Thousands line out at Pig N’ Porter tag rugby festival

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

THE PIG N’ Porter Festival marked its tenth anniversary in some style at the weekend, with close to 4000 people flocking to Old Crescent Rugby Club to take part in the celebrations.

THE PIG N’ Porter Festival marked its tenth anniversary in some style at the weekend, with close to 4000 people flocking to Old Crescent Rugby Club to take part in the celebrations.

There was 130 teams - over 1800 people - taking part in the tag rugby event, which was held between the Rosbrien club and Crescent College Comprehensive and bills itself as the largest one day tag event in the world. Accordingly, the stats were impressive, with 412 matches played, 2,884 tries scored, 6,000 burgers and 4,000 pork baps consumed, all washed down by 20,000 pints. Staggeringly for such a big crowd gathered in a 9,000 sq. foot marquee called ‘The Piggery’, organisers reported no problems whatsoever.

“Everything went fine, every team showed up and the tag rugby went off very smoothly, there were no hiccups. The weather definitely could have been a bit kinder to us, but there was a great crowd, we are very happy with it,” said Padraic O’Connor, organiser of the event, which began in 2002 with just 12 teams taking part and was sponsored by Heinz for the second year.

He added: “It was a good way to celebrate the tenth anniversary, I think everyone that was there enjoyed it, there was a great party atmosphere the whole day and night”.

Teams from around Ireland, the UK and even France took part in the event, with more than 70 percent of participants coming from outside Limerick, leading to a bumper weekend for the city’s hotels, who reported close to full occupancy levels.

Mr O’Connor was particularly pleased with the addition of the team from Toulouse, who presented their opposition with specially selected bottles of wine from their local vineyards.

“They were the first team to arrive on the morning, they got to the semi-final and they had great craic. There was about 40 and only a fraction of them were interested in playing, but they were great fun and really enjoyed themselves,” he said.

“They will spread the word. We are obviously very well established with the rugby people in Ireland, but we need to tap into the European market, which will open more doors for us,” he added.

Huge crowds watched the matches taking place throughout the day, with visits from Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell and assorted local politicians, as well as Munster and Leinster rugby players, all eager to see what the fuss was about. Joining local lads Jerry Flannery and Damien Varley were Sean O’Brien - who presented the prizes to the victorious teams, the main event which was won by ‘The Bircroft Panthers’ from Dublin - Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden and Limerick’s Eoin Reddan, who started his career with Old Crescent and said he was “delighted” to bring his team mates to the festival.

“To have guys like that along is a real endorsement for us, apparently they were all talking about it at the Irish rugby training camp in Dublin during the week,” said Mr O’Connor.

“They knew that this was the place to go and it is great for the club - it is great for Limerick,” he added.