Highlights: November 2023

Highlights: November 2023

Conclusion of CBA Negotiations

The IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland announced the successful conclusion of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations. The 2019 agreement, the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere, has been updated to reflect enhanced benefits available for all contracted rugby players in Ireland.

The introduction of the first professional contracts for women’s XVs back in November 2022 has ensured that they feature prominently in this renewal.

One of the cornerstones of the agreement is the enhancement and support of the Player Development Programme, highlighting a commitment to holistic player development beyond the playing field. This comprehensive approach underlines the importance of both physical and personal development for players, setting the stage for a well-rounded and successful career in rugby.

Another additional feature of this agreement sees academy players benefit from an uplift in pay, acknowledging the importance of nurturing and protecting Ireland’s emerging rugby talent.

Additional highlights of the new Collective Agreement:

  • Upgrade in insurance coverage ensuring improved protection for all players.
  • Tailored media guidelines for respective squad groups.
  • Establishment of players’ right to fully disconnect during leave periods.
  • College relocation costs.
  • Improved sick pay provisions.
  • Clear maternity and paternity policies.
  • Recognition of changing player image properties.
  • Tailored break periods for Sevens players.
  • Defined structure on disciplinary processes.
  • Provision of psychological care.

Simon Keogh, who represented Rugby Players Ireland in negotiations alongside Peter McKenna and Richard McElwee, shares his perspective of the CBA here.


Rugby Reality

Unfortunately, the rugby landscape is not so secure in other territories. Following the demise of Jersey Reds, we spoke to former Connacht Rugby player Peter Sullivan who was one of several Irish players left stranded by the club’s mismanagement. 

Read the article here. 


New Era

Our congratulations to former Ireland international and Ulster Rugby stalwart David Humphreys who has been appointed to the role of IRFU Performance Director, succeeding David Nucifora who has made the decision to depart at the end of this season.

We wish David well as he takes up his new role in 2024.


Rugby Players Ireland Hall of Fame

On November 10th, Rugby Players Ireland welcomed Alison Miller and Shane Horgan into the Rugby Players Ireland Hall of Fame where they joined the likes of Keith Wood (2004), Ronan O’Gara (2016) and Brian O’Driscoll (2018) in an illustrious list of previous inductees. Hosted by Darren Cave, the event saw friends, family and former teammates of both players come together to celebrate two of the great careers in Irish Rugby history. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Maher

One of the game’s great finishers, it was Ali Miller’s hat-trick of tries in a first-ever win over England that teed up the victorious Grand Slam campaign of 2013, while she will always be remembered for her contribution to Ireland’s historic pool triumph over New Zealand in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Having made his Leinster debut against Ulster in 1998, Shane Horgan proceeded to rack up over 200 appearances for the province, scoring 71 tries. His powerful presence also extended to the international stage, earning 65 caps for Ireland. The Lion also played a pivotal role in the Triple Crown successes of 2004 and 2006, while his iconic try against England at Croke Park in 2007 will live long in the memory.


Conway Bows Out

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Towards the latter stages of Shane Horgan’s career he would have been keenly aware of Andrew Conway. While the young winger progressed through the ranks at Leinster Rugby with haste, it was in Limerick where he finally began to realise his potential. 

After a decade in red, Conway marked his 150th appearance for Munster Rugby earlier this month with a customary try – his 50th for the province. However, it would prove to be his last outing. It quickly became clear that a long-standing knee injury was no longer able to stand up to the demands of the professional game which also saw him line out for his country on 30 occasions. Yet his duties will continue as he represents Rugby Players Ireland on the Rugby Athletes Commission.  

Meanwhile, Conway’s club captain throughout his time with Munster has decided to step aside from his leadership duties. Peter O’Mahony replaced Doug Howlett in the summer of 2013, aged just 23. In the days following his announcement, Pete appeared on the Late Late Toy Show alongside Bundee Aki to surprise a young fan. 


Milestone Achievement

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

There were a number of individual achievements in November: 

  • Rob Herring became the most capped player in Ulster Rugby history.
  • Ross Byrne marked 150 games for Leinster Rugby with his 1,000th point for the province.
  • Stephen Archer surpassed Donncha O’Callaghan as the most capped Munster Rugby player.
  • John Cooney followed in David Humphrey‘s footsteps by hitting 1,000 points for Ulster Rugby.
  • Vicki Wall was formally introduced as a member of the Irish Sevens programme. 


On the Dotted Line

Rugby World Cup winner Jean Kleyn will continue to line out for Munster Rugby for the next two seasons. However, RG Snyman has been allowed to pursue other playing opportunities in order to reduce Munster’s non Irish-qualified personnel for next term. John Hodnett and Liam Coombes have also signed deal extensions with the province. 


PDP Updates

Ulster Rugby PDM Paul Marshall accompanied several players to BLK BOX’s facility in Belfast. From laser cutting to packing for distribution, everyone got to see BLK BOX in action where the real heavy lifting takes place. 

Senior Irish internationals Ryan Baird, Kathryn Dane and Joe McCarthy were amongst those unveiled as Trinity Sports Scholars for the 2023/24 academic year. Fresh from lining out with his brother for Leinster for the first time over the preceding weekend, Paddy McCarthy was also named as a recipient, as were Megan Collis and Harry Sheridan.  

Meanwhile, following their recent trip to Bordeaux to present at the Rugby Science Network meeting, Dane and Will Connors joined the Irish Independent’s Science Week podcast to discuss their reasons for involvement in ongoing research into the rugby tackle. 

Check it out here. 


Tackle Your Feelings

Amidst a series of schools visits and corporate wellbeing workshops, Gráinne found the time to visit Old Belvedere Rugby Club where she landed into a packed clubhouse. The club will act as community champions of the campaign, with the TYF logo featuring on match kit. 

The TYF Schools Expert Advisory Panel also convened in November to assess and evaluate ongoing developments associated with the TYF schools programme. Meanwhile, Gráinne called out to Temple Carrig School in Greystones to deliver a workshop alongside Billy Dardis while she was also in attendance at the School Chaplains’ Association’s Conference in Castletown, Co. Laois. 


Bernard Jackman has been appointed Acting Head of Performance Sport at Horse Sport Ireland in the lead-up to the Olympic Games next year. 

Keith Earls underlined his broad appeal as he appeared on the Late Late Show with Patrick Kielty to discuss a range of topics including the hurt of that All Blacks defeat, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and finding post-rugby purpose with Eleven14 Coffee Roasters. 

Rob Kearney joined Doireann Garrihy  for an alternative look back on his career on Laughs of Your Life.

Johnny Sexton bid a formal farewell to the Leinster Rugby faithful at the side’s recent interprovincial clash with Munster Rugby. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan





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