Road to the World Cup


How many people get the opportunity to play in a World Cup? Not many. How many people would like the opportunity to play in a World Cup? Everybody you would imagine? Surprisingly that is not the case. Apparently many are only interested if it’s an all-expenses paid free ride.

This year we were much later getting started than the groups of other years. This was probably due to each of us waiting for someone more experienced than ourselves to take charge. Eventually, fearing that it would not go ahead at all I decided to have a go at getting it started. This was quite successful, 9 likeminded MBA students attended the first meeting with the collective goal of getting to Duke. We formed a committee and ran through a basic outline of tasks that were critical to success. These were focused on two main streams: fundraising and training. We knew we needed MSc students for not only numbers but also for skills. We quickly held meetings with those interested to get them on board.

As January drew to a close we were acutely aware of the need to get training immediately. This presented two main challenges. The first was finding an experienced coach to train us and the second was finding a rugby pitch to train on. We interviewed Warren Gatland but he said he was too busy preparing for the Lions tour and Joe Schmidt said he was fully committed to Ireland setup. Luckily we secured the services of David Mannion (Current Monkstown & Ex Leinster Juniors Coach). Securing a pitch was more difficult. Unfortunately we were told categorically by the IRFU that the Aviva was off limits until the summer and the GAA told us no more rugby would be played in Croke Park unless the World Cup 2023 bid was successful. We looked closer to home. We were denied a spot in Belfield due to the high volume of activity on the pitches including believe it or not American Football. Fortunately, through our coach we secured the use of Monkstown’s ground for training.


Obviously sending a team to the U.S. is not cheap. There is the cost of flights, accommodation, transfers, insurance, tournament entry, jerseys, medical equipment, food amongst other things. Fundraising is key to the success of it all. The earlier you start, the easier it will be. It’s certainly not an easy task. Begging people, even Alumni, for money is a challenge in itself. It’s even harder when they say no. Although you are asking on behalf of the college it is still quite difficult not to take the rejection personally. Nevertheless, you must pick yourself up and ask again. We are hugely grateful to all of our sponsors, particularly Sinnotts Bar for being our main sponsor, they backed us early when finances were looking bleak. Without them we would almost certainly not be going.

We also held a table quiz. We hit up our family, friends and classmates to dig deep into their pockets and back us financially. The response was overwhelmingly brilliant. People came in their droves and the venue was packed to the rafters. It’s great to see that those who know us believe in us.

We made it crystal clear from the beginning that players would need to cover their own flights. Although this was not the ideal situation, it was useful for separating out those who were serious about competing and those who were just looking for a free ride. This was tested further when it came to paying for the flights where more people dropped out. Thankfully we had a core group that believed in one another and in our ability to get this off the ground and they all committed their money. I believe the group is stronger because of this and we know that those who have committed are serious.

With less than a week remaining until the tournament, now our focus is on player management, specifically how we will need to be smart to try and avoid injuries and keep our composure whilst playing numerous games in the heat. Hopefully the next blog I write will be telling positive tales of the tournament. A ferocious amount of work has been done by everybody to get us this far. Please wish both teams (men’s and women’s) well.

Cathal Murphy ~ Full-Time MBA

MBA Rugby World Cup 2016



joint team

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.

Girls team

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

MBA Rugby World Cup 2015

Carysfort Celts flying the Irish Flag at The MBA Rugby World Cup
Carysfort Celts flying the Irish Flag at The MBA Rugby World Cup

Last week, the MBA Rugby Team travelled to the United States to take part in the 35th Annual MBA Rugby World Cup.

Our team finished a creditable fourth out of 15 men’s teams, placing just behind Harvard’s A Team and ahead of fifth-placed Duke.Action Shot 3 - World Cup

Other teams that competed include Columbia, Yale and Stanford. An elite competition, in more ways than one. Well done to all involved!

Founded in 1999, the UCD Smurfit Rugby Football Club has grown from humble beginnings into one of the most successful business school rugby football clubs in the world.

Action Shot 2 - World Cup

On 25 September 1999, UCD Smurfit played its first ever game against the then reigning MBA World Champions, INSEAD of France. Determined to prove themselves against the best, the team attacked relentlessly and stormed home to a comprehensive 31 – 0 victory.

Buoyed on by this result, the members of the Club set themselves the goal of competing in the 2000 MBA Rugby World Championships. Achieving this required months of hard work and endeavour and, in April 2000, their efforts were rewarded. By defeating Duke University 8 – 0 in the final, the ‘Carysfort Celts’ won the Club’s first ever World Championship title.

In the years since, the Club has continuously strived to expand and improve on the efforts of its founders. This determination to succeed has resulted in the club winning the MBA Rugby World Championship on a further 11 occasions, the most recent being on April 2013.

In addition to having a successful men’s team, the Club also has a successful women’s team. In 2006, the Club won its first World Championship title.

Aside from its on-field activities, UCD Smurfit RFC is also extremely committed to assisting causes less well off than it. For the 2014/15 season, the Club has continued its partnership with World Sports Team and assisting our community through sponsorship and other fundraising events put on by the MBA Class.

Avril Donohue ~ MBA Senior Programme Coordinator