Highlights: March 2024

Highlights: March 2024

Represent. Develop. Engage. 



Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Andrew Porter scored the decisive try after Dan Sheehan had touched down in the first half as Ireland claimed back-to-back Championships with a hard fought win over Scotland. Having been overturned at the death by England in the previous round it was understandable that Ireland were not at their imperious best. Nevertheless they displayed enough grit and guile to see out the challenge posed by a determined Scottish team who still had a claim to their first Triple Crown in 34 years.

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Following another big display in midfield, Bundee Aki is in the running for the Guinness Six Nations Player of the Championship, adding to his World Rugby Player of the Year nomination last year. 

Unfortunately, Evan O’Connell‘s Ireland U20s were pipped to the Six Nations by an amazing turn of events in France, as England came from behind to score 33 points and defeat their hosts with a bonus point. At the sounding of the final whistle in Cork, Ireland looked destined to win their third Grand Slam in a row at this level having comprehensively beaten Scotland 36-0 but their fate wasn’t in their hands and they looked on from the Musgrave Park field in disbelief. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady


Personal Development Camp

Organised in partnership with the IRFU, our Personal Development Camp for the Irish Women’s XVs and Sevens programmes provided provided insights into the expectations and realites of being an elite rugby player with an added focus on life away from the game. Hosted by Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort and led by Aoife Lane and Aaron Buggle, the camp was the first of its kind for these squad groups. 

The camp kicked off with a host of exhibits facilitated by Rugby Players Ireland’s partners including Setanta College, Zurich Ireland, the UCD Professional Academy, BDO Ireland, Impact Gumshields, N-Pro and ProPadz. Workshops swiftly followed with an Olympic-specific session hosted by the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) opening the evening while the Women’s XVs learned from the experiences of former players Ali Miller and Nora Stapleton about their respective transitions out of rugby. Later we were joined by the IRFU’s new Performance Director, David Humphreys and former Irish Women’x XVs and Sevens player Hannah Tyrrell to discuss the future of high performance rugby in Ireland. 

On the second day, the OFI were back alongside Sport Ireland and the IRFU to outline what Sevens players can expect in Paris later this year. Meanwhile, Rossa O’Donnell of Odessa Leadership honed the various squad groups’ communication skills while under pressure and Wilson Hartnell presented a workshop on personal branding. As part of our ongoing partnership with Active* Consent, players then explored the mutual ongoing negotiation of boundaries and comfort levels with a partner. The event closed out with a session from B5 Consultancy on the promotion and protection of one’s reputation online. 


World Series Update

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Travis Prior

Several players were still combating jet lag as they joined us at Druids Glen. Their exertions over the previous week saw the men’s side claim yet another bronze medal on the World Series, avenging a pool defeat by the Spanish. They were knocked out of the competition proper by a French side revitalised by the inclusion of Antoine Dupont. It was an especially memorable weekend for Terry Kennedy who ran in his 100th try on the World Series circuit, becoming only the third Irish player to do so. Harry McNulty‘s efforts saw him named in the HSBC SVNS Dream Team for LA. The Irish currently sit in second place on the overall standings. 

The Ireland Women, who are in sixth spot overall, were eager to put a disappointing ninth place finish in Vancouver behind them. A tournament-ending injury to captain Lucy Rock was a big setback, and while they made LA’s Cup quarter-finals, a closing defeat to Brazil left them in eighth for the weekend.


More Than A Player Series

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady

In partnership with the BKT URC, the first in our More Than A Player series kicked off with Calvin Nash. Nash, who has become a feature of the Irish backline this season outlined that to fulfil a need to pursue other interests, he was introduced to to Setanta College by Rugby Players Ireland’s Marcus Horan

Check out more of the interview here. 

For much of his latter career Luke Marshall has been a key liaison between Rugby Players Ireland and his Ulster Rugby teammates. Marshall, who is currently studying for his QFAs also contributed to the series. 

Check out Luke’s interview here. 


International Women’s Day

Coincidentally, our Personal Development Camp at Druids Glen took place over International Women’s Day, our players had this message for the inspirational women in their lives…


A New Voice at the Table

Ahead of the Women’s Six Nations campaign, Enya Breen was announced as the Women’s XVs representative on Rugby Players Ireland’s Executive Board.

Here, Enya speaks to Rugby Players Ireland about her new role. 

Enya made her much awaited comeback for Ireland in the second round of this year’s Six Nations Championship. With Scott Bemand now at the helm there have been many positive aspects to Ireland’s opening performances against both the French and the Italians, including a first international try for wing Katie Corrigan in front of a record crowd at the RDS. However, despite a very bright start and a late surge, individual errors saw Ireland pass up the opportunity to claim their first win of this year’s tournament. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady


Tackle Your Feelings

A number of players turned out to support Tackle Your Feelings over the course of the month. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we were joined by Deirbhile Nic a Bháird and Kathy Baker at Zurich Ireland’s offices in Blackrock. 

Shane Jennings and Colm Reilly then joined us for a Wellbeing Workshop at their old haunt, Garbally College. 


Contract News

As the season turns the Six Nations corner, playing futures have been up for negotiation.

Shayne Bolton, Paul Boyle, Peter Dooley, Cathal Forde, Shamus Hurley-Langton and Darragh Murray have all extended their respective Connacht Rugby deals by two years. 

Billy Burns departs Ulster Rugby at the end of the season to link up with Munster Rugby where John Ryan and Cian Hurley have extended their stays.  

James Hume, Sean Reffell and Tom O’Toole have also committed their futures to Ulster Rugby. They’ll soon be joined by Sharks winger, Werner Kok



Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

At several stages of his career Ed Byrne may have considered the viability of professional rugby, never mind reaching 100 caps for Leinster Rugby. The Carlow born stalwart who first lined out for the province ten years ago, has battled injury over the years – including one lay-off that saw him out of action for 28 consecutive months. 

On the same weekend, Mike Haley also became a provincial centurion. The full-back has the remarkable distinction of starting on each occasion of his 100 caps. On the same night Haley was joined on the field by Jack O’Donoghue following his return from a long-term injury.



A big thank you to all those who togged out for the Irish Rugby Legends at the Twickenham Stoop. The game, played in aid of rugby related charities including the Rugby Players Ireland Foundation, may have been one sided but the Irish crew certainly played their part over the wider weekend. 

There is no better way to ensure a message reaches our players than through their peers. In March, a number of talks were held where former players relayed their experiences of the transition out of the game. 

Our congratulations to Matt Healy and My Little Flower on several nominations ahead of the Irish Restaurant Awards in May.  

Fresh from helping Ireland to another Six Nations title, John Fogarty has linked up with Ulster Rugby as scrum coach for the remainder of the season. 

In Galway, Darragh Fanning and Christian Short were joined by PDM Paul Marshall to discuss their respective retirements with the current Connacht Rugby squad. 

At our Personal Development Camp, Ali Miller and Nora Stapleton met with the Women’s XVs. Nora was also in Le Mans to support Ireland as they took on France, along with Claire Molloy, Fiona Coghlan, Ruth O’Reilly, Sophie Spence, Jenny Murphy, Ailis Egan and Anna Caplice.  

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady






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