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RBS 6 NATIONS PREVIEW with SHANE BYRNE

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWs BRIAN O’Driscoll CONOR O’SHEA Blackrock, OLLIE CAMPBELL corinthians and terenure

CLUB PROFILEs INSIDE

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE

Round-up, fixtures & previews Shoulder Injury focus

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PROVINCIAL TOWNS CUP

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SCHOOLS RUGBY

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CLUB NEWS

07/12/2012


The Perfect Line-out.

The Perfect Line-out.

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Features

10 Heineken Cup review

The latest news, results and previews of Irish Provinces involvement in Europe’s elite rugby competition

26 RBS 6 NATIONS PREVIEW

Shane Byrne and Tony Ward give their predictions, opinion and ones to watch, for what should be, the closest fought tournament in recent years

32 national clubs focus

Club Rugby visits Blackrock, Galway Corinthians and Terenure Rugby Clubs, to hear what’s happening at grass-roots level

30 SChools Rugby

Tony Ward previews this season’s highly anticipated Schools Cup season, giving his expert analysis on who will be crowned Senior and Junior Cup champions

NEWS

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RE G U L ARS

06 General news

14 INTERVIEW

38 national clubs

18 INTERVIEW

The very latest talking points from Local, National and International rugby, including a run down of all the latest Irish interest in the RaboDirect Pro12

news

In-depth round-up of all the latest from Ireland’s local club sides

44 Ulster Bank League

Match reports, fixtures and all the latest news from every tier of our National League

Ireland’s inspirational centre, Brian O’Driscoll, chats to Club Rugby about all things rugby

Conor O’Shea talks to Club Rugby and shows exactly why he’s our very own ‘Special One’

22 INTERVIEW

Genuine Irish legend and gentleman, Ollie Campbell, chats to Club Rugby about a remarkable life in rugby

46 FITNESS

Club Rugby focuses on one of the most common ailments in rugby, at all levels - shoulder injuries.

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Editor: Alan Conway Content Advisors: Shane Byrne Tony Ward Contributors: Shane Byrne Tony Ward Robert Forbes Daire walsh Design: Barry Sheehan www.ifpmedia.com

Photography: Inpho Financial Director: Tom McGrath Accounts: Gemma Cameron Managing Director: Brian O’Connell Advertising and Marketing Director: Gerard Connon Advertising: Amy McLoughlin Publisher: Council Publications Ltd. Copyright CLUB RUGBY MAGAZINE 2013. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form without the express written permission of the publishers.

CLUB RUGBY MAGAZINE Unit D4, Swords Enterprise Park, Drinam, Swords, Co. Dublin p f e t

(01) 5359631 (01) 5358752 info@clubrugby.ie @clubrugby1

WELCOME MESSAGE from Shane Byrne On behalf of everyone at Club Rugby magazine, I would like to welcome you to our first publication with Ireland’s leading newspaper, the Irish Independent. In this issue we have a star-studded line-up of interviews, features and profiles for you to enjoy. We have an exclusive one-on-one interview with none other than Brian O’Driscoll. The legendary Irish and Leinster centre discusses everything from his extraordinary career with his country and province, along with his involvement in the Ultimate Rugby web & mobile phone application, in a no holds barred interview. Conor O’Shea talks to us about his career to date along with the current state of rugby on both sides of the Irish Sea. Ollie Campbell is given our ‘legends treatment’ in what is a fascinating insight into the life of one of Ireland’s most famous players. I sit down with Tony Ward and preview the upcoming RBS Six Nations Championship, as we discuss Ireland’s chances ahead of their crucial opening game against Wales in the Millennium Stadium this coming weekend. Blackrock College, Corinthians and Terenure College are profiled in our dedicated clubs section, with interviews with all the current Presidents along with the latest news from each of the clubs. Tony Ward also gives his unique take on the state of schools rugby in Ireland, as the Senior and Junior Schools Cups kick off. There is also comprehensive coverage of both the Ulster Bank League and the Provincial Towns Cup, along with up to the minute reviews of the Heineken Cup, along with the RaboDirect Pro12. With all the latest news from clubs around the country, Club Rugby is the only magazine that you will need. I hope that you enjoy this issue and I look forward to talking to you next month. Yours in Rugby.

www.clubrugby.ie PS: If you would like the latest news from your club to feature in our publication please email info@clubrugby.ie with any news that you would like us to cover in the magazine


