RUGBYMag.com Columnist and Dartmouth College Head Coach Gavin Hickie previews Dartmouth's tour of Ireland.
In less then a week, Dartmouth Men’s Rugby will travel to Dublin and commence our tour of Ireland. Needless to say that I am ecstatic to be bringing the Big Green to my homeland. We are in the process of putting the final pieces together for what promise to be a fantastic tour that will be used to prepare us for the fast-approaching and hectic spring season.
Dartmouth trains in the snow, getting ready for Ireland.
This tour is being run by Irish Rugby Tours.
The men of Dartmouth depart from Boston on Friday March 15. We will be in Ireland until the 24th and we have games scheduled against Trinity College and Galwegians Rugby Football Club. We will be playing an A and a B-side against our opponents and all players going on tour will play a lot of rugby while in Ireland.
As written recently in RugbyMag, there is a very strong connection between Trinity College and USA Rugby. Trinity Director of Rugby, Tony Smeeth is the backs coach for the USA Eagles, while Derek “Babs” Dowling in the Eagles scrum coach. I have known both of these guys since I was a child playing rugby in Dublin and it is a great privilege to be able to bring Dartmouth over to play against Trinity. This fixture goes back in history and I am very grateful to Tony Smeeth for renewing the old Dartmouth v Trinity rivalry. This will be the 7th match between the two, dating back to 1962. The games kick off in Trinity Park at 11:30am and 1pm on Monday 18th March.
Amongst Trinity’s player roster is USA U20s hooker, Cameron Falcon who was recently at the USA U20s camp in Las Vegas. Cam’s rugby is improving a lot at Trinity College and the experience will prove invaluable to him and to USA U20s this year in the Junior World Championship. Another USA U20s player from last year, Pierce Dargan, is excelling at Trinity, as is USA Eagles prop, Shawn Pittman. Playing against American players in Ireland will be a lot of fun for our Dartmouth guys. It’s a small world!
Other highlights of our tour to Ireland include marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin on March 17th. I have seen this parade many times as child in Dublin. Little did I know that I would be partaking in it one day! This is an honour for me personally and for all at Dartmouth Rugby Football Club.
We will also be attending the match between Lansdowne and St. Mary’s. The boys will undoubtedly enjoy this game as it one of the biggest rivalries in club rugby in Dublin. St. Mary’s is my club and I am very much looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in Dublin.
We will also watch the final round of the 6 Nations. I am excited to see the DRFC players experience rugby in Ireland. Although the 6 Nations has not gone Ireland’s way this year, the Irish supporters are among the most passionate in the world and its very easy to get caught up in the great atmosphere generated by the 6 Nations. For parts of the year in Ireland, rugby becomes all-consuming and a lot of US players have never experienced this. There is a lot to look forward to.
Our itinerary also includes a tour of the Aviva Stadium, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, as well as taking in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final.
The annual tour for Dartmouth is a very important part of our season. From early November until early April, our pitches here in New Hampshire are unplayable due to the snow and cold weather. The tour against steely and weathered opponents prepares us nicely for the rest of our season. Upon our return, we face Princeton in the Ivy League Playoffs on April 6th in Hanover. All going well, we will be playing in the Ivy League final a week later. Should we win the Ivy League Playoffs, we will automatically be given a place in the D1-AA Championship. On top of that, Dartmouth is participating in the inaugural Varsity Cup this year against Navy. Of course, we are also very much looking forward to the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship. Dartmouth is once again going into the CRC tournament as defending Champions.
There is lots of rugby to be played this season, and DRFC are very excited about the next few months. We are very grateful to the college, alumni and supporters of DRFC who make the tour possible. We would also like to thank George Hook of Irish Rugby Tours for his help in organizing our visit to Ireland.
The main point of the tour to Ireland is to prepare us for the rest of the season. The tour will play a pivotal role in how we perform this season. However, the experience for the DRFC players going on tour will undoubtedly stand to them for the rest of their lives.
As for me…..I am looking forward to going home.