Portarlington Rugby Club was a hive of activity last Saturday as they opened their gates to the public for a new, innovative fundraising event called The Port Book of Records.
The day began with a minis blitz during which teams of boys and girls from U-7s to U-12s played friendly matches against their counterparts from Clane Rugby Club. There was some fantastic rugby played but the most notable aspect of the blitz was the level of inclusion involved with all players getting equal game time, something that is actively promoted by Portarlington Rugby Club as they look to offer a positive team based sporting experience to as many kids as possible.
As soon as the blitz was finished the attention shifted to the free bouncy castles and inflatable obstacle course which the kids hurried towards once that had warmed themselves with a cup of hot chocolate in welcoming Club Café. At the same time some youths matches were kicking off and a series of exciting challenges were being set up for those participating in the main event – The Port Book of Records.
The event involved five challenges in which records would be set within three different age groups for boys, three age groups for girls and separate records for men and women. It meant that groups of friends could go head-to-head in friendly competition as they attempted to get the better of each other and set a record while family members could cheer each other on as they looked to encourage each other to set records in different categories for the same event. This combination of competitiveness and encouragement led to a really exciting atmosphere throughout the day.
The first challenge was Hang Tough. This game involved participants hanging from a chin up bar for as long as possible as they looked to push through the pain barrier and set the record for their own age and gender category.
Ball Throw was a less physically demanding challenge with contestants attempting to throw standard tennis balls into a bucket from a distance of three, four or five metres, depending on their age. They had sixty seconds to hit the target as many times as they could. This was a game that regularly saw kids outscoring their parents which resulted in some humbling concessions for the grown ups!
Domes and Dishes was for the younger kids only. This game saw boys and girls balancing speed and agility as they worked to turn twenty five cones distributed evenly inside a five metre square with the best times creating separate records for boys and girls.
Field Goals gave rugby players the opportunity to demonstrate their kicking skills as they looked to slot as many kicks as possible in thirty seconds. Participants had the option to either drop kick or place kick the balls from a distance ranging from fifteen to twenty two metres depending on their age. Interestingly though, one of the records was set by a participant from the neighbouring Arlington Soccer Club proving that these skills are transferable across sporting boundaries!
Possibly the most ammusing of the challenges was Bowley. This game was a throwback to years gone by and mimicked a game played by children in a time before modern technology. A bicycle wheel with its spokes removed had to be rolled from a starting point to a finish line twenty two metres away using a stick. It proved to be a lot more difficult than it might seem!!
The Book of Records concept was the brain child of Portarlington’s PRO Barry Lambkin who told us that he hopes to see it becoming a major event in the local community’s calendar. “Portarlington is a town with an amazing sporting tradition. We would hope that holding a record will become a source of great pride locally and so each year boys and girls, women and men will look forward to the chance to break a record and add their name to our club’s roll of honour”.
The club’s Youths Coordinator is Keith Shanahan and he explains that apart from providing a great fun filled day for families the event also serves to generate funds for the club and their youths tour. “It costs only €3 to attempt a record or €10 to have a go at all of them. However, the popularity of the event means that we have raised some much needed funds for the club. It also provided an opportunity for our players to raise sponsorship towards their youths tour”. The club’s youths teams will travel to Wales, England and France for six days in February of next year and this event has helped to subsidise the cost of the trip.
The event was sponsored by local business Fastway Couriers and they were represented on the day by Mr. Kevin Gorman who was more than happy to encourage participants and take part himself. The full list of records will be published on the club’s Facebook page once their U-14s girls team who travelled to Navan on the day for a match (which they won 26-14) have had an opportunity to attempt the challenges.
The day was rounded off nicely as the youths teams playing during the event delivered the results that their members were hoping for. Their U-14s beat Mullingar 28-14, the U-16s shared the spoils with their Athy counterparts and their U-18s were convincing 44-15 winners against New Ross. For all involved, the day was a great success and a wonderful advertisement for the club.
---- The above images are all by our photographer Denis Byrne.