IRFU Charitable Trust 2023 Rugby Ball in association with Vodafone Ireland Foundation

“What a great night” was the theme of the annual IRFU Charitable Trust Rugby Ball in aid of seriously injured rugby players and their families.  Everything came together to create an enjoyable, entertaining and memorable event for over 440 guests.  This year’s Rugby Ball, in association with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, featured drummers at the entrance to the Mansion House to welcome and entertain people on arrival … although you could hear them on St. Stephen’s Green!  Guests were treated to a drinks reception as they entered the Round Room, co-hosted by Guinness and Fallon & Byrne with complimentary Guinness, Rockshore and outstanding Prosecco from Fallon & Byrne.  And guests were also treated to magic tricks and some even had fun caricatures drawn of them.  The drummers then entered the Round Room and literally drummed people in to their seats in time to enjoy a lovely meal and superb complimentary wine.  The wine, Domaine Vincent Wengier Chablis and Domini Veneti Valpolicella Ripasso ‘La Casetta’, were both outstanding and very kindly sponsored by Fallon & Byrne.  The service from the Mansion House staff was exemplary.

The night would not have been possible without the ongoing support and generosity of our main sponsor for the Rugby Ball – the Vodafone Ireland Foundation.  This is the seventh year Vodafone have been involved and the Charitable Trust is very, very grateful.  Special thanks to our other sponsors on the night including Guinness and Fallon & Byrne.  Big, big thanks to all of you who attended including those of you who bought a table and all of your guests.  As well as our organising committee led by Shane Whelan, and included Henry Anderson, Stafford Bagot, Brid Berkeley, Linda Black, Eleanor Connolly, Robert Deacon, Johnny Lynch, Ciaran Mandal, Jacinta O’Rourke, Marc Sheridan and Michael Whelan; as well as friends and family members who volunteered on the night.  As fans of rugby, we are all part of Ireland’s unique rugby family, and your kindness and compassion towards our seriously injured rugby players and their families is very much appreciated.

The brilliant Risteárd Cooper was our MC for the night.  Another loyal supporter of both the game of rugby and the Charitable Trust, Risteárd treated all of us to fun and entertaining rugby jokes and banter including remarkable impersonations of personalities from the world of rugby.  With special guest Sean O’Brien, Risteárd and Sean ran the fun “Heads or Tails” with the last person standing winning an amazing €500 Hamper from Fallon & Byrne featuring Irish artisan products from all four provinces of Ireland.  That wasn’t the only hamper won with one lucky winner randomly finding a surprise Butlers Chocolates sticker under their side plate winning a Butlers Chocolate Hamper. Thank you to both Fallon & Byrne and Butlers Chocolate for kindly sponsoring the hampers.  In addition to the two hampers, a lucky guest at every table won a raffle prize.  There were over 40 raffle prizes including a gigantic meats hamper from Carty Meats and a unique Teelings Whiskey Hamper – you can view the exceptional raffle prizes in the below graphics.  Again, thank you to everyone who contributed and donated so charitably to the raffle.

Risteárd then introduced Michael Whelan, Chairperson of the Charitable Trust, who thanked everyone for being there on the night and for their ongoing support, giving an insight in to how the Charitable Trust helps seriously injured rugby players and their families.  Michael then presented a video of one of our seriously injured players – Brendan Glynn and his family.  Despite a room with over 400 people, everyone in attendance was rapt by Brendan’s story, with his wife Deirdre, their daughters Maeve and Grace, his wider family and members from Brendan’s club, Mallow RFC.  The amount of people who spoke about Brendan and his family’s video afterwards was remarkable and we would ask you to take the time to view the video shown adjacent.  Very special thanks to our Video Partner Get Broadcasting for capturing and creating this exceptional story of Brendan and his family.

Ciarán McCarthy, a seriously injured rugby player from Leinster, also joined us on the night with his brother Aidan.  Ciarán and Risteárd had an intimate chat near the stage with everyone learning how the Charitable Trust helps, and importantly how funds raised from events like tonight’s Rugby Ball are used to help seriously injured players.  In Ciarán’s case, the Charitable Trust recently installed a lift in his house which has made his life at home immeasurably easier.  Our friend Nigel Osborne had the honour of interviewing rugby greats Linda Djougang, Ian McKinley and Sean O’Brien who gave us plenty insights in to the Scotland v Ireland Guinness Six Nations match which was taking place two days later; as well as our Grand Slam chances.  Linda spoke about the upcoming TikTok Women’s Six Nations and all had plenty to say about the small matter of a Rugby World Cup later this year!

The accomplished Henry Beeby, GOFFS Group Chief Executive, very kindly conducted our live auction on the night with his son George and colleague Tadhg Dooley in support.  The auction was extremely successful as well as entertaining!  You can view the live auction items in the graphics below, but what’s missing from the list was a very generous surprise donation of a Diamond Ring from Gray’s Jewellers off Grafton Street which was also auctioned by Henry.  Other notable live auction lots included a unique Dressing Room Experience tour before getting to see Ireland play England in the Aviva kindly sponsored by Guinness; a Captain’s Run for four people the day before plus lunch in Cinnamon kindly sponsored by Vodafone and Cinnamon; and a unique opportunity for your child or niece/nephew or grandchild to be a mascot at Leinster’s final home game as well as tickets to the match for the whole family – kindly donated by Bank of Ireland.  Our media partner – DMG Media, were also in attendance and secured the “Dining with Legends” lot which included dinner for 10 people with legend Ollie Campbell and legend in the making Jamison Gibson-Park – kindly donated by Lennan’s Yard.  There were also other great lots including Business Class Flights from Aer Lingus, Rugby World Cup and Guinness Six Nation 2024 trips, plus a “Golfers Delight”.  Thank you to all of you who donated to the live auction – the lots were outstanding and we greatly appreciate your generosity.

In addition to our live auction, we had our biggest silent auction with 32 lots ranging from art to hurling, DIY to soccer, bed linen to golf, and watches to rugby.  The below graphics depict all 32 lots but one notable lot – no.11 was a signed jersey from Ian McKinley which was the jersey Ian wore on his international debut for Italy in 2017.  Thank you to Ian and everyone else who so kindly contributed to our silent auction – again we greatly appreciate and value your very generous donations.

Just as the silent auction ended the dancing began with the sparkling and sensational Spring Break taking to the stage and filling the dance floor for the rest of the night!   A big shout out of thanks to Slattery’s of Beggar’s Bush for sponsoring the band.  Thank you again to the Mansion House and all the staff in the Round Room for your excellent service and support.  And finally, thank you to everyone who made the night very special – our sponsors and contributors, committee and volunteers, colleagues and all our wonderful, wonderful guests.  Your support for those who have been seriously injured playing the game we all love is very, very much appreciated.

Get Broadcasting very kindly filmed the event as well as interviewing a number of people on the night – please have a look at the video adjacent which we hope will give you a flavour of a great night had by everyone.  In addition, our media partner, DMG Media’s business brand ‘Business Plus’ wrote an article covering the event – click here to read the article.  As soon as we know the date for the 2024 IRFU Charitable Trust Rugby Ball in association with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, we will announce it on our website and social media.  Until then, take care and we hope to see you all soon.