Founding member of NUIG Women’s Rugby and former ‘Player of the Season’ Niamh Quinn recounts the last time NUIG hosted the women’s intervarsities…
“The 2004 ‘Varsity Competition was an amazing event. Back then, UCG Ladies Rugby Club had no money and hardly any players, but as usual we were full of enthusiasm and really wanted to compete. It was this lack of money that led to our decision to host the Varsities. We couldn’t afford the entry fee, the accommodation costs or the travel expenses and so we decided to host the event down in Galway ourselves so we could compete for free.
We charged each team €100 to compete and then we begged and borrowed and bag packed for extra money to run the event successfully. We had never organised anything like this in our lives so the thoughts of trying to run an Intervarsities was slightly terrifying
For once the sun was shining on Dangan. We had teams travel from UL, UCC, the Garda College, NUIM, Carlow IT and Cork IT for our one day blitz event. That day we had two amazing pool managers that kept everything running smoothly and a team of referees, lines people and other officials that were integral to the success of the whole day. We had somehow managed to convince the groundsmen in Dangan to let us convert the soccer pitch into a rugby pitch for the day and we ran the two pools side by side.
UCG Ladies Rugby was just forming and trying to establish a good players base. We had one game prior to the intervarsities against Sligo and had drawn the game so we were full of hope for what the intervarisities might bring. Unfortunately they brought us UL and the Garda College in our group and we had to try and win against some of the Irelands best rugby players like ex-Irish international Sarah Jane Belton. My first taste of rugby that day was against the Garda College. I remember my first “tackle” involved some nails to my scalp and resulted in me hanging off the back of her jersey and being transported towards the try line like I was barely there. We had two wins that day which involved epic displays against Carlow IT and UCC. We have come a long way in the last few years from no money and hardly any players to a successfully competing club at the colleges level. We also now boast many representation honours at provincial and international level.
The after game celebrations were conducted in the usual NUIG ladies manner……absolutely mental. We had bought prizes for the after-match awards. We had no money for such luxuries as try of the tournament, or player of the match awards. Instead we had awards for princess of the tournament (pink fluffy tiara), 2nd row of the tournament (which involved the purchasing of some giant granny pants from Dunnes), best scrum half/fly half combo (a pair of handcuffs) and a pair of oven gloves for the best hands of the tournament.
This was my first Intervarisites of many. After that day I couldn’t cough or sneeze, roll over in bed, or lift my head off the pillow. I would not change a thing though. It was an incredible day and a credit to a struggling club to organise such a successful event. I wish the club every success in their hosting of the tournament this year and I hope there will be many more to come.”