IN REVIEW: 16/02 – 1/03

IN REVIEW: 16/02 – 1/03

Not quite a Roman Holiday

It was a mixed few weeks for Irish teams competing in their respective Six Nations competitions.

A Peter O’Mahony led Irish side came away with a hard fought bonus point victory over a gallant Italian team coached by former Irish full-back Conor O’Shea. Hardly a classic, the game was nevertheless memorable for Jack Carty who came on late in the game to earn his first cap. Congratulations Jack!

Under-20 Six Nations Championship Round 3, Stadio Centro d’Italia, Italy 22/2/2019 Italy U20’s vs Ireland U20’s The Ireland during the national anthem Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

In Rieti, David Hawkshaw and the U20s continued their fine Six Nations campaign with a 34-14 win that sets them up for a tilt at the Grand Slam in the coming weeks.

In Parma, the Ireland Women’s XVs failed to build on their victory over Scotland as they fell to their first-ever defeat to an Italian team in front of a buoyant home crowd.

Players highlight “major concerns” around World Rugby’s proposed International Competition

On Thursday, members of the International Rugby Players Council spoke out about World Rugby’s proposed competition structure for the global game.

While senior players have consistently voiced their support for the concept in principle, they have raised concerns around the detail of the proposed competition which has been formulated without meaningful player engagement. 

Some of the issues include: 

  • Additional Test fixtures during the November Series
  • Increased travel schedule in June/July
  • Limited opportunity for Tier 2 nations to progress

Jonathon Sexton, International Rugby Players President, was amongst those to voice his concerns stating:

“To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level test matches in consecutive weeks in November is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings.”

A New Chapter for Tackle Your Feelings

Hannah McCormack, Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager

Earlier this year we welcomed Hannah McCormack to the team at Rugby Players Ireland. Hannah, a sports psychologist from Co. Louth, will lead Tackle Your Feelings into Phase 2.

Check out our interview with Hannah here.


Four victories in week 15 meant it was an enjoyable return to Pro14 action for the Irish provinces. Ulster came away from Wales on February 15th with a deserved 0-8 win over the Ospreys, while a sold-out crowd saw Munster run riot in a seven-try win over the Southern Kings. The following day, Leinster saw off Zebre in a top of the table clash in Viadana before Connacht claimed a narrow win over the Toyota Cheetahs in Galway.

Week 16 set off in much the same fashion. Munster saw off the Ospreys in a tough outing at the Liberty Stadium, Leinster romped to a 59-19 home win over the Cheetahs and Ulster did likewise with a comprehensive bonus point win over Zebre in Belfast. Unfortunately, Connacht failed to follow suit and succumbed to a 43-17 defeats at the home of Glasgow Warriors.

Week 17

  • Leinster Rugby v Toyota Cheetahs, March 1 (19.35)
  • Connacht Rugby v Ospreys, March 2 (14.45)
  • Scarlets v Munster Rugby, March 2 (17.00)
  • Dragons v Ulster Rugby, March 3 (15.00)

Keeping Busy!

With the Six Nations nearing an end, the domestic rugby season has begun to hot up as we face into the final two months of the season. With so much going on, it is also important that the players take the time to switch off and enjoy other pursuits.

At the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) School of Sport, Leisure and Tourism, members of the Munster Rugby Academy picked up a few nutritional tips and techniques at a cooking workshop.

Keynan Knox and Matt More at LIT

In Ballsbridge, Goodbody once again opened their doors to our members for an informative workshop. In September, the Goodbody Rugby Players Ireland Personal Development Bursary was established, with 12 members of the players’ association named as recipients. For more information, click here.

Some of our members at a recent workshop facilitated by Goodbody

Meanwhile, it only took one hour for our Ulster members to hit their target when packing bags for the Simon Community Northern Ireland this week. Well done lads!


On Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Sene Naoupu spoke to Evanne Ní Chuilinn about her journey from depression and anorexia to the heights of the women’s rugby.

Check out a revealing interview here.

Past-Player Study

Our ongoing study into the brain health and wellness of retired elite athletes continued as the research team visited Connacht Rugby.

The study remains open to former professionals or members of the Irish Women’s side who have retired in recent years. For more information, members are asked to contact Denis Hurley.

Staying Put!

Our congratulations to a number of our members who have signed contract extensions.

The latest spate of contract extensions was kicked off by Robbie Henshaw who has committed to Irish Rugby until at least June 2021.

James Hume, Michael Lowry and Eric O’Sullivan sign on.

February proved to be a particularly busy month for all at Ulster Rugby with news that Alan O’Connor, Dave Shanahan, Ross Kane and Rob Lyttle have joined James Hume, Eric O’Sullivan and Michael Lowry in extending their stay in Belfast. It was also announced that Worcester Warriors prop Gareth Milasinovich will also be joining the province in the off-season, while former Academy player Alex Thompson will join Jersey Reds.  

Meanwhile, Tyler Bleyendaal, Ciaran Parker, Alby Mathewson, Sean O’Connor and Keynan Knox all put pen to paper on contract extensions with Munster Rugby.

Further Afield

Ian Keatley made a try-scoring debut for London Irish after just two minutes of their clash with Coventry Rugby. However, the out-half was forced off after just 26 minutes due to injury. His impression was such that the ‘Irish’ faithful gave him a standing ovation.

Ian Keatley en route to opening his account for London Irish

Cathal Marsh continued his impressive start to life in Major League Rugby. The former Leinster out-half was named Player of the Week recently as Rugby United New York secured a narrow win over Nola Gold.

Grenoble hooker Duncan Casey also earned great praise for some of his recent musings in the Irish Examiner. Check out Duncan’s piece on ‘How much do we really love and appreciate our culture?’ here.

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