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This article was contributed by Prof Peter Clarke of University College Dublin


The Bateman Cup is the most exclusive senior rugby competition played in Ireland. Entry to this annual competition is by invitation only and there are, usually, four participants – generally, the senior cup winners of the four provinces.

Thus, since its inception in 1921/22 season, many famous senior clubs in Ireland, and many of Ireland’s most elegant rugby internationals, have never participated in this competition. This exclusivity is due to the fact that the Bateman Cup was played for, initially, for season 1921/22 to 1938/39, but lapsed during World War II. It was reintroduced in the 2010/11 season and the current season (2015/16) represents the 22nd time that the Bateman Cup has been played for.

Perhaps, as few as 350 players have received winner’s medals and only 13 Clubs have won the trophy. Not surprisingly, little is known by rugby supporters about the Bateman Cup. Yet, the main details of the inscription on the cup are stark and revealing and are as follows:

Presented by Godfrey Bateman to the Irish Rugby Football Union
in ever-fresh and loving memory of his darling sons:
Major Reginald John Godfrey Bateman, Canadian Infantry,
killed in action 3 September, 1918,
Captain Arthur Cyril Bateman, who, on 28 March 1918
gave his life for his wounded Camerons.

This short article outlines the life of Godfrey Bateman, who was the donor of the Bateman Cup, and also highlights the brief life of two of his sons, Major Reginald and Captain Arthur Bateman. It also references the participating teams and results since the inception of the Bateman Cup competition.

Godfrey Bateman and Family

Godfrey Bateman was born in Kerry in 1855. He obtained his BA degree from Trinity College, with a first honours in Mathematics and he subsequently proceeded to the degrees of LL.B. and LL, D. In 1878, he was appointed as an Inspector of National Schools, which took him to many parts of Ireland. After more than 41 years’ service in various districts, he retired in July 1919.

On 26 April, 1881, he married Miss Frances Scanlon at Listowel and they had seven children. Frances Emily was the eldest and she had six brothers, Reginald (BA and MA), Ernst (BA and MA), Godfrey (BA and MD – Doctor in Medicine), John (BA and MA), Edgar Noel (MB – Medicine) and Arthur (MB – Medicine). All the six brothers graduated from Trinity College between 1906 and 1915.

Killed in Action

Many Irishmen, even though there was no conscription in this country, fought and died in World War I. It is variously estimated that about 200,000 Irishmen served in the British army during that time, of which about 40,000 were killed. Now, some 100 years on, we have the opportunity of reclaiming the memory of those young men who fought and died in great numbers. In modern times, it is difficult to comprehend such personal sacrifices.

For example, about 500 men, who gave their birth place as the relatively small district of Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown, where the Bateman family lived, were killed or declared missing in action during World War I. In addition, the University of Dublin lists 3,529 members of Trinity College, the Dublin University Officer Training Corps or employees who served in World War 1. Two such graduates were Reginald and Arthur Bateman, who, according to an inscription in their local Dublin church “gave their lives in the Great War, 1914 – 1918”.

Note: Ireland’s Call (by Stephen Walker, 2015, published by Merrion Press) provides excellent coverage of forty Irish sporting heroes, from various codes, who died fighting in the Great War.

Major Reginald Bateman 1883-1918

ReginaldBatemanReginald Bateman was born in Listowel in 1883 and was the eldest son of the family. He received a BA degree from Trinity College in 1906, having received awards in English, French and Modern History and, thereafter, his MA degree. In 1909, he was hired at the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, as its first professor of English, and became one of the first professors recruited by this new Canadian university.

