The 2017-18 season was one of mixed fortunes for DCU’s men’s and women’s rugby teams.
The men brought their campaign to a close with victory in the European Rugby Sevens Cup, while the women slipped to a narrow defeat against the University of Limerick in their Division 1 cup final.
“It was a season of ups and downs,” outside centre for the ladies’ side Eimear Corri told The College View.
Their season began in the worst possible manner as they lost coach and Irish women’s international Sophie Spence, and the squad were left to their own devices to hunt down a replacement.
The search ended with Eddie Fallon, and Corri said the squad couldn’t be happier with his appointment.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Corri said. “Any problems we have he makes it his first interest to help as much as he can. He’s shown he can develop players of any athletic background.”
Under Fallon’s guidance the side made it to the Cup final after losing only once in their league campaign and finishing top of the table.
They met a strong and experienced University of Limerick side in the final and fell just short, but Corri said the season was a positive one overall.
“Success this year is a huge promotion tool for us, that success will hopefully attract girls to the team,” Corri said.
“We definitely have some unfinished business next year.”
As with previous years, the men found more success in the ‘sevens’ circuit than in the fifteen-a-side format.
Two players, JJ O’Dea and Patrick Thornton, won caps with the Irish student’s side, but victory in the European Rugby Sevens Cup in France was the clear highlight of the season, and a testament to how far DCU Force has progressed.
“We tried our best to turn it from ‘social club’ to a ‘serious and a bit of fun’ club,” DCU’s Elliot Stone told The College View.
“We went over [to France] confident we had put in the work. But to win it we were just shocked.”
However, the challenge for the men’s side will be translating this success to the 15-a-side format, where they dropped out of the cup competition at the quarter-final stage, after a narrow defeat to IT Carlow.
Stone saw the match as a missed opportunity: “We just didn’t execute.”
After that match, coach Eoin Sheriff noted the difference in resources and training time between DCU and the IT Carlow side, who had a number of players on dedicated scholarships. Stone agrees.
“We didn’t have enough training as a team,” Stone said.
“Physically we were well up against them, but simple errors let us down.
“I’d put that down to amount of practice we had together.”
Building on this year’s success, and translating that to the 15-a-side format, will be the biggest challenge for the side next season.
“This is now a great stepping stone for putting DCU on the right standard,” Stone said.
“We just need 15s to catch up to Sevens success as it were.
“Next year’s team is definitely on the right track from this year’s hard work.”
Image Credit: DCU Student Sport