Educational, vocational and commercial engagement are core principles in equipping our membership with the skills required to succeed both as professional athletes and successful individuals.


Simon Keogh
Peter O’Mahony
Garry Ringrose
Rob Kearney
Dave Heffernan
Peter McKenna
Iain Henderson
Maura Quinn
Billy Dardis
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe



As CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, Simon provides assistance to players in areas including employment, taxation and insurance, whilst also dealing with a range of general member services enquiries.

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.



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, while he was also instrumental as Ireland won a Grand Slam in both 2018 and 2023. 

Pete’s leadership credentials were further enhanced when he captained the British & Irish Lions in their first test against New Zealand in 2017. Now ten years into his Munster Rugby captaincy, he led the province to a historic URC triumph against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town. 

Peter was appointed to the Executive Board upon the retirement of Paul O’Connell in 2015, and was elected Chair in 2022 following Rob Kearney’s retirement. 



A mainstay of the Irish midfield, Garry Ringrose has also become an established voice off-the-field through his work on the Executive Board. A leader of the Leinster Rugby team, Garry follows in the formidable footsteps of Johnny Sexton who represented his colleagues’ voice for several seasons. 

Having made his senior international bow in November 2016, Garry has gone on to represent his country on over 50 occasions during which time he played integral roles in Ireland’s Grand Slam successes of 2018 and 2023. On a personal level, Garry has been named the Nevin Spence Men’s Young Player of the Year (2017) and Players’ Player of the Year (2020) at the Rugby Players Ireland Awards. 

Garry is also an ambassador for LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice who are also Rugby Players’ Ireland’s official charity partners. 


Former Chairman

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 upon his election to the Executive Board in September 2013. He continued in that capacity until his move to the Western Force in Australia in early 2021. Rob’s passion for the development of the game off the field is evidenced in his willingness to remain involved. 



A Mayo native, Dave moved to Blackrock College at 15 before returning out west to line out for Connacht Rugby representative sides. He ultimately lined out for the senior side for the first time in March 2012 and has gone on to play almost 200 times for the province where he is an established member of the leadership team. 

Having made his Irish debut against the USA in June 2017, Dave has had to bide his time on the international stage. In all he has won seven caps for his country. 

Dave was first appointed as the Connacht Rugby representative on the Executive Board when Eoin McKeon stepped down in 2020. 



Non - Executive Director

Having graduated with a law degree from UCD in 1996, Peter 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 the Irish Rugby Union Players’ Association (IRUPA) now known as 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.



An integral part of Ulster Rugby, Iain was appointed to the Executive Board of Rugby Players Ireland following Darren Cave’s retirement in 2019. 

A graduate of the Ulster Academy, Iain made his senior provincial debut against Connacht in April 2012. He is currently the Ulster Rugby captain, assuming the role upon Rory Best’s retirement. 

Having been part of Ireland’s successful Junior World Cup side in 2012, Iain was tipped for a big future on the international stage. Senior recognition duly followed with Iain making his Test debut against South Africa in November of the same year. He continues to be a key member of the Irish squad, reaching his 50th cap during the Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

A member of the Grand Slam winning teams of 2018 and 2023, Iain was also part of the British & Irish Lions squads that travelled to New Zealand in 2017 and South Africa in 2021. 


Non-Executive Director

Maura Quinn was appointed as Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland in April 2008. As Chief Executive, Maura is responsible for leading the strategic development of the IoD through growing the membership base, expanding the range of programmes and services and building the profile of the organisation.

In September 2008, Maura spearheaded the introduction of the IoD Chartered Director Programme, which is the most sought after and prestigious director qualification in Ireland. She is a leading voice on the importance of director training and board diversity and a keen advocate of the need to improve corporate governance standards and the quality of boards in Ireland.

Prior to joining the IoD, Maura was Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland for eleven years, where she was credited with the resurgence, growth and development of the organisation in Ireland. Having operated at a senior level with UNICEF HQ in New York and Geneva, Maura was also elected Vice-Chair of UNICEF’s Standing Group of National Committees, which generate one third of UNICEF’s income worldwide. 

Having studied Law and Marketing, her career has included a range of senior appointments in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. In 2014, she was appointed as a non-executive director of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital.


Men’s 7s

A member of the Irish Men’s 7s squad since 2015, Billy has played an integral role in the side’s establishment as a core team on the World Series as captain, a role he has become very familiar with over the course of his rugby career. An Olympian in Tokyo, Billy remains a central feature of the squad that will go to Paris in 2024. 

Having balanced a career in the Leinster academy while studying Health & Performance Science at UCD, the Ad Astra scholar continued his education at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School where he pursued a Master’s degree in Management Consultancy. 

He was appointed to the Executive Board following the retirement of Greg O’Shea in 2021. 

Murphy Crowe

Women's 7s

Hailing from County Tipperary and began playing rugby aged 15 in her local club Clanwilliam. Amee-Leigh was selected for the Munster Senior XVs side aged 18 and was identified as a talent and invited to play with the Ireland Women’s 7s.

