45th Anniversary Rugby Lunch

A very special day.  Just over twenty of our 35 seriously injured rugby players, with their family and friends, joined a sold out Lunch in the InterContinental Hotel on Friday 17th November 2023; marking the IRFU Charitable Trust’s 45th Anniversary.  The Lunch was once again very kindly sponsored by Aon.  Our deepest  thanks to Aon, represented by Hugh Foley and Anna Callaghan amongst others on the day, who have been with us for many years and without them we all could not have enjoyed such a wonderful occasion.  In addition we would like to thank the InterContinental Hotel Dublin for their outstanding support in hosting the event as well our media partner Business Plus, part of DMG Media, for their ongoing support in raising awareness for the Charitable Trust and our events.

Many in attendance have stated their highlight of the Lunch was listening to three of our seriously injured players being interviewed by MC Andy Dunne.  Niall McCool, Armagh RFC, injured in 1999 spoke about how the Charitable Trust supported him and his family from the start, including a funny story about Trevor Ringland from the Trust, when Trevor visited Niall in hospital following his injury.  Bernard Healy, soon to be Skerries RFC President, injured in 1980, gave us all an insight in to how his youth drove his independence and his ‘get on’ attitude when initially seriously injured but how increasingly important the support of the rugby community is to ensuring he can continue to live his life to the fullest.  And finally, a reluctant Donal O’Flynn was interviewed by Andy and remarkably Andy was with Donal on the same pitch on the same team when Donal suffered his serious injury in 1997.  Donal also spoke about his passion for renewable energy including his successful business ventures in this area.  All three men spoke beautifully and everyone was inspired to hear their stories and how each of them continues to chase and achieve their life goals, and to this day, still remain passionate fans of the game.

Earlier, we also watched a video with seriously injured player Jamie Graham and his wife Natalie and gorgeous children Daisy and Judah.  We would encourage you to watch their video which is included on this page.  In addition, please take the time to watch the video from the event which also includes more of our seriously injured players, in particular David Ross as he speaks about how the Trust has helped him pursue his dream of competing in the Paralympics next year in Wheelchair Rugby.  The very best of luck in qualifications David from all of us!   Special thanks to our Video Partner Get Broadcasting for both videos.

The day kicked off with a drinks reception, kindly sponsored by our drinks partner Guinness, as well as Bacchus Vinos – thank you to both for your generosity and fine beverages.  With over 430 guests in attendance, Andy Dunne brought order to the proceedings with the ever popular ‘Heads or Tails’ with special guest Johnny Sexton tossing the coin.  Congrats to Nicky Carvin on winning a super hamper from our Christmas Hamper Partner – Fallon & Byrne.  The IRFU Charitable Trust Chair Michael Whelan welcomed everybody as well as thanking everyone for being at the event and being part of our rugby family, including more of our Partners:  Bank of Ireland, Pinergy, The K Club and of course our biggest supporter – the IRFU.  Michael also pointed out the tables of Cyclists and Walkers in the room who raised funds for the Charitable Trust, while in France during the Rugby World Cup.

Another highlight of the day was listening to our two very special guests – Irish Rugby legends and Grand Slam Winning Captains – Fiona Coghlan and Johnny Sexton.  With the cameras off, both Fiona and Johnny spoke candidly and openly about all things rugby and naturally the disappointment of the Quarter Final exit during the Rugby World Cup was discussed.  However Johnny was in no doubt as to the outpouring of appreciation and thanks that everyone in the room felt for his time on the pitch in giving supporters of the game many great memories.   As he said himself, Irish fans are the greatest in the world and it is the support of the fans that gives the players their greatest memories, so they as players want to give fans great memories as well.  That you have Fiona and that you have Johnny – thank you both.

Special thanks to Paul McDowell who led the Live Auction with amazing prizes up for grabs – have a look at the Table Card on this page to view the Live Auction items as well as the Silent Auction items.  We greatly appreciate those who volunteered on the day, as well as those who contributed to the Live Auction, the Raffle and the Silent Auction.  This was the first time we ran a Silent Auction at the Lunch, and along with the generosity of those who bid on the Live Auction and the generosity of everyone who contributed to the Raffle, significantly more funds were raised this year versus previous years.  As those in attendance would have heard directly from seriously injured players, as well as watching the Graham’s video – your support and generosity means the world to all our seriously injured players and without the compassion and commitment of everyone who supports the Trust, we could not continue to care for our seriously injured players and their families.

Thank you one and all.

Jamie Graham’s story with his wife Natalie and children Daisy and Judah

Watch the video from the event kindly produced by Get Broadcasting

Table Card