OUR THREE PILLARS
Rob was born in Co. Louth and emerged as a real prospect whilst playing his schools rugby at Clongowes Wood College. Rob first played for Leinster in 2005 and has since amassed over 180 appearances for the province. During that time he was a member of the triumphant Heineken Cup sides of 2009 and 2012, when he was named ERC Player of the Year. Rob has also played for Ireland on over 70 occasions, winning the Grand Slam in 2009 in addition to the Six Nations titles of 2014 and 2015. Furthermore, he has twice toured with the British and Irish Lions featuring prominently in the Test series of 2009 in South Africa.
Rob attended UCD and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Economics and has also completed an MBA. In addition to his academic and sporting commitments, Rob works as an ambassador for Concern Worldwide Charity.
Rob was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Board upon his election in September 2013. Rob is passionate about developing the game off the field so that the professional game continues to progress.
CEO & Director
Omar Hassanein was appointed CEO of Rugby Players Ireland in April 2011. Hailing from Australia, Omar spent 4 years at the Australian Rugby Union Players Association, including a period of 9 months as Acting CEO. From his experiences, he gained vast knowledge in a number of areas specific to player advocacy and welfare, as well as valuable experience in managing a sporting organisation. Some of Omar’s key specific skills in this area include the negotiation of key industrial relations documents, the overall management of an Agent Accreditation Scheme, the placement and facilitation of player insurance schemes, and the management of commercial programmes in sport.
Previously, Omar played professional rugby in Australia, Japan, France and Italy. He holds a Bachelor of Business & Marketing & International Business, along with postgraduate qualifications in both Finance and Sports Law.
Galway native Ronan earned his first cap for Connacht in 2005 and has appeared almost 200 times for the westerners. He has represented Ireland at Youth, Under-19 and Under-21 levels before earning his first senior cap in the opening Test of Ireland’s 2012 summer tour to New Zealand. On the domestic stage, Ronan started at loosehead prop when Connacht claimed their first Pro12 title in May 2016.
Off-field, Ronan has completed a Business Degree at the University of Limerick and a Diploma in Irish. He has also established and launched a successful business ‘Photobooth’ and is currently working on another business concept. A native Irish speaker, Ronan is also a bog oak sculptor and has undertaken a course in blacksmithing.
A natural leader, Ronan has been involved with Rugby Players Ireland for several years both as a former player representative and as a member of the Provincial Representative cell. He was appointed to the Executive Board in October 2014.
A Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup medal winner with St. Mary’s College in 2002, Johnny made his Leinster senior debut in 2006 against Border Reivers. However, with Felipe Contepomi ahead of him in the pecking order, it wasn’t until he replaced the latter in the crucial Heineken Cup semi-final of 2009 against Munster that he truly announced himself on the rugby stage. Since then Johnny has become one of the best out-halves in the world, picking up several trophies and personal accolades as well as steering the British and Irish Lions to their first series victory in 16 years by beating Australia in 2013.
Johnny has completed a degree in Commerce from UCD. He was also one of the first players to get involved in the Boardmatch scheme that places current players on the board of charities so that they can gain vital social and boardroom experience. Alongside Ronan O’Gara, Johnny supports the No.10 fund which goes towards the Children’s Heart Centre in Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
A leader both on and off the field, Johnny replaced Brian O’Driscoll as Chairman of the Executive Board of Rugby Players Ireland in 2011. However, owing to his playing commitments in France with Racing Metro, Johnny chose to step down from the role but remained on the Board in a non-executive capacity. Upon his return to Dublin in 2015, Johnny became the Leinster representative.
A former student of the Presentation Brothers Cork school, Peter joined the Munster Academy in 2008 and captained the Ireland U20 side to the Junior World Championships in Japan in 2009. The following year, Peter made his senior Munster debut. Having further outlined his leadership credentials by captaining Munster A to the inaugural British and Irish Cup in 2010, it came as no surprise when he was appointed as captain of the province in 2013 at just 24 years of age.
Peter made his Ireland debut against Italy in February 2012 and would go on to be named as the Young Player of the Year that same season. The flanker played a pivotal role as part of the winning Six Nations squads of 2014 and 2015. Despite suffering a career-threatening injury against France in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Peter returned to international duty and captained his country for the third time when Ireland faced Canada in November 2016.
Peter was appointed to the Executive Board upon the retirement of Paul O’Connell in 2015.
A graduate of the Ulster Academy, Andrew made his Ulster debut against Cardiff in the 2005-06 season. Despite having just eight Ulster caps under his belt, he made his international debut in November 2005 against Australia at Lansdowne Road. In 2013/14 Andrew enjoyed a stand out season for both club and country, starting all of Ireland’s 6 Nations games and scoring three tries. His form was rewarded when he was named Players’ Player of the Year for 2014. With almost 70 caps for Ireland to his name, Andrew continues to play a central role in Joe Schmidt’s plans.
Andrew has a degree from Queen’s University Belfast and has undertaken a postgraduate diploma in Management with the University of London through Hibernia College.
As one of the most experienced players in the Ulster panel, Andrew has played a central role in assisting the development of younger players around him. A former Player Development Programme representative for Ulster, Andrew’s move to the Executive Board in 2014 highlights his ongoing commitment to player welfare and advocacy both at provincial and national levels. Through IRPA, the International Players’ Association, Andrew was appointed as one of the Northern Hemisphere player representatives on the recently established Rugby Athletes Commission.
Non - Executive Director
Having graduated with a law degree from UCD in 1996, Peter subsequently went on to study for a Higher Diploma in Business Studies and a Masters in Business Studies at the Michael Smurfit School of Business. Peter played professional rugby for Leinster for 4 years, earning an international cap, and during this time co-founded Rugby Players Ireland with certain likeminded players from each of the four provincial teams.
Qualifying as a solicitor in 2006, he set up his law firm McKenna Durcan in 2007 and now specialises in commercial, employment, and sports law matters. Peter is also a member of the Technology Committee of the Law Society of Ireland.
Shane was born in Dublin and schooled at St. Mary’s College where he was earmarked for a career in the game following some influential displays in the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup. A member of the Leinster squad since 2002, Shane moved to the Leicester Tigers in 2005 where he enjoyed two successful seasons alongside Leo Cullen, winning the English Premiership in 2007. Returning to his native Dublin the following season, Shane has been credited with changing the mentality of a Leinster side who would go on to win the Heineken Cup in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Shane also appeared for Ireland on 13 occasions.
Beyond the field of play, Shane has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies in Portobello College and an MBA with the Dublin Business School. He is currently part of the management team at Home Instead Senior Care. Furthermore, Shane has been involved with many charities throughout his career and currently sits on the board of the Ronald McDonald House, which was organised by Boardmatch. His involvement with Rugby Players Ireland stretches back for many years, but most recently he was appointed to the Board as the past-player representative while he is currently acting as an ambassador for the Tackle Your Feelings campaign.
John was invited on to the Rugby Players Ireland Board in September 2012 and he brings some valuable consulting experience and analytical skills to the team. He worked for two global consulting firms in Chicago and Dublin, before setting up his own consulting firm in 2004, Treacy Consulting. His firm has over 50 international and national client companies, across nearly 40 different industries. John and his team specialise in strategy consulting, strategic research & analysis, organisational effectiveness, change management, start-up strategies, venture fundraising, and sales and marketing strategy.
John also brings experience from other Board and committee memberships, including, the Docklands Business Forum and The DDDA Council. He has also held a range of officer positions in Old Belvedere RFC and he is still playing rugby
Simon is the CEO of Rugby Players Ireland. He also acts as the Operations Manager and Head of Legal Affairs at the association. Previously Simon was the Northern Hemisphere manager for IRPA (International Rugby Players Association).
Simon provides assistance to players in areas including employment, taxation and insurance, whilst also dealing with a range of general member services enquiries. In 2015, Simon established the first Irish rugby Agent Regulation Scheme and continues to manage this as well many other aspects of the Association. With IRPA, Simon provides support to players on rugby matters including the provision of advice to unrepresented players, acting on behalf of players on World Rugby working groups and forums and establishing new player associations worldwide.
A graduate of University College Dublin, Simon furthered his education with a Diploma in Legal Studies from Dublin Business School, later trained as a solicitor at the Law Society of Ireland and more recently completed a diploma in management in the IMI. In 2011, Simon was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors following a ten-year professional playing career with his native Leinster and with Harlequins in the UK. During his playing career, Simon was actively involved in both the RPA and IRUPA (now Rugby Players Ireland), with a focus on ensuring the welfare of players, their rights and entitlements. Playing for Leinster and Harlequins, Simon won noteworthy silverware, including the inaugural Celtic League in 2002, the Challenge Cup in 2004 and the Heineken Cup in 2009. Simon also represented Ireland at “A” level.
Originating from New Zealand, Isaac is a former professional rugby player who played Super Rugby with both the Chiefs and the Hurricanes in New Zealand before moving to Ireland in 2005. Playing for both Ulster and Leinster, Isaac won the Celtic League title in 2006 with Ulster while capturing a host of titles with Leinster including two Heineken Cups (2011 and 2012), two Pro 12 titles (2013 and 2014) and a European Challenge Cup in 2013. Over his seventeen-year professional career he has represented Ireland at three Rugby World Cups and is the only Irish player to have played over 100 matches for two provinces.
A well-respected member of the rugby community and known for his involvement with several charities, Isaac was awarded the Medal for Excellence at the Players’ Awards in both 2013 and 2016, recognising his commitment to the game and contribution both on and off the rugby field. During his career, Isaac completed a Bachelor of Management degree at Waikato University and with the help of the Association furthered his education completing a Masters in Business Administration from Dublin Business School.
Upon the conclusion of his professional career, Isaac began in his role as Relationships Manager for Rugby Players Ireland, focusing on improving business relations from both the players and corporate partner perspectives.
Player Development Manager
Nancy works with Rugby Players Ireland as Player Development Manager for Women’s 7s and 15s.
Previously, Nancy was the Performance Director for Paralympics Ireland for the London 2012 cycle and this phase culminated in the Irish team exceeding all targets and winning an unprecedented 16 medals. Through her work across a range of high-performance programmes, Nancy has been able to critically evaluate programmes from a performance perspective with a focus on the ability of a sporting organisation to set and achieve challenging targets. Furthermore, Nancy has worked directly with elite level athletes on personal performance planning. Nancy’s experience also includes a clear understanding of key stakeholder relationships and working with multiple agencies to achieve success.
Following a BA in Psychology in Trinity College, Nancy completed an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology in University of Wales, Bangor. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum and is currently a board member of a national school. She also works as a sport performance consultant and has recently completed work on the Rio 2016 Olympic debrief process across several sports for Sport Ireland.
Player Development Manager
Pamela Gilpin joined the organisation in February 2013 and provides support for Ulster based players. Pamela also provides career and personal coaching support for GPA members as well as the PFAI.
Pamela has an MSc in Sport Psychology and before commencing in her current role, she worked at the Sports Institute NI as a Performance Skills Coach delivering Lifestyle support to high performance athletes. Pamela has also worked with the English Institute of Sport as a Performance Lifestyle Advisor providing support for a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports including British Gymnastics, UK Athletics, GB Men’s Wheelchair Basketball and GB Archery.
Additionally, Pamela has a background in business, specifically in personal development and performance management. Having worked for thinkTASC as a Performance Consultant, she helped to develop their in-house performance management system which targeted the development of people, leaders and teams in line with the business needs.
Rugby Players Ireland Player Development
Marcus first joined the Association in February 2014 for a 9-month period as the Player Development Manager for Munster Rugby. In September 2014 he took time out to complete a Masters in Strength and Conditioning in LIT Thurles and Setanta College. He returned to Rugby Players Ireland in September 2015 on a temporary basis for 7 months, before recommencing in a permanent capacity from October 2016.
During his 14 years as a professional rugby player, Marcus enjoyed success on the field with 3 Triple Crowns and a Grand Slam at senior international level, as well as 2 European Cups , 2 Magners Leagues, a Celtic League and a Celtic Cup with Munster. During this time he acted as the representative for the Munster players on the Executive Board from the time that Rugby Players Ireland was formed, culminating in a 3 year period as Chairman from 2007.
As a former professional rugby player, Marcus brings first-hand experience of transitioning from professional sport to his role as the Rugby Players Ireland Player Development Manager for Munster Rugby while also contributing to the development of the national programme.
Office Management and Administration
Aoife joined the team at Rugby Players Ireland in August 2016. Aoife’s main area of responsibility is Office Management and Administration while she also assists both the Events and Communications Departments.
Aoife has an Honours Degree in English and History from UCD and has more recently graduated with Masters in Sports and Exercise Management from the same university, where she spent several months researching a thesis based on coaching and leadership in Ladies Hockey in Ireland.
Before joining Rugby Players Ireland Aoife worked in the Food and Beverage industry whilst completing her studies.
Player Development Manager
Dr. Deirdre Lyons is the Player Development Manager for Connacht. She joined the Associationin May 2013 having previously worked as the Head of Performance Support Services at the Institute of Sport. Deirdre has more than 18 years’ experience working in high performance sport where she coordinated the provision of sports science, medical and lifestyle support to players, athletes and national squads in close collaboration with their coaches, performance directors and services providers.
