Blog

Hellhound Highlights: Union Cup 2023

Last year, the Hellhounds made our début at the IGR Union Cup which took place in Birmingham, England. It was the first time that our club took part in these European championships, and the hounds made it to the final of our division, making a great impression among the rest of the participating clubs.

To get a sense of the fun from Union Cup both on and off the pitch, we asked a couple of our members their thoughts on the tour to England!


Jess Kwong

Jess Kwong: 

Diehard Hellhounds Fan (and Tagger!)

What is your name and what how long have you been with the Cork Hellhounds? 

  • My name is Jess and I joined Cork Hellhounds over a year and a half ago.

What was your first impression of Union Cup?

  • I was really impressed with how well organised the whole event was; from outstanding facilities for players to gin and beer tents for supporters, it was no surprise that everyone I spoke to felt accommodated for and had a great time.

What role did you play while in Birmingham?

  • I went as a supporter to the Cork Hellhounds and enjoyed hyping up the team and spreading positivity.

What was your happiest moment during the Union cup?

  • My happiest moments probably include watching the games and seeing how far the team has come.

If you had a magic wand, what would you have changed during that weekend?

  • If I had a magic wand… I would have gone back time to when I was booking my flights and book my return flight for AFTER the closing ceremony. Spoiler: I ended up booking a second flight home after a healthy dose of peer pressure mixed with some strong cocktails!

Conor O’Brien

Conor O’Brien: 

Position: Fly Half

    How long have you played rugby?

    • Started back playing in 2021 a year after the Hellhounds was established. I learned about the team from my brother who created it and I thought I’d give it a go. I did play when I was a child for Ballincollig RFC and played almost every position. I was a prop, second row, inside centre, and full back. Don’t know how I kept playing for as long as I did. I didn’t have a notion what was happening half of the time!

    Is this your first time playing in Union Cup?

    • Yes, very excited to have been part of it. Never part of something this big and what an occasion!

    What was your biggest highlight during the cup?

    • Getting to the finals! We had no idea what level we were at. The team was very new to the sport with the exception of a few seasoned rugby players. As we kept winning our games, and progressing further and further and eventually in the finals against a great, and well deserved winners, Wessex.

    What was your biggest disappointment during the cup?

    • We couldn’t do the Kangaroo court cause we got to the final!

    If you went back in time, what would you have done differently?

    • I wouldn’t have drunk so much, but who I am kidding?! I’d probably drink as much!

    Pa Reynolds

    Patrick Reynolds: 

    Position: Tighthead Prop 

    How long have you played rugby?

    • About as long as I’ve been dancing the Cha Cha Cha or just over 2 years!

    Is this your first time playing in Union Cup?

    • Yep and I’m so excited. It is an ambition of mine for years and one I thought would never happen, goes to show thoughts become things. Go Hellhounds!

    What was your biggest highlight during the cup?

    • Being part of this team is something that will stay with me forever and is my biggest highlight. Learning from the guys and doing my bit. For me being a Hellhound is so special, knowing we are custodians and building something unique for our community in Cork. Oh and being part of our very own Destiny’s Child, Bootylicious baby!! 

    What was your biggest disappointment during the cup?

    • Looking back now it’s hard to say I was disappointed but I was obviously disappointed we lost our final but that soon lifted after the game. I knew that everyone gave it there all that Sunday, we left it all on the pitch. We came up short that day but we will learn as a team and come back stronger. 

    If you went back in time, what would you have done differently?

    • I’ll never “pick and go” without my pod again and I’d pick a different room mate…. Only joking Kiely, you’re the best!

    Elliot Cross

    Elliot Cross: 

    Position: Loose head prop 

    How long have you played rugby?

    • It’s my first time playing a sport, I have been with the team nearly three years now. 

    Is this your first time playing in Union Cup and what was your biggest highlight during the cup?

    • This was my first time playing in Union Cup and for me, the biggest highlight was meeting different teams from across Europe and just Playing rugby regardless of gender or sexual orientation – it’s all equal on the pitch.  

    What was your biggest disappointment during the cup?

    • Besides not winning?? As corny as it sounds, it was the tournament coming to an end. I don’t think I have been surrounded with so many like minded people in one space ever. It truly had left me with nothing but fond memories.

    If you went back in time, what would you have done differently?

    • For me I would have possibly like to trained/played with one other team and gained some more knowledge on the game – every day is a school day.

    If you’re interested in joining the Cork Hellhounds, take a look at our Fixtures & Training page before contacting us.

