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About Leinster Rugby | The Branch

Mission statement:

To be the global standard bearer for professional club rugby. To encourage, organise, promote and grow the participation in and playing of rugby in the 12 counties of Leinster.

The Leinster Branch was inaugurated at a meeting on the 31st of October, 1879. The meeting was held at Lawrence's premises 63 Grafton Street and was largely attended.

Founder Clubs

The clubs represented at the meeting were; Wanderers, Lansdowne, Arlington School, Dublin University, Dundalk, Phoenix F.C. and Stephen's Hospital. F. Kennedy (Wanderers) was elected first Hon. Secretary of the Branch and C.B. Croker (Lansdowne) first Hon. Treasurer.

The function of the Branch was to organise the game of rugby football in the province. Every year five representatives would be selected to join the IRFU Committee. They would be known was the "Leinster Five" and would pick the Leinster representative teams.

Interprovincial Matches

The first Interprovincial matches between Leinster, Ulster and Munster were held in 1875. At this time the matches were played with 20 players a side. Leinster lost to Ulster by a converted try and beat Munster by one goal to nil. Since then there has been a match between these teams annually, with Connacht joining the fold in 1885.

All Interprovincial matches were abandoned during the years of the Great War (1914-1918) and the War period (1939-1945), though unofficial matches were played.

The first major touring side to play Leinster was a team drawn from the New Zealand Army - the Kiwis, in 1946. Although it was not an official touring side organised by the New Zealand Rugby Union, the quality of the match, which was drawn 10 points each, is still remembered to this day.

The first official overseas touring side that came to play Leinster was an Australian touring side in 1957. Since then, Leinster has played against every major touring side from Fiji to France.

Schools, Cups and Leagues

Leinster Schools Interprovincial matches have been taking place since 1888. Leinster Schools beat the Ulster Schools in Belfast on Saturday, April 7th, by a dropped goal to a try. Their first match against Munster Schools took place on March 18th, 1899, when Leinster won by two tries to one. Connacht joined the fray in 1928.

The Leinster Schools Senior Cup, which is one of the biggest annual events in Leinster Rugby commenced in 1887. The competition is still one of the most prestigious competitions to win in Leinster Rugby to date.

The first official Leinster Senior Challenge Cup was created in 1881. Once this knock out competition was firmly established, there was a natural demand for a competitive league. Thus the Senior Challenge Cup was followed by the Senior League.

The other natural progression was the creation of leagues to follow all cups played at all levels of competition such as the Junior Cup and the Junior League, the Third A Cup (Moran Cup) by the Junior 3 League and so on.

The early 1920s led to the creation of the Provincial Towns Cup and the Metropolitan Cup, which are still hard fought competitions in the Leinster Rugby calendar. Much has changed in rugby over the years, but the original idea of Leinster Club Rugby acting as a feeder for the Leinster Interprovincial side, though now professional, still stands true.

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