With the outbreak of the war, he enlisted as a private and fought in France. He returned to Canada in 1916 to write up his officer’s exams in Winnipeg, and became a major. While in Canada he summed up trench life as “days of unendurable monotony and moments of indescribable fear”. He returned to France in 1917 and served with the 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

This unit received the name The Suicide Squadron as it had a casualty rate of 91% – men either killed or wounded. Reginald Bateman was wounded in 1917 but subsequently returned to action. He was killed on 3 September, 1918 near Dury, by a shell dropping at the entrance to battalion headquarters. He was 34 years of age and was “considered one of the most popular officers in the 46th”. He was mentioned in dispatches and is commemorated in the Vimy memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

A Professorship of English in his name was created in 1919 in the University of Saskatoon and still exists. In 1922 the University brought out a memorial volume in Bateman’s honour entitled: Reginald Bateman, teacher and soldier. It is a publication containing his selected lectures and writings and it reveals the kind of man and mind that went to war in 1914. (His actual lecture notes are preserved in the archives of the University of Saskatchewan). In 1932, the Bateman Memorial Fund was founded at the University of Saskatchewan to provide scholarships to students.

Captain Arthur Bateman 1890-1918

ArthurBatemanArthur Bateman was born in 1890 in Baileborough, Co. Cavan. While a medical student at Trinity College, he played both rugby and cricket for the College. His batting consistency with the university earned him two caps in cricket for Ireland against Scotland in the last two cricket matches played before the War, scoring 149 runs in 4 innings.

Having being awarded his MB in 1914, he commissioned as Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps in August. He was promoted to Captain in 1915, attached to the 7th Cameron Highlanders and served in France. In July 1917, with the battle raging close to the town of Ypres, he worked tirelessly to help many dozens of wounded and dying comrades. For his actions he was awarded the Military Cross with the citation:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in repeatedly going round the front line and attending to the wounded, who had been lying out in some cases for two days. Although continually exposed to hostile sniping and machine gun fire, he displayed the upmost disregard of danger”.

Eight months later, in March 1918, Arthur Bateman would be dead. He was wounded on 28 March, 1918. The War Office quoted his Colonel as follows: “Captain Bateman manfully stuck to his post until the Germans were within a few yards of him, when he started to retire along with his orderlies. Unfortunately he was hit, and fell into the hands of the enemy. It will be difficult for any other Medical Officer to fill his place”.

After a number of requests by his family the UK authorities would confirm in January, 1920 that “for official purposes Captain Bateman is dead”. His body was never found, and he joined the multitude who gave their lives in the Great War but who have no official grave. Captain Arthur Bateman was 27 years of age and is commemorated in the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

Presentation of the Bateman Cup

Their father, Godfrey Bateman, presented the Bateman Cup to the IRFU in honour of his two sons who died in the Great War. It is written, that Godfrey Bateman never played rugby in his life and was not a “rugby enthusiast” but his interest in the game was inspired by the keenness of his two sons, Reginald and Arthur. Indeed, there is a newspaper record of a Trinity First Year Medicals A team against a Wanderers 3rd B team in November 1910 at Lansdowne Road featuring both a G. Bateman and A. Bateman at full-back and centre, respectively. Godfrey Bateman always spoke of the Cup as a tribute to their memory.

Godfrey Bateman, the donor of the Bateman cup, died on 30 July, 1936, aged 82 years. He was predeceased by his loving wife, Frances Emily who died on 16 February, 1926. He desired that the Roll of Honour in Memoriam notice relative to his sons, Reginald John Godfrey and Arthur Cyril, who fell in action in 1918, shall be inserted annually in The Irish Times for ever. For many years, these notices appeared on or around 28 March (Arthur) and 3 September (Reginald) but have now been discontinued.

The Early Bateman Cup Competition, 1922-1939

The first Bateman rugby competition took place in 1922, with The Irish Times reporting that the cup was “played for annually by the winners of the Leinster, Munster and Ulster Senior Cups”. Since the Connacht cup winners did not participate and the Ulster cup winners, Instonians, withdrew, the first Bateman match was actually the 1922 final between Lansdowne and Cork Constitution which was played at Lansdowne Road on 29 April “before a fair attendance”.

