Highlights: November 2021

Highlights: November 2021

Having been shorn of special occasions for almost two years, November 2021 was a memorable month.


Autumn Series Whitewash

Both our men’s and women’s sides have laid down respective markers over the past few weeks. 

It was a pleasure to have been present on the occasion of Johnny Sexton‘s 100th cap for Ireland. Our former chairman fittingly marked the afternoon with a try and was swiftly mobbed by his teammates while the adoring 40,000 strong crowd rose to their feet. Ireland ran riot on the day with Andrew Conway notching a hat-trick in a resounding 60-5 win that also saw Dan Sheehan earn his first cap with Tadhg Furlong winning his 50th. 

The following week served up another emotional affair as Ireland produced one of their most dominant displays in our proud rugby history by defeating the All Blacks 29-20 in Dublin. This was followed by a comprehensive win over Argentina. 

Our women’s team also had a few emotionally charged evenings as they dispatched of both their American and Japanese visitors. With Greg McWilliams set to take over the side, it seemed like a changing of the guard with the likes of Lindsay Peat saying her farewells against the USA before Ciara Griffin took one final game to the opposition with an inspirational two-try salvo against Japan.  

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Elsewhere, the Irish Men’s and Women’s Sevens squads finally returned to World Series action in Dubai with numerous new caps in their midst. Both sides endured a tough opening weekend, however Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe did score her 100th World Series try. 

There were also newcomers in the XVs code with Maeve Óg O’Leary and Shannon Tuohey getting game time with Ireland while Ulster Rugby’s Bradley Roberts earned his first cap for Wales. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane



Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Craig Mercer

Having waved their goodbyes to their Irish compatriots, Peat and Griffin were afforded one final chance to tog out in the international arena. The pair lined out for the Barbarians at Twickenham in front of what proved to be world-record crowd for a women’s game. Compatriots Anna Caplice, Jenny Murphy and Sene Naoupu also featured.

Unfortunately, Rob Kearney was denied the send-off his career deserved with the men’s fixture cancelled amidst Covid-19 concerns. Both Abraham Papali’i and Michael Ala’alatoa were set to be part of the Manu Samoa squad.  


Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards 2021

It may have taken place behind closed doors but it’s important we recognise and celebrate achievement. Unfortunately another year has passed us by without our gala event but this year we’ve handed the reins to former players Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble, hosts of the Potholes and Penguins Podcast. 

Hosted on our Facebook page on Friday, December 3 (1pm) the event see some of the game’s biggest names join Barry and Andrew for a trip down a season that few of us were able to partake in beyond the couch at home. 

It proved to be a busy month for Barry who also released ‘Alone You Stand’ in memory of Anthony Foley. Launched at half-time during Ireland’s game against New Zealand, the song is in aid of the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation, CRY and CARI, the children’s charity. You can listen and donate, here!


Player News

It was a proud day for Tony Butler, Patrick Campbell, Edwin Edogbo, their families, clubs and schools as the trio joined the Munster Rugby Academy.  

An elder statesman of the Munster Rugby squad, Keith Earls is now a best-selling and award winning author. His book Fight or Flight: My Life, My Choices has been named as the Sports Book of the Year and the An Post Book Awards 2021. 

Both Jack Carty and Tadhg Furlong secured their long-term playing futures with three-year deals, while Dave Heffernan continues on his stalwart Connacht Rugby career  after winning his 150th cap for the province against the Ospreys on what was a particularly inclement Galway evening. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie


Next Step

Numerous Rugby Players Ireland members were amongst those named as recipients of the Trinity College Sports Scholarship. Our congratulations to Ryan Baird, Kathryn Dane, Meadbh Deely, Jack Dunne, Joseph McCarthy, Soneva Scott, Harry Sheridan and Liam Turner

As part of the LIA’s Smart Money Habits financial wellbeing programme, Denis Buckley spoke to the Irish Times about his spending habits. Read it here.

Congratulations are also due to Sean Cronin (Business, Griffith College), Luke McGrath (MBA, Dublin Business School) and Hugh O’Sullivan (Philosophy, Political Science, Economics & Sociology, Trinity College) and Jack O’Sullivan (Finance, UCC) on their graduations. 


Mental Wellbeing

“Players are humans like everyone else. Emotions will impact them irrespective of their job.” 

To mark Stress Awareness Day on November 3, Mark Smyth, Clinical Lead of Rugby Players Ireland’s Mental Wellbeing Service, gave an insight into the programme. You can read it here

In the days previous, Irish Women’s player Judy Bobbett spoke openly about some of the struggles she has faced in recent times. Read an important piece here. 


Tackle Your Feelings

Before Dr Hannah McCormack took her leave of the campaign to get married (congrats again Hannah & Eoghan!), Tackle Your Feelings stopped by NUI Galway and Ulster University in Jordanstown on its latest University Roadshow visits. If you’d like more information on how you can have Tackle Your Feelings visit your campus, contact us!


EU Athletes

Rugby Players Ireland were invited by EU Athletes to participate in an online exchange on Communication and Media organised as a part of the EU-funded #PROMobility project. The initiative gives player associations the opportunity to discuss, exchange and learn from each other, to better support their members.

Along with the AJPH (Association des Joueurs et Joueuses Pro’ de Handball) and The Cyclists’ Alliance, Rugby Players Ireland presented on their own experience of the communications world from a players’ association perspective. 


International Rugby Players

Following a wide-ranging consultation between World Rugby, member unions, regions and International Rugby Players, a World Rugby vote has resulted in eligibility rules being changed to allow certain players to transfer to a different country based upon certain criteria which can be found here

Meanwhile, Irish international Sene Naoupu, who is also Head of Strategic Projects at International Rugby Players, was part of a global education campaign to increase understanding of the importance of brain health. 

Irish Abroad

We were delighted to see Cillian Redmond pick up a contract with London Irish. Now 21, the Tullow RFC man and former Leinster Rugby underage player was forced to put his rugby career on hold at 17 after he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. You can read more on his inspirational story here



Former Munster Rugby player Cian Bohane graduated from UCC with a BA in Sports Studies & Physical Education. 

Just months after stepping away from rugby, Hannah Tyrrell was awarded an All-Star for her prolific form with Dublin LGFA. 

Johne Murphy has been appointed as Director of Rugby for Newbridge College in addition to his current role as Senior Head Coach.

Former Irish captain Carole Ann Clarke, change coach and CEO of IAmHere spoke to Rugby Players Ireland about how a fair, equal and thriving society can be created for future generations without eroding masculinity ahead of a webinar to support men’s mental health in 2021. You can read it here. 



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