​Celtic connections undeterred by covid in virtual battle to win the Friendship Cup

​Celtic connections undeterred by covid in virtual battle to win the Friendship Cup

Rugby at its core is founded on camaraderie, and this is something that Haddington RFC know all too well as they continue alongside CYM Dublin RFC to play for the Friendship Cup.

The fixture, which dates back to 1949, is aligned to same format as the Guinness Six Nations championship, with each club taking it in turn to host the other with a friendly fixture between two men’s teams.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Haddington were unable to host their friends from Ireland this year. Instead, the clubs opted for a virtual competition to raise money for charity and of course, fight it out for the coveted Friendship Cup.

Commencing on Thursday 11 March, this year’s “match” took the form of a 24-hour running and walking challenge. Involving over 90 participants, the clubs contested the trophy by seeing who could rack up the most miles. To mix things up, the challenge took form in a three-way race between Haddington, CYM Dublin Men and CYM Dublin Women.

Covering an astonishing 541 miles and therefore retaining the Friendship Cup was Haddington, followed by CYM Dublin Men who collected 388 miles, and the CYM Dublin Women who totalled 280 miles.

Nick Wood of CYM Dublin was furthest travelled, covering 60 miles, whilst Graeme McInnes and Iain Smith of Haddington each covered over 50 miles.

After recovering from their gallant efforts, the group came together for an online dinner event on Saturday 13 March which included speeches, awards, a quiz and lots of catching up which went into the small hours of the morning.

Talking to Scottish Rugby about this year’s event, Haddington President Keith Wallace said:

“We knew that this year’s event would be different, but we were determined to do something, even if it was just the virtual dinner. With lots of activity happening around the start if the year with Doddie Aid, we thought we could do something similar, and so the challenge was borne.

"This fixture has been part of our club for over 70 years – it’s had its ups and downs, we’re just two small clubs but it’s produced some fantastic friendships over the years, it’s a great thing to keep going.

"With this fixture being as old as it is, much of the interest has come from older members and it’s been brilliant to see younger players from both clubs take an interest over the last five or six years because they’ll be the ones who can keep taking it forward, hopefully for another 70 years." Keith Wallace

“One of the great things about this year’s event was reflecting on the journey of our clubs. 10 years ago, we were struggling to get younger players to travel, and CYM Dublin were only able to come across with nine members. Now they have two men’s teams and two women’s team, and last year we travelled with a party of 40 members.

“I’m really pleased with our efforts this year, but we’re hoping it’ll be business as usual for 2022 and we can all see each other face to face in Dublin and compete for the Friendship Cup with a rugby match.”

Together the clubs have raised over £7,000 in their challenge which will be split equally between My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The fundraising page for the event remains open, if you’d like to make a donation – click here.

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