Why does the mid-west need an inclusive rugby project?
What’s the craic with the name?
What Is Sarsfields RFC?
SARSFIELDS RFC is an inclusive rugby project founded in 2022. Its goal is to provide further options for a positive experience through rugby for LGBTQ+ people in the midwest of Ireland
Why Is It A ‘Project’ And Not Just A Rugby Club?
A few reasons. There are already lots of rugby clubs in the mid-west. And they are all inclusive. Sarsfields is about providing more options for the LGBTQ+ Community.
Also, it’s not a rugby club, yet. A committee can run a project – but it takes a community to run a club.
We’ll be playing rugby right from the start but it won’t be a club until YOU are a part of it. We’re building something special here so come and join us.
Phase One of our development plan focuses on brand development and community outreach. So you’ve seen our logo and now we’re reaching out – fill out the expression of interest form and tell us what kind of inclusive rugby offering you’d like to have in the mid-west.
Based on what you tell us, we’ll shape a rugby experience that fits.
Play some ball? Get fit/keep fit? Great.
Playing a team sport is really rewarding and really important for some people, but if you can’t do it or don’t want to do it, maybe you want to help make it happen for someone else? Or just have the craic with us? You are very welcome.
Who Is Welcome?
This project primarily exists to provide a safe space for a positive experience through rugby. Learn it. Play it. Help make it happen. All rugby clubs are safe spaces and inclusive, by the way. This is just another option.
LGBTQ+ people are especially welcome. Because we know you haven’t always been welcome in team sports. And we exist to help change that. We will provide a rugby offering for every level of experience and ability for LGBTQ+ people.
Are you currently a rugby player who is actively included as an LGBTQ+ athlete in your current club?
Great! You can be a part of Sarsfields RFC as well, if you like. It will be great craic.
Are you currently a rugby player who feels like they would be subject to homophobia if they came out to their team mates?
We’re really sorry to hear that. We wish it was different. We hope it changes. If playing in a more inclusive environment is a priority for you, you are welcome to be a part of Sarsfields RFC.
Are you someone who always wanted to be a rugby player, but never felt welcome enough?
Well you’re very welcome to Sarsfields RFC. And it’s never too late. We are built to cater for complete newbies and experienced players alike. It is entirely possible to start from scratch as an adult rugby player and go on to play competitive contact rugby. We guarantee you’re not the only one. So join us. We’ll look after you.
Are you someone who likes the idea of playing rugby but maybe you’re wary of playing contact sports?
We get it! Contact sports can be intimidating! But if you’d like to give it a try in a safe environment, we’ve got your back.
Non-contact rugby is also lots of craic. It demands most of the same core skills and we’ll teach you them. It can be competitive. And social. And a bit of both.
Are you someone who just wants to be part of our super fun project but won’t want to play rugby?
Great! We really need people like you! You might have some skills transferable from your work that we could use to run our little project. You might also just be sound.
Again, that’s the main thing. There are always important jobs to be done to keep something like this running smoothly. If it’s just a core group of volunteers running the show, we’ll probably burn out fairly quickly. If you can share the load in any way, you’ll be ensuring the success of this project.
Maybe you’re not an LGBTQ+ person but you like what we’re about?
Mon. Join us. Honestly. Again with the craic. And it might be a chance to finally play rugby in the position your underage coach told you that you couldn’t.
But really, everyone is welcome. We will be proud to have allies stand beside us, play with us and help us on our journey. The main thing really is just the whole #BeSound thing.
The initial rugby offerings will be for adults, but if there is demand for underage offerings, we’ll be happy to look at that.
Why Does The Mid-West Need An Inclusive Rugby Project?
Limerick is truly one of the great centres of rugby. Rugby folk from Clare, Tipperary and elsewhere in Munster probably got sick of hearing that so they became great centres of rugby too.
And rugby is great. But it’s not immune to the kind of homophobia that has kept many people away from team sport. The first international study on homophobia in sport found most Irish participants believe homophobia continues to be more common in sporting culture than in the rest of society.
75% of Irish participants witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport
1 in 4 gay men did not play youth team sport, nearly 1 in 3 (32%) blamed negative experiences in school physical education classes.
Only 1% of Irish thought lesbian, gay and bisexual people are ‘completely accepted’ in sporting culture while nearly half think they are ‘not accepted at all’ or only ‘accepted a little’
There are obviously LGBTQ+ rugby players currently active in the Midwest. Some are comfortable in their identity and actively included in their clubs and that’s great. But maybe not enough are? That tells us there’s still a need for another safe space for LGBTQ+ people with an interest in rugby.
