2023 Tag Rugby World Cup scores big in Limerick. Pictured above are the women’s team from Australia who won the Over 35’s. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick
The northern hemisphere’s first-ever International Tag Federation World Cup brought more than 2,000 people to Limerick for a tournament that was a “phenomenal” success
The first International Tag Federation World Cup to take place in the northern hemisphere came to Limerick this August bringing with it more than 2,000 players, coaches, referees, officials, and spectators from 17 nations and more than 90 teams.
The Opening Ceremony, including a Nations Parade, took place on Tuesday, August 1 on Maguire’s Pitch in the University of Limerick. It was followed by the first matches of the tournament, two mouth-watering clashes between Ireland and Australia in Men’s 30s, and South Africa and Great Britain in Mixed Open.
The tournament came from years of hard work and planning, with David Ward, Sports Business Development Manager for University of Limerick Events, telling I Love Limerick, “It’s taken six years of work to get here, it’s all born out of having the Pig and Porter here on campus and a partnership with old Crescent and the success they’ve had there over the years.
“We put this together with event ambassadors based in Limerick and we sold the idea of bringing everything here in a one-stop-shop solution for the first time from the southern hemisphere. Bring it out of Australia to Limerick, thankfully we won the bid to bring it here.”
Speaking about the diversity the event promotes in Limerick and at University of Limerick, Mr Ward explained “about 2,000” people were staying on the UL campus, with more than 1,800 players from many nations “everywhere from Australia, Lebanon, USA, France” and many more, with some countries bringing “heritage teams” for example “Irish living in Australia will have their team Irish Exiles”.
The tournament was expected to be worth almost €2M to the local economy over the August Bank Holiday Weekend with visitor numbers to the city boosted further by tag players and supporters from all over Ireland and abroad who wanted to watch the world’s best tag players in action bringing both a social and economic impact to the region.
“From an economic impact perspective it’s worth almost 2 million to the local economy, but from a social impact perspective seeing an event like this, that promotes gender equality, brings people from all over the world to our city and our county, I don’t think there’s any business in Limerick that hasn’t felt the impact of this event over the last week so,” Karen Ronan of Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau said, she continued, “Our partners in Fáilte Ireland, ourselves in the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau, Limerick city and county Council, and the events and sports team here at the University of Limerick, we all work in partnership all year round to bring an event like this to its culmination.”
Being the first time the event has been held in the northern hemisphere, many of the athletes and fans spoke about the experience, leaving Limerick, the Midwest region, and Ireland with some great memories from the tournament.
Jill Haddock, wife of Tag Rugby founder Perry Haddock, said it was “unbelievable” to be in Limerick experiencing the event on her husband’s behalf, she said, “Just seeing everyone in the arena the other night the opening ceremony was unbelievable and just looking at different countries enjoying the sport and it’s nice, you know. Even the alliance teams here there’s people from all different countries playing in the one team and I think most of them have gone on really well and had a great experience.”
Duncan Randall, a team player from Hong Kong, China, said being in Limerick for the event was “absolutely incredible” commenting, “You know the event itself all the camaraderie, the rugby, the spirit, all the different nations coming together just for one sport and everyone’s just got this positive mentality. Limerick’s been marvellous, wonderful hosts, everyone’s been great from the supermarket to the pub to the pitch to the refs it’s just been fabulous.”
This was the first time a northern hemisphere country hosted the Tag Rugby World Cup. The three previous International Tag Federation World Cups were held in New Zealand (2012) and Australia (2015, 2018), and Stuart McConnell, Chairman of International Tag Federation said the tournament in UL had been “phenomenal” saying, “Perry Haddock’s vision way back when, 25 odd years ago, I don’t think he would have imagined what would have happened and how popular this game has become, it is becoming a truly international sport. It’s the first time it’s been hosted outside of Australia, New Zealand and it’s been a phenomenal success.”
Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick