There is no doubt that the Smurfit rugby club has been stunningly successful in this tournament over the past few years. Consistently challenging and often winning the title is a credit to the blood sweat and tears that has been spilt by each committee and successive years of players over the years. It may appear on the surface as a straightforward endeavour – get a team together, travel and play some rugby. Much like a graceful swan, however, the legs are paddling furiously under the water to ensure everything above looks to be running smoothly. This year was certainly no exception.
Competing against some of the biggest and best known business schools in the world (Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Columbia, Kellogg, Stern etc) which all have a far larger pool of students/players to choose from, a fuller fixture list during the season (they play at least one game outside of the MBA Rugby World Cup) and shorter distances to travel. It is a considerable undertaking to try and whip together an entire club inside of six months. Building a player base, raising funds to take at least 20 people to the USA for a weekend in April and designing a whole range of kit requires a lot of work. All amongst the not small undertaking of the Full Time MBA course.
The swan’s legs were paddling even more furiously this year. With a week to go before the tournament, there were insufficient funds despite significant hard work from all of the committee to raise funds and it looked like the tour would not go ahead. Thanks to some last minute kindly interventions from a couple of benefactors, we secured the funding. One week to go. One week to find a squad (many players that had been training throughout the year were now unavailable at such late notice). One week to organise flights, transfers and accommodation.
Securing enough players willing to drop everything and travel at such late notice to represent UCD Smurfit on the global stage is probably one of the biggest challenges during this year on the MBA. Against all odds, we made it up to 16 players. The strength of the alumni network in doing this cannot be underestimated. Indeed, the majority of those players who travelled had done so before and were keen to sample the delights of the MBA Rugby World Cup for the second time (and in some instances, third). The willingness of Smurfit alumni to take holiday time and drop everything to travel is a credit to the part the UCD Smurfit rugby club has played in the experiences of so many students.
Sixteen players. No training sessions until hitting US soil. Some individuals meeting for the first time in the US. Attempting to defend a world cup. It seems like the plotline to a Disney sports movie. It is a credit to the toughness and courage of the players that they managed to play through 6 matches (20 minute halves) over 2 days. With little internal expectation given the last minute organisation of the squad and the small squad size, making the final was a surprise for those at home waiting to hear the news.
Unfortunately, the final was one game too far for the small spirited squad. A never-ending schedule of rugby in blisteringly hot conditions had finally taken its toll. Coming against a Harvard team that was intent on winning the tournament for the first time in almost two decades was one bridge too far. Despite the disappointment of falling at the final hurdle, it is a credit to all involved in this venture that UCD Smurfit RFC was represented so positively at this year’s MBA Rugby World Cup. The hard work of those involved in the preparation and planning of the trip was unsurpassed.
FT Class 2014