A unique touring side based out of Dublin has just returned from an unbeaten tour of America…

The side, known as the Society of Legends or SLRFC, was the product of the imagination of three Dubliners who wanted to go on an old fashioned type of rugby tour that is no longer offered by many clubs.

After much discussion, the three pulled together an invitational squad of 23 players striving not to have it dominated by too many players from one club. The squad included players currently playing for Irish clubs such as Old Wesley, Old Belvedere, Monkstown, and Ballincollig as well as a group of players currently playing for clubs abroad, while a number of American based Irishmen were drafted in to boost numbers. The break down of nationalities was diverse with 16 Irishmen, 3 British, a Korean, a Russian, a New Zealander, a Turk and Caicos Islander.

The squad travelled from all corners spending the first four days of their tour in New York City where most of them were introduced to each other for the first time. They trained together in scenic Central Park and a friendly game was played against Lansdowne RFC, New York in Yonkers. The former New York Irish rugby club with 13 Irishmen in their team proved to be excellent hosts on and off the field keen to attract future Irish touring sides. On the field the visitors ran out 28-5 winners in their first ever match with four converted tries.

The SLRFC followed this impressive debut outing with a trip to upstate New York to play in the 37th Can Am rugby championship in Saranac Lake. The tournament, which attracts over 100 teams from Canada and the US, is the official start to the autumn season in North America. It is run by the Mountaineers club who are due to tour Ireland in 2011.

The SLRFC played its first tournament game at 8am on the Saturday beating Muskellunge RFC from Pittsburgh 23-15 in an ill tempered affair. The team’s second match of the day came in 35c heat at 1pm when they ran out 28-12 winners against Leigh Valley RFC from Pennsylvania. The final game of the day for the SLRFC was a quarter final clash against North Jersey RFC from New Jersey.In perhaps their performance of the tour, the SLRFC ran out 70-0 winners scoring ten converted tries with AIL stalwart David Smith slotting a perfect 10/10 from the kicking tee.

By now many of the participating teams had begun to take notice of the SLRFC, the only team in the tournament not from Canada or the US and the team’s Sunday morning semi final clash against the host Mountaineers club attracted a large crowd of over 500 despite the 9am kick off. In a very physical encounter the SLRFC beat their hosts 22-0 to book a place in that afternoon’s final.

Played at a stand alone field in front of a crowd of over 2,000, the final was a precursor to an exhibition 7’s encounter between the USA and Canada. Having beaten the host team and blazed a trail through the tournament the SLRFC were the crowd favourites and did not disappoint winning the final 32-5 against Canada’s Belleville Bulldogs scoring four stylish tries including an interception and a cross field kick which drew much applause and excitement from the crowd as well as the tournament’s announcer. The team celebrated their maiden victory in style and so taken were the hosts that this motley crew dominated the next day’s local sports news.

This was the first tour of what is hoped will be many for an ever expanding group keen to focus on a social aspect of rugby that many feel has become lost in the professional era; touring. A return to Saranac Lake has been penciled in for 2012 with a European trip next on the cards; a tournament in Ibiza, Helsinki or Malta will be entered.

Squad: John Anthony Lee (UCD), Vladimir Gogolitsyn (HAC, London), Neale Richmond – capt (Old Wesley), Juyong Kim (Monkstown), Sean O’Neill (Old Wesley), Barry O’Brien (UCD), Phil Hosie (Old Wesley), Ger Carroll (Old Wesley), Paul Laffin (Brussels Barbarians, Belgium), Henry Stafford (Barnes, England), Richard Feighery (Wanderers), Colm Galvin (UCC), Ronan Donovan (Old Wesley), Brian Wong (Monkstown), Diarmuid Curran (Old Wesley), David Smith (Old Wesley), Ronan Gallagher (Bec Old Boy’s, London), Owen O’Malley (Old Belvedere), Shaun McDermott (Lansdowne), Brendan Phelan (Old Wesley), Jack O’Connell (UCC), Jonathan Hoare (Ballincollig), Jamie Tait (SAA, France)