Build it and they will come.

As the Six Nations Rugby gets underway, we hear how one local club has triumphed against odds in non-traditional rugby territory


Although 50 years in existence, Clondalkin Rugby Football Club has had an uphill battle to make itself stand out due to its location in a non-traditional rugby heartland.

But now the club — which is using a converted cow shed as a gym — has plans to create what it says will be the best rugby facility in all of South County Dublin.

This summer, the club is getting ready to unveil two new pitches and has plans for facilities that would be the envy of any rugby club in the country.

Clondalkin Rugby Football Club was established in 1973 by a group of lads who had moved into the area to find there was nowhere for them to play rugby. They set up a club and, in 1975, a local bank manager approved their loan to buy six acres of land and Gordon Park, named after said bank manager, was born.

Over the past 10 years, the club has seen huge growth partly due to its increased emphasis on youth teams and inclusivity. It currently boasts 400 members, around 300 youth players, three senior men’s teams, two senior ladies’ teams and an inclusive tag rugby division.

With space getting tight, the club bought 26 acres from the farmer across the road and started to create its new vision. Two pitches – one international size – were laid when they arrived on site over a year ago and two more  — again one international — will be ready to be played on this summer.

“The pitches are billiard-table flat with beautiful surfaces and the players can’t wait to get out and use them. Our only issue was that the old tractor we were using at our old park literally couldn’t cut it anymore,” says club volunteer Gareth Steed.

With its most recent allocation of National Lottery Good Causes funding, the club replaced its old tractor with a brand new one and state-of-the art cutting equipment.

“This has literally been a game-changer for us. With the new pitches, we would have had to pay contractors to cut them but now our volunteer groundskeeper, Kevin Laide, does it with the new equipment. The grass is absolutely perfect with not a weed in sight.”

As a result of National Lottery Good Causes funding, the club was able to divert savings to co-finance a Club Community Rugby Officer who works with clubs, schools, and community groups to expand the game of rugby within the Clondalkin catchment area.

Future plans for the club include a large, ambitious club house.

“We want to build something that is unrivalled as a rugby facility in South County Dublin. The new club will have a balcony overlooking the main pitch as well as two full-sized inclusive changing rooms and showers, two physio rooms and a social area.”

By August of this year, ground will have been broken on the new club house and flood lights for the main pitch and new fencing will have been installed. Future plans include a walkway around the site and the rewilding of some of the 26 acres.

At the moment, the club is using a cow shed it converted – using all volunteers – into a large gym and changing rooms. Good Causes money was used to lay Astro surface inside the converted cow shed which is used for indoor training.

“We have a full set of weights, crash mats, tackle mats and the Astro space is used, including for line-out training, when the weather is bad,” says Gareth.

Photo caption: With the help of National Lottery Good Causes funding, the club was able to convert an old cow shed into a gym for players.

Although going from strength to strength, climbing up the ranks is not what Clondalkin Rugby Club is about.

“It is our dream to become the best junior club in the country with a good social scene that attracts people into rugby and is inclusive. The consequence of that is that we might move up the grades at senior level but that’s not what it’s about for us.

“National Lottery funding over a number of years has helped us develop a vibrant, welcoming club environment with proper facilities to encourage participation at all levels throughout the club. Our aim is to integrate as many players as possible – no matter what their ability – into the club and make rugby accessible to all”, added Gareth.

Nearly 30 cent in every €1 spent on all National Lottery games goes back to Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts, heritage, and the Irish Language. In total more than €6 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 36 years ago. In 2022 alone, €259.5 Million was raised for local Good Causes in communities across Ireland.             

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