Tonight Trinity Sport acknowledges and honours the contribution of Tony Smeeth to the development of College rugby. Tony was born in England and educated at St Mary’s Church of England School in Puddletown, Dorset. He played rugby for St Mary’s Puddletown, Puddletown RFC, Exeter RFC and County rugby with Dorset and Wiltshire.
Tony came to Trinity College by a circuitous route. From 1984 he lived and coached in Seattle for ten years. He introduced high school rugby into the Seattle area. He founded the USA U19s rugby programme in 1992 and coached this team on 7 tours to the Southern hemisphere, four to New Zealand and three to Australia.
Looking for further challenge and with encouragement from George Hook and Eddie O’Sullivan, he moved to Dublin in 1995 to take up a senior coaching post at Blackrock College RFC. In 1998 he coached the USA U19s to their first FIRA (Fédération Internationale de Rugby) U19 World Cup in Toulouse. The USA U19 met Ireland U19 in the Round of 16, losing 47–13. Ireland with Brian O’Driscoll went to win the U19 World Cup defeating France 18–0. In 1998 he also stepped in at the 12th hour to coach the Irish Women’s XV in the Women’s World Cup in Amsterdam, where they placed 10th.
Tony is an IRFU Level 3, stage 5 IRB qualified coach – the highest qualification achievable in Ireland. In 1998 he brought his by then considerable experience and expertise to bear on DUFC. Over his 18 years with DUFC he has completely professionalised the rugby set-up to bring Freshers and U20s through to strong 1st XV team players. He has developed a high-performance model, with conditioning coaches, nutrition and dietary advice, physiotherapy back-up and a different culture and balance towards discipline, study, play, sleep and enjoying life. His success is reflected in the team spirit, enthusiasm and camaraderie that exists within DUFC.
As well as enticing home-grown talent to Trinity and DUFC, his strong ties to US and Canadian rugby have allowed him to attract top class American and Canadian players to Trinity College as students over the years – Scott La Valla, Pat Danahy, Jacob Waasdrop, and Forest Gainer. The current 1st XV has USA international players Tim Maupin and Conor Kearns and Canadian international Jack Fitzpatrick.
DUFC has come a long and winding road with Tony Smeeth as Director of Rugby to the top echelons of the AIL Division 1B, with promotion prospects still intact this season. He has closed the gap between DUFC dreams and the now DUFC reality by pushing the Sisyphean DUFC rock uphill until it stayed put at its present high level.
Among the many DUFC highlights over the past years one can itemise:
- Winners of the U20 Leinster Championship 2016 – for the first time
- Inaugural finalists in the World University Rugby Cup in September 2015 and especially the win over a combined New Zealand Universities XV
- DUFC 1st XV’s Dudley Cup win in October 2015 – first win since 1995
- DUFC U20s – Triple Conroy Cup Winners 2013, 2014 and 2015
- Inaugural All Ireland Rugby Club 7’s Champions in May 2011, beating Old Belvedere 28-12 in the final
- Wins over Oxford University and Cambridge University in the same season 2011–12
To Tony, his players come first and foremost. More than being a Coach and Director of Rugby, Tony Smeeth is a father figure to all his players, who lives and breathes with them, shares their wins and losses, their high and lows and their frustrating injuries, is their confidant and helper, and epitomises the continuing spirit and ethos of DUFC.
The “Special Award for Contribution to College Sport” for 2016 goes to