The Union Cup is a biannual tournament that will be held for the seventh time in 2017, while being hosted for the first time in a Southern European country. The 30 teams that will compete against each originate from countries such as UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Basque Country, Portugal and Sweden.

This year more than 1,000 players are expected to arrive in Madrid tomorrow evening to enjoy a three-day intensive sporting and social line-up.

The Irish representatives, the Emerald Warriors, were established in August 2003 to provide members of the LGBT and the wider community with an opportunity to play competitive rugby in Dublin. The Emerald Warriors are based in St Marys RFC, Templeville Road, and currently play Leinster Metro League.

“The Emerald Warriors are looking forward to representing the best of Irish Rugby at this European tournament in Madrid. We look forward to again bringing home silverware to our club”, said Emerald Warriors RFC PRO Shane Raftery.

Over 60 Emerald Warriors – players, members and supporters – will travel to Madrid for this year’s event, to compete against their peers from throughout Europe while also raising the club’s profile and their community through the great sport of rugby.

Simon Murphy, captain of the Emerald Warriors, said. “It’s been a year of growth for us as a club. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, but we’ve stuck together, trained together and played together, regardless of the weather, or opposition, and we’ve kept coming out stronger on the other side.

“We are head and shoulders above our old selves, not only as a team, but also in terms of individual player development. And as captain, I am really proud to be leading this team of great guys to Madrid, we are going to do the club proud.”

Not content with taking part in the Union Cup, the Emerald Warriors will also bid to host the Union Cup in Dublin in 2019.

The Emerald Warriors along with Manchester Village Spartans RUFC and Cardiff Lions RFC will present their candidacy to host the Union Cup in 2019 over the weekend and the outcome of the tender process will be revealed prior to the closing party on Sunday in Madrid.

Since its inception, the Union Cup has taken place in Montpellier, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Bristol and Brussels.

The Emerald Warriors ‘Union Cup Bid 2019’ is being supported by Leinster Rugby, Fáilte Ireland, The Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan.

Best of luck to everyone involved with the bid and in the Union Cup itself!