UCD RFC will mark the Club’s Centenary season with a fixture under lights against the Combined Universities comprising of players from UCC, Trinity, Queens and NUIG this Friday (KO: 7pm) in Belfield Bowl…

Entry at the gate is €;10 (€;5 OAPs) with student card holders being admitted free.

The Club is making a significant effort to attract supporters to Belfield with gates opening at 6pm, refreshments available at outlets in the stadium and a half time place kicking competition, the Paddy Power Crossbar Challenge, featuring participants drawn from the crowd, with a potential prize of €;25,000.

The Combined Universities squad, which is being coached by Conor Twomey of UCC and Tony Smeeth of Trinity was selected following the recent Dudley Cup competition. UCD coached by Bobby Byrne, Gary Coakley and Killian Keane have had a strong start to their Centenary season winning eight of their first nine matches. They have reached the final of the Leinster Senior League Cup and have won the Dudley and Conroy cups and are currently in 3rd position in Division 2 of the All Ireland League.

UCD RFC was affiliated to the Leinster Branch of the IRFU as a Junior club on January 10th 1910. The Club played its early home matches in Jones’ Road on the site of Croke Park. On April 11th 1914, the Club won the Leinster Junior Cup making it eligible for senior status.

After World War 1, the Club played its first senior match versus Trinity but ended up on the losing side. The first victory was recorded in October 1919 against Blackrock College RFC.

The Club’s first representative players were Andy Courtney and Paddy Stokes who were capped for Leinster in 1919/20 with Courtney becoming the first UCD player to be capped for Ireland.

Since then, the Club has been a nursery for other Clubs and for the provinces, most notably Leinster. Sixty nine former and current UCD players have been capped for Ireland, eight of whom have captained their country; Eugene Davy, Bill Mulcahy, Jimmy Kelly, Ray McLoughlin, Tom Grace, Shay Deering, Fergus Slattery and Brian O’Driscoll.

Ten former or current players have toured with the Lions. Former UCD prop forward Dave Hewett went on to win 22 caps for the All Blacks.

The UCD Academy, which has been in place under the direction of Director of Rugby John McClean since 1996, has been a significant feeder for Leinster and Ireland since the emergence of professional rugby.

Of the current Irish set up, Sean O’Brien, Fergus Mc Fadden, Kevin McLaughlin, Rhys Ruddock, Paddy Wallace, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll all came through the UCD Academy. Scores of Academy members have gained representative honours on Irish and provincial underage teams.

“It is particularly appropriate that we are celebrating our Centenary with a fixture against the Combined University”, says Hugh Brady, President of UCD and of the Rugby Club in its Centenary season.

“There is such a rich history in Universities’ rugby in Ireland but it is arguably more important today to the future of Irish rugby, given the combined emphasis on developing the potential of talented young players with an active, supportive approach to ensuring they receive a good third level education.

“We see the benefits of this in UCD year after year and importantly, so do the players.”