Highlights: June 2021

Highlights: June 2021

Tokyo Bound!

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Manuel Blondeau

Six years after embarking on a rollercoaster journey from the bottom tier of European Sevens Rugby, Ireland Men’s Sevens have this evening realised their Olympic Dream by booking their place at this summer’s Tokyo Games courtesy of a 28-19 victory at the final Qualifying tournament in Monaco.

Anthony Eddy‘s side created history on a magical evening for Irish Rugby at the Stade Louis II with victory over France in the final of the World Rugby Sevens Repechage, as they secured the 12th and final place in the Men’s Sevens competition in Tokyo.

Captain Billy Dardis drew great praise for the way in which he spoke in the immediate aftermath of qualification. 

Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards 2021

Following the hosting of last year’s Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards night behind closed doors, the wheels are in motion for a live event in the latter part of 2021. As the domestic rugby season drew to a close, our members from the XVs game cast their votes for their Player of the Season. Over the coming months, nominees in further categories will be revealed. 

Our congratulations to the nominees for the Zurich Men’s Players’ Player of the Season 2020/21

Tadhg Beirne


Tom Daly


Iain Henderson


Robbie Henshaw


Our congratulations to the nominees for the Zurich Women’s Players’ Player of the Season 2020/21

Eimear Considine


Stacey Flood


Beibhinn Parsons


Dorothy Wall


Provincial Awards

The awards season has been in full flow of late. Our congratulations to all recipients of awards presented by their own clubs.

Connacht Rugby

Tom Daly – Fans’ Player of the Year; Tom Daly – Players’ Player of the Year; Beibhinn Parsons – Women’s Player of the Year; Cian Prendergast – Academy Player of the Year

Munster Rugby

Gavin Coombes – Men’s Player of the Year; Dorothy Wall – Women’s Player of the Year; Craig Casey – Young Player of the Year; Ben Healy – Academy Player of the Year 

Ulster Rugby

Iain Henderson – Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year; Alan O’Connor – Player of the Year; James Hume – Young Player of the Year; Nick Timoney – Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year ; John Cooney – URSC Player of the Year 



From the decriminalisation of homosexuality to same-sex marriage act, Pride has long been vital in paving the way for progression – recognising the need for equal rights for people of all genders and sexual orientations. Pride Month is also an opportunity to pause and celebrate how far we’ve come. A number of our members were involved in Pride activity throughout the month, not least Jack Dunne of Leinster Rugby who spoke to the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast about his work with ShoutOut and how now is the right time to be visible and open in sport.  It’s well worth a listen (click on the image). 



Our congratulations to all those who have completed their University exams over the past number of weeks. Special nod to Dr Josh Murphy who graduated from UCD School of Medicine before setting off for Glasgow with Leinster Rugby in the side’s penultimate game of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup. 

In the days after having helping the Irish 7s qualify for the Olympics, Adam Leavy earned a 3.5 GPA as he finished his MSc in Finance from UCD Michael Smurfit Business Graduate School. 

This month we also spoke to Jack O’Sullivan was recently received news of his qualification from UCC with a BSc in Finance. Jack remains a member of UCC RFC who, along with the Quercus Talented Students’ programme, have been hugely supportive of the young backrower. Read more here!

Internally, members of our Player Development team also concluded the #PROLead Erasmus Plus European Leadership course facilitated by EU Athletes. 

EU Sport Forum

On June 8, CEO Simon Keogh participated in a discussion on how the pandemic has changed our sport habits. Attendees were keen to learn how Rugby Players Ireland dealt with the crisis. “After the first lockdown we thought things would come back to normal,” Keogh acknowledged. “When they didn’t we had to buy ourselves some time. We showed support to our members by focusing on their health and increasing our mental health services.”  


TYF Spreading its Wings

It was a momentous month for our Tackle Your Feelings campaign with several notable milestones occurring in June. At the beginning of the month we announced that TYF would be taking its first foray into the world of the GAA. Through Zurich’s long-standing partnership with Wexford GAA, TYF workshops will be delivered to the Wexford ladies and men’s teams over the coming months. Meanwhile, the Tackle Your Feelings logo will also be visible on Wexford’s away strip for the current campaign. 

Photo by Diarmuid Greene

The campaign was also named as the Best Long-term Campaign at the PRCA/PRII Awards for Excellence in Public Relations. Tackle Your Feelings was described by the judges as demonstrating “solid, long-term commitment and good use of brand ambassadors to achieve earned media coverage nationally and internationally. It set clear targets with measurable results that delivered for the sponsors and the campaign concept has been replicated internationally.”


