Highlights: October 2021

Highlights: October 2021

Long awaited comebacks, cruel blows and a week from hell all formed part of a busy month for Rugby Players Ireland’s members. 


The Highs & Lows

While we were only too delighted to see the likes of Adam Byrne, Dan Leavy and John Hodnett make their comebacks, we were devastated to see two of our unluckiest members sustain significant injuries as they stepped up their involvement with their respective provinces. RG Snyman‘s long awaited return was short-lived with the Springbok re-rupturing his cruciate ligament injury in Munster’s win over Scarlets, while Will Addison will be sidelined for a number of weeks with a leg fracture. 

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

There were milestone caps this month for Rob Herring (200), Peter O’Mahony (150), Josh van der Flier (100) and Michael Lowry (50). October also proved to be a milestone month for Dan Sheehan and Ciarán Frawley with both players being rewarded for their fine form with call-ups to the Irish Rugby squad ahead of the Autumn Series. Thomas Ahern and Jamie Osborne have linked up with the squad as development players. After a four year hiatus, Simon Zebo is also in camp.

Ahead of his last games as Head Coach, Adam Griggs has called upon the uncapped Grace Browne Moran, Mary Healy, Alana McInerney, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Ella Roberts and Shannon Tuohey. Having missed out on selection for the recent World Cup qualifiers, Anna Caplice, Aoife Doyle, Chloe Pearse and Laura Sheehan have all earned recalls to the side who play USA and Japan in the coming weeks. 

Some of the squad also featured as the Irish Women’s Sevens claimed victory in what proved to be a positive pre-season hit-out at the Elche 7s tournament. With the opening leg of the World Series just days weeks away, Lucy Mulhall’s side won all six outings in Spain while the men suffered a narrow defeat to their hosts in the final. 

Meanwhile, Connacht have added Tietie Tuimauga to their ranks. The Samoan international prop joins from New Zealand side Manawatu. We look forward to welcoming him to Ireland. 


Moving On

One player who moves into our Clubhouse is Adam Leavy. An Irish Sevens player since 2017, the Dubliner has packed a World Series qualification and an Olympic Games into an action packed career. He now moves into a role with Rugby Players Ireland’s partners at Goodbody. 

Be Prepared

As Leavy honed in on the final stages of his career, he turned his attentions to his studies and completed his MSc in Finance from UCD Smurfit School before returning to the Sevens squad as they qualified for Tokyo. Others have also been laying the foundations for their future careers including Luke Carty (MSc International Business) and Craig Gilroy (Law), while Katie Heffernan continues on the road to becoming a Qualified Financial Advisor (QFA) with LIA, Rugby Players Ireland’s Financial Services Education Partner, having recently qualified as an Accredited Product Advisor (APA).  


Flight of the Earls

The name of Keith Earls was especially prominent throughout October beginning with the opening of Eleven14 Coffee Roasters in Limerick. Launched on International Coffee Day (October 1), Earls’ credits his experiences as a rugby player with his love of a good coffee. 

“Throughout my 15-year professional rugby career, I have been lucky to travel the world, witnessing and experiencing vastly different cultures,” he said. “No matter what continent we were on, no matter what team was playing, coffee was the commodity that bound us together.”

To mark the release of his An Post Sports Book of the Year nominated ‘Fight or Flight‘ in the following weeks, the Munster winger then made an appearance on The Late Late Show earning tremendous praise for his honesty in dealing with mental health issues. The Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Player of the Year in 2018 revealed he was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 in 2013.  



Rugby Players Ireland Magazine

The latest edition of Rugby Players Ireland’s quarterly magazine was issued this month. There ultimately proved to be a strong Limerick presence in the publication with Sean Cronin, Stephanie Carroll and Barry Murphy all featuring.  Click on the image below to check it out! 


Tackle Your Feelings

Amidst a busy schedule of wellbeing workshops, the Tackle Your Feelings team rallied the troops to issue a message on World Mental Health Day. 

As the month drew to a close, Judy Bobbett spoke with the Irish Independent about her mental health issues in an extremely open and honest interview. Judy accessed Rugby Players Ireland’s mental wellbeing service which is led by Clinical Psychologist Mark Smyth. On World Mental Health Day Mark joined Alan Quinlan for a discussion on the anxieties of athletes on a recent Virgin Media programme, ‘Breakdown: Ireland’s Mental Health Battle’. 



James Coughlan has been installed as Head Coach at Toulon on a temporary basis. With the departure of Hugh Hogan to Scarlets, Denis Leamy was appointed to Leo Cullen’s senior coaching team in the role of Contact Skills Coach. Another former player making moves in the coaching world is Rory Best who has joined the Fijian Management team for their November Tour. 

Gordon D’Arcy‘s latest book in the Gordon’s Game series was released. Lions Game is available here.

Having been forced into retirement at just 25 years of age earlier this year, we were thrilled to see Stephen Fitzgerald graduate from the University of Limerick with a degree in Business Studies. Not resting on his laurels, Stephen recently embarked on a Project Management MSC at UL. 

Marcus Horan has been appointed to the EPIC Risk Management Pro Sport Advisory Board in an effort to reduce harm and protect players from gambling and gaming harms. Horan has also been named as a recipient of the Irish Management Institute (IMI)/Rugby Players Ireland Scholarship alongside Nora Stapleton and Aidan McCullen

Former Irish underage international and Exeter Chiefs Legend Gareth Steenson has been granted the Freedom of the City of Exeter in recognition of his years of service to his club, the game of rugby and the city of Exeter. 

Former Munster Rugby player Brian Scott has been appointed as the Rugby Development Officer for Munster Technological University (MUT). Another past player who is remaining connected to the game is Sean O’Brien. The former Connacht Rugby man is Elite Player Manager for N-Pro Headgear and was centrally involved in a recent partnership between the company and his former school, Cistercian College Roscrea. O’Brien’s former teammate Conor Dean, who departed Galway in the summer, has joined the team at Navy Blue Sports. 

Former Irish international Fiona Hayes is closing in on the final days before she steps into the Wimp2Warrior cage. Hayes goes into battle in memory of her Aunt Ita and in aid of the Alzheimers Society of Ireland. You can donate to Fiona’s efforts here.

After a gruelling few days, Peter Stringer was one of three participants to complete RTÉ’s Celebrity Hell Week. The former Irish scrum-half subsequently acknowledged that the challenge was worse than he had imagined but despite a testing opening day he demonstrated incredible resilience to finish it out alongside Marc O’Neill and Ryan Andrews. Stringer’s fellow Rugby Players Ireland members Anna Caplice, Andrew Trimble and Barry Murphy also featured on the show. 


Irish Abroad

Alex McHenry has made a short-term move to Wasps with the centre’s debut coming in the side’s recent clash with Saracens. Elsewhere in the Premiership, Tullow man Cillian Redmond has signed a contract with London Irish. 

Luke Carty, Dylan Fawsitt and Paul Mullen had the unique opportunity of facing New Zealand at test level. Unfortunately the USA came out on the wrong side of a 104-14 scoreline. 


Remembering Axel

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Thomond Park was full of emotion as Munster Rugby hosted Connacht Rugby on the fifth anniversary of Anthony Foley’s passing. Both sets of players paid tribute to the former Irish international while Jack Carty presented Peter O’Mahony with a jersey on behalf of the province in Axel’s honour.  

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