Rugby League Ireland are proud to announce the Rugby League Ireland’s 2018 Season!
This season will be a new starting point for the organisation with some new and, creative thinking along with the emergence of more youth matches this season for the Wolfhound u19 national side.
The organisation are also beginning to think about growing the game, specifically with younger players and have created communication and marketing plans to spread the sport and the awareness of the game and organisation around the country.
Speaking today about the 2018, Director Richard Egan welcomed the new season while also reflecting on a turbulent past.
“The layout of the year shows again the breadth of activity here in RLI. We are seeing great take up for the sport at underage level and that is seen by the growth in activity at U19 and student level.”
The challenge now is to capitalise on this and get further activity at younger age groups. We are also seeing a real interest in Masters and there has been a huge draw for players who were instrumental in getting rugby league started in Ireland in the late 1990s and early 2000s.” Egan said.
This season marks a successful follow up after last years heroic performances by all representative sides. The Ireland senior side doing the country proud and also the Student side making it to the World Cup while the u18’s took on Wales.
The Waterford Vikings has seen their second year in revival under Irish Senior international Alan McMahon. They travel to play the reigning All Ireland Champions, Longhorns RL, this weekend in Ashbourne RFC, which has been a fortress for the reigning champions.
“Longhorns for the first game of a season is a tough one but also a challenge we are relishing.” Chairman of the Vikings Alan McMahon said.
“The lads feel like there is some unfinished business from last year and getting a chance to beat the all Ireland champions at the beginning of the season [is] something we’re looking forward to.”
Everything we do is only possible thanks to all our sponsors A-Tec Security, The Moorings Bar, 360 Cookhouse, Dalton Jewelers, Flavin Construction and Dungarvan Chiropractic Clinic. The constant support from the local community is what drives us on to do well.”
Player and coach Casey Dunne, who has been instrumental on pushing the youth game in the country will be leading his team into another heated match against a well able side.
The Longhorns are off the back of a successful pre-season where they faced National Conference League side West Hull in a heavy defeat that was the result of a ‘lack of experience’, however, the experience they gained from the experience the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup will be invaluable to the team with an average age of 22 years old and younger players coming into the mix through their academy.
Meanwhile, the Athy Sharks take on the Galway Tribesmen in a tasty matchup that both are looking forward to in Athy. The Sharks’ physicality will play test to the experienced Tribesmen who look who had a positive season last year, making it all the way to the Republic of Ireland league final, losing out to the Longhorns.
In the Northern Ireland League, Wayne Kelly’s All Ireland Finalists Belfast Met Scholars, who are littered with multiple student and domestic international players take on the Stags in a mouth-watering matchup.
The Northern Ireland league also sees the Belfast Eagles take on the Portadown Pumas in their opening game.
With more match-ups confirmed throughout the season domestic, underage and internationally, this season marks a new era for the organisation.