Now that we have come to the end of another season and we have a full decade of All Ireland League Senior Rugby under our belt, it might be a time to reflect on how far we have come, where we are and where we are going into the future as a club and as a force in Irish Domestic and Representative Rugby.
Following being successful on the third (over four years) of Munster Junior League Success, and a final extremely tight 2003-04 season where things went nip and tuck with Nenagh Ormond right until the last game on Garryowen Green against Richmond, Nenagh won the cup and we took the league on the last day to allow us our third attempt at gaining Senior Status.
A Stormy miserable day in Seapoint saw us come out with our first win, followed by a home defeat of Connacht Champions Monivea led us neatly into a fantastic final trip up to Coleraine where bus-loads of travelling hordes with groups in Stretch Limo’s followed the team onto the pitch in the northern club to the strains Puff Daddy’s “Come with me” . Nerves, sweat and finally tears of joy flowed freely on the final whistle to grant us our entry to the Big Leagues. This of course led nicely into a second day’s outing in Dublin on the way home for Munster’s loss to Wasps in Lansdowne Road the following day. (Trevor Leotta the giant was the main reason for their downfall on the day).
Year one saw us travelling the length and breadth of the country before Christmas with a steep learning curve about how we were going to survive both on the pitch and as a club off it. It would be a few years before we re-organised ourselves properly to make sure we could cope with the financial and other pressures that AIL standards required but the foundation stones had to be laid to ensure our survival.
becoming seasoned campaigners at this stage, This 2007-08 Season would go down in AIL folklore. In this year under the stewardship of Eugene Murnane, we set the standard for a defensive system which had never before been seen and has yet to be matched since. With an unbeaten run of 20 AIL games right up to the final, we managed to get through a league campaign with only 56 points scored against us in 15 games. This beat the previous record by approximately 70 points and gained us renown across Europe, with a Fan club set up on the French Eurosport website following our trials and tribulations up and down the country.
It got to the stage towards the end of the season where the players were getting paranoid about who would miss a tackle and give away the try that would cost us the record. However despite being promoted we lost to Instonians in the final having beaten Wanderers the year before to gain the trophy for Div. 3. with a fourth place position in the League table.
Two years in division 2 and we had a fantastic day out at Donnybrook including an evening in the RDS afterwards losing a very tight final against Lansdowne with a huge difference in scores between that day and the game in Kilballyowen against them earlier in the season. Stephen Keogh caused us no end of trouble in the home match early in the year and Devin Toner played a big part in their win in the final.
Of course, this was another year that would go down in history when we became the first new team in over forty five years to have their name put on the Munster Senior Cup, taking care of Shannon, Cork Con and finally Garryowen in that fantastic day in Thomond Park to get there.
We followed on with that fantastic win in Kilballyowen in the Semi-final against UCD coming back from 15 points down with 15 minutes left on the clock, scoring 17 to win it.
The final at the end of the season against Dungannon in Templeville Rd. gave us the Bateman Cup in its inaugural return after three quarters of a century. We of course had shared home wins against them during the league campaign and made some strong friendships with them that remain to this day. At the end of the year though we had a playoff fight to stay up in the AIL 1b division beating Bective Rangers by 25-12 in Kilballyowen to survive another season in the top echelon. Lansdowne got promoted to 1a with 1 more win than us (7 wins as against 6).
The increase to 10 teams meant that 9 wins gave us another year in 1b after the 2011-12 season but it was a tight affair at the finish, coming right down to the wire on that last day against Buccaneers. Emigration and the subsequent loss of a huge number of 1st team players started to tell its toll.
The last couple of seasons have seen us drop two divisions but we have settled into where we are at the moment and stopped the downward trajectory. That’s a quick snapshot of the road where we’ve been in the AIL to where we are now.
With the change in format next season we are back to home and away games with 10 team divisions.Our growth in underage terms and status within the IRFU means that the future looks great for Bruff RFC in it’s travails in the world of Senior Rugby.
With hints of further changes yet to come, the new regulations governing the running of the game mean that Bruff is well poised to survive and grow within the All Ireland League. The structures that have been put in place mean that heading into the future, our strong underage set-up. women’s teams coming on stream and the facilities that we have put in place mean that we can deal with rugby at all levels, however it needs the help of us all and such things don’t come without the help of those that are willing to put in the time and effort to keep the show on the road behind the scenes. It is at this level that more volunteers are needed and if you can spare a couple of hours a week to lighten the load it would be a great help.
WE PROMISE NOT TO SWAMP OR OVERLOAD YOU!
but we do ask that anyone that can spare an hour or two during the week, please come on board.