    Cork Hellhounds to Host 2023 Pride Tag Rugby Tournament At Musgrave Park

    Cork Hellhounds RFC, with the support of Munster Rugby, will host our third annual Pride Tag Rugby Tournament on Saturday, July 29 from 12 noon in Musgrave Park. 

    We are inviting individuals or teams of up to 10 players to take part in a fun afternoon of tag rugby, where you will be put into teams to play with members and friends of the Cork Hellhounds. 

    Whether you are new to rugby or have played tag before, you are welcome to try tag rugby with the Hellhounds and friends from across the LGBT+ and Munster rugby communities. Supporters are also very welcome to come along and get behind the event, where refreshments will be provided  on the day.

    If you have never played tag rugby before and don’t know the rules, please note that tag rugby is a non-contact game. Volunteers and referees will be available on the day to explain the rules. 

    How To Register:  

    Register as an individual or a team by clicking here.  

    • If you sign up as an individual, you will be assigned a team on the day. 
    • If you are registering a team, please contact hello@corkhellhounds.ie after you receive your Eventbrite ticket, and confirm the number of players in your group. 
    • Please present your Eventbrite ticket upon arrival to Musgrave Park.
    • Don’t forget to tag @corkhellhound, @munsterrugby, and @corkpride when posting on social media. 

    Cork Hellhounds travel to Birmingham for IGR Union Cup

    Cork, Monday 24 April – Cork Hellhounds RFC, Cork’s LGBT-inclusive rugby team, is travelling to Birmingham this weekend to take part in the European gay rugby championships, the IGR Union Cup.

    The Union Cup, organised by International Gay Rugby and hosted this year by the Birmingham Bulls, will have over 40 gay and inclusive rugby teams from across Europe travelling to England to take part. This will be the first time the Hellhounds will take part in an IGR tournament, having been a member of IGR since their ratification by Munster Rugby and the IRFU in June 2021. 

    The Cork Hellhounds were founded in 2020 as an inclusive rugby club, with the support of both the Gay Project (Cork’s community centre for gay, bi, and queer men) and Munster Rugby. They have since become a core part of Cork’s LGBT community, hosting tag rugby tournaments as part of the Cork Pride festival, and regularly collaborating on friendly games and training sessions with local rugby clubs such as Fermoy RFC, Clonakilty RFC, and the Sunday’s Well Rebels mixed ability rugby team. The Hellhounds have already played host to visiting IGR teams including Belfast Azlans and most recently, Glasgow Raptors, winning against both teams on home ground. The Hellhounds train weekly in Mahon, and all are welcome to take part, including straight allies and those with no prior rugby experience. The club currently offers a men’s contact rugby team, as well as a mixed gender tag rugby team during the summer months. 

    “We can’t wait to travel to Birmingham and represent Cork as a debutant team at the Union Cup this year”, said Scott De Buitléir, Vice-President and Communications Officer for Cork Hellhounds RFC. “Months of preparation and training have led us to this moment, and we have a great group of players and supporters travelling to show the rest of the gay and inclusive rugby community what being a Cork Hellhound is all about. We’re also delighted and humbled by the level of support from the Cork community as we raises funds for our Union Cup campaign, from bake sales to kiss-a-hound auctions at Chambers earlier this year! It has been a lot of fun to get here, and we’re looking forward to the weekend ahead.” 

    For more information, visit corkhellhounds.ie or search for Cork Hellhounds RFC on Instagram or Facebook. 

    — ENDS — 

    Notes to the Editor: 

    • For interviews, contact Scott De Buitléir on comms@corkhellhounds.ie.
    • Cork Hellhounds RFC is an LGBT-inclusive rugby club, offering both men’s contact rugby and mixed-gender tag rugby teams. Founded in 2020, the Hellhounds are the third inclusive rugby club on the island of Ireland, following the Emerald Warriors in Dublin and the Belfast Azlans (part of Ophir RFC in Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim)
    • International Gay Rugby is an organisation of gay- and inclusive rugby clubs worldwide, of which Cork Hellhounds became a member in 2021. IGR Union Cup is a biennial tournament for European IGR clubs.
    • Gay Project is a community centre which supports gay, bi, and queer men in the Greater Cork area. 

    Cork to host first LGBT-Inclusive Rugby match of 2023 against Glasgow

    Cork Hellhounds to host Glasgow Raptors for friendly match

    Cork, Wednesday 18 January – Cork Hellhounds RFC, Cork’s LGBT-inclusive rugby team, is preparing to welcome their fellow inclusive team, Glasgow Raptors, to Cork for a challenge match on Saturday, January 28. 

