Sport, as the old adage goes, is all about taking part. Unfortunately the desire to win can sometimes corrupt and get in the way of this underpinning principle…
This accusation could not be levelled at the participants of the De La Salle special needs rugby blitz whose actions and behaviour served to highlight the true transcendental nature of sport as results took a back seat to fun, inclusivity and participation.
The pure enjoyment of sport for sport’s sake was evident for all to see as special needs teams from DLSP, Seapoint, Greystones, Westmanstown as well as the Ulster based Newforge Dragons battled it out in a tag rugby extravaganza. While a deep desire to win was evident, it was a sense of collective community that was the overriding feeling at the foot of the Dublin mountains as bursts of laughter rang through the crisp spring air. Win, lose or draw, all the teams clapped each other off and acknowledged one another’s efforts in a show of sportsmanship that was a credit to the players involved.
Parents, volunteers and coaches thronged the sidelines to bring a real sense of occasion to proceedings as the teams engaged in games that were both quick and lacking no little amount of skill. It was a common occurrence to see players, with an O’Driscoll-esque shimmy of the hips, ghost through gaps with unerring ease and balance, much to the delight of the watching crowd, not to mention the coaches who stalked the sidelines doling out instructions and offering encouragement.
DLSP Eagles coach, David Hicks was one of those prowling the whitewash with gusto and despite the competitive nature of the games, the rapport between David and his players was consistently one founded on camaraderie, banter and respect. Hicks is truly a gregarious character and his charisma and passion were a key component in establishing the blitz in DLSP.
Whether imploring his charges to run straight or offering boisterous encouragement from the sidelines, the noise of David’s voice consistently pierced the still mountain air. He was not alone in creating the sort of atmosphere that will live long in the memory as the myriad of coaching staff, parents and volunteers left nobody in any doubt as to who was supporting what team.
Judging by the success of Sunday’s blitz, it looks sure to become a regular event in the calendar and the sense of involvement at all levels was encapsulated by the presence of DLSP president Karl Burke on the sideline for the duration of proceedings. The participation of the Newforge Dragons also added a national dimension to proceedings and although ‘Stand up for the Ulster men’ could be heard on more than one occasion, this mortal sin was overlooked in the spirit of the day!
Once the dust had settled after a frenetic afternoon of rugby and group photos were taken on the DLSP steps, it was the collective sense of community that once again shone through like a beacon as the battles fought on the pitch were swiftly forgotten amidst a sea of smiling faces.