By John O’Sullivan 

 

The recently completed Connacht Rugby and Bank of Ireland For The Love of The Club virtual run/walk raised over €30,000 for Club and Community rugby in Connacht. 

 

Over 2,000 people put on their running shoes in aid of the Connacht club of their choice or —  for the unaffiliated —  club and community rugby in the province generally with all of the money raised going directly to the cause. 

 

The event wasn’t just confined to the four corners of the five western counties, and participants took part in 25 Irish counties and 11 different countries, which shows the breadth of the Connacht Rugby club & community footprint throughout the world.

 

We caught up with some of the international contingent who shared their stories, images of their walking/running route, and how the event helped them stay connected to their clubs and — by extension – their communities in the midst of a global pandemic. 

 

John Gorham represented Connemara RFC from Chicago. The Clifden native said that the For The Love of The Club event enabled him — and his fellow participants, including the 2016 Rose of Tralee — to stay in touch with his home club.

 

“My friends and I really enjoyed our run,” he said. 

 

“We started and finished at “the Kerryman pub” here in Chicago. We ran a 5k course that is used for the running club during the summer.  We kept the runners to a minimum due to restrictions.

 

 “When finishing we settled in for a “couple” of pints to watch Ireland beat England.

 

 “Among our runners was the 2016 Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney and a couple of guys from the Chicago Lions Rugby Club.

 

 “I love the fact that events like this help me stay in touch with my club back home. Connemara RFC has always had a place in my heart and with social media, online lotto, and now events like this I can stay in touch and contribute to the club.”

 

John Gorman, centre, and his fellow runners/walkers in Chicago.

 

 

Moving continents, Jonathan Cleary took part in the run/walk in aid of Ballyhaunis RFC in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Cleary was proud to represent the Mayo club, whom he described as a community focal point. 

 

“Ballyhaunis RFC have a long and treasured tradition in the community and are a focal point for many a generation,” he said. 

 

“It’s fantastic to see the progress the Club has made in terms of their underage programmes, facilities, and a wide network that reaches far beyond the town. I would like to wish them every success in the future and look forward to bigger, brighter, and better things once the lockdown has passed.”

 

Jonathan Cleary took part in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

Elsewhere, Martin McDonagh ran in aid of Corinthians RFC in Melbourne, Australia.

 

“Connacht Rugby had been a huge part of my life from a very young age being involved with Corinthians and having had the opportunity to work and be involved in Connacht over the years so I found it important to show my support from Melbourne, Australia for a great cause,” he said.

 

Martin McDonagh’s running route through Melbourne

 

By John O’Sullivan

 

The Connacht Rugby For The Love of The Club event successfully raised over €30,000 for Club and Community rugby in the province. 

 

The virtual run and or walk took place between March 17th and March 24th and invited participants to pay a registration fee of €10, with the option to donate further money. All of the money raised went to the club of the runner or walker’s choice or, for the unaffiliated, was split evenly between the 26 affiliate clubs of Connacht. 

 

Participants took part in 11 countries and 25 Irish counties, with over 2,000 people putting on their running shoes in support of Rugby in Connacht and logging the time it took them to complete their run or walk on the website, my run results. 

 

Joe Gorham, Domestic Rugby Manager at Connacht Rugby, thanked all participants and club volunteers who organised their respective clubs’ social media campaigns and said the event showed the important role local rugby clubs play within their communities.

 

“The Virtual Run “For the Love of the Club” event has been a tremendous success for the Rugby club’s in Connacht. It has generated a huge interest not just province-wide but indeed worldwide,” he said. 

 

“The fun and enjoyment harnessed by the event within our Clubs has been a joy to behold, however, its greatest achievement has been the re-energising of our Clubs within their respective communities. A huge Thank you to all participants from all at Connacht Club & Community. Your entry fee & donations will make a massive difference to your local rugby club in these unprecedented times.”

 

Bank of Ireland, Connacht Rugby’s partners, sponsored €5,000 worth of Rhino Rugby equipment to be awarded to the club whose social media campaigns went the extra mile and the winner is to be announced in due course. 

 

Andy Friend, head coach of the Connacht men’s senior team, also offered his services for a virtual training session with the club whose participants uploaded the funniest and most engaging videos or photos to social media.

By John O’Sullivan 

 

Connacht Rugby and Bank of Ireland are pleased to announce the launch of For The Love of the Club fundraising initiative this coming St Patrick’s Day, March 17th, and will last for one week until March 24th.

 

For the Love of the Club is a virtual 5K or 10K fundraising walk or run where participants can register to www.myrunresults.com. The entry fee is €10 and all of the money raised will go to the Connacht club of choice of any of the runners or walkers. If you have no direct link to a club your money will go into a central account and be redistributed to all our great clubs within Connacht.

 

We welcome all to participate, from keen runners to casual walkers. It’s all about getting reconnected and active again and whether you’re at home in Carrick On Shannon or in your home from home in Melbourne, Boston, Toronto or Singapore you can be part of your club and the Connacht Rugby community again in these challenging times.

 

Connacht Rugby’s head of rugby development, Joe Gorham, says that the fundraiser could provide a much needed financial boost to the clubs, especially in the current climate of restrictions. 

 

“Clubs are the backbone of our Rugby community in Connacht,” he said. 

 

“The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for clubs to access funding streams and through this event Club & Community are delighted to contribute in a small way to assisting our Clubs in these difficult times. Collaboration at its best”.

 

Bank of Ireland, Connacht Rugby’s community partner, will provide 5,000 worth of Rhino Rugby equipment to the club that goes the extra mile. 

 

Interested parties can sign up for the Love of The Club virtual run/walk by clicking on the following link: https://www.myrunresults.com/events/for_the_love_of_the_club/4052/details

 

Connacht Rugby asks all participants to adhere to complete their walk or run within the current government guidelines and their mandated 5K zone and to not gather in large groups in public areas and instead partake individually. 

A 70 cent administration charge will be applied to all entrants’ €10 entry fees

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