North of Ireland F.C.

North of Ireland FC
Full name North of Ireland Football Club
Union IRFU
Founded 1868
Ground(s) Ormeau Road
League(s) Ulster Senior League
AIB League

North of Ireland Football Club is a former Irish rugby union club that was based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was the first rugby club formed in what is now Northern Ireland and only two other clubs - Dublin University and Wanderers - were formed earlier anywhere else in all Ireland.[1][2] It was founded in 1868 by members of North of Ireland Cricket Club.[3] NIFC also played in the first recorded rugby game in Ulster when they played a 20-a-side match against Queen's University RFC.

Throughout its history, NIFC was one of the most successful clubs in Ulster rugby, winning eighteen Ulster Senior League titles and eighteen Ulster Senior Cup titles. They also played several seasons in the AIB League before merging with Collegians in 1999 to form Belfast Harlequins.[4]

The club left its historic home on the Ormeau Road (one of the earliest international rugby venues in Ireland[5]) after a series of sectarian arson attacks, including the burning of its pavilion. The club, with a mainly Protestant membership, was perceived as being "isolated in a zone of working-class nationalism".[6]

Notable players

See also Category:North of Ireland F.C. players


The following NIFC players represented Ireland at full international level.

British and Irish Lions

The following NIFC players also represented the British and Irish Lions.[2]

Ireland cricket team

The following NIFC players also represented Ireland at cricket.


† Won by 2nd XV


  2. 1 2 The Ireland Rugby Miscellany (2007): Ciaran Cronin
  3. pg 6
  5. See references to Ireland's matches against Scotland from 1877 to 1889: Ireland v Scotland - Head to Head Statistics
  6. D. Sharrock, ‘Goodbye to all that, as the Belfast sporting club where W.G. Grace swung his bat uproots for Protestant sanctuary’, The Guardian, 13 August 1997, p. 6. Cited in Cronin, M. (2000), "Catholics and Sport in Northern Ireland: Exclusiveness or Inclusiveness?", International Sports Studies, Volume 22, Number 1, 2000. Available at
  7. John O'Sullivan (03/05/2010). "Planet rugby". Irish Times. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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