Highlights: December 2023
For a closer look at the work carried out by Rugby Players Ireland over the past 12 months, check out our Annual Review 2023.
The Road to Paris Begins
After what seemed like an eternity, the Irish Men’s and Women’s Sevens kicked back into action with a double SVNS Series leg encompassing Dubai and Cape Town.
While Lucy Mulhall‘s charges will have been disappointed with their overall performance, the HerSport.ie Sportswoman of the Year nominee will know that her side are capable of much greater things this season. Meanwhile, the highlight over the two weeks was certainly the men’s first ever victory over New Zealand to pave the way to a Cape Town semi-final. However, the side were overturned by Argentina before losing out narrowly to Fiji for the bronze medal.
— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) December 16, 2023
Several players also celebrated milestone moments with Stacey Flood, Harry McNulty, Billy Dardis and Mark Roche all marking their 50th caps on the series.
Citizen of Ireland
Our congratulations to Jamison Gibson-Park who received his Irish citizenship from the Department of Justice. Gibson-Park first arrived in Ireland ahead of the 2016/17 season and has gone on to win over 30 caps for his adopted home.
A number of deals have been settled early with Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman and Paddy Patterson all signing two-year extensions with Munster Rugby. However, RG Snyman will move on from the province at the end of the season to link up with Leinster Rugby.
Jack Carty added another Connacht Rugby milestone to his portfolio as he became the sixth player to represent the province 200 times. Despite going down to Saracens 55-36, the game also marked the return of Gavin Thornbury exactly one year after he sustained a serious knee injury.
Emerging talent Brian Gleeson was nominated for the RTÉ Young Sportsperson of the Year Award having played in integral role in Ireland U20s Grand SLam campaign and their subsequent march to the World Rugby U20 Championship final.
It was great to be able to call upon Dan Leavy, Devin Toner and Andy Dunne as we explored the transition out of rugby with our Leinster Rugby members. Our thanks to Leinster Rugby for facilitating.
Both Andrew Conway and Keith Earls have been embracing their new identities as retired rugby players. Earls has been busy at work with Eleven14 Coffee, he has found time to tog out for the local Aisling Annacotty soccer club in Limerick. Conway, on the other hand, represented Ireland at the Rugby Athletes Commission meeting with World Rugby in Dubai. Having been denied the send-off they might have wished for, the duo were invited onto the field at half-time during Munster’s Champions Cup clash with Bayonne to say their final farewells.
In what was a busy few weeks, Earls was also on hand to support Kevin Sinfield over the finish line as he bid to run seven marathions in as many days in aid of MOtore Neurone charites across Ireland and the UK. Gordon D’Arcy, Tommy Bowe, Ian Madigan and a number of Leinster Rugby players also turned out to support the 7in7 challenge.
Damian Browne‘s epic row across the Atlantic was brought to a wider audience as Man vs Ocean aired on RTÉ One.
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