A graduate of the University of Limerick (Sports and Exercise Science) she has recently completed a PhD in sports psychology, focusing on athletic career transitions.
As well as her role on the ground with Connacht players, Deirdre manages the development and delivery of all aspects of the Players Development Programme at a national level including career, education, personal and financial development as well as player well-being. She also collaborates closely with international player associations to ensure that the support received by members of the association is measured against international best practice.
Community Engagement Manager
Christina Mahon is the Community Engagement Manager at Rugby Players Ireland and will manage all aspects of community engagement, while assisting the Injured Players Fund and the Tackle Your Feelings Campaign. Through her role, Christina will add value to both our organisation and to the lives of our members.
Christina holds an honours BSc. in Marketing Communications from The Institute of Technology Tallaght. Christina is the newest member of the team having joined in February 2016 and has a strong background in Communications and Event Management through working across hospitality, entertainment, sports and consumer PR sectors. She also has valuable experience in dealing with some of the country’s top athletes whilst previously working with sports management agency Navy Blue.
Media and Communications Manager
Richard is the Media and Communications Manager at Rugby Players Ireland and is responsible for all the communication tasks within the association, including the execution of an integrated strategy in support of Rugby Players Ireland’s key goals. This includes the creation of content, the building of relationships, the handling of all communications between our members and dealing with press queries.
Richard is a graduate of UCD where he read English and History. Having attained a Masters in International Relations, Richard proceeded to study Law and was called to the Bar of Ireland in 2013. He was recently awarded a Diploma in Sports Law by the Law Society. Richard also has qualifications in both print and broadcast media. As an accredited journalist, he has made regular contributions to several websites and publications in a sporting capacity given his keen and active interest therein.
Before joining Rugby Players Ireland in January 2017, Richard practiced at the Bar and also gained considerable experience in dealing with some of the country’s top athletes and brands through his work with Line Up Sports Media Entertainment.
Event and Marketing manager
Finola Roache is Rugby Players Ireland’s Event and Marketing manager. Her responsibilities include the creation, coordination and execution of Rugby Players Ireland Events calendar including the organisation and management of the Zurich Irish Rugby Awards, the annual Golf Classic and pre-match Clubhouse event. Her role also includes the management of the Rugby Players Ireland brand.
Finola graduated with an Honours Degree in Marketing from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, completed a professional diploma in Digital Marketing with the Marketing Institute of Ireland and holds a Diploma in Public Relations and Event Management from the Fitzwilliam Institute. She has previously worked as an office manager for a busy IT services company and completed an internship with one of Ireland’s premium communications companies.
Tackle Your Feelings - Campaign Manager
Créde Sheehy-Kelly is the Campaign Manager for the Tackle Your Feelings mental wellbeing campaign. She is responsible for the strategic development, project management, content creation and practical delivery of Tackle Your Feelings across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Créde joined Rugby Players Ireland in 2015 as Player Development Manager for Leinster but with the growth of the campaign has since moved into her current role on a full-time basis.
Créde brings significant experience to the Rugby Players Ireland team as a Sport and Performance Psychologist with a particular interest in athlete welfare and the impact that wellbeing has on performance. Through her consultancy business, Tiger’s Eye Performance, Créde has extensive experience working with a wide range of professional and elite athletes and corporate clients to enhance performance and wellbeing at individual and group levels. Créde’s professional qualifications include a first-class MSc in sport and exercise psychology, a BA in psychology and accreditation with the Irish Institute of Sport to provide sport psychology support to high performance and Olympic athletes.
Player Development Manager - Leinster
Dr Ella McCabe is the Player Development Manager for Leinster. She joined Rugby Players Ireland in November 2016. Ella holds a BA Hons, MSc and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Trinity College Dublin and has been involved in the assessment, formulation, design and implementation of wellbeing interventions within sports, health, mental health, social care, forensic and brain injury populations. Ella is a Dublin native who has worked and studied in eight different countries, most recently for the NHS in London where she also provided support to Watford Ladies WSL Football Club.
Currently Ella also works part-time in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital as a PSI and HCPC registered Senior Clinical Psychologist in which her duties include clinical assessment and intervention, supervision of doctoral students, team work and consultation, service development, recruitment, research and lecturing.
As Leinster Player Development Manager Ella provides one to one support to players around the Player Development Programme’s five pillars of player wellbeing, career advice and guidance, education, training and skills, personal brand and financial management. She facilitates workshops in these areas, liaises with businesses and non-profits to develop mentoring and community engagement opportunities and provides transition support to players.