Dedicated to the future of Irish rugby

Help for what matters Important Information Ulster Bank Ireland Limited. A private company limited by shares, trading as Ulster Bank, Ulster Bank Group and Banc Uladh. Registered in Republic of Ireland. Registered No. 25766. Registered OfďŹ ce: Ulster Bank Group Centre, George’s Quay, Dublin 2. Member of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

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GENERAL NEWS

Irish Rugby Stars Support the Return of Club Initiative Ulster Bank RugbyForce now open Irish rugby stars Fergus McFadden, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross recently lined-out in University College Dublin with a selection of Ulster Bank League Club captains to mark the return of Ulster Bank’s RugbyForce, an initiative which provides rugby clubs with the opportunity to win support packages to renovate their club and upgrade their facilities. This year, five clubs will receive a €5,000 prize, with one coming down to a public vote. The winning clubs will also receive a special training session from an IRFU coach and two Irish Rugby stars.

Ulster Bank RugbyForce encourages rugby supporters, their friends and families to give something back to their local community and rugby club by volunteering to undertake renovations to clubhouses and grounds. The first 50 clubs to register will receive €250 towards their RugbyForce event. Clubs must register for Ulster Bank RugbyForce online by Friday 12th April 2013. This year there will be five lucky winners of a support package worth €5,000. There will be four provincial winners and one separate winner which will be voted by the public. Those clubs who are shortlisted but not selected by the judges as winners will then be put to a public vote, whereby club and community members can vote for the club of the choice from 22nd- 26th April 2013. The club with the highest number of votes will be named as the fifth winner of the support package. The winners will also receive the coveted prize of a training session with an IRFU coach and two IRFU players. The winning clubs will then carry out the improvements to their rugby facilities during the planned 2013 Ulster Bank RugbyForce Day. The four winners of the 2012 Ulster Bank RugbyForce were Ballyhaunis RFC in Mayo, Killarney RFC in Kerry, Newbridge RFC in Kildare and Donaghdee RFC in Down. Renovations and refurbishments in these clubs included upgrading changing rooms, replacement of essential training equipment and development of underage structures Rugby clubs can enter RugbyForce on Ulster Bank’s dedicated rugby website – www.ulsterbank.com/rugby - where extensive analysis and information on previous RugbyForce winners can also be found. The winning clubs will receive: • Goods and resources up to the value of €5,000 to go towards the club’s RugbyForce Day • A training session with an IRFU coach and 2 Irish international players • 50 T-shirts for the volunteer workforce • A signed framed jersey • Enhanced media support • Commemorative Ulster Bank RugbyForce Plaque • Terms and conditions apply and can be found at www.ulsterbank.com/ rugby •  The Increased support pack for the first 50 clubs includes: • €250 to go towards the club’s RugbyForce event


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GENERAL NEWS Shane Byrne’s legends match 24 hours before the current crop of players do battle at the Aviva Stadium, the warriors of yesteryear will converge in Dublin for the Ireland Legends v England legends game at Donnybrook Stadium on Saturday February 9th. The Legends Charity game is set to be a highly competitive clash with a capacity crowd expected at Donnybrook Stadium to compete for the Stuart Mangan Memorial Cup, currently held by the English Legends who claimed the trophy at The Stoop last year and raised over 37,000 pounds for charity on the night. The Legends games continue to tempt some of the greatest retired players to put their boots back on, face up to old rivals and raise invaluable funds for their teams’ nominated charities. All the money raised from the match will be donated to the IRFU Charitable Trust and to the RFU Injured Players Foundation along with the RPA Benevolent Fund in England. The three charities raise money to help deal with life threatening injuries for both professional and amateur players within the sport. To date over €300,000 has been raised through the Legends Series of games. The Ireland team will be led by former Ireland and British & Irish Lion’s hooker Shane Byrne and the side will include such Irish legends as David Wallace, Nick Popplewell, Trevor Brennan, Mick Galwey, Mal O’Kelly, Eric Miller and Girvan Dempsey.