Inclusion is our purpose but integration is our goal. If people join our project and gain the confidence to join other rugby clubs, that’s a win too. And our door will always be open.
What’s The Craic With The Name?
Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl Of Lucan was a cavalry commander who lived between 1655 and 1693. In 1690, he orchestrated a cavalry raid on a Williamite siege train known to this day as Sarsfield’s Ride. It was a daring escapade of the Williamite War in Ireland (1689 to 1691), and a storied victory for the Jacobites that lives on in popular folklore.
Sarsfield and famed rapparee* Galloping O’Hogan led 600 men on horseback out of Limerick, through Clare, into Tipperary and back into Limerick where they intercepted and destroyed enemy guns and ammunition, forcing William of Orange into retreat without sustaining a single casualty.
*Rapparee is derived from the Gaelic word Ropaire which Foclóir Gaeilge–Béarla (Ó Dónaill, 1977) translates as “Thruster, stabber; violent person” or “Scoundrel.” We’re just putting that out there.
The victory secured Patrick Sarsfield’s legacy.
So that’s the history lesson – but why did we choose it?
Sarsfields RFC is not just an inclusive rugby project for Limerick – it is a rugby outlet for everyone in the midwest. Sarsfield’s Ride took in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary on its route to success (and even Offaly after the battle was won) and it’s something everyone in the midwest can feel a part of.
It’s not about independence, colonialism or anything like that. We don’t actually know a huge amount about who Patrick Sarsfield really was. Yes he could have been a bit of gowl, but we’ll never know – he died over 300 years ago. He’s more of a symbol really.
Jean-Antoine de Mesmes, called d’Avaux, was ambassador to James II for that 17th century expedition to Ireland. He wrote that Sarsfield was “brave, but above all has a sense of honour and integrity in all that he does”.
We like that. Rugby requires bravery and thrives on integrity but there’s also no point if we can’t have the craic.
There’s also a statue to Patrick Sarsfield in Limerick City, which was first installed in the 1880’s and still stands tall on the front lawn of Saint John’s Cathedral. The inscription reads: “To commemorate the the indomitable energy and stainless honour of general Patrick SARSFIELD earl of lucan the heroic defender of limerick during the sieges of 1690 and 1691.”
We absolutely love the idea of Indominable Energy.
Sarsfields RFC will be inclusive of everyone who wants to play rugby, regardless of their ability. Some will be strong. Some won’t. Some will be fit. Some won’t. Some will be experienced. Some won’t. That’s all okay!
But if our energy is indomitable? We can truly fulfil our potential. All it takes is being sound and being willing to try. It’s something we can be proud of, win or lose. And we will play against bigger, stronger more experience rugby people – especially in the founding years. But energy? On and off the field? It’s something we can all bring to this project and be proud of, in whatever we do. It’s something we can wear on our crest and on our crest – Fuinneamh Dochloíte [FWINNUV DUCKLEETCHEH] – The Irish for Indomitable Energy.
Also you’ll see the fleur-de-lis a fair bit on our socials. That’s because it’s on the Sarsfield coat of arms. And it’s kinda fancy.
So – Sarsfields RFC fits the bill. It’s not tied to one specific place, but it represents the history of the region and represents many of the values that will be at the heart of this project – bravery, fun, integrity.
There are other historical figures that we could look at (We see you Catherine Hayes – an opera singer who was the “Madonna of her day”) but their gender would be part of their identity pretty quickly. And that in itself isn’t genuinely inclusive.
For this rugby project to be truly inclusive, it needs to look beyond established gender norms. But it is kind of funny that Sarsfield would have been fairly used to wigs and makeup back in the day.
The Sarsfields RFC Crest?
Okay, let’s not get too deep into this. It’s an S. S for Sarsfields. But also it’s a bit like a river and the river Shannon is one of the things that the counties of this region share together. It’s also a little bit like two rainbows stuck together, because obvs.
What Do Sarsfield RFC colours stand for?
Well the crest is black so that the colours of the progress flag pop a bit more against it. But we have our own colours too – Turquoise, Yellow and Blue.
The YELLOW is taken from the three crowns from the original coat of arms of Munster, as seen on the traditional crest of munster rugby. This signifies the clubs ambitions to play and compete as a club in Munster.
The BLUE is taken from Ireland’s presidential standard (golden harp on a blue field). This signifies the clubs ambition to play and compete at international inclusive rugby competitions.
The TURQUOISE is taken from the original Gilbert Baker pride flag to represent -art and magic. This signifies the club’s ambition to inclusive in every way possible while allowing the club’s identity to be brought to life through the art and magic of the LGBTQ+ community.
A Sarsfields RFC Song?
Yes please! But, we’ll wait for you to get involved before we figure that one out.