THE organisers of the popular Pig ‘n Porter tag rugby festival hope they can increase the number of competitors in this year’s event to as many as 3,000 ‘taggers’.
The festival returns for an eleventh year to Old Crescent on July 14.
Last year, on its tenth anniversary, the event cemented its status as the largest one-day tag rugby event in the world with 130 participating teams - ten more than the previous year.
That meant more than 2,000 players tagging their way through 400-plus matches at the Rosbrien club, and organisers hope the event can increase on numbers again this year.
“We celebrated our 10th anniversary last year which was a major highlight for us and the event keeps on growing,” said Padraic O’Connor, organiser at the launch of the event, attended by former rugby international Jerry Flannery, whose Catherine Street pub will host the welcome party this year.
Old Crescent - the event’s home now since 2002, when a motley crew of thirds rugby players came together to form the first Pig ‘n Porter - drew 4,000 people in total out for the evening’s celebrations after the trophies had been decided last year.
Mr O’Connor pointed to the festival’s organic growth as an indicator of its future.
“It brings a large number of visitors to Limerick for the weekend and is always a huge success, which is fantastic considering we’ve built this into an international festival from a volunteer base,” he explained.
“Since its inception, we’ve had more than 13,000 participants and we’re delighted to be a permanent fixture on Limerick’s sporting calendar,” he added.
Last year a number of Irish international rugby players - Leinster’s Sean O’Brien and Limerick’s Eoin Reddan among them - viewed the action for themselves, a nod to the Pig ‘n Porter’s burgeoning reputation.
It is also expected that a number of teams from France and the UK will travel over to take part in the event, which typically leads to a boon for the local hotel industry in Limerick, such is the thousands of tag players that travel to Limerick for the event.
The tournament is held in association with the Irish Tag Rugby Association and is sponsored by Heinz Tomato Ketchup and supported by Fáilte Ireland.
A 9,000 square foot marquee - the festival ‘Piggery’ - is again to be erected in Old Crescent to cater for the masses after the rugby finishes, with a number of live music acts set to provide entertainment.
Throughout the day, the iconic pig will be roasting on a spit ahead of the legendary Pig ‘n Porter BBQ.
This year’s festival also sees the return of the fancy dress competition for all taggers and supporters, along with a large pitch side Jacuzzi for participants to enjoy.
Registration is now open at www.tagrugby.ie.