Since making her senior debut in Guangzhou in 2014, Murphy Crowe has gone on to become the top try scorer for the Ireland 7s, has been named Rugby Players Ireland’s Women’s 7s Player of the Year on four occasions, is a regular feature on HSBC Dream Teams on the World Series circuit, and has also earned 9 caps for the national XVs side.

In 2023 she was part of the Irish 7s side that made history by securing qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris. She was elected to the Executive Board following Louise Galvin’s retirement in 2020. 


Simon Keogh
Aaron Buggle
Pamela Gilpin
Marcus Horan
Aoife Lane
Dr Deirdre Lyons
Dr Emma Burrows
Richard McElwee
Finola Roache
Dr Hannah McCormack
Mark Smyth
Paul Marshall



As CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, Simon provides assistance to players in areas including employment, taxation and insurance, whilst also dealing with a range of general member services enquiries.

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.


Player Development Manager - Irish Sevens

Aaron is a seasoned professional passionate about sports and holistic athlete development. With a professional cycling background, Aaron has won multiple national titles and competed on the world stage at various major championships. Unfortunately, an early retirement due to a head injury led him to pursue an alternative career earlier than planned. The next chapter began with academics when Aaron studied Sports Science at DCU.

Aaron’s journey took several turns as he delved into entrepreneurship, excelling in marketing and coaching start-ups. His commitment to sports excellence and management prowess caught the attention of the HP Sports community, leading him to serve as the interim High-Performance Manager of Cycling Ireland during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 with a focus on planning, systems, and structures related to the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games cycle.

In 2022, building on his multifaceted experience, Aaron ventured into performance lifestyle coaching with the English Institute of Sport, collaborating with the world-class men’s and women’s programs at Great Britain Rowing. Aaron recently completed his Masters’s and PGdip in Sports psychology and is further honing his skills as a Sports Psychologist in training. With a competitive background, entrepreneurial experience and coaching finesse, Aaron brings a unique perspective to player development. In mentoring the current generation of players, Aaron remains dedicated to unlocking the full potential of those he works with on and off the field.


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.


Player Development Manager - Munster

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. Through player engagement and the faciliatation of courses/workshops, Marcus will implement the Player Development Programme through player engagement and facilitation of courses/workshops and education programmes and spread the PDP message amongst corporates, underage and past players.


Player Development Manager (Irish Women's XVs) & Foundation Manager

Aoife is the Player Development Manager for the Irish Women’s XV squad. Through focusing on their individual needs, Aoife supports the players in the management of their busy schedules and facilitating their off-field development.

Aoife also manages the Rugby Players Ireland Foundation. The Foundation is a registered charity which offers supports and emergency financial assistance to members who are experiencing difficult times, hardship or have to retire due to injury. As Foundation manager, Aoife is required to arrange fundraisers, conduct reviews and the processing of applications, updates the charity board on all activities and ensures compliance with the charity regulator. In addition, Aoife also coordinates a wellbeing service for our members.

Aoife has worked with Rugby Players Ireland for nearly 5 years now and has progressed through various roles within the organisation. Aoife has an Honours Degree in English and History from UCD and a Masters in Sports and Exercise Management from the same university. As part of her studies, Aoife’s thesis researched various aspects of coaching and leadership within Ladies Hockey in Ireland. Aoife is currently enrolled in the Professional Diploma in Executive Coaching with the IMI, developing her coaching skills. 

Deirdre Lyons

Head of Player Development & Player Development Manager - Connacht Rugby

Heading up a team of six PDMs, Dr Deirdre Lyons manages the development and delivery of all aspects of the Player Development Programme at Rugby Players Ireland. This includes career, education, personal and financial development as well as player well-being. On the ground, she is also the Player Development Manager for Connacht Rugby where is an integral part of the players’ support team. Her approach is person-centred, where the individual needs of players are assessed, and personal development actions plans are tailored to those needs.

Deirdre joined the Association in 2013 having worked as the Head of Performance Support Services at the Institute of Sport. She is passionate about player welfare and has amassed over 20 years of experience in the coordination and provision of sports science, medical and lifestyle support to players, athletes and national squads in close collaboration with their coaches, managers, performance directors and service providers.

Deirdre is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and obtained her PhD in Sports Psychology in 2016. Her doctoral thesis focused on exploring athletic career transitions in Olympic sports and how frameworks from counselling and sport psychology can be applied to best understand and support athletes during those transitions.

Deirdre is also a consultant on player personal development issues with International Rugby Players and collaborates closely with Irish and international player associations including FIFPro (the world footballer’s player association), PPF (Professional Players Federation, UK) and World Players ensuring that Rugby Players Ireland’s programmes and initiatives are constantly measured against international best practice.

Emma Burrows

Player Development Manager - Leinster Rugby

Dr Emma Burrows is a sports and wellbeing coach with 14 years’ experience working with recreational, performance pathway, Olympic, Paralympic, and professional athletes. She works with Leinster Rugby as Personal Development Manager.

She was previously the Player Development Manager for the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland where she developed and delivered their Personal Development Program including career planning and wellbeing support to professional soccer players.

