Just over three weeks remain until the 2012 Women’s Rugby Intervarsities kick off in Galway. The excitement is palpable amongst the CUSAI league competitors, and with approximately ten teams due to take part, the tournament should live up to expectation.
However, this year’s entry has been opened to third-level teams who are not currently affiliated with CUSAI. This is seen as an important step in terms of boosting the numbers of competing squads, and to further promote the women’s game.
One team hoping to take advantage of this development is Trinity College, Dublin. The club were once regulars on the intervarsity scene, and whose illustrious alumni includes Connacht stalwart Sorcha ní Chadhain and current Irish international Ailis Egan. A loss of players over the years has seen the club fall into gradual decline. However, current captain Orla Kelly is determined to turn things around, and sees TCD’s presence at the forthcoming varsities as vital.
Kelly, a final year Business & Economics student, has played rugby since her first year at university. During this time, she has seen TCD’s ever-decreasing player base impact on its competitiveness; the team will compete in Division 4 (Leinster), a mere two seasons after competing in the AIL Division 2.
Moreover, the team has not competed in a varsity tournament over the last couple of seasons and Kelly believes that college rugby may play a big part in player retention and earning new recruits. “We hope to become affiliated with CUSAI in the near future,” she said, “because it will be better for us overall, and will add to everyone’s college experience.” With many college and club teams nationwide experiencing similar issues with their player bases, Kelly added that it was essential “to get a helping hand” in order to restore and strengthen teams’ competitiveness, and to help boost the game as a whole.
With the focus of the forthcoming intervarsities very much on promoting women’s rugby, Trinity’s presence at the tournament will do much to strengthen the women’s rugby community, and increase the progress of the women’s college rugby scene.