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‘Expectation is huge in any team sport’

Published: 23rd June 2016

‘Expectation is huge in any team sport’

Rugby coach Tony Smeeth looks to the season ahead… and the upcoming golf classic

It feels like summer is just beginning yet already rugby coach Tony Smeeth is looking ahead to August 15 when his newly promoted charges reconvene for their first post-summer training camp.

For anyone who missed it, Trinity’s first XV were promoted to division 1A of the AIL at the end of last season. “Promotion is the benchmark every year,” says Tony. “We’re now in with the top 10 clubs in the country – it’s the highest ranking ever for a Trinity team.”

One of the challenges now facing Tony and his squad is the fact that a lot of their depth has been depleted due to a number of departures by students who have graduated. Yet the coach hopes that replenishment will come from the U20s who had a very strong year this year.

All in all the 2015/2016 season has been an auspicious one for rugby in Trinity. Among the highlights were the inaugural Universities World Cup, where Trinity were runners-up, beating New Zealand and host team Oxford along the way. Another highlight was the noticeable increase in participation among the junior and women’s sections. There’s also been the appearance for Ireland of Trinity’s James Bollard at the ongoing U20 Championship in Manchester.

But for Tony there isn’t much time for resting on any laurels and he’s hoping they can shake off their September ‘hoodoo’ when the AIL resumes. “We’ve never won an AIL game in September in three years so the late start back is a bit of an issue for us.” Plus, all eyes will be on the newcomers when September 17 comes, “expectation is huge in any team sport.”

Thankfully the coach can take his mind off this, albeit briefly, and turn his attentions to golf with DUFC’s upcoming classic. Taking place this Thursday (June 23) in Milltown Golf Club, the annual shindig is always a great alumni occasion.

However the man who won an award for his Special Contribution to College Sport in April won’t be teeing off himself. “My wife won’t let me play golf,” he jokes, “I already have one sickness – rugby!”