Doctors and students practising in Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin Dental University Hospital and St James’s University Hospital, known collectively as the Feds, have always had a love affair with the Hospitals Cup. Aside from claiming bragging rights over other teaching hospitals in Dublin, playing in the Hospitals Cup brings its own prestige as one of the oldest ongoing rugby union competitions in the world (a similar competition in London claims to be the oldest but was suspended for six years during the Second World War).
With five teams competing for the trophy each year the matches are not only fast and furious but also smooth and precise. Every set play is run and the ruck is attacked with craft and guile. It is a competition that breeds an air of brotherhood amongst the players. It is difficult to walk the long corridors of Tallaght Hospital without encountering a player past or present, often with a long grilling of how the team is going that season and stories of days (or nights) gone by.
It takes the precision of a doctor to execute the tight passes and loose nights out that typify the Feds. With four fixtures and a potential final to play, each team embraces both the professional and social sides of the competition. Players focus in during the week to maximise the on-field end product before winding down post-match, enjoying the camaraderie and togetherness that is found on a cold rainy night in the depths of November.
The Fed’s last fixture against St. Vincent’s University Hospital was the total package. It was clear that silky passing and exciting styles of play were what the doctor ordered. A constant back and forth between both sides yielded a fantastic exposition of both The Hospital’s Cup and rugby as a whole. While the Feds took their defeat with grace, they are most certainly still in the running to push on to a final. With dynamic forward options and backs with a scintillating turn of pace, it is hard to write them off. Their next game against the Mater Hospital should tell a lot about how they will fare further on into the year against Beaumont and the UCD Veterinarians.