Highlights: October 2022
Little Moments… Big Impact!
LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice and Rugby Players Ireland kicked off their 2022/23 partnership with a number of Leinster and Munster players taking part in special challenge games ahead of their URC interprovincial clash at the Aviva Stadium.
The first of the two games took place at LauraLynn House in Dublin with LauraLynn Ambassador and RPI Executive Board Member, Garry Ringrose, joining in alongside his teammates Jack Conan and Dan Sheehan.
The second game took place in Cork, where LauraLynn have recently launched a Community Based Satellite Service operating out of Mallow. Peter O’Mahony, Liam O’Connor, Jack O’Sullivan and Stephen Archer faced tough opposition from the LauraLynn Legends but created lots of special little moments.
Speaking about the partnership, Peter O’Mahony said: “I was honoured to meet some of the team from LauraLynn in Cork recently and get to chat to some of the wonderful children and families that LauraLynn are supporting in Cork through their new Satellite Service operating out of Mallow. It was touching to hear first-hand from the families about the impact LauraLynn make in their lives and learn a little bit more about their work across the country. Through Rugby Players Ireland, we want players to be seen as valued members of the community. Helping create some special ‘little moments’ with the families of LauraLynn is one small way that we can give back.”
Together with Leinster Rugby, Rugby Players Ireland hosted a CPR training event at UCD this month for our Leinster Rugby members. The course follows a practice-while-watching video format and is led by instructors who will provide feedback and guide participants through the lessons and help improve their CPR technique.
Meanwhile, our thoughts are with former Ulster Rugby player Nick Williams in his recovery from a recent cardiac arrest.
Down to Business
While the on-field season appeared to kick-on a notch in anticipation of the Bank of Ireland Nations Series, there was also plenty of interesting business being conducted behind the scenes.
Following the sad demise of Wasps Rugby, John Ryan found his way back to Munster Rugby having been let go by the province over the summer. The prop once again has 200 caps for his beloved home province in his sights. He currently sits on 197. Another Wasps player also joins Ryan in Limerick – Kiran McDonald has signed on a three-month deal.
With Worcester Warriors also having been placed into administration in recent weeks, Irish qualified centre Oli Morris has also managed to find employment with Munster Rugby where Thomas Ahern, Fineen Wycherley and new Irish call-up Calvin Nash have all signed contract extensions.
In other contract news, Declan Adamson has signed a deal with Rugby Colorno in Italy while Dundalk native Tadgh McElroy has joined Leinster Rugby on a short-term deal. Former Connacht Rugby player Shane O’Leary has joined the Toronto Arrows.
Nash is joined in the Irish squad for the upcoming Tests against South Africa, Fiji and Australia by an uncapped contingent in Ciarán Frawley, Jeremy Loughman, Joe McCarthy, Jimmy O’Brien and Cian Prendergast while Jacob Stockdale returns to the squad for the first time since July 2021. Unfortunately, the likes of Rónan Kelleher, Will Connors and Harry Byrne were ruled out of contention some weeks ago. Meanwhile, Jason Jenkins will be hoping to add to his solitary Springboks cap earned in 2018 having been recalled to the South African squad. His Leinster Rugby teammate Vakh Abdaladze goes into November in search of his Test debut with Georgia.
But before the Bank of Ireland Nations Series kicks off, the Rugby Writers of Ireland gathered to take one last look at the season gone by. Hosted at the Guinness Storehouse, winners on the night included Josh van der Flier (Men’s XVs Player of the Year) and Neve Jones (Women’s XVs Player of the Year) while both Terry Kennedy (Men’s &s Player of the Year) and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Women’s 7s Player of the Year) accepted from afar. Johnny Sexton also accepted the Dave Guiney Award for Team of the Year on behalf of his Irish colleagues. Mick Galwey and Philip Matthews were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
To Hell and Back
After several weeks of captivating viewing, Billy Holland completed the gruelling challenge provided by RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week. Finishing alongside athlete David Gillick and all-round sportsman Setanta Ó hAilpín, Holland earned great praise for the way in which he conducted himself throughout the series.
Frustratingly, Fergus McFadden narrowly missed out on the final mission despite completing the notorious Foreman Aftman climb. The former Irish international was deemed to have finished the course just outside of the five hour window.
Meanwhile, Ciara Griffin pulled up in the early stages of the ascent. Arguably the most impressive recruit to take part, Griffin demonstrated the kind of leadership skills that saw her become an Irish captain at just 24.
Early in the month, Sam Carter, Luke Marshall, Jordi Murphy, Rob Herring, Greg Jones, Alan O’Connor and Nick Timoney joined Pamela Gilpin on a visit to MenCap Northern Ireland. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they choose.
We’re grateful to Jack Conan who was on hand to help us launch our relationship with Griffith College. The partnership will give Rugby Players Ireland’s members the opportunity to access discounts on courses in the college’s Business faculty.
With contributions from Dr Robert Dempsey (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Philip Clarke (Derby University) and Mark Smyth as Head of Rugby Players Ireland’s Mental Wellbeing Service, we have taken to the road to highlight the services on offer to our players. Dr Hannah McCormack has also been in attendance to remind our members of programmes like the Tackle Your Feelings campaign.
Incidentally, Dr McCormack was recently featured on the Harnessing Health podcast as part of the University of Limerick’s Healthy UL initiative. You can listen to Hannah’s tips on managing positive mental health and wellbeing here.
Incase you missed it last month, it’d also be worth listening to this discussion between Billy Dardis, Eimear Considine and Andrew Porter with Joe Molloy on Off the Ball.
Members of Rugby Players Ireland’s staff were delighted to join Darragh Fanning and Zambrero in preparing 30,000 meals on World Hunger Day. Working alongside its distribution partner Rise Against Hunger, the meals were donated to people in need in developing African countries. Remarkably, Zambrero has donated an incredible 61.5 million meals globally with 1.5 million meals donated in Ireland.
Sean O’Brien was spotted lining out for Naas Rugby Club against Old Belvedere in Division 1B of the AIL. Deprived of a return to his beloved Tullow, O’Brien has taken a hands on approach in the Kildare club with former professionals Johne Murphy (Head Coach) and Craig Ronaldson also involved. Sprung from the bench in the 49th minute, O’Brien displayed his typical robustness before picking up an injury.
Conor O’Brien refuses to look back on his career with anger. We put the former Leinster centre in touch with Garry Doyle of The42.ie to reflect on his time as a professional rugby player. Read it here.
Jonny Murphy spoke to Rugby Players Ireland about his business venture, The Hungry Hooker. The former Ulster and Connacht player retired from the game during the summer. You can read his story here.
Finally, Damian Browne became the first person in history to row from New York to Galway. After 112 days at sea, Browne came ashore at Furbo Beach in Galway bringing a mammoth task to a close.
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