    The Cork Hellhounds were founded in 2020 as an inclusive rugby club, with the support of both the Gay Project (Cork’s community centre for gay, bi, and queer men) and Munster Rugby. They have since become a core part of Cork’s LGBT community, becoming affiliated by the IRFU and International Gay Rugby, and hosting tag rugby tournaments as part of the Cork Pride festival. 

    In preparation to take part in the IGR Union Cup tournament in Birmingham in April, the Hellhounds have invited the Glasgow Raptors to Cork to play in Tramore Valley Park. Kick-off is at 1pm, and all are welcome to support. 

    “We’re excited to see the Glasgow Raptors come to Cork for our first official fixture of the new year”, said Scott De Buitléir, Vice-President and Communications Officer for Cork Hellhounds RFC. “Last year, we travelled to Belfast to play against another IGR team, the Belfast Azlans, where we gained a hard-fought win at the University of Ulster. As we prepare for the Union Cup, we’ll be testing our skills on the pitch with the Raptors.” 

    The Hellhounds are also running a free “Intro to Rugby” training series for beginners at their training grounds on the Ringmahon Road every Sunday until the end of February. Registration is free and all are welcome, including those from the LGBT community and their allies. 

    For more information, visit corkhellhounds.ie or search for Cork Hellhounds RFC on Instagram or Facebook. 

    — ENDS — 

    Notes to the Editor: 

    • For interviews, contact Scott De Buitléir on comms@corkhellhounds.ie
    • Cork Hellhounds RFC is an LGBT-inclusive rugby club, offering both men’s contact rugby and mixed-gender tag rugby teams. Founded in 2020, the Hellhounds are the third inclusive rugby club on the island of Ireland, following the Emerald Warriors in Dublin and the Belfast Azlans (part of Ophir RFC in Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim)
    • International Gay Rugby is an organisation of gay- and inclusive rugby clubs worldwide, of which Cork Hellhounds became a member in 2021. 
    • Gay Project is a community centre which supports gay, bi, and queer men in the Greater Cork area. 

    Cork Hellhounds to Host Pride Tag Rugby Tournament At Musgrave Park

    Cork Hellhounds RFC, with the support of Munster Rugby, will host their second annual Cork Pride Tag Rugby Tournament on Saturday, July 23rd from 12.30pm in Musgrave Park.

    We are inviting individuals or groups to take part in a fun afternoon of tag rugby, where you will be put into teams to play non-contact rugby with members and friends of the Cork Hellhounds. 

    Whether you are new to rugby or have played tag before, you are welcome to try tag rugby with the Hellhounds and friends from across the LGBT+ and Munster Rugby communities. Supporters are also very welcome to come along and get behind the event where refreshments will be provided on the
    day. 

    If you have never played tag rugby before and don’t know the rules, please note that tag rugby is non-contact and Munster Rugby Development staff will be available also to conduct a 30-minute ‘Intro to Rugby’ workshop on the day. 

    Munster Rugby’s Rugby Participation and Operations Manager, Damon Urlich, said:

    “We are delighted to support the Cork Hellhounds as they host their second annual Pride Tag Rugby Tournament. With both the Cork and Limerick Pride festivals taking place in the month of July, we are very happy to be able to help the Hellhounds with their own celebrations in the province. Community and inclusivity are at the heart of what we do in Munster so we are really looking forward to the 23rd of July in Musgrave Park which is sure to be a memorable day.”

    Scott De Buitléir, Vice-President of Cork Hellhounds RFC, said:

    “We are delighted to have this year’s Cork Pride Tag Rugby Tournament in Musgrave Park, and to be supported so proudly by Munster Rugby. It’s a great way for the local rugby community to have some fun playing tag as part of the Cork Pride festivities, but also to show that a warm welcome awaits LGBTQ+ people in Cork to get involved with the sport. Rugby is an inclusive sport at heart, and we’re proud to show that with our partners in Munster Rugby.”


    How To Register

    Register as an individual or a team by clicking here.

    • If you sign up as an individual, you will be assigned a team on the day.
    • If you are registering a team, please contact hello@corkhellhounds.ie after you receive your
    • Eventbrite ticket and confirm the number of players in your group.
    • Please present your Eventbrite ticket upon arrival to Musgrave Park.
    • Don’t forget to tag @Corkpride, @corkhellhounds and @munsterrugby when posting on social media.

