Last weekend the UCD Smurfit School Rugby Club travelled to Danville, Virginia in the United States to participate in the MBA Rugby World Cup in pursuit of our 12th title since 1999. The men’s team took home the shield, finishing in 3rd place as did the women’s team. This was a great reward for all of the hard work that has been put into the club throughout the year. Work did not only begin when we first togged out on Saturday morning, it started in late November 2015 when the newly formed rugby committee met for the first time.
This year the committee achieved its primary goal of bringing both men’s and women’s teams to Danville for this year’s tournament. The School has only managed to take a women’s team twice before and we were determined to make this the third. To achieve this goal, firstly, we needed buy in from the MSc. students in the school. On our first day of recruiting the club had over 240 members signing-up in less than 4 hours. The next thing we needed to do was to find a coach, find a training pitch long before looking at what sort of a team we might field.
Training started in mid-January and the turnout was phenomenal. Our first night saw 45 people at training, both women and men. This made us confident that we would have teams that could travel to the States, not only to turn up but to compete at the highest level. Training was particularly enjoyable for a lot of the attendees as many of us had never played rugby before, myself included and it has added massively to my MBA experience. Not only have I gained new skills in business but I have also had the opportunity to play a sport which I have loved watching for years.
To send a team we needed to generate substantial funding, to cover entry fees, accommodation, insurance, transfers, coaching fees and much more. This is the single most difficult part of running the club and required a considerable amount of man hours and persistence. We had a slow start with a table quiz in the Dark Horse pub, we then ran a raffle with great prizes including a signed rugby jersey by the 2015 Irish world cup international rugby team. The connections we made with the current MSc students was invaluable as they also pitched in with fundraising help by running a Take Me Out night in the main UCD campus. The club was also a fantastic opportunity for networking as we contacted alumni and former rugby club members for their invaluable advice and experience.
Finally, once we raised the funding that we needed to travel to the States, it was time to make the preparations by mid-March. This in itself was a mini business project as we had to coordinate flights, accommodation, jerseys and kit and insurance for the 33 people that travelled. 21 guys and 12 girls. With much blood, sweat and tears shed, the day of departure arrived. We were off to the competition in Danville, Virginia. When we arrived we were sharing a hotel with two other teams (Ivey and SMU Cox) which was also a great networking opportunity.
The first day’s games on the Saturday saw the men’s team winning four out of four grueling and tough games against highly physical teams with substantial squads. There were some absolutely epic performances from our teams who played their hearts out against highly physical and brutal opponents, often multiple sizes our our own players, David vs. Goliath style. The girls overcame a difficult start to win three from five of their games and both teams advanced to the knockout stages on Sunday. We competed against teams like Chicago Booth, Duke University, Wharton and Harvard. With a panel of 21 men and having already played five games over two days with a rapidly diminishing squad, we bowed out to the eventual winners, Ivey from Canada in the semi-finals. We finished on a high however by beating Columbia business school by 8 points in the third place play-off to bring home the Shield. The girls’ team also won their third place play-off and came home with the 3rd place cup.
The weekend was an amazing experience and as a committee we would like to thank all of the students who travelled, representing the school so well, and making it such a special weekend. To everyone who chipped in during the year by helping us out with the purchase of raffle tickets, helping to organise events and for all of their support, we are especially grateful. A special thanks must also go to our corporate sponsors and donors and to all of the committee members, past and present who made the trip an overwhelming success.
Jack Mac Giolla Bhríde ~ Full-Time MBA