Highlights: June 2023

Highlights: June 2023

Golden Hour(s)

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The Irish Men’s 7s were on the double in June. Having claimed gold at the Algarve 7s with World Rugby 7s Player of the Year Terry Kennedy back in tow, the team continued their hot streak by also taking gold at the European Games in Krakow.

The latter also served as an Olympic Qualifying tournament and thereby secures the team’s place at the Games in Paris next year where they will join their female counterparts for what will be a historic few weeks. Incidentally, Lucy Mulhall picked up The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Month for May 2023 having helped the Irish Women’s 7s team qualify for the first time. 



Following on from his role in showcasing the URC’s Unity Round on behalf of Tackle Your Feelings, Nick McCarthy joined Hannah Tyrrell at Zurich for a discussion on the importance of inclusion in our society. 


International Collaboration

At the outset of the month, representatives of Rugby Players Ireland were in attendance at the inaugural #Right2Organize Conference hosted by the World Players Association and FIFPRO. Bringing together the leaders of some of the most powerful and innovative professional athlete unions in the world, more than 70 players’ associations departed Amsterdam equipped with the practical tools to organise players, carry out collective action and collectively bargain – all of which are fundamental to improving the rights and working conditions of athletes and players. #

In June, Rugby Players Ireland were also present for the EU Athletes General Assembly 2023 in Bologna. The meeting focused on the discussions about EU Athletes priorities and activities, including policy work, EU funded projects and the ISU case. The participants also engaged in workshops to discuss the key issues and build the future work of EU Athletes to best support the athlete associations and the European athletes.

The General Assembly was followed by the Board meeting, during which Natalia Orive (AJFSF) was elected as the President of EU Athletes and Simon Keogh (RPI) as the Vice-President.

Together with EU Athletes and a number of players’ associations across Europe, Rugby Players Ireland are also involved in two EU funded projects: 

  • Protect Integrity Online aims to educate athletes across Europe on the dangers of match-fixing
  • Social Dialogue in Europe for Professional Sports aims to identify good practices and enabling factors for social dialogue. Social dialogue is defined by the ILO to include all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between, or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers. 


Player Development

Extremely proud of both Jake Flannery and Meabh Deely who both graduated from their respective colleges in recent weeks. 

Flannery graduated from the University of Limerick with a degree in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering. The out-half recently signed a three-year contract extension with Ulster Rugby having moved to Belfast from Limerick last season. 

Deely also donned a gown to celebrate her degree in Geography & Geoscience from Trinity College. 


Active* Consent

Rugby Players Ireland were at Government Buildings for the launch of a new a five-year Active* Consent programme.

This programme builds on the first cycle of the Active*Consent programme which has been delivered to thousands of students across Ireland and to Rugby Players Ireland members. The curriculum provides education and awareness-raising workshops and resources to players, encouraging open conversations on healthy relationships, emotional expression and personal responsibility.


Done Deal

Following speculation surrounding his future, Iain Henderson has signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at Ulster until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Georgian international prop Vakh Abdaladze has joined Brive in France’s Top14 from Leinster Rugby ahead of the coming season. In recent years Vakh established Taste of Georgia, a specialist importer of Georgian wines.  

Abdaladze follows Dan Goggin and Frank Bradshaw Ryan to France with the duo having secured moves to Montabaun. 

There will be a very Irish flavour to the Jersey Reds next year with Peter Sullivan and Ciaran Booth adding to a contingent that already includes Sean O’Connor, Greg McGrath, Alex McHenry, Eoghan Clarke and former Connacht scrum-half James Mitchell


Irish Abroad

Our congratulations to Sam Monaghan, Neve Jones and Kathryn Buggy who were all part of the Gloucester-Hartpury squad who defeated an Exeter Chiefs Women side including Nichola Fryday, Edel McMahon and Cliodhna Moloney in the Premier 15s Final. Monaghan was also named in the Premier 15s Team of the Season. 

A little further afield, John Ryan was involved as the Chiefs fell to the Crusaders in the Super Rugby Final.  



Rugby Players Ireland supported several initiatives led by other players’ associations during the month of June. 

Last month the United States Rugby Players Association (USRPA) announced it was calling for voluntary recognition as the players’ collective bargaining representative by Major League Rugby (MLR) through the launch of their organising campaign Backed by the majority of players, the campaign calls on the league to address player concerns of player Safety and Security while working towards evolving the sport and helping the MLR Strengthen the league. 

To learn more, read this article from The Guardian. 

The GPA have announced that senior inter-county ladies football and camogie panels will “play the remainder of the 2023 championship under protest”. The players’ primary frustration stems from a request for a charter designed for female players to be implemented in the 2024 season and has yet to be followed through. 

International Rugby Players were also busy in the media with their Head of Player Welfare Conrad Smith outlining that any Global Season proposition must put player welfare first and foremost and create opportunities for Emerging Nations. 

Amidst the sorry state of London Irish, Hugh O’Sullivan spoke to Off the Ball about the perilous situation at the club for players and staff. 


RPI Magazine

The latest edition of the Rugby Players Ireland magazine features exclusive interviews with Ultan Dillane, Ryan Baird mand Matt Healy, while Maeve Óg O’Leary gives us an insight into life as a professional rugby player in the newly launched women’s programme. 



A big welcome to Conor Carey to the past player world. After a 14 month bid to recovery from injury, the former Connacht Rugby prop has called time on a 12-year career that has encompassed spells with sevens sides across the Premiership, Pro14, Top14, the Championship and the Heineken Cup.

Adam Leavy was part of the first Irish rugby team to go to the Olympics. While his former teammates set about securing their place in Paris next year, Adam has been forging a new path with Ogham Whiskey. 

We caught up with him to learn more. 




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