They will face an England Team that will also be led by a former British & Irish Lion, Martin Corry and includes Lawrence Dallaglio, Kyran Bracken, Austin Healy, Jason Leonard and Josh Lewsey. Looking forward to the game Ireland legends Captain Shane Byrne said: “All the boys are looking forward to our return game and we are hoping for a capacity crowd at Donnybrook to watch us get our boots back on. It has really grabbed the imagination of the players, last year we had 14 Lions players on the pitch and all internationals we have raised €300,000 for [charity] so far. “If you have shouted for or against the English, for any player over the last 10 years, they’re going to be there. The likes of Lawrence Dallalgio, Martin Corry, Kyran Bracken, Jason Leonard, Mal O’Kelly, Girvan, and Nick Popplewell will all be lining out on February 9th“. With generous team sponsorship from reinsurance group Validus (www. validusre.bm) this promises to be another memorable evening. The game kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday 9th February with tickets for the game priced at €10 for adults and €5 concessions and are now on sale from www.ticketmaster.ie More information about the game can be found at

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Pro12 hits crucial juncture Despite the Heineken Cup taking centre stage in the domestic rugby season at the moment, the RaboDirect Pro 12 has enjoyed a lot of time in the spotlight this year, in large part to the exploits of the Ulster Rugby team, who have blazed a trail over the domestic league so far this season. Mark Anscombe’s side have only lost one of their thirteen games, blitzing a number of sides on their way to opening up an eleven point gap over their nearest rivals, the Glasgow Warriors. The Irish province has made a huge impression so far this season, with their perfect mix of attacking flair and defensive meanness. It will be interesting to see how the Six Nations will affect their impressive league form, as the likes of Rory Best, Paddy Jackson, Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy et al, will all be missing for the better part of two months. How Ulster cope will be very interesting. While the table may say that Leinster are sitting in third place in the Pro12 table, it has not been a straight forward season for the defending Heineken Cup champions. Having to do without the services of Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Eoin O’Malley, Sean O’Brien and Luke Fitzgerald, Joe Schmidt’s side had a truncated start to their domestic campaign. A heavy away defeat away to the Scarlets was the low point in a first half of their season, which saw them lose four of their opening thirteen games. There were some high points however. Another defeat of Munster kept their 100% record in the Aviva Stadium intact, until French giants Clermont Auvergne ruthlessly dispatched the Heineken Cup champions in late December. The return of their frontline players to action saw Leinster’s form gradually pick up heading into their crucial final games in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup. An impressive away to Edinburgh at the turn of the year, signalled a revival in their domestic form, a trend that Joe Schmidt will hope to continue over the coming months. Having lost out in the last three previous Grand Finals, twice to the Ospreys and once to Munster, there is no doubt that Leinster will be more than keen to make amends, especially having lost so narrowly to the Ospreys at the RDS last May. Like Munster and Ulster, a lot will depend on how Leinster’ s big guns come back from their exertions in the Six Nations Championship. If the O’Driscoll’s and Kearney’s of this world come back injury free, then there is no reason why Leinster cannot maintain their place in one of the four playoff places that they currently occupy.

If Ulster keep up their relentlessly good form after the Six Nations, then it looks like that the best place Leinster could hope to reach is second. Even if that were the case, few would bet against Leinster righting their poor recent history in the Rabodirect Pro 12 final series. In many ways Munster’s season has mirrored Leinster’s. While they haven’t suffered the rate of injuries that their fiercest rivals, Munster have suffered a number of losses, as new coach Rob Penny looked to stamp his own brand on the Irish province Munster’s season has been undone by inconsistency. Too often they have produced a high class performance one week, only for them not to back it up the following week. They became the first team to inflict a defeat on Ulster in the league, when they dismantled their fellow province at Thomond Park, only to lose to the Cardiff Blues in Musgrave Park in the following round. If Munster can string a run of results together in the second half of the season, there is no reason why they cannot improve on their current standing of fifth place in the Pro12 table. Should they fail to consistently, it could be a long run in for the 2011 champions. Consistency is one of the areas that has also stymied the progress of Eric Elwood’s Connacht side. Currently lying in tenth place, Connacht has in some aspects, failed to build on the good progress last season, which saw them bag their first win in the Heineken Cup. Nine losses from thirteen games doesn’t tell the full story however. Many of the games that Connacht lost, they could, and possibly won. Perhaps the highlight of the season, from a Connacht perspective, was their tremendous win against Leinster way back in September. That would prove to be a rare win, in a season that has failed to live up to the standards that the province has set for themselves over the last number of seasons. All their attention will now be focused on climbing up the Pro12 table, and if they can get the rub of the green, at crucial junctures of the rest of their campaign, then one can conceivably see them move up from their current tenth place in the months ahead.


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LEINSTER In the end Leinster came up short in their attempt to become the first team in history to win the Heineken Cup three seasons in a row. Despite two bonus point wins in their last two games against the Scarlets and the Exeter Chiefs, Joe Schmidts’s side became the first defending champions to be knocked out at the pool stage of the Heineken Cup since Wasps back in 2008. While many will point to injuries to key players at crucial stages of the competition, it was their failure to beat French side Clermont Auvergne in their back to back encounters in December that was the former champions undoing. A narrow 9-6 win against Exeter got Leinster’s campaign off to the right start. They followed this up with an impressive away win to the Scarlets, which gave them high hopes of taking something from their trip to the Stade Marcel Michelin to face Clermont. The 15-12 defeat to Clermont will be a game that Leinster will look back on and feel that they could, and most likely should have won. Having caught Clermont cold to some extent in the first game, Leinster failed to build on that performance the following weekend, where they surrendered their 100% record at the Aviva Stadium as Clermont ruthlessly dispatched the champions 29-21. That result took Leinster’s fate out of their hands. Having done all they could against the Scarlets & Exeter in the final two games, it was just not enough and they bowed out of the competition at the pool stages for the first time in eight seasons, something that would have been unthinkable to their legion of supporters at the start of the campaign. Leinster will look back on their 2012/13 Heineken Cup campaign with a few regrets. One can’t fault how they fought to the last minute to hold onto a crown that has come to define what the Irish province is about. They face an away trip to Wasps in the quarter finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup, with the prospect of a home semi-final at the RDS to come. Leinster may no longer be Heineken Cup champions, but few would bet against them lifting some silverware come the end of the season.

POOL 5 REsults 13/10/12 Leinster 9-6 Exeter RDS, Dublin / KO 3.40pm

20/10/12 Scarlets 13-20 Leinster Parc y Scarlets, Wales / KO 1.35pm

9/12/12 Clermont Auv 21-28 Leinster Std Marcel Michelin, France / KO 3.00pm

15/12/12 Leinster 15-12 Clermont Auv Aviva Stadium, Dublin / KO 3.40pm

12/01/13 Leinster 33-14 Scarlets RDS, Dublin / KO 6.00pm

19/01/13 Exeter 20-29 Leinster Sandy Park, UK / KO 6.00pm

Please note: Fixtures are subject to change. Club Rugby Magazine is not responsible for any changes that may be made.

ULSTER Defeat in last year’s Heineken Cup has not knocked Ulster rugby back, as some feared it might, but rather it has inspired them to go one better this year, and it is a case of so far so good for the province as they cruised into the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup, playing some dynamic rugby along the way. Mark Anscombe’s unit are many peoples favourite to land their second Heineken Cup after they topped their pool with an impressive 23 points, eight clear of their closest pursuers, Northampton Saints. The province gave notice of their intent in round 1 when they picked apart Castres at Ravenhill, demolishing the Top 14 side 41-17. They backed up that performance in the next two rounds, defeating Glasgow Warriors and most importantly, taking the scalp of Northampton away from home in December. Despite losing 10-9 in the return game to the Saints, Ulster never looked like surrendering their lead at the top of Pool 5. A 23-6 win at home to Glasgow booked Ulster’s place in the last eight, but it was their final round win away to Castres that will forever stick in the collective minds of the Ulster supporters. That 9-8 win in the Stade Pierre Antoine was Ulster’s first ever win on French soil and fuelled belief that this could just be Ulster’s year. Up next for Ulster is a trip to face English side Saracens in the final eight. Mark Anscombe will be keeping everything crossed that his stars like Craig Gilroy, Chris Henry, Rory Best et al, all come through Ireland’s Six Nations campaign without any injuries. If that happens, along with the return of the human wrecking ball known as Stephen Ferris, Ulster will have no fear of taking on any side left in the competition. Saracens await, but one gets the feeling that Ulster may be making a trip to the Aviva Stadium in the middle of May. Only time will tell.

