Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Cup
The Leinster Schools Senior Challenge Cup is the premier rugby union competition for secondary schools affiliated to the Leinster Branch of the IRFU. First held in 1887, the Cup celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2007.
Schools Senior Cup Rugby is divided into 4 tiers in two sections and each cup competition bears a name as follows: Section A Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Development Cup (effectively division 4), Section A Leinster Schools Rugby McMullen Cup (effectively division 3), Section B Leinster Schools Vinnie Murray Cup (effectively division 2), Section B Leinster Schools Senior Challenge Cup (effectively division 1).
Attendances are high for a schoolboy competition, with up to 25,000 present at the final. This match traditionally takes place on Saint Patrick's Day at Lansdowne Road (now known as the Aviva Stadium). In 2008, the final was played at the Royal Dublin Society Grounds (RDS) after Donnybrook proved to be way too small for the 2007 final, (Lansdowne Road was closed for redevelopment) and has been the home since.
The competition has been subject to criticism from various quarters as being "elitist" (as most of the competing schools are fee-paying; in fact only one non fee-paying school has won the cup, De La Salle Churchtown) and for putting undue pressure on its participants. It is also the subject of satire through the Ross O'Carroll Kelly newspaper column and novels. The competition and schools rugby in the four provinces has been praised though with "Irish (rugby) game in debt to schools rugby".
Two schools have won the Cup at their first attempt; Blackrock College in the competition's maiden year in 1887 and Castleknock College who won the first of their eight Leinster titles at the first time of asking when they defeated Blackrock in the 1913 final.
To date only five schools have achieved the almost mythical Senior and Junior Cup "double". These are Blackrock, who have achieved this feat 26 times (1910, 1912, 1927, 1933, 1935–36, 1942–43, 1945, 1948, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1962, 1964, 1981–82, 1986–87, 1995, 2004, 2006, 2013-14), St Michaels (2012), Belvedere (2005), Terenure (1958) and Castleknock (1920). No double was won by any school (including Blackrock) in the 16 years from 1964 to 1981.
Even more rare is to loose both the Senior and Junior Cup Finals in the same year. This depressing feat has been achieved by six schools on 11 occasions. Terenure College leads with 4 (1957, 1964, 1969 & 1987), followed by Belvedere College with 3 (1930, 1944 & 1962), next St Michaels College (2010), St Mary's College (1943), Newbridge College (1939)and Cistercian College Roscrea (1910) with 1 each. Remarkably Blackrock College have never been beaten in both finals in the same year.
Blackrock College have only been defeated in successive finals on two occasions. In the 1920's they were runners up three times in a row, defeated by St Andrews in 1921 & 1922 followed by Belvedere in 1923. The second occasion was in 1979 & 1980 when they were defeated in successive finals by Terenure College. In fact Terenure College defeated Blackrock College in five Schools Cup Finals in a row in the period 1976 to 1980, JCT 1976, 77 & 78 and SCT 1979 & 1980. Blackrock College students from the late 1970's, to this day harbor a great fear of the "Purple Black and White" of Terenure College.
The Cup, and the Schools who play for it, have a history of producing fine rugby players, many of whom go on to play for Ireland. Players such as Denis Hickie, who captained his St. Mary's College team to win the cup in 1994, and Gordon D'Arcy have impressive senior cup records. The most international players produced have come from Blackrock College, with players such as Brian O'Driscoll, Victor Costello, Shane Byrne, Bob Casey, Leo Cullen and more recently Luke Fitzgerald. Terenure College has also produced many Irish international players including Mick Hipwell (also Lion's 1971), Kevin Flynn, Paul Haycock, Niall Hogan (Irish Captain 1995), Conor O'Shea, Ciaran Clarke, and Girvan Dempsey.
Two captains have gained the distinction of lifting the cup twice, Ross Gallagher (Blackrock College) in 1989 and 1990, Barry Gibney (Blackrock College) in 1995 and 1996.
