Highlights: June 2024

Highlights: June 2024

Rugby League Cares

It was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of Rob Burrow in early June. Last year, several of our members met his great friend Kevin Sinfield as he closed out an epic seven day ultra marathon challenge in Dublin to raise awareness and funds to support those impacted by motor neurone disease (MND).

Relationships between the two codes have developed in recent years. This month, Rugby Players Ireland welcomed our colleagues from Rugby League Cares as they embarked on a 300mile charity cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way. RL Cares has been delivering world class levels of wellbeing support to rugby league players since 2019 and maintains regular contact with representatives in other sports to ensure athletes get the best support possible. Both organisations share the same values especially around issues such as personal development and health.  

Speaking about the collaboration, Dr Deirdre Lyons said she was thrilled to link up with RL Cares and to “unite rugby codes in a shared commitment to support, nurture, and champion the wellbeing of our players.” 


Seven Lessons with Rugby 7s

As they geared up for a busy summer, we brought several Irish Rugby 7s stars back to school as part of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign. Over the course of the series, the players met with students preparing for exams and sat down for chats with their former teachers and other people who had a positive influence on their young selves. As champions for TYF, the players hope to inspire the next generation both on and off the field over the coming weeks. The first episodes featured Eve Higgins and Hugo Lennox

In other TYF related news, Brittany Hogan and Chris Cosgrave visited Zurich’s offices in Blackrock for a discussion about the power of diversity, inclusion and allyship. Dr Hannah McCormack was joined by John McKee and Liam Turner at the RDJ LLP offices in Dublin, while Marcus Horan and the recently retired Conor Kenny were subsequentlyat the firm’s Galway base. 

Meanwhile, Anna McHale presented some of her preliminary findings on the perspectives of teachers and students using the TYF Schools App at the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions’ (ISRII) annual conference at the University of Limerick. Anna also presented to the TYF Expert Panel which convened again in June. 


Brain Health Service

Having launched the Brain Health Service last month, we were delighted to invite our past player membership for their initial assessments. Available to all players (male and female) who have played senior international (15s & 7s) or senior provincial rugby. 

For more information, email: brainhealth& 


Player Development Programme

As the season drew to a close, our Player Development Team travelled to Edgbaston where they were joined by the Rugby Players’ Association and hosted by the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) for a workshop centred on each organisation’s learnings from the season. 



Our congratulations to Jack Crowley who was named as the BKT United Rugby Championship’s Players’ Player of the season. Crowley was also named as the Next Gen star of the competition while he was included in the URC Elite XV alongside Tadhg Beirne, John Cooney, Jordan Larmour and Alex Nankivell. Shane Daly picked up the Ironman Award for the most amount of minutes across the campaign. 

David McCann was named as the Ulster Rugby Men’s Player of the Year and the Rugby Writers Player of the Year. Brittany Hogan was the winner of the Women’s Player of the Year while John Cooney was the Supporters’ Club Player of the Year. The retiring Luke Marshall was named Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year. 

Jamison Gibson-Park was named Player of the Year at Leinster Rugby with Aoife Dalton named Women’s Player of the Year. 

Our best wishes to all those selected to represent Team Ireland in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris – a big welcome back to Lucy Rock who has been injured for several months, while Ashleigh Orchard has been included. Orchard initially rejected a contract offer from the IRFU in 2022 as she was pregnant with her daughter Arabella. Orchard, who returned to the Sevens programme in February, last played for the side in 2018. 

Read more about Ashleigh’s journey here. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan


Contract News

Ulster Rugby announced that Ben Carson, Conor McKee, David Shanahan, Marty Moore, Matty Rea, Reuben Crothers and Eric O’Sullivan have all signed contract extensions with the province. 

Jack O’Sullivan is moving on from Munster Rugby to pursue a playing opportunity in Japan. 



Cian Kelleher announced his retirement from the game. Kelleher represented both Connacht Rugby and Leinster Rugby before departing for Ealing Trailfinders in 2021. 

George Saunderson has also called time on his career following medical advice. Saunderson represented Ireland at U20 level in 2021. 

Simon Zebo bid an emotional farewell to the Munster Rugby faithful as Munster bowed out of the URC. 


Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan




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