On the 1st November 2020, Thurles RFC will celebrate 95 years of rugby in the town.
Thurles RFC hit the ground running winning the Garryowen cup 3 times in the first five years this laid the back bone of a solid rugby team in the town that has continued unbroken for the ninety five years. Like all teams there is peaks and troughs. The 30’s, and 50’s were a time of rich picking but emigration raised its head in the 60’s, and performances dropped. The presence of the Sugar Factory attracted employment to the town and also brought in rugby players from all over the country to live and play in the
In 1950 the Club was honoured when the late Dr Jack Moloney was selected to play for Ireland against Scotland. In 1970 the club purchased a field in Loughtagalla in Thurles and built a new clubhouse and dressing rooms by 1975. Thurles RFC continued to prosper in its new surroundings and made the breakthrough at all levels winning the North Munster League in 1983 and multiple local cups at J1 and J2 level.
Munster Provincial Cup success eventually came in in 1993 when the club following on from winning the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup. Thurles RFC qualified to play in the Munster Senior Cup where they created history by being the first Junior Club to beat a Senior Team (UCC) in the competition.
In the noughties the fortunes of the Junior 1 team faltered and when recessionary times arrived the team was decimated with emigration and the team dropped from the Munster Junior League 1st Division for the first time in its history. Thurles RFC has recognised as early as the 1970s that youth development was the only way forward with the Late George Hyland to the fore-front coordinating the youths for years. This policy is still paying off with the youths that George encouraged now a main part of the club coaching setup.
Thurles RFC fields competitive teams at U-14, U-16, and U-18 levels and they work very closely with the local schools to ensure complementary activities and itineraries for the mutual benefit of school and club alike. This has been a very successful strategy and one the club will continue to foster.
Since then the club has gone from strength to strength with the focus on developing players from an early age. The adage ‘from small acorns mighty oak trees grow’ certainly springs to mind on any given Saturday morning in the club when no less than six mini teams from U-7 right up to U-12 can be seen in full flight either training, playing or ‘blitzing’ right across the grounds. Our ethos is simple. We want the kids to come in and enjoy it, learn the skills and bring them all the way up. We put a lot of focus into the
minis and developing the core skills of rugby. And those players have now come through the system and the investment and time we put into them when they were minis is paying off now.
Quite a number of youths have played for Munster at underage level and some have played Irish Youths with Frankie Roche topping it all when he won a World Cup U19 winners medal in 1999.
15 years ago the club set up a Girls U15 & U18 teams after been approached by the girls who wanted to play the game. After learning the basics they turned out to be hugely successful winning the Munster U15 Cup twice and the Munster U18 Cup 3 times. They were also invited to take part in the Lenister Cup and won that also.
The Club is proud of its contribution to Tipperary, Munster and Irish rugby, and Thurles RFC will continue to play an active role in the development of players long into the future.
2020 sees Thurles RFC facing new challenges. The pandemic has changed the sporting canvas for the time being and it is up to each Club to rise to the challenge of creating the new normal. Our membership grows year on year, we have plans to improve our Clubhouse and fields, invest in our youth developement and work towards another 100 years of Rugby in Thurles.