitz on November 2017 when they travelled to Nenagh with U-9, U-10 and U-12 teams. This section now consists of age groups from u8s to u14s and a ladies tag rugby side on the way.


This was a major moment in their history and in keeping with the national trend, girls' rugby in the club has continued to go from strength to strength in the club.


The boys' underage section is also in a good place. The club frequently supplies players to Midland and Leinster panels while they also team up with Birr to field in some grades.


Anthony Nash and Brian Hastings have represented Ireland at underage level while Birr native and current Leinster player Peter Dooley lined out with the Roscrea/Birr Rebels in his underage days.
Alan Tynan, who played with Ireland U-20s, is currently on the books with Munster and also started out his rugby career with Roscrea.


Seamus Dennison is also an administrator of the club and he represented Munster and Ireland and is immortalised for that tackle in the famous Munster win over the All Blacks.


Every club in the province has a Club Community Rugby Officer and Roscrea are lucky to have a club man through and through in Ger Stone. The job of the CCRO is to go around to school's in the area and spread the Rugby word and introduce kids to the game in a fun and enjoyable fashion.


The hope then is that the kids develop a love and understnading for the game and they join up with the club.
Club Captain, CCRO and all round club man, Stone is doing a super job in promoting Rugby in the area.

Roscrea RFC factfile

Founded: 1950
Grounds: Streamstown, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.
Division: Leinster League Division 3 (champions)
Youths and Minis: U-6 to U-18
Club Captain: Ger Stone
Club President: Brendan Hyland