Roll of honour
|Blackrock College||Blackrock, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||68||1887-88, 1890, 1893–97, 1900–05, 1907-1910, 1912, 1915-1919, 1925, 1927-1930, 1933-1936, 1939-1940, 1942–43, 1945, 1948-1950, 1956-1957, 1960, 1962,1964, 1967, 1974–75, 1977, 1981–82, 1986–87, 1989–90, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014
SCT & JCT Double 26 times - 1910, 1912, 1927, 1933, 1935–36, 1942–43, 1945, 1948, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1962, 1964, 1981–82, 1986–87, 1995, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013-14
|Belvedere College||Great Denmark Street, Dublin City||10||1923–24, 1938, 1946, 1951, 1968, 1971–72, 2005 (Double), 2008|
|Terenure College||Terenure, Dublin City||10||1952, 1958 (Double), 1979–80, 1984, 1992–93, 1997, 2001, 2003|
|Clongowes Wood College||Clane, County Kildare||8||1926, 1978, 1988, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2010–11|
|Castleknock College||Castleknock, Fingal||8||1913, 1920 (Double), 1931, 1937, 1944, 1947, 1959, 1965|
|St. Mary's College||Rathmines, Dublin City||5||1961, 1966, 1969, 1994, 2002|
|St. Andrew's College||Booterstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||4||1906, 1911, 1921–22|
|St. Michael's College||Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4||2||2007, 2012(Double)|
|De La Salle Churchtown||Churchtown, South Dublin||2||1983, 1985|
|Newbridge College||Newbridge, County Kildare||2||1941, 1970|
|Corrig School¹||Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||2||1889, 1892|
|Cistercian College, Roscrea||Roscrea, County Tipperary, Munster, BLACK & WHITE ARMY||1||2015|
|C.B.C. Monkstown||Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||1||1976|
|The High School||Rathgar, South Dublin||1||1973|
|Presentation College||Bray, County Wicklow||1||1932|
|Mountjoy School²||Clontarf, Dublin City||1||1914|
|Saint Columba's College||Whitechurch, South Dublin||1||1899|
|Wesley College||Ballinteer, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||1||1898|
¹ Corrig School moved premises to Monkstown Park in 1950 and was renamed C.B.C. Monkstown.
² Mountjoy School was amalgamated with other schools in 1972 to become Mount Temple Comprehensive School.
The point values of scores in rugby union have changed many times in its history. This table summarises them.
|Period||Try||Conversion||Penalty||Drop goal||Goal from mark|
Drawn finals are replayed. In this table, the result of the replay is given below the result of the drawn game.
- Most consecutive wins: 6, Blackrock College 1900–05
- Greatest winning margin in final: 63 points, 1900: Blackrock College 63-0 Corrig School
- Narrowest winning margin in final: 1 point, 1891: Blackrock College 1–0 Wesley College; 1969: St. Mary's College 10–9 Terenure College; 2008: Belvedere College 11–10 St. Mary's College
- Highest aggregate score in final: 63 points, 1900: Blackrock College 63-0 Corrig School
- Longest period without a win by Blackrock College: 6 seasons 1967–73
- Greatest losing margin St Conleth's College 70-0 Sandford Park School 1942
Sponsorship and Media Coverage
The competition was known for several years as the "Coca-Cola Leinster Schools Senior Cup" and in more recent years the "Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup" (Powerade is also owned by the Coca Cola Company). In September 2013, Beauchamps Solicitors became the new title sponsor for the Leinster Schools Senior Cup. For the duration of this partnership with Beauchamps, the Senior Cup will be known as the "Beauchamps Leinster Schools Senior Cup".
The competition receives extensive coverage in Ireland's broadsheets, in particular The Irish Independent and The Irish Times. Both publish previews of each years competition and provide match reports for each game played.
In years gone by the competition's final on St Patrick's Day would sometimes be broadcast on TG4, however, this was discontinued in the early 2000s. From 2005 onwards, however, Setanta Sports began extensive coverage of school's rugby. This included the finals of all provincial finals and coverage of the Leinster Schools Junior Cup. The Leinster Senior Cup was most prominent, however, with coverage from every game played at Donnybrook and every round of the competition.
Leinster School of the Year Award
In 2008, Leinster Rugby instituted a new award for overall performance of a school at every level of schools rugby. The award, Powerade Leinster Rugby School of the Year is given at the annual Leinster awards ceremony.
In popular culture
- The Ross O'Carroll-Kelly character, created by Paul Howard, lives off the glory of winning a Leinster Senior Cup final medal with the fictional school "Castlerock College" in the novel The Miseducation of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly.
- James Joyce described playing schools rugby through Stephen Dedalus in Clongowes in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
- Leinster Schools Vinnie Murray Cup
- Leinster Schools Rugby McMullen Cup
- Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Development Cup
- Leinster Schools Junior Cup
- Leinster Rugby
- Connacht Schools Senior Cup
- Munster Schools Senior Cup
- Ulster Schools Senior Cup
- Ireland national schoolboy rugby union team
- Irish game in debt to schools rugby
- Statistics compiled by Des Daly, Irish Rugby Statistician
- "Belvo take first senior cup win". www.rte.ie. 14 July 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- Report on 2012 final
- "Power pounces to steal it for teak-tough 'Rock". Irish Independent. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "Blackrock claim Leinster Schools crown". Setanta News. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- "Roscrea claim first ever Leinster Senior Cup title with victory over Belvedere". Irish Independent. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.