POOL 4 REsults 12/10/12 Ulster 41-17 Castres Ravenhill, Belfast / KO 8.00pm

19/10/12 Glasgow 8-19 Ulster Scotstoun, Scotland / KO 8.00pm

7/12/12 Northampton 6-25 Ulster Franklin’s Gardens, UK / KO 8.00pm

15/12/12 Ulster 9-10 Northampton Ravenhill, Belfast / KO 6.00pm

11/01/13 Ulster 23-6 Glasgow Ravenhill, Belfast / KO 8.00pm

19/01/13 Castres 8-9 Ulster

Stade J-P Antoine, France / KO 1.35pm Please note: Fixtures are subject to change. Club Rugby Magazine is not responsible for any changes that may be made.


ALWAYS PROTECT THE SCRUM HALF


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MUNSTER A final day hammering of French side Racing Metro was enough to see the two time Heineken Cup champions into the quarter finals at the expense of their fiercest rivals Leinster.

POOL 1 REsults

Rob Penny’s outfit opened their campaign with a narrow defeat to Racing, but showed the rugby world what a force they still are with a clinical, 33-0 dissection of Edinburgh in round 2. They took that confidence into the first of their back to back games against Aviva Premiership side Saracens and with the experienced boot of fly half Ronan O’Gara they edged a tight affair 15-9.

Stade de France, France / KO 1.35pm

13/10/12 Racing Metro 22-17 Munster 21/10/12 Munster 33-0 Edinburgh

An away defeat in the return game put Munster on the back foot coming into the final two rounds of fixtures. A gutsy win away to Edinburgh meant that it all came down to their final home game against Racing Metro in Round 6.

Thomand Park, Limerick / KO 12.45pm

Munster needed a bonus point win to ensure their passage into the last eight, and they didn’t disappoint. A Simon Zebo hat-trick was the highlight of a rampant Munster display as they brushed aside Racing Metro 29-6, and in the process snuffed out any lingering hopes that Leinster may have had of making the quarter finals.

Thomand Park, Limerick / KO 6.00pm

Munster now face an away trip to Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins side in the last eight, a game that will push Munster right to the edge. Keeping the likes of Simon Zebo fit, a player who has bloomed over the last number of months, along with getting their inspirational leader Paul O’Connell off the treatment table and back onto the pitch, are just some of the things Munster need to do if they harbour any hopes of landing their third Heineken Cup. If Munster can get past Harlequins then anything is possible for the province. April cannot come quick enough for the Red Army. The dreaming can begin now.

8/12/12 Munster 15-9 Saracens 16/12/12 Saracens 19-13 Munster Vicarage Road, UK / KO 3.00pm

13/01/13 Edinburgh 17-26 Munster

Murrayfield, Scotland / KO 12.45pm

20/01/13 Munster 29-6 Racing Metro Thomand Park, Limerick / KO 12.45pm

Please note: Fixtures are subject to change. Club Rugby Magazine is not responsible for any changes that may be made.

CONNACHT Three wins and three defeats tells the mathematical side to Connacht’s 2012/13 Heineken Cup journey, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Having registered their first win in the competition against Harlequins in the pool stages of the tournament last season, hopes were high that the province could build on the good work that they had achieved. Eric Elwood’s men got their campaign off to the perfect start with a fantastic away win against the Italian side Zebre. Unfortunately they could not build on that performance when they welcomed Harlequins back to the Sportsground. In a game that they could, and conceivably should have won, the province went down to the Aviva Premiership side 30-22. Connacht were just not able to close the game out, and their lack of experience at the highest level of European rugby seemed to be evident during the course of their campaign. That said, they did produce one of the victories of the whole pool stages when they defeated Biarritz 22-14 in a spectacular performance that will live long in the memory of anyone who was in Galway that December day. Sadly they could not back up that performance and despite a final day defeat of Zebre, Connacht failed to make the knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup. They now need Ulster or Munster to lift the Heineken Cup this year, if they are to play in Europe’s biggest rugby tournament next season. Connacht will be back.

POOL 3 REsults 13/10/12 Zebre 10-19 Connacht Stadio Aprille XXV, Italy / KO 1.35pm

20/10/12 Connacht 22-30 Harlequins Sportsground, Galway / KO 6.00pm

7/12/12 Connacht 22-14 Biarritz Sportsground, Galway / KO 8.00pm

14/12/12 Biarritz 17-0 Connacht Ravenhill, Belfast / KO 8.00pm

12/01/13 Harlequins 47-8 Connacht The Stoop, UK / KO 1.35pm

18/01/13 Connacht 25-20 Zebre Sportsground, Galway / KO 8.00pm

Please note: Fixtures are subject to change. Club Rugby Magazine is not responsible for any changes that may be made.