Community Engagement

On #MensHealthDay, Joey Carbery joined a panel discussion hosted by Aware to highlight some of the issues that men face. Joey also took the time to talk to Rugby Players Ireland about his involvement with the charity. You can read it here!

More recently, Carbery’s teammate Craig Casey was announced by the MidWest Simon Community as their newest ambassador in another relationship facilitated by Rugby Players Ireland. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Captain Murray

Following the unfortunate withdrawal of Alun Wyn Jones from the touring party, Conor Murray joins a prestigious list of names to captain the British & Irish Lions. The news came after the Lions defeated Japan 28-10 before taking flight for South Africa. All seven Irish representatives started and featured prominently in the pre-tour win. We wish them all well for the weeks ahead, while sparing a thought for Andrew Porter who was ruled out of the series through injury. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Back at it!

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

James Ryan was named as captain of Andy Farrell’s Irish squad to take on Japan and the USA in July. Ryan has been joined in camp by several new faces. Well done to Robert Baloucoune, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, Tom Daly, Peter Dooley, James Hume, Ross Molony, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney, Fineen Wycherley, while Michael Lowry has also been training with the squad. Long-term absentees Will Addison and Joey Carbery also earned recalls. 

In other Irish Rugby related news, Alex Kendellen and his U20s teammates have set the pace in this year’s rescheduled U20 Six Nations Championship. The side beat Scotland 38-7 on the opening weekend before following up with a resounding 40-12 victory over their Welsh hosts. 


Opening Up!

Ahead of an easing of restrictions in early June, we caught up with Dave Kearney and Noel Anderson as co-owners of The Bridge 1859 in Ballsbridge to discuss some of the challenges they’ve faced over a year when hospitality was hit hardest by the pandemic. You can read it here.


Irish Abroad

Plenty of movement this month with a number of players seeking out new opportunities across the world.

Leinster Rugby academy player Sean O’Brien is the latest Irishman to head for the LA Giltinis in the MLR where he will link up with Sean McNulty and Luke Carty who was recently called into the US Eagles extended roster ahead of their summer tests. Prior to his withdrawal through injury ex-Connacht Rugby man AJ MacGinty was named as captain of the touring Eagles. 

Havng barely landed in Scotland following his move to Edinburgh, former Ulster Rugby player Adam McBurney was called into the Scotland squad for their upcoming fixtures. McBurney’s former teammate Peter Nelson is in the Canadian squad that will face England and Wales. 

Elsewhere this month, Quinn Roux‘s move to Toulon was confirmed, Conor Kenny has joined the Newcastle Falcons, while Bill Johnston has joined his brother Dave at Ealing Trailfinders alongside former Irish U20s hooker Tadhg McElroy



A number of players bowed out of the game following the conclusion of the season. At Connacht Rugby, Paddy McAllister, Cillian Gallagher and Sean O’Brien all bade their farewells. While McAllister enjoyed a 14-year professional career that also encompassed spells with Ulster Rugby, Aurillac and Gloucester Rugby, both Gallagher (23) and O’Brien (26) have been forced to retire prematurely. 

At Leinster Rugby, two stalwarts played their final game as the RDS welcomed fans back for the first time in 18 months. Our best wishes to Michael Bent and Scott Fardy on the next chapter. 

Meanwhile, Kyle McCall called time on a professional career that spanned eight seasons at Ulster Rugby, while former Munster Rugby player Sean Dougall has also announced his retirement. The aforementioned join Stephen Fitzgerald, Katie Fitzhenry, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander and Hannah Tyrrell in announcing their retirements. Our sincerest best wishes to all!

Having said goodbye to international rugby erlier this year, Hannah Tyrrell has gone on to become a key player for the Dublin Ladies football team as she helped them to the Lidl National League Division 1 crown. Hannah was also named as the Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month for May. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Jerry Flannery furthered his coaching credentials as Harlequins claimed the Gallagher Premiership in an exciting finale against Exeter Chiefs.

Former Connacht Rugby player Andrew Browne will be returning to the Sportsground in an Elite Player Development role. A little further afield, Andrew’s brother Damian Browne was frustratingly precluded from scaling Mount Everest in his latest challenge. If you missed it, you can follow Damian’s journey on his Deep Roots podcast which charts his fascinating journey from Lukla where he was ready and prepared to step on top of the world. 



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