    Cork Hellhounds Win First Away Game in Belfast

    Members of Cork Hellhounds RFC at University of Ulster Jordanstown

    PRESS RELEASE

    The Cork Hellhounds RFC had their first win in Belfast last weekend against the Belfast Azlans, part of Ophir RFC. In Saturday’s Challenge Match, held at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus, the Cork-based LGBT-inclusive rugby club won 41-27.

    “The win over the weekend really showed us how far along we’ve come,” said Adam O’Brien, Founder and President of the Cork Hellhounds. “It shows that the hard work does pay off. We are going to use this boost of confidence towards future games and welcoming more players and supporters to the club.”

    Established in October 2020, the team aims to encourage and promote the benefits of rugby among the LGBT community and their allies. Last year, the club became officially ratified by Munster Rugby & the IRFU, and they are also members of International Gay Rugby, a global association of gay and inclusive rugby clubs which compete in tournaments around the world. They have also hosted a tag rugby tournament during Cork Pride last year, and have played full-contact games and joint training sessions with the Sunday’s Well Rebels mixed ability rugby team, part of Sunday’s Well RFC.

    LGBT-inclusive sporting groups in Cork have continued to grow over the last number of years with groups such as the Cork Hellhounds RFC, Cork Rebels FC, and Frontrunners Cork offering weekly training sessions to their growing amount of members.

    The Hellhounds are also launching their Intro to Rugby series this Sunday, 6th February, at 11am at their Mahon Rugby Grounds. The club welcomes anyone who is curious about rugby to try out this 6-week training series in a welcoming environment, especially for those who have no experience playing the sport and want to try something new.

    The Cork Hellhounds train twice weekly at both the Glen Resource & Sports Centre on the and at their pitches in Mahon, and continue to actively invite new players regardless of previous rugby experience. For more information, you can email hello@corkhellhounds.ie or follow @corkhellhounds on Instagram or Twitter.

    — ENDS —

    Notes to Editor:

    Adam O’Brien is founder and President of the Cork Hellhounds RFC. He is available for interview.

    Scott De Buitléir is Vice President of the Cork Hellhounds RFC. He is available for interviews in either Irish or English.

    Cork Hellhounds RFC is affiliated with and supported by The Gay Project, a Cork-based community organisation that works to ensure that gay, bisexual, trans and queer men are enabled to participate fully in Ireland’s social, economic, cultural, political and artistic life.

    CORK LGBT-INCLUSIVE RUGBY CLUB LAUNCHED

    PRESS RELEASE

    Cork Hellhound kicks off new inclusive team in Leeside sport

    CORK, IRELAND – A new rugby club has been founded in Cork which seeks to invite and include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) players in the sport, as well as their straight friends and allies. 

    The Cork Hellhounds were founded this month in association with the Gay Project, a Cork-based LGBT community organisation, and training has begun already with a mixture of new and experienced players. 

    Cork is no stranger to gay-inclusive sports and athletic teams, with both the Cork Frontrunners and Cork Rebels FC catering to running and football enthusiasts respectively. The new rugby team, however, is a first for the province, and the Hellhounds intend to take part in the Munster domestic league over the coming months. 

    “This is a great moment for sport in Cork,” explained club founder, Adam O’Brien, “as there is still a perception, despite recent years of social progress on LGBT issues, that sport is one area which can be exclusive to LGBT people. Other cities have LGBT-inclusive rugby teams, including in Dublin and Belfast, and they have seen great participation from both gay players and straight friends who wish to support and get involved. We’d love to see the same experience available in Cork, and we’re already off to a good start.” 

    The Cork Hellhounds also intend to become members of International Gay Rugby, which organises several league competitions, including the Bingham Cup, also known as the Gay Rugby World Cup. 

    The Cork Hellhounds train weekly at the Glen Resource & Sports Centre on the northside of the city, and are actively inviting new players regardless of previous rugby experience. For more information, you can email hello@corkhellhounds.ie or follow @corkhellhounds on Instagram or Twitter. 

    — ENDS — 

    Notes to Editor: 

    • Adam O’Brien is founder and President of the Cork Hellhounds RFC. He is available for interview.
    • Scott De Buitléir is Vice President of the Cork Hellhounds RFC. He is available for interviews in either Irish or English. 
    • The Gay Project is a Cork-based community organisation that works to ensure that gay, bisexual, trans and queer men are enabled to participate fully in Ireland’s social, economic, cultural, political and artistic life.