The only Irishman to win a medal in South Africa’s premier rugby competition, the Currie Cup, was honoured in Clonakenny on Sunday evening with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Tom Delaney was born in Oldcastle, Clonakenny, in 1883, and as a young man emigrated to South Africa after the Boer War. He went to Kimberley, where his uncle had a business, manufacturing ginger ale.
He perhaps was in Kimberley when the first touring side from these islands played there on the 1903 tour.
That tour included two brothers from Roscrea, Dr. Joseph and James Wallace. Did Tom Delaney perhaps meet them? Tom would have played football in Clonakenny, so it would be natural for him as a fit young man to have taken up rugby in Kimberley with the local club, Griqualand West - now known as the Griquas. They are the second oldest in South Africa, and it was in Kimberley the South African Rugby Union was formed in 1889.
The Currie Cup dates back to 1891, when Sir Donald Currie brought a team out to South Africa. At the conclusion of the tour the Griquas were judged by him to have been the best side they had played against, and he presented them with a gold cup.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.