Three Buccaneers touch rugby players have departed for Malaysia this week ahead of the World Cup after being named in the Ireland Mens’ over 40s squad. Rory Silke, Nigel (Jiang Han ) So and Denis O’Connor have been in tournament preparation mode for six months and jetted east with their playing colleagues on Wednesday.
Following post arrival acclimatisation, the M40s will take on the New Zealand Mens 45s, who include all-time great Peter Walters in their ranks, in a pre-tournament warm-up game before the tournament kicks off on Monday, April 29.
There will be six days of intense competitions with thirteen teams entered in the over 40s division. The Ireland M40s will be in Pool B along with the host nation, tournament favourites New Zealand, United States, Japan, Singapore and England and will be hoping to spring a surprise and make the semi-finals just as they did at last year’s European Championships in Nottingham.
Five Irish squadshave flown to Malaysia and the travel organisation has been a huge logistical operation costing approximately €160,000. As the Ireland Touch Association (ITA ) is an entirely amateur organisation, there has been a huge fundraising drive to try and reduce this with numerous fundraising events taking place. Generous sponsors such as The Bounty Bar, Home Instead Senior Care and Harvey Norman have also helped reduce the bill for the tournament.
For Rory and Nigel, it is particularly exciting as they are both making their debut at this level. Rory narrowly missed on making the M40s squad for the 2018 European Championships and he paid tribute to all the people who supported the M40s quiz as well as Derry Fitzpatrick who initially encouraged him to play underage rugby with Buccaneers.
Nigel also highlighted the role played by the coaching team and enthused, “we’ve received some excellent technical coaching in the techniques and tactics of the game from our coaches John Ennis and Ian O’Malley. This was very beneficial for me as I am fresh to the touch rugby game when compard to some of the other players. We have been given an extensive programme of breathing exercises to better cope with the heat and humidity that we will experience over there.”
You can follow the M40s tournament at https://www.internationaltouch.org/events/world-cup/2019/mens-40/ while their second game against the United States will also be streamed live on the internationaltouch (all one word ) YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83DWBBQMuD8.