An alumnus of UCD has donated $100,000 to create a new rugby scholarship for the university’s club. John Gardiner, a law graduate and former captain of the UCD Rugby Club, has initiated the new scholarship scheme, which will be named the ‘Australia 1984 Scholarship’. It is hoped that the donation will fund three students per year to attend UCD and play for the university’s rugby club over the next ten years.
UCD Vice-President for Students, Dr Martin Butler, has expressed his delight at the donation, explaining that Gardiner donated the money because “he felt that when he was at UCD he got an awful lot from the UCD Rugby Club,” and that he “would now like to put something back” into the club.
Dr Butler hopes that the scholarship might help the club regain some of its former glory, saying he wanted to see the side – who this weekend finished mid-table in Division 2 of the AIB League – “back in the premier division,” following the example of the UCD soccer team who won promotion to the Premier Division of the Airtricity League last year after just one season in the second tier.
According to Dr Butler, candidates for the scholarship will be both scouted and can apply to receive it. He hopes that the scholarship will allow UCD to offer all that it can to the students, expecting that “while they’re here we can meet their academic needs and their sports needs – because these athletes do have a need on the academic side for support and also on the sports side.”
While there has been a rise in sports scholarships, academic philanthropy has suffered as a result of the recession. Dr Butler remains confident that Gardiner’s actions will inspire similar donations from other figures in both fields. “I’d like to believe that there is a lot of good will out there,” he said, adding: “hopefully from this, other people who got a lot out of UCD will also consider giving UCD a gift.” He feels that philanthropic donation “has to be the future,” and that “if we want to develop or build anything we do need a combination of government money and maybe match funding from the philanthropists.”
It is hoped that the first recipients of the scholarship will start UCD in September. The scholarships will coincide with the centennial anniversary of the foundation of the UCD Rugby Club, which was set up in 1910.