Emma completed a BSc. in Sport Science and Health in 2013 during which she conducted award winning research on coaches’ attitudes to mental health issues in athletes. She continued her studies in DCU completing her PhD in 2019 following a period of 5 years developing, implementing and evaluating a life skills and career adaptability intervention for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches and support providers which reached over 150 people ahead of the Rio 2016 Games.

Emma has lectured in Waterford IT, Dublin City University, University of Limerick and Colaiste Dhulaigh CFE on contemporary issues such as athlete wellbeing, doping, aggression, career transitions and coaching. She has a keen interest in Research Ethics and represented the student body on the Dublin City University Research Ethics Committee.

Most recently, Emma has completed a professional diploma in Digital Learning Design and has led the development of our E-Learning membership offer.


Email: emma@rugbyplayersireland.ie 


Director of Communications & Legal Affairs

A qualified barrister, Richard was called to the Bar of Ireland in 2013. Having attained a Masters in International Relations from UCD, proceeded to study Law and in more recent years has added a Diploma in Sports Law from the Law Society and an Advanced Diploma in Social Media & Media Law from the King’s Inns to his portfolio. Richard also has qualifications in Sports Psychology and Strategic Communications. 

Before joining Rugby Players Ireland in January 2017, Richard practiced at the Four Courts, was published in several national and regional publications, 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. He has recently linked up with B5 Consultancy, a UK based group that works with businesses to help create risk averse, respectful and defensive cultures within their organisations. 


Events and Sponsorship Manager

Finola Roache is Rugby Players Ireland’s Event and Sponsorship manager. Her responsibilities include the creation, coordination and execution of Rugby Players Ireland’s Events calendar including the organisation and management of the Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, the annual Golf Classic and pre-match Clubhouse event. Her role also includes supporting Rugby Players Ireland internal events, including the annual Rugby Players Ireland | IRFU Rookie Camp, the Irish Women’s XVs Personal Development Camp and the provincial Past Player Clubhouse events.

Finola is responsible for liaising with Rugby Players Ireland’s Sponsors and Partners to ensure they are maximising the benefits of their relationship with Rugby Players Ireland and creating innovative ways for our sponsors to engage with our members. Finola graduated with an Honours Degree in Marketing from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, achieved a ‘Highly Commended’ in the ESA Diploma in Sports Sponsorship and holds a Diploma in Public Relations and Event Management from the Fitzwilliam Institute.

Hannah McCormack

Tackle Your Feelings - Campaign Manager

Hannah McCormack 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 Phase 2 of Tackle Your Feelings across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This phase of the campaign builds on the past success of Tackle Your Feelings and embarks on a more focused approach to both corporate wellbeing and, the mental wellbeing of Secondary school students throughout the four provinces of Ireland.

Hannah completed her Doctoral Research at the University of Limerick, which investigated the work-based wellbeing of applied sport psychologists. Her PhD utilised knowledge from work and organisational psychology, applying theory and best practice to the demanding high-performance sports arena. Her thesis focused on the wellbeing of applied psychologists and the symbiotic relationship between their mental health and that of the athletes and support staff they work with. She has published two papers in peer reviewed journals relating directly to her research. Prior to this she received an MSc. in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology from Bangor University, having previously studied for her undergraduate degree in Sport Science and Health (BSc. Hons.) at Dublin City University.

Hannah has completed the Irish Institute of Sport applied mentorship programme, consults with athletes and teams across a range of sports including Rugby (athletes and referees), Swimming, Canoe Polo, Archery and Triathlon. Hannah recently completed the Women in Sport Leadership Programme which was run by Swim Ireland in association with Sport Ireland.


Lead Clinical Psychologist - Rugby Players Ireland Mental Wellbeing Service

Mark Smyth is the lead Clinical Psychologist for Rugby Players Ireland Mental Health service and Clinical Consultant for the Tackle Your Feelings campaign. In 2020 he was the 50th President of the Psychological Society of Ireland.  He is also a Chartered Senior Clinical Psychologist with over 18 years experience.  He works in a Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service and also works therapeutically with all ages in his private practice.  

Mark specialisies in working with clients with difficulties in the areas of anxiety, trauma and self-harm.   He has a deep interest in the psychology of social media, politics & policing. Mark is a frequent contributor in the media on mental health and psychology matters.  You can find out more about Mark’s work at his blog or you’ll find him most often on Twitter.


Player Development Manager – Ulster Rugby

Paul joined Rugby Players Ireland in the summer of 2023, having been a past player with Ulster Rugby from 2005-2018 navigating his way through the ranks from the Academy into the Senior National side. Paul has a BSc in Sport and Exercise Sciences from Ulster University, and in 2019 he completed a Post Graduate Certification in Education. He has been the Head of Boys’ Physical Education in Antrim Grammar School for the past 4 years.

Paul’s experience as a player should help him in the role assisting players as they transition from playing into the world of work. Coming from a background in education, Paul is passionate to see players developing their options academically and through vocational skills workshops, enabling them to fulfil their ambitions off the field.