When the Montreal Irish played their first game in September, 1957, it was suggested that the Art of Coarse Rugby had gained a valuable new patron. But the club did not take long to show that it was able to more than hold its own in Quebec Rugy, finishing respectably the first season and winning the league in its second and third seasons, 1958 and 1959.
By the early sixties, we were fielding a good second team and were usually in the top two places In both Senior and Intermediate leagues but it was not until 1966 that we finally won the Quebec Senior Cup, followed by the League again the following year.
1969 was undoubtedly the most successful year in the club’s history to date. Not only did we open our club house and grounds at Ste-Julie but we also won both the Senior Cup and the League and supplied six of the seven backs to the Quebec Provincial team.
The club continued to grow and prosper in the seventies, fielding as many as four league teams in some seasons and starting a junior programme which was highlighted by an under-18 tour to Bermuda in 1979. The juniors have also contributed many players to provincial teams and at least 3 have played on the Junior Canada team. We have nearly always had strong representation on the Senior Quebec team and over the years have been proud to have had 5 of our members play for Canada.
In spite of our fielding some very good first fifteens during the seventies, the Cup and League eluded us and we had to be content with frequent enjoyable and successful tours: Bermuda in 1970 and 1975, Bahamas in 1974, Jamaica in 1976 and Ireland in 1977 to celebrate our twentieth anniversary.
- 1979 Tour to Bermuda
We celebrated our 25th anniversary in 1982 in even more fitting fashion by winning both the Senior and Intermediate Cups with the players celebrating by visiting the Bahamas the following spring.
Our second team has always been successful winning either the Intermediate Cup or league a conservatively estimated dozen times. We like to feel that this has been because the Montreal-Irish has always been an enjoyable club to belong to, whether as a star, a rookie or a has-been. This is probably why the fourths of the late seventies evolved into the Old Boys team of the eighties, welcoming into their midst many veterans of other Montreal and outside-Montreal clubs and leading to our being joined in the London Golden Oldies tournament by members and friends from across Canada (and probably in London by a few returned exiles).
We are very proud of our grounds in Ste-Julie, complete with clubhouse expanded in 1984. The number of top class club teams who have visited Ste-Julie is much too great to list here and our annual international tournament held the first weekend in September invariably features excellent Rugby from North American and overseas teams. Some recent winners have been Nottingham, Old Belvedere, Manchester University and Boston RFC.
In a short article such as this, it is impossible to select individuals from the host of members who have made the club what it is today. Suffice to say, they have come from all hemispheres and all parts of Canada. It is a far cry from the day at our second A.G.M. when it was proposed that the name of the club be changed because it was discriminatory to our lone non-Irish member.
Recently, the MIRFC has enjoyed some very successful years. Over the past four years, the club has gone from a competitive social side fielding two men’s teams, to the Quebec 1st division champions while fielding three men’s teams as well as a juniors squad.
In 2007, the club took the first steps towards success as the first team managed to get to the 2nd division semi final and the second team to the 3rd division semi-final. The following year, 2008, both the first and second team managed to win their respective divisions in dramatic fashion over rival Parc-O. Both games were played at home in St-Julie and were representative of the numerous physical encounters between the two rivals. Having won the 2nd division, the club was promoted to the 1st division – a key goal for the club had been accomplished.
2009 saw the return of the MIRFC to the big show. It also marked the return of the MIRFC third team which was to compete in the C division. The boys were anxious to play at the top level and were ready for the challenge. Unfortunately, the first half of the season proved to be tough as the boys lost several games, punctuated by a last-second loss to old rivals Parc-O, who had also been promoted. The season on the verge of being lost, the leaders of the team got together and put a plan in place to turn things around. The plan worked. The first team did turn things around and won most of the remaining games to finish middle of the pack. After two quarter-finals win, both the first and second team lost good, close games in the semi-finals (the third team had to forfeit due to lack of numbers). All in all, it was another good year for the club as they got all three of their teams to the semi-finals in Quebec’s top divisions.
2010 surely has to be considered the most successful season to date by the MIRFC. The three men’s teams finished a combined 26-5-2 over the course of the season. The third team won most of their regular season games and won the C division in dramatic fashion over new rivals and hitherto perennial champs St-Annes. The second team went undefeated in the entire regular season and did not lose a game all year until they lost to St-Annes in the final. The first team had a very solid regular season, and punctuated that by beating a strong Quebec City team in Quebec in the semi-finals and then beating four-time defending champs St-Annes in the finals. Three teams, three finals and two championships – what a year!
As if the Montreal Irish hadn’t tasted enough success in 2010, they repeated the feat of taking all three mens teams to their respective finals in 2011. The Third team retained their title this time beating newcomers XV de Montreal 2nd team. Sadly, for the Second team, the outcome was the same as the previous year, losing narrowly to their rivals from St Annes. The First team made a dramatic comeback against new opposition in namesakes Ottawa Irish to become back to back champions of Quebec and Eastern Ontario Super Ligue.
In 2012, the club is looking for a third consecutive championship title and a clean sweep for all teams. Do you have what it takes to help us achieve this goal? To join us in this challenge click here.