LIMERICK’s international tag rugby festival is preparing to host 80 tag crazy Aussies, a visitation that marks a “fantastic endorsement of the festival”, according to organisers.
The Pig ‘n’ Porter is back for a 13th staging, and is already booked solid, with 145 teams getting ready to take part in the Old Crescent event.
A huge festival on Limerick’s calendar, the city and surrounding areas can expect a huge swelling of visitors, with a high percentage of those taking part - upwards of 80% - coming from outside the region.
Held in association with in association with ITRA - the Irish Tag Rugby Association - it claims to be the “largest tag rugby event in the world”.
Australian Perry Haddock, who introduced the sport Down Under, attended last year and promised to return with a large contingent of his compatriots.
“He came over last year and he loved it, and he made a commitment that he would bring these boys back and he has done it,” said Eugene O’Riordan, festival coordinator and chairman of the entirely voluntary-run Pig ‘n’ Porter.
“So he has honoured that and they are booked in for an 11 day trip. It is no mean feat to bring 80 people from Australia to Ireland.
“That is a fantastic endorsement of the festival, it is where we have trying to go. Already for next year, New Zealand have been onto to make preparations to come over.
“For the lads that have been working hard, we have got to a place that we thought we might never get to, people travelling half way around the world to come to your event. There are not many events in Ireland at the moment - at an amateur level - that will do that,” he added.
This year’s Pig ‘n’ Porter takes place from July 10-12, with Team Limerick facing Team Australia - through mixed mens, womens and senior teams - on Thursday, while the best of Ireland, Great Britain and Australia will go head to head on the Friday for the right to be crowned ‘best tag nation in the world’.
The event proper takes place on Saturday, July 12, with 125 teams set to descend on the Rosbrien club for the immensely popular festival.
Last year’s event boasted overall numbers that were among the biggest yet seen in Old Crescent, with over 5,000 through the gate on the day.
“Over the course of the three days, there will be 7,000 or 8,000 people. It is huge for Limerick,” said Eugene.
“There will be 145 teams in Limerick over the three days. We have about ten teams from the UK, a lot from around the country, teams from Dublin, Galway, Belfast, everywhere really.
“That is, by any stretch, absolutely massive.”
The 2013 event was graced by visits from returning Lions’ heroes Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Rob Kearney. Local rugby players have long supported the event.
2013 also featured a number of firsts, including pig racing and the inaugural international tag test series between Ireland and Great Britain.
The event is open to spectators and tickets and details are available from www.pigandporter.com.