Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Cup
|No. of teams||16 (season 2018–19)|
|Most titles||Blackrock College|
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 too small for the 2007 final, (Lansdowne Road was closed for redevelopment) and has been the home since. Since the move to the RDS and live television coverage , the attendance has decreased and is now typically 10,000–14,000.
The competition has been subject to criticism from various quarters for putting undue pressure on its schoolboy participants, and for being "elitist" (most of the competing schools are fee-paying; as of 2020 the most recent tournament victory by a non fee-paying school was De La Salle Churchtown's 1985 win). 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 also been praised with "Irish (rugby) game in debt to schools rugby".
Three schools have won the Cup at their first attempt; Blackrock College in the competition's maiden year in 1887, 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 and Clongowes Wood College who first won the cup in 1926. St. Fintan's High School are the most recent 'new' school to the competition, making their debut in 2016/17 season.
To date, only six schools have achieved the Senior and Junior Cup "double". These are Blackrock, who have achieved this feat 27 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, 2018), St Michaels twice (2012 & 2019), Newbridge College(2020), Belvedere (2005), Terenure (1958) and Castleknock College (1920).
Even more rare is to lose both the Senior and Junior Cup Finals in the same year. This depressing feat has been achieved by seven schools on 12 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), Cistercian College Roscrea (1910) and Blackrock College (2017) with 1 each. This happened to Blackrock College for the first time in 2017.
Even more rare again is to win (sic) the double without playing in a final and lifting a trophy. This feat is claimed by Newbridge College (2020).
Blackrock College have only been defeated in successive finals on two occasions. In the 1920s 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.
The 91st Leinster Senior Schools Cup Final in 1977 between Blackrock College and St Mary's College finished level at 12 points each at the end of normal time. Having played 70 minutes the two sides now faced an additional 15 minutes extra time. Six minutes into extra time Blackrock got a try from fullback Patrick Hinkson. Hugo MacNeill kicked the sideline conversion. Two further MacNeill penalties in the second half of extra time sealed victory for Blackrock. Among the future Irish senior internationals playing that day were Hugo MacNeill and Paul Dean. The 1977 Leinster Senior Schools Cup Final was played on Sunday 20 March 1977 and not the normal St Patrick's Day. This decision was made to protect the Lansdowne Road pitch following poor weather prior to the Ireland v France Five Nations fixture on 19 March. Grainy video footage is available on archives on www.rte.ie. The edition of Sports Club was broadcast 31 March 1977. The commentator is Fred Cogley.
In September 1967, the then Minister for Education Donogh O'Malley introduced free secondary school education. Only very few Rugby Playing secondary schools opted to join the "Free Education" scheme. To date, only one of these non-fee paying schools has managed to win the Senior Cup. In 1983 and 1985, De La Salle Churchtown beat Castleknock College and Blackrock College.
Four captains have gained the distinction of lifting the cup twice, Larry McMahon (Blackrock College, 1929 and 1930), Garret Gill (Blackrock College,1962 and 1963), Jonny Mion (Blackrock College) in 1989 and 1990, Barry Gibney (Blackrock College) in 1995 and 1996.
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 Hugo MacNeill, Brendan Mullin, Brian O'Driscoll, Victor Costello, Shane Byrne, Bob Casey, Leo Cullen and more recently Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Jordi Murphy, Garry Ringrose and Joey Carbery. 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 (former head coach Italian national team), Ciaran Clarke, and Girvan Dempsey. De La Salle Churchtown produced the following Internationals - Des Fitzgerald (34 caps) played in 2 RWCs. Named to Lions Team to mark centenary of IRB Tom Clancy (9 caps), Brian Glennon (1 cap), Niyi Adeolokun (1 cap), Lar Hudson (7 caps) and Austin Quirke (6 caps for France).
The 2020 season has not been completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roll of honour
|Blackrock College||Blackrock, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||69||1887–88, 1890, 1893–97, 1900–05, 1907–1910, 1912, 1915–1919, 1925, 1927–1930, 1933–1936, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2018
SCT & JCT Double 27 times – 1910, 1912, 1927, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1948, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1995, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2018
|Belvedere College||Great Denmark Street , Dublin City||12||1923–24, 1938, 1946, 1951, 1968, 1971–72, 2005 (Double), 2008, 2016–17|
|Terenure College||Terenure, Dublin City||10||1952, 1958 (Double), 1979–80, 1984, 1992–93, 1997, 2001, 2003|
|Clongowes Wood College||Clane, County Kildare||9||1926, 1978, 1988, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2010–11, 2020|
|Castleknock College||Castleknock, Dublin||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|
|Newbridge College||Newbridge, County Kildare||3||1941, 1970, 2020 (Double)|
|St. Michael's College||Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4||3||2007, 2012 (Double), 2019 (Double)|
|De La Salle Churchtown||Churchtown, Dublin||2||1983, 1985|
|Corrig School¹||Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||2||1889, 1892|
|Cistercian College, Roscrea||Roscrea, County Offaly||1||2015|
|C.B.C. Monkstown||Monkstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown||1||1976|
|The High School||Rathgar, 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.
Drawn finals are replayed. In this table, the result of the replay is given below the result of the drawn game.
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|
- 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: unknown
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 year's 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.
The inaugural winners were C.B.C. Monkstown. They were followed in by Terenure College (2009), St Gerard's School (2010), Clongowes Wood College (2011), St. Michael's College (2012), (2019) and Blackrock College (2013), (2018). Gonzaga College (2017)
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.
- Gerard Siggins' series of novels, Rugby Spirit (2012), Rugby Warrior (2014), Rugby Rebel (2015), Rugby Flyer (2016) and Rugby Runner (2017) tell the story of a boy, Eoin Madden, who plays rugby for the fictional Dublin school "Castlerock College". He takes part in several campaigns with the school, including the Leinster Junior Cup. The school's name is an homage to that in Paul Howard's books, as Siggins had coined the name "Ross O'Carroll Kelly".
- 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 Rugby 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
- Leinster Schools Senior Rugby Cup Centenary Celebration 1886-1986
- "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. Archived from the original on 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.
- "Belvedere secure an 11th Leinster Schools Senior Cup triumph". Irish Independent. 13 March 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
- "IRFU CONCLUDE 2019/20 DOMESTIC SEASON WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT".
- "Leinster Rugby announces new TV deal for 2019 Senior Schools Cup". The 42. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)