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In an era where reputations come and go with unceasing regularity, one player, has stood at the top of Irish rugby for the better part of the last decade It seems a lifetime ago that Brian O’Driscoll burst onto our screens and into our hearts and minds like a green comet, when he scored a hat-trick of tries, and announced his arrival to the rugby world on a cold day in Paris, against France, in the Six Nations championship in the year 2000. Since that fateful day, BOD, as he is known to one and all, has continually set the standard for Irish rugby players, and one could argue Irish sports people as a whole. Grand Slams, Triple Crowns, Heineken Cups, they have all found their way to his trophy cabinet over an unparalleled career, that has seen him become regarded as one of, if not, the greatest Irish rugby player in history. However in the beginning, it was Old Trafford, rather than Lansdowne Road, that the young O’Driscoll saw himself running out in front of. We all have our sporting heroes, players who fire our imagination and fuel our dreams. For Brian, it was a dark haired wizard playing in the red of Manchester United that captured his imagination in his youth. “Mark Hughes was my sporting hero growing up”, he admits. “There was just something different about him. He had an edge to him whenever he played. The goals that he used to score were never simple tap ins, they were usually spectacular efforts, which I suppose was one of the reasons that I used to look up to him”. Like most boys his age, Brian played all different kinds of sports in his teenage years. “Yes. GAA, soccer, rugby tennis, you name it I played it”, he says laughingly. “I just loved sports, no matter what it was”. It was only when he went to Willow Park when he was 13 that rugby began to become a bigger part of his life. From Willow Park, he moved to the prestigious Blackrock College, where he played a part in ‘Rock winning the 1996 Senior Schools Cup, remarkably he didn’t collect a winners medal, as he was an unused sub in the victorious side, that also starred future Leinster captain Leo Cullen and Bob Casey. Despite not winning a senior cup medal, O’Driscoll looks on his time back with Blackrock with the warmest of memories. “I had a tremendous time in school and playing rugby with Blackrock. Schools rugby taught me so much. It was so competitive playing Senior Cup rugby. In many ways it set the tone for the rest of my career, because back then you saw what was required to win and you learned a lot from your defeats too, it was a great learning experience. The lessons that he gained at schools level, were put into practise with tremendous results. A naturally gifted player with ball in hand, and with an uncanny ability to change the course of a game with a swivel of his hips, or a deft pass, O’Driscoll soon became a player that was garnering a big reputation. He was a part of the U-19 Ireland team that landed the Rugby World Cup in 1998, a team that also featured Paddy Wallace and Donnacha O’Callaghan. His meteoric rise through the ranks, continued at an astonishing rate. A year after winning that World Cup, O’Driscoll was called up to the senior Ireland squad against Italy in April 1999. Despite not getting any game time, he would soon make his senior bow, that summer, against Australia in Brisbane, June 1999. It was a rate of progress that even took O’Driscoll by surprise. “It was very strange, in the sense that it all happened so quickly”, he says. “I


