It was with great sadness that the Leinster Rugby community bid farewell to one of the province’s finest administrators Dr. Manuel do Valle Riberio last week…

Manuel left his native Portugal in the late 1950’s when he went to study plant breeding and genetics at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

Having obtained his Ph. D. degree he joined the staff of the newly formed Agricultural Institute at Oak Park in Carlow in 1964. He spent the next 24 years as a successful grass breeder at Oak Park and for much of this period he was head of the Plant Breeding Department. He arrived in Carlow with his wife Emilia, son Pedro and daughters Margarida and Maria.

Having come from a sporting family in Lisbon, he was soon to get involved in sport in Ireland. His first sporting association was with the GAA through his son Pedro. This association did not last very long, as he was soon to be attracted to the neighbouring rugby club – County Carlow Football Club, where he was to spend the rest of his life as a well known and respected rugby administrator.

Most rugby people will remember the “Doc” as the Carlow Fixtures Secretary, a position he held for over 40 years. He was absolutely meticulous in carrying out his duties as Fixtures Secretary and would contact the referees and members of the opposition at least twice in the week of the fixture reminding them of the date, time and venue for the match. His foreign accent, combined with his absolute refusal to accept a match cancellation from a visiting team, made him the best known Fixtures Secretary throughout the four provinces of Ireland.

His administrative skills were recognised at an early stage in his involvement with County Carlow Football Club and he was elected President of the Club in 1972. He was the first non-native President and the first President who had not played rugby for the Club. This break with tradition was testament to the esteem in which was held within the Club.

Apart from Manuel’s involvement with the Club he was also active the South East Area of the LBIRFU. He was soon to be elected Chairman of the SEALBIRFU, a position he held for some five years. During that period he was the representative of the South East on the Leinster Branch of the IRFU and became known as one of the most able and respected administrators in Leinster rugby.

In recognition of his immense contribution to rugby in Carlow, the South East and Leinster he was appointed an Honorary Life Member of County Carlow Football Club, an honour accorded to very few members of the Club.

He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and the Club will certainly not be the same without him. May he rest in peace and rugby.