With the completion of the Six Nations and Pro 14, our rugby viewing was focused on the return of the Champions Cup with the business end of the competition taking place and it is great to see Leinster, not only still involved, but thriving in the competition. For those of us that support the men in blue, it was great to see, so well done to Leinster. A special mention must go to one of our own, Devin Toner, on his record breaking number of caps for Leinster, surpassing the record of another former Lansdowne man, Gordon Darcy. On behalf of all of the members, I sent Devin a congratulatory note to mark the achievement and it is a mark of the man that he came back to thank the club for their support and looks forward to the next generation of Toner gracing the back pitch! The newly formed Rainbow Cup will have an Interpro feel about it for the first few rounds and will, of course, offer all provinces another chance of silverware and we wish all of them the very best of luck especially with former Lansdowne FC players scattered throughout every province in the country.
As we enter our second year under covid restrictions, with little or no club rugby over the last 13 months, it was great to get some positive news for our Youths and Minis. In line with Government and HSE guidelines, a return to play for Mini & Youths rugby is permissible from April 26th which means that the Lansdowne Mini and Youths will be back on the May Bank Holiday Weekend. Although it is close to the end of the usual season, we felt it was very important to get people back to the club and enjoying their rugby again and allow all that is permitted under the guidelines. Brian Moran and his team are busy working away on the logistics and timings for all and will be in touch thru the usual means and also posted on the club website and social media channels.
There are ongoing discussions with the IRFU over the future of the AIL and what that will look like. Meetings with the various divisions started this week and we are well represented with Vice President & Director of Senior Rugby Stephen Rooney and supported by Chairman of Rugby Enda Bohan. We await the roadmap from the IRFU, but we have been strong in our assertion that we wish to revert to a national All Ireland League competition with both home and away matches with relegation and promotion and a pathway for clubs to get to the AIL. At provincial level, we have requested that serious thought be given to raising the age limit at 20s for those players not progressing immediately to senior rugby, to allow them some extra time with their own age group before merging in with the rest of the club. This effects over 1,000 under 20s in the JP Fanagan leagues alone and it is very important that we keep these players playing and give them a proper re-introduction into club rugby and our club in particular. If Covid persists and the vaccination programme continues to be delayed and we have to have the more local Energia series for the start of the season then we hope that consideration will also be given to club days whereas if we are drawn against a Tarf, Terenure, Belvo etc that all teams within those clubs play each other over the same weekend with 20s Seniors J1s, J2s etc all on a Saturday with Ko times from 11am onwards. Rugby and specifically club rugby is in a very perilous state and all stakeholders must comet together to accommodate the thousands of players, coaches and members to make it as attractive as possible to get all adult levels back paying meaningful rugby as soon as we can. It has its challenges but nothing that cannot be overcome if the effort is put in.
I am also delighted to report that there has been great interest in fielding a Lansdowne FC Vets team and we hope to have them back in place next season if everything goes well.
Still on the good news front, over the next few weeks we will hopefully be announcing details of a Club Tour across the Atlantic for Summer 2022.This will hopefully be another of our successful big tours open to all players & Alickadoos and follow on from the successful previous Tours of South Africa & New York. Stay tuned!
Our AGM will be officially announced over the next few weeks and we will have some different proposals to put to members at it. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a remote meeting held over a digital platform again this year and details will be sent out to all paid up members shortly.
Our 150th preparations continue to progress smoothly, and a calendar of events will also be presented at this year’s AGM. The Committee have been very busy to date and brought on board some prominent sponsors for events throughout the season and we look forward to hearing all about in far more detail over the coming months.
A very exciting and relevant initiative was recently announced by our Junior Vice President and Leinster CEO Mick Dawson in regard to getting some crowds back through the gates to watch events. It has been presented to Government and hopefully it will be successful and allow us all ease back into viewing not only live sport but live events, it has our full support.
At the moment, the clubhouse, with a restricted group, is undergoing a massive clean up and clear out as UEFA prepare to move in from the start of May until early July. There are some doubts on whether the tournament will go ahead in Ireland, but we are obliged to prepare as if all is going ahead and there will be an official UEFA press conference next Monday April 19th to confirm one way or another.
As always, we wish good health to all, stay safe, stay in touch with fellow members and try to keep as active as possible. Thank you all for your patience and sticking with us over the last year we are very lucky to have some of, if not the best, Sponsors and members of any club and long may it continue. I leave you with an apt quote for the times we are in
“The road to success is always under construction”.
Club President 2020/21