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played a few times for the U-21’s, then I had one training session with the senior team and before I knew it I was on the bench against Italy, then I went on the summer tour to Australia and I won my first cap. So I didn’t have much time to think about things!”. And what about that first test. Were there nerves? A sense of trepidation? “Not really”, O’Driscoll muses. “It was a huge occasion and a massive honour to be selected to play for your country. In that first test I played against one of my rugby hero’s in Tim Horan, so that was something in itself. “You just forget about nerves really and just back yourself and your ability when you get out on the field”. That ability began to shine brightly as the rugby world began to realise just what a special talent was in front of them. That famous hat-trick in Paris, set the wheels in motion for a hugely successful international career that would see him lead Ireland to their holy grail, of a first Grand Slam in 61 years back in 2009. While describing that Slam victory as the ‘pinnacle’ you wonder, if he can distil what it means to him to put on that green jersey, that has been carried down the generations and run out in front of a sea of Irish supporters, as he has done over the last thirteen years. The emotion and surety in his voice, confirms, what in your heart, you already knew. “It’s a phenomenal feeling. There is just something very special about putting on that jersey. It is something that you never get bored of doing. We have talked in the last couple of seasons about only borrowing the jersey for the day when we play. “So all you can do is go and do the jersey as much justice as you can when you are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to play for Ireland. But that feeling you get when you do run out in front of the Irish supporters is priceless”. Along with guiding Ireland to previously uncharted heights, O’Driscoll has also been at the heart of the rise of Leinster, once a talented group who underachieved and failed to achieve their potential for so many years, to becoming one of the giants of European club rugby, with three victories in the last four Heineken Cup’s, confirmation that Leinster, are now one of the biggest teams in Europe. Having made his Leinster debut, as a 20-year-old, against Munster in August 1999, O’Driscoll has seen both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with his native province during his career and while seeking to acknowledge everyone who has played a role in Leinster’s success over the last number of years, when you ask him if there is one person who perhaps, started the ball rolling, the answer is simply one word. “Cheks”. “When Michael Cheika came to Leinster in 2005 he put a lot of structures and building blocks in place that gave us a lot of confidence for the future. I remember when I first met him he told me that ‘in year two we would win the Magner’s League and in year three we would win the Heineken Cup’. He was a year out, but I didn’t mind waiting a year I suppose”, he laughingly says. “I suppose we as a team just got fed up of losing and underachieving. We also made a number of really good signings in that period of time which brought us up to the level that we wanted to be at. “It meant an awful lot to win the Heineken Cup under Michael, because he did so much for Leinster. That first Heineken Cup was very special, because you are playing with guys that you have built up great friendships with, who have gone through the tough times. The provincial set-up is your bread and butter and it’s been a tremendous honour to have played for Leinster over the last thirteen-fourteen years”. Having finally cracked the Heineken Cup conundrum in 2009, Joe Schmidt took the reins at Leinster and continued the tremendous success that Cheika left before him. You wonder if there any similarities between the two coaches? While not making

comparisons, O’Driscoll is effusive in his praise for his current coach, saying. “Joe is the most knowledgeable rugby person that I know. He is an excellent person, who challenges you day in and day out. Without doubt he has taken us to another level. “There is a freshness that he has brought to Leinster. As a player you are never going to know it all, and what Joe does, is give you a few ideas that can add to your game. It’s all about consistently improving yourself and that is something Joe is very keen on”. This season has, however, not gone to plan for Leinster. Despite a bonus point win in their last two pool games against Scarlets and the Exeter Chiefs, O’Driscoll and Leinster bowed out and surrendered their Heineken Cup title, something that still stings him. Where does O’Driscoll feel that the campaign went off the rails? “The two games against Clermont”, he says instantly. “You just cannot afford to lose two games in the pool stages and expect to qualify. In some seasons twenty points would have been enough for us to qualify, but this year there was a sense of inevitability about it. To be honest I didn’t even watch the Munster v Racing Metro game. We still have a lot to play for this season, it’s disappointing, but we will be back”. There is still plenty to occupy his mind in the next coming months. Granted a clean bill of health he will line up this Saturday against Wales in the Six Nations championship, in confident mood that Ireland can build on their tremendous performance against Argentina last November. “I think we (Ireland) are in a good place at the moment. The performance against Argentina was very good, and it’s about carrying that momentum into the Wales game. We are focusing on getting good clarity to our game and clicking as a team. We haven’t got the level of consistency to our game that we would have liked over the last twelve months, so hopefully we will hit the ground running against Wales. “The first game of the Six Nations is all about building a head of steam and confidence. You cannot win a Six Nations in the first game, but you can lose one, so it’s going to be a massive game”. There is also the huge incentive of playing on his fourth Lions tour, when they travel to Australia this summer. Having never been on a winning Lions team, the chance to, once again, test himself in a Lions jersey, is something that excites him, but as always, he is not looking that far ahead. “It would be a huge honour if I were selected for the Lions. It’s every rugby players dream to test yourself against the best, along with playing with the cream of English, Welsh and Scottish players. “I have to be realistic however. It’s all about continually playing well over the five to six months, let my rugby doing the talking, and then see if that is good enough. You cannot force anything”. Off the field, there is also plenty to keep him busy. He will shortly become a father for the first time ‘which is hugely exciting and something I’m really looking forward to’ along with the continued development of his Ultimate Rugby web & mobile application (please see feature in this issue) which has gone from strength to strength since it was launched in October of last year. It is something that allows O’Driscoll an escape from the bubble of professional rugby and is something that he is hugely excited about. “It all started with the Ernest & Young course that I was doing thanks to the IRFU. I ended up meeting Ray Nolan, and together we spotted a gap in the market. Ray has the technical brains, which is a bit of luck”, he says jokingly. “It has started very well and we are looking forward to seeing how it continues to grow in the future. A bright future on and off the pitch, in BOD we trust.