Lansdowne won (6 – 5) but “the Munstermen were distinctly unlucky to lose, as they did most of the pressing” and their wing, “Sweeney seemed to get over at the righthand corner, but it was given touch outside”. However, the great Lansdowne and Irish international full back, Ernie Crawford defused a difficult situation! According to a player’s written account of the game Crawford, in his speech at the Cup presentation, said that Cork Constitution scored “a fair try. Everyone then cheered and the atmosphere remained friendly”!

Queen’s University Belfast (in 1924) became the first winners from Ulster. In 1928, Young Munster became the first club from Munster to win the trophy, by sensationally beating Lansdowne in the final. One newspaper suggested that this victory “should do an immense amount of good for the game in Munster”.

In 1936, 1937 and 1938, the Bateman Cup was won by UCC, Queens and UCD respectively, highlighting the strength of University rugby in Ireland at that time. In 1939, Blackrock beat NIFC in the Bateman final. However, the Bateman Cup was not played for during World War II or in the immediate years thereafter.

Reintroduction of the Bateman Cup in 2011

160407-batemancupThe Bateman Cup was reintroduced in the 2010/11 season, which has seen wins for Bruff, Garryowen and Cork Constitution (three successive wins) respectively. In the 2015/16 semi-finals, Cork Constitution beat UCD, while Galwegians beat Ballynahinch. The Bateman Cup final is scheduled for Saturday 30 April, 2016. It will be played at Crowley Park, Galway, since Galwegians won the “hone” venue by the toss of a coin.

Incidentally, this Cup competition is sometimes referred to as the All Ireland cup, but this nomenclature is incorrect and inappropriate.

Of interest is that, in the event of a full time draw, the following regulations will apply to determine the winners of the Bateman cup (for 2015/16 competition):

  • If clubs are tied at full time, extra time of 10 minutes each way shall be played.
  • If still tied, the club which has scored most tries shall be the winner.
  • If still tied, the away team shall be declared the winner.

Table of Results

Year (1) Winners Runners up Semi finalists Semi finalists
1922 Lansdowne 6 Cork Con 5 None (2) None (3)
1923 Instonians 19 Cork Con 3
1923 Bective 14 Instonians 6 Cork Constitution None (3)
1924 UCD 12 Garryowen 6
1924 QUB 29 UCD 11 Garryowen None (2)
Bective 11 UCG 0
1925 Bective 6 Garryowen 3 UCG Ulster cup in progress
1926 Trinity 24 Galwegians 3
1926 Garryowen 6 Collegians 5
1926 Trinity 13 Garryowen 0 Collegians (?) Galwegians
1927 Instonians 50 Galwegians 0
1927 Lansdowne 9 Bohemians 3
1927  Instonians 16 (aet) Lansdowne 8 Bohemians Galwegians
1928 Young Munster 17 Galwegians 0
1928 Young Munster 6 Lansdowne 3 Galwegians None (2)
1929 Lansdowne 32 Galwegians 11 None (2) None (4)
1930 Lansdowne 16 Young Munster 0
1930 NIFC 19 UCG 3
1930 Lansdowne 19 NIFC 12 Young Munster UCG
1931 Lansdowne 13 Loughrea 3
1931 Lansdowne 16 Collegians 4 (5) Loughrea Munster cup in progress
1932 QUB 15 UCG 8
1932 Cork Con 5 Bective 3
1932 QUB 19 Cork Con 0 Bective UCG
1933 Not played due to unfinished provincial cup competitions
1934 Not played due to unfinished provincial cup competitions
1935 NIFC 13 UCC 0
1935 Bective 8 UCG 0
1935 NIFC 14 Bective 0 UCC UCG
1936 UCC 9 QUB 8
1936 UCG 12 Clontarf 1
1936 UCC 17 UCG 0 Clontarf QUB
1937 QUB 39 Blackrock 9
1937 UCC 9 UCG 0
1937 QUB 8 UCC 0 Blackrock UCG
1938 UCD 5 Instonians 3
1938 Young Munster 11 Galwegians 0
1938 UCD 16 Young Munster 6 Instonians Galwegians
1939 Blackrock 18 UCG 11
1939 NIFC 28 UCC 0
1939 Blackrock 4 NIFC 3 UCC UCG
2011 Bruff 24 UCD 22
2011 Dungannon 16 Corinthians 13
2011 Bruff 24 Dungannon 18 Corinthians UCD
2012 Buccaneers 12 Garryowen 14
2012 Old Belvedere 15 Ballymena 18
2012 Garryowen 24 Ballymena 6 Old Belvedere Buccaneers (6)
2013 Ballymena 13 Cork Constitution 20
2013 Galwegians 22 St. Mary’s 30
2013 Cork Con 29 St. Mary’s 14 Ballymena Galwegians
2014 Cork Con 46 QUB 14
2014 UCD 21 Galwegians 20
2014 Cork Con 19 UCD 6 QUB Galwegians
2015 Buccaneers 25 Cork Con 36
2015 Ballynahinch 20 Clontarf 24
2015 Cork Con 24 Clontarf 19 Ballynahinch Buccaneers
2016 UCD 0 Cork Con 5 24
2016 Galwegians 35 Ballynahinch 31
2016 Galwegians Cork Con (7) Ballynahinch UCD


