Highlights: May 2021

Highlights: May 2021


The Irish Sevens squad were finally back in action when they travelled to St. George’s Park in Staffordshire for the International Rugby 7s festival. Four wins from six outings saw the Irish Men’s side come away with the festival crown while the likes of Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Emily Lane, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Grace Moore returned to the fold for a productive weekend of action for the women’s team. 

Notable achievements over the past number of weeks have included Denis Buckley‘s 200th cap for Connacht Rugby and Matt Healy‘s 150th while Tom Daly captained the westerners for the first time. Angus Curtis made a return to Ulster Rugby action for the first time since December 2019. Sammy Arnold and Caelan Doris also returned to action after shorter term injuries. 

CJ Stander captained Munster Rugby on his final home appearance on the same day he became an Irish citizen. 

In the Heineken Champions Cup, Ronan O’Gara‘s La Rochelle were edged out in the final by Toulouse. 


Irish Lions

A massive well done & best wishes to Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray and Andrew Porter who were all named in the British & Irish Lions squad announced by Jason Leonard. 

Contract News

‘Good humans with unique rugby qualities’ was how Andy Friend described Abraham Papali’i, Jonny Murphy and Dylan Tierney-Martin as the trio committed their futures to Connacht Rugby earlier this month. Unfortunately, Quinn Roux will not be remaining with the province into next season. 

Former Connacht winger Cian Kelleher will depart Leinster Rugby for Ealing Trailfinders while Tadhg Furlong has penned a one year contract extension to remain in Dublin.

Meanwhile it was announced that both Rhys Marshall and James Cronin will be leaving Munster Rugby at the end of the season. They were joined on the field by fellow departees Billy Holland, Nick McCarthy, CJ Stander and Tommy O’Donnell following the last home game of the Munster Rugby campaign.

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy


Community Engagement

Joey Carbery has been announced as an ambassador for Aware in a relationship facilitated by Rugby Players Ireland. To kick-off the partnership, the Munster and Ireland outhalf will join Keith Walsh and Minister Simon Harris for a discussion on men’s health on Wednesday, June 9 (midday). Register here! 

A host of players have also been getting behind the Tallaght RFC ‘Forever Home’ fundraiser. Instigated following several anti-social incidents on council provided property, the club are almost at their target of €30,000. You can donate here!!


Player Development

Irish and Leinster Rugby player Elise O’Byrne-White took a break from her newfound fame to talk to us about life as a veterinary surgeon at the DSPCA. A central character in a recent RTÉ docu-series The Shelter: Animal SOS, Elise explains that she never allowed herself to get too caught up in where her career was heading, she had to trust the process. Click on the image for more!

Conor McCabe Photography

Having travelled to the UK with the Irish set-up, Katie Heffernan returned to Ireland to finish out her course in Financial Analytics at Dublin Business School. A former Business student at TUD, Heffernan was a recipient of the Goodbody Rugby Players Ireland Personal Development Bursary last September.

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Munster Rugby’s Josh Wycherley reflected on a unique year that saw him break into the Munster Rugby team. The Bantry man is also a student of Marketing and Management at LIT and gives his thoughts on social media as part of his involvement with the Tackle Your Feelings campaign. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

This month also saw the World Players’ Player Development Conference draw to a close. The exclusive global association of organised players and athletes across professional sport, Rugby Players Ireland was to the fore of preparations through Pamela Gilpin, while Dr Deirdre Lyons is also on the World Players’ Player Development Steering Committee. Well done to both!   

Welcome Aboard!

This month we were delighted to partner with the MSL Motor Group. We’re looking forward to the impact the relationship will have on our organisation and the work we do with our members! 


Tackle Your Feelings

It was a great thrill for the #TYF team to see our message being used by Tullow Rugby Club as the club prepared to open its doors once again. Designed by Paul Byrne who is also responsible for similar artwork at Éire Óg GAA club, the walls are aimed at provoking and encouraging positive mental health, starting conversations and prompting people to reach out.


The Big Rugby Run

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Our thanks to all those who participated in The Big Rugby Run this year. Launched by #TYF ambassador Robin Copeland, the event was in aid of  initiatives being run Tackle Your Feelings in the rugby community. Thanks to all who participated, especially Philip Caldwell who was back to his feet for the cause following a spine injury last year.


Irish Abroad

Former Ulster Rugby player Jack Regan is on his way back across the world following his move from the Highlanders franchise in the Super Rugby Aotearoa in New Zealand to the Ospreys.

Luke Carty of the LA Giltinis has been called into the provisional USA Eagles squad ahead of their summer tests against England and Ireland.


Stepping Aside

We were truly disappointed to learn that Stephen Fitzgerald has been forced to retire from the game. Just 25 years of age, Stephen has been a much liked character in dressing rooms at Shannon, Munster Rugby, Connacht Rugby and the Ireland U20s. We wish him well for the future! 

Former Munster Rugby, Leinster Rugby and Ulster Rugby player Ian Nagle has retired from professional rugby. While never capped at senior level, he represented Ireland U20s, the Ireland Wolfhounds and Emerging Ireland during a career that spanned over a decade.

Having kicked 1-5 for the Dublin Ladies against Waterford, Hannah Tyrrell has decided to call time upon her rugby career. The out-half, who also enjoyed several seasons in the Sevens game, continued her fine football form with 2-2 against Cork in the days following her announcement. 

The Irish side will also be lacking the experience of Katie Fitzhenry going into the next campaign. The Wexford woman bows out having been a regular in Irish squads for nine years leading to 79 World Series games and 13 caps in the XVs code. 

Ulster Rugby’s Louis Ludik has also announced that the current campaign will be his last in the professional game. Having arrived in Belfast via Agen in France, Ludik has gone onto play 112 times for the northerners. He has also played a vital role in the off-field development of his squad in his role as a representative for Rugby Players Ireland’s Player Development programme. 



Our congratulations to Damien Varley who was a winner in the Newport Beach Film Festival categoory at the Richard Harris International Film Festival for his short-film directorial debut ‘Life After Life.’ 

We enjoyed this chat between Tommy Bowe and Doireann Garrihy as part of the RTÉ 2fm presenter’s podcast Laughs of Your Life on the importance of looking after life beyond sport. Check it out on Spotify here.

Doireann has been joined on the breakfast show by former Irish and Munster Rugby player Donncha O’Callaghan. Our best wishes to him on the role!

Former teammates Mikey Smyth and Peter Bracken raised €2,100 for the Mayo Autism Camp by driving through the 32 counties for a sing-song in an electric car. 

Best of luck to Fiona Hayes, Niamh Briggs and Maz Reilly who have been appointed to coaching roles at Ballincolling RFC, Ul Bohs and Kerry Rugby respectively. 

Finally, newly appointed Sunday’s Well Head Coach and Rugby Players Ireland’s own Denis Hurley reflected on his career with Garry Doyle of You can read the article here.

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