FOR THE first time in their 30-year history the Limerick Leprechauns - those fun-loving OAPs of local rugby - are throwing off the shackles of tradition and have invited women into their ranks.
The historic decision to invite women to pull on the famous rainbow jersey comes as the Leprechauns seek to inject a bit more haphazard entertainment into their fixtures, and add a few more numbers to their already long-in-the-tooth squad.
John Fanning, president of Limerick Leprechauns RFC, said that they still aren’t sure how the addition of women into matches will force them to tweak the rules, or if tackles will only be allowed between members of the same sex. “We’ll have to look and see. It all depends on how vicious the females are,” he quipped.
The Leprechauns will get a chance to test out their new unisex line-up later this month when they take on Nenagh Ormond RFC in a special exhibition match. The fixture, which will take place at 4.30pm on Sunday, October 28, will keep up the Leprechauns’ decades-old tradition of putting their bodies on the line in order to raise money for local charities.
Over the past 30 years, the Leprechauns have raised over €1 million and have featured the likes of Peter Clohessy, Len Dineen, Gerry McLoughlin and Sonny Kiely in their ranks.
Mr Fanning said that Leprechauns players and committee members have started to grow concerned that their games had “started to get a bit serious”, and a few nasty incidents began to creep on to the pitch.
Inviting women into the fold, he said, is an attempt to “bring the fun back into it”.
“There are a few lads who came up to matches but haven’t been out since, because some fellas are only coming out looking to hurt someone. If you have women in the team it’ll defuse that and keep it fun.”
Mr Fanning said that the only downside to the new unisex policy is that it could mean an end to the Leprechauns’ famous tradition of swapping jerseys after each game.
Players and spectators who come along to this month’s game at Nenagh Ormond will be treated to food laid on by Bobby Reidy, of Reidy’s Bar and Skyfarmers restaurant in Newtown.