THE Pig ‘n’ Porter tag rugby festival returns for a 14th successive year this weekend, a milestone achievement for a festival run largely on goodwill and voluntary effort.
But organiser Eugene O’Riordan - known to all and sundry in Old Crescent, where the festival takes place, as ‘Valvo’ - has admitted that “if you spoke to me three or four months ago, there was no Pig ‘n’ Porter, that is the reality”.
He said that some of the teams from the Southern Hemisphere that travel over for the massive Limerick event are not coming this year, with the tag rugby world cup taking place later in the year in Australia. Plus, securing backing for the event, which brings huge numbers of visitors to the city, wasn’t easy.
“Sponsorship and everything was tough, but we battled on and a good few local companies have come in behind us and we have upped our sponsorship on last year and it is just the nature of the beast to keep it going,” he added.
The festival, self-professed as the “largest tag rugby event in the world”, is run in association with the Irish Tag Rugby Association, and will this year boast upwards of 125 teams again making their way to Rosbrien this Saturday and Sunday.
An estimated 2,500 players and 5,000 visitors – 70% of which tend to visit from outside Limerick for the event - will flock to the Pig ‘n’ Porter, which is again backed by Bulmers Irish Cider, with whom a new two year sponsorship deal has been agreed.
“We are delighted to announce the extension of our sponsorship deal with Bulmers Irish Cider for another two years. This is a huge boost to the festival and ensures it will continue to grow into the future,” said Eugene of the festival, which is run by a team of around 50 volunteers.
“We have developed a really novel festival and the very fact that we have such a high profile brand willing to weigh in behind it confirms the success of the event. Team registrations are already practically full and with so many coming in to stay here for the weekend, it is going to deliver a real boost for those in the hospitality sector,” he added.
A total of 145 teams took part last year, including 80 tag crazy Aussies, and over 5,000 went through the gate on the day.
Plans are already afoot to attract the Southern Hemisphere teams back for next year.
“There is already a big effort for next year from the Australian teams, who are talking about coming next year,” said Eugene. “A lot of Australian teams are planning to travel, plus the New Zealand police force and South Africans.”
Eoghan Prendergast, CEO of Limerick Marketing Company, said the festival had been “a triumph” for the organisers.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted 13 years ago when the Pig ‘N’ Porter festival started that it would grow into the event it now is,” he said.
“It has not just been a massive success in its own right but has also contributed to the promotion of Limerick as the fun city it is and the entire team deserve huge credit for this.”
The public are encouraged to attend the Pig ‘n’ Porter this weekend, which boats a big line-up of entertainment as well as tag rugby matches. See www.pignporter.com for more details.