Highlights: February 2024

Highlights: February 2024


Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Peter O’Mahony led Ireland into the 2024 Six Nations having been named captain of the squad coming into the campaign. Pete was to the fore of one of the group’s greatest victories as they overcame the French in Marseilles, a game in which Calvin Nash marked his full debut for the national side with a try. The game also saw Cian Healy‘s return to the international fold having been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup through injury. 

O’Mahony’s enforced absence against the Italians resulted in another milestone achievement for Caelan Doris with the Mayo man appointed captain. As Doris led Ireland to a convincing 36-0 win, the recent achievements of the Sevens programme was recognised at half-time.

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Irish players seem to be making try-scoring part of the full debut ritual with Ciarán Frawley doing as Nash did and marking the occasion with what proved to be a crucial score against Wales. Meanwhile, Munster Rugby’s new signing Oli Jager capped a hectic few months by coming off the bench for Ireland against Wales. Coincidentally, the prop’s former club Crusaders were also in Ireland for a friendly game with his new employers at Pairc Uí Chaoimh where Alex Kendellen had the distinction of captaining his home province for the first time.  

Meanwhile, eight uncapped players were included in Scott Bemand’s Ireland squad for the Women’s Six Nations. While Ruth Campbell and Katie Whelan joined the squad in Dubai for the victorious WXV3 campaign, they will be keen to make the next step alongside Chisom Ugwuere, Katie Corrigan, Katie Heffernan, Clare Gorman, Andrea Stock and Shannon IkahihifoSam Monaghan and Edel McMahon return as co-captains. Many of those named in the squad brought their Six Nations preparations to a close as the Wolfhounds overcame the Clovers in the Celtic Challenge Cup. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady


Tackle Your Feelings

Dr Hannah McCormack was on the road during February visiting schools who are participating in the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme. Our thanks to Aitzol King and Temi Lasisi for joining us most recently at Bush Post Primary in Dundalk. Hannah was also joined by Andrew Conway and Marcus Horan for a Tackle Your Feelings wellbeing workshop facilitated by the Cork office of RDJ LLP.

Hannah also convened her first meeting of the Tackle Your Feelings Expert Advisory Panel following her return from maternity leave. The purpose of the Expert Advisory Panel is to inspire the progress of the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme and brings together a number of experts in the fields of education, psychology and wellbeing as well as other relevant individuals whose experience can support the expansion and development of the programme. 


Player Development Programme

Ulster Rugby Player Development Manager Paul Marshall welcomed Ian Humphreys and Jonny Murphy to the Kingspan Stadium for a talk with current players about their respective experiences of the transition. Humphreys is now Director of Anzo Sports while Murphy (aka The Hungry Hooker) has amassed over 200,000 followers across his social media channels where he posts easy-to-do recipes learned from his grandmother. 

Having joined Rugby Players Ireland a few months previously, Paul Marshall shared his perspective on the role of a Player Development Manager especially in the context of retirement. 

You can read Paul’s article here. 

Others to reflect on their careers were Mike Sherry and Billy Holland who returned to Munster’s High-Performance facility at the University of Limerick to speak with Marcus Horan and the current crop of players about how they prepared for life after the game. 

In addition to Transition Workshops, Rugby Players Ireland also facilitated a series of sessions with EPIC Risk Gambling who provide training and education that is uniquely based on lived experience of gambling addiction.


EU Athletes

As part of the #ProtectIntegrity Online project, Rugby Players Ireland welcomed players’ associations from across Europe for a catch-up meeting on an EU funded project that seeks to establish a guideline on integrity and fighting against match fixing. 

In his newly appointed role as Vice President, Simon Keogh also hosted his fellow members of the EU Athletes Executive Board for a two day strategic meeting Dublin. 

Contract News

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

We are thrilled for Eoghan Clarke who has signed a one year extension at Munster Rugby. Earlier this season Clarke was without a job following the liquidation of Jersey Reds, however the hooker has clearly impressed over the course of his short-term deal back in Limerick. This month Munster also announced that Mark Donnelly and half-back duo Tony Butler and Ethan Coughlan have all been promoted to senior contracts, with Scott Buckley signing an extension to his deal. Diarmuid Kilgallen will join the province in the summer while Keynan Knox has left the club. 



In the week he was invited to speak with members of the Ulster Rugby squad about how he managed the transition out of professional rugby (see above), Jonny Murphy featured in an Irish Times article exploring the rise of Ireland’s influencer entrepreneurs.

Check out this article on Ireland’s influencer entrepreneurs in The Irish Times. 

Andrew Trimble was at the helm of an interesting documentary which aired on RTÉ One during the month. Trimble explores his Ulster-Scots roots and asks whether and how it’s possible for different cultures, traditions, loyalties and identities to co-exist peacefully on this island. 

Lindsay Peat was the subject of a Laochra Gael documentary which followed her remarkable sporting journey. 

Our best wishes to Joy Neville who will referee her final international game during the Women’s Six Nations. The Grand Slam winner has taken up a Rugby Development role with Connacht Rugby. 

Congratulations to Jerry Flannery who has been appointed to the coaching team at the Springboks. Flannery’s former Munster Rugby teammate Federico Pucciarello made a trip down memory lane as his son Martino lined out against the Irish U20s at Musgrave Park. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Finally, the Irish Rugby Legends will take to The Stoop on March 8th to face their English foes once again. The game acts as a curtain-raiser for the men’s Six Nations edition and has raised over €1,000,000 for rugby related charities including the Rugby Players Ireland Foundation. 

Tickets are available here. 



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