LIMERICK City and County Council has vigorously defended the allocation of €70,000 from regeneration funds to host the World Club Rugby Sevens tournament in Thomond Park next month.
The money has been paid by the Limerick Marketing Company, the local authority’s marketing arm, to a private company, World Club Sevens Ltd “formed to run and promote the World Club Sevens Series in a number of international locations over the coming years”.
The tournament, to be held in Limerick on August 9 and 10, will see a Munster selection vie for honours with the likes of Saracens, Stade Francais, New South Wales Waratahs, Auckland Rugby, South Africa’s Blue Bulls and Fiji’s Daveta.
Due to be held in the city for the next five years, Limerick Marketing Company said ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship would primarily fund the event.
Its deal with World Club Sevens Ltd involved “a combination of sources of both public and private sector funding and is the subject of a commercially sensitive legal agreement”.
But they confirmed that they had successfully applied for €70,000 in regeneration funding for the 2014 tournament.
“A key objective of the regeneration programme is the development of opportunity through sport, and a very important element of the World Club Sevens Limerick event is a community engagement programme whereby teams, coaches and members of rugby teams across Limerick will be facilitated to meet, engage with and learn from some of the world’s top coaches and players in the fastest-growing element of the game of rugby (sevens),” Limerick Marketing Company said in a statement.
“This will be an unparalleled opportunity for players, coaches and supporters from all areas of Limerick, but particularly the regeneration areas to benefit from this engagement over the next five years before and after the 2016 Olympics. This was the basis of the successful application for regeneration funding.”
While rugby might be regarded as a sport for the elite elsewhere, it remained the case that the game brought the doctor and the docker together in Limerick.
“Limerick is one of the three areas in the world - along with Wales and New Zealand - where rugby is played and supported by all social classes,” the statement read.
“In Limerick, rugby is a very strong working class sport and people from the regeneration areas strongly identify with it. Some of Limerick’s, Munster’s and Ireland’s best known rugby players come from these areas, such as Gerry McLoughlin and Keith Earls.”
Thomond Park was close to the regeneration communities of Moyross and St Mary’s Park and bringing the international tournament to the northside would “bring a strong social dividend to the community”, the company added.