  1. Dates refer to the year of the final. For example, 1922s refer to the 1921/22 season, and 2016 refers to the 2015/16 season.
  2. Instonians withdrew because they did not consider that clubs should have to play a semi-final and final on consecutive days. Also, it was their opinion that “the competition was not calculated to enhance the prestige of Irish Rugby”. .
  3. No team from Connacht participated
  4. Cork Con, the Munster Cup winners, were deemed not qualified to participate by the IRFU.
  5. Instonians withdrew but Collegians accepted the IRFU invitation to participate in the cup.
  6. Since the Connacht Cup was still in progress, Connacht representation was decided by the winners of the Buccaneers v Galwegians AIL Division 1B match. Galwegians eventually won the Connacht Senior Cup late in the 2011/12 season.
  7. Since the Munster Senior Cup was still in progress, Cork Con, the Munster (and Bateman) Cup holders were invited and accepted the invitation to compete in this year’s competition.

Related non-Bateman Cup Competitions

In 1974-75 a special competition to mark the IRFU centenary was organised by Munster Branch and played at Thomond Park between the four provincial cup winners.

In the semi-final St Marys beat Bangor (18 – 3), who were representing Ulster on behalf of Ulster Cup holders Ballymena. Garryowen beat Galwegians (35 – 14). In the final between St Marys and Garryowen the scores were tied at 9 – 9 at full time and after extra time. St. Mary’s were declared winners since they had scored the first and only try. St Marys were therefore awarded a “special plaque”, but this was not the Bateman Cup.

In 1985 a competition called the “Garryowen All-Ireland Cup” was organised between provincial cup winners to commemorate the Garryowen centenary. This was also not a competition for the Bateman Cup.

Bangor, Corinthians, Cork Con and Old Wesley participated in this event, held in Thomond Park. In the semi-finals Corinthians beat Cork Con (10 – 4) while Bangor, who played instead of the Ulster cup winners Ards, beat Old Wesley (13 – 10). In the final Corinthians triumphed over Bangor (10 – 3).

Between 2005/06 and 2009/10, a new All Ireland open draw, knock-out cup competition for all senior clubs was played. This is known as the All Ireland Cup or alternatively as the AIB Cup after its sponsors. This competition was not between provincial cup holders and was again not a competition for the Bateman Cup. The results of the finals were:

  • 2005/06: Cork Constitution 37–12 St Mary’s College
  • 2006/07: Garryowen 20–7 Belfast Harlequins
  • 2007/08: Shannon 12–9 Blackrock College
  • 2008/09: Ballynahinch 17–6 Cork Constitution
  • 2009/10: Cork Constitution 15–11 Garryowen
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This article was contributed by Prof Peter Clarke of University College Dublin

The Bateman Cup by Peter Clarke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All reproductions in whole or part must credit Peter Clarke.