IRFU Charitable Trust Rugby Ball 2024 in association with Vodafone Foundation

It’s always a great sign of a great night when the dance floor is full!  From the very start, as the Drummers and the Fire Performers welcomed guests to the 2024 IRFU Charitable Trust Rugby Ball in association with the Vodafone Foundation, there was a great energy in the air.  The Rugby Ball took place on the eve of Ireland’s final Guinness Six Nations match in the Round Room at the Mansion House.  Seriously injured player, Garrett Culliton was our guest of honour for the evening and we would once again like to thank Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation for their continued compassion and commitment towards all our seriously injured players.

Many thanks as well to all guests attending and all of you who contributed on the night so generously.  In particular, special thanks to our loyal Drinks Partner Guinness for the drinks reception where guests were treated to Guinness and Rockshore on arrival.  In addition, this year included a wonderful addition to the drinks reception with guests getting to experience Coops Cocktails – which went down a treat with everyone; thank you Coops Cocktails which was established last year by model and cocktail lover Joanna Cooper, who also happens to be married to Irish Rugby legend Conor Murray.  Another great example of the Irish rugby community coming together to support seriously injured players.

Once the Drummers called everyone for dinner, our MC Alan Shortt engaged everyone with our traditional ‘Heads & Tails’ kindly sponsored by Butlers Chocolates.  Thank you again to Butlers for their continued support and for also treating everyone to chocolates on the night.  Alan then introduced the Chair of the IRFU Charitable Trust Michael Whelan to say a few words and introduce the video of one of seriously injured players Jamie Graham and his family.  You can view the video, kindly created by our Video Partner Get Broadcasting, by clicking here.

An increasingly popular part of the evening was the Silent Auction which had something for everyone with multiple bids happening throughout the night.  A key attraction this year was the chance for guests to get their hands on a team signed jersey from one of the twenty participating Unions from the Rugby World Cup in France last year.  Not surprisingly the big bids went for the Ireland Jersey and of course the back-to-back World Champions, South Africa.  Thank you to the IRFU for kindly donating all twenty jerseys in support of seriously injured rugby players.  In addition to the RWC Jerseys, Leinster Rugby kindly donated a team signed jersey from this season along with Premium Tickets to the Leinster v Leicester Tigers match at the Aviva – many thanks to Leinster Rugby for the Auction items as well as for being there on the night.  In addition, we had a very special limited edition print from Gerard Byrne Studios Ranelagh, beautifully framed and also featured a signed copy of Gerard Byrne’s book.  Another unique lot was “Galway Golf & Gallop” with the lucky bidder winning a four-ball to the inaugural Charitable Trust Connacht Golf Outing (click here for the Connacht Charity Golf Outing event page) at the Galway Bay Golf Resort as well as overnight accommodation for two nights, a Galway Hooker Craft Beer Hamper and tickets to the Galway Races – all thanks to the Connacht Hospitality Group.  You can view all the Silent Auction items as well as the Live Auction Lots and the Raffle Prizes, by viewing the Table Card on this page.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Auction items and the Raffle Prizes on the night – your kindness and generosity are greatly, greatly appreciated.

As mentioned above, Garrett Culliton was our guest of honour and a particular highlight of the evening was when Alan interviewed Garrett by the stage.   Garrett spoke about his life after his serious injury in 1992 and how he was determined to continue to be active in sports including becoming an Irish Paralympian as well as having a passion for Wheelchair Rugby – a sport that Garrett introduced to Ireland in 1997.  Garrett was joined by his family on the night including his brother, sister-in-law and nephew as well as his first cousin who was part of the DMG Media table.   Thank you to our Media Partner Business Plus, part of DMG Media Ireland, for supporting the event.

Later on, the always fun Nigel Osborne interviewed our very special guests from the world of Rugby – Jenny Murphy, Jimmy O’Brien and Johnnie Beattie.  Much love to Jenny, Jimmy and Johnnie for being with us on the night and for your great insights on the Ireland v Scotland game the following day as well as the upcoming Guinness Women’s Six Nations.   Jenny – you were spot on (almost!) with your prediction.  Everyone in attendance was then delighted to hear that Richie Murphy (who also very kindly donated a kicking coaching session) and his U20s team were victorious over Scotland … Johnnie Beattie was less than delighted!

Alan Shortt then ran the always entertaining Live Auction with incredible Lots including tickets to Ireland v Scotland match the following day plus a Dressing Room Tour, kindly donated by Guinness.  As well as Lots from Aer Lingus, The Old Spot, Vodafone and Taylor Swift Tickets, that needless to say went very swiftly!  Later that night the brilliant WOW Party Band had most of our guests up on the dance floor in celebration of the U20s win with high expectations for a win the following day.  A big thank you to Slattery’s of Beggars Bush for sponsoring the band!

Finally we’d like to once again thank everyone involved for your ongoing support – sponsors and donators, committee members and volunteers, colleagues and all our loyal and generous guests including our FRIENDS.  Your support for those who have been seriously injured playing the game we all love is greatly, greatly appreciated.  On behalf of all 36 seriously injured players, and their families, thank you and stay safe.