With just 98 days until the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off in Ireland, anticipation is reaching fever pitch. In Ardee, things are no different.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy was the centre of attention in Ardee on Thursday evening – as scores of girls and kids lined up to have their photo taken on a night of celebration under the themes Women in Sport in the Ardee & Mid-Louth area and Women & Girls Rugby.
Ahead of the main event getting underway in August – in which Ireland will face Australia, Japan and France in the group stage in Dublin – the Women’s World Cup trophy has been on a whistle stop tour of the country.
As part of the WRWC Trophy Tour, the trophy left the World Rugby Hall of Fame in the UK back in March and has since been on a tour of clubs and schools across Ireland. It even visited Áras an Uachtarain when it made it’s way to Dublin.
The trophy has also made as appearances at Donnybrook Stadium for the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider between England and Ireland and on March 18th, the trophy was formally presented at the Aviva Stadium during the men’s Six Nations match. Tonight, it stopped in Ardee.
The famous trophy – of which current holders England are looking to retain in August – was paraded through the town itself as Ardee Concert Band marched with it before arriving at Ardee RFC’S Townparks ground where a photo session took place before tag rugby games and skills sessions for both girls and boys. There was also a brilliant rendition of Ireland’s Call by Ruth Kelly Brady’s childrens choir.
Club president Ronan O’Brien was among those who spoke to the assembled crowd, thanking everyone who came out to enjoy the event – aimed at promoting women’s sport to girls in Ardee, Mid-Louth and further afield.
It’s clear that Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup will be help to play a huge part in attracting girls and women to take part in sport, especially rugby – and Fergal Callaghan believes it.
“It’s brilliant to see so many people,” he said. “What we are trying to do tonight is to get more people playing sport whether it’s rugby, soccer or whatever it is – and particulary girls. Perhaps tonight might be the start of something where your daughters or your sisters or your mothers even might start playing rugby!”
“Whether it’s rugby, football or Gaelic – it’s physical exercise and playing as part of a team with friends. It’s hugely important for everybody – be it boys or girls, men or women,” said Lucy Kerin, representing Ardee St Marys. “The first ladies World Cup was only held back in 1991. Ladies’s sport is still in it’s infancy and should be supported by all. This is a great occasion to promote women’s sport.
Ardee Rugby Club’s Aine Reilly and Tess Meade (pictured above), currently starring for Leinster, were also on hand to help their teammates introduce kids to some rugby skills in a session out on the pitch – if and when the little ones managed to drag themselves away from the bouncy castle.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Trophy Tour will arrive at Dundalk Rugby Club before heading north of the border for a number of stop offs.