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Speaking about the origins of the application, Ray Nolan, founder of Ultimate Rugby said; “When Brian and I met a year ago we saw this opportunity from different sides of the business world and the rugby pitch. We wanted to create the ultimate resource for the fan, but also the players themselves to access the information they wanted on the go. However, we very quickly saw that this could be used by players to centralise and manage their own professional profiles and we have seen very positive reaction by fans, players and even sporting agents to Ultimate Rugby.”

Ultimate Rugby App While he continues to set the standard on the pitch for Leinster and Ireland, Brian O’Driscoll has recently made a significant investment in his post rugby life, with the establishment of the Ultimate Rugby application and website in conjunction with one of Ireland’s most successful tech entrepreneurs Ray Nolan.

“From the player perspective, you have to balance your sporting, professional and increasingly celebrity profile on and off the pitch,” says Brian O’Driscoll. “Both current and future professional players are under increasing pressure to manage their profile in a professional and a commercial sense. Ultimate Rugby delivers on two key principles; it gives fans access to their favourite teams and players on the go and allows the players to manage their interactions and their professional profile on the go which will prove to be crucial in helping them build their future career potential and maintain their reputation.” Ultimate Rugby is available for download on iTunes and on the Google Play Store now.

Unlike many sites, apps and communities that are out there, Ultimate Rugby is unaffiliated with specific RFUs or clubs, thereby allowing rugby fans total access without borders or affiliations and unbiased information across the global spectrum of Rugby Union. Using the Ultimate Rugby app gives fans access to top quality editorial covering match previews and reviews which will be combined with real time scores, videos, competitions, social media feeds and e-commerce to give a truly unrivalled experience for the real rugby fan.

The Ultimate App for the Ultimate Fan and Player • The only non-affiliated rugby union site that gives fans direct access to players across the globe: • The only app a rugby fan will ever need: no borders, no affiliations. Gives fans total access to competitions including the Aviva Premiership, Pro12, H-Cup, 6 Nations and Rugby Championship as well as European and Southern Hemisphere tournaments.

Ultimate Rugby caters for global rugby fans as much as the local fans. Users can find out how Argentina performed in their first season of the Rugby Championship as easily as finding out the starting XV for Ireland’s opening Six Nations Championship game against Wales. Fans can even join in the debate on the Rabodirect Pro12, or 6 Nations; the Premiership and Heineken Cup. Unlike other rugby sites, Ultimate Rugby allows players themselves to control their own content; such as writing their own biographies, naming their sponsors and interacting with a global rugby community. This feature allowing players to promote themselves and their opinions is an entirely unique feature to Ultimate rugby.

• Makes it easy to follow your favourite team: Exciting mix of editorial/biographical/statistical options for the user; real-time LIVE scores, videos, competitions, social media and e-commerce. • Closer to the players; Players have access to write their own biographies, interact with fans and use Ultimate Rugby as a personal window to the rugby community • App available on iTunes and Google Play Store Now

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CONOR O’SHEA’s unique knowledge, appreciation and love of rugby, has catapulted the dublin native to the big time, on and off the field.


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itting down to converse with Conor O’Shea at the Aviva Stadium, ahead of Ireland’s must win game against Argentina, one is immediately made aware of the attitude that has brought the Dublin native to such heights both on and off the rugby field. Conor O’Shea is all business. Born and raised in Co. Limerick, O’Shea has enjoyed a much travelled road since his formative rugby playing days in Terenure College. A highly respected name on both sides of the Irish Sea, O’Shea has become a much sought after name within sporting circles as many organisations look to gain from O’Shea’s vast well of sporting knowledge. His roots in the sporting world began not with the rugby ball, but rather on the fields of the GAA. O’Shea’s father, the legendary Kerry footballer Jerome who won three All-Ireland Football titles with his native province, was O’Shea’s first real sporting hero to look up to. “I always loved Gaelic football”, explains O’Shea. “The Kerry team with players such as Pat O’Shea and Pat Spillane, the teams of the 1970’s and the 1980’s were my first sporting heroes growing up. There was just something about the teams around that period of time. Even as a kid, watching those teams was simply magical. “Aside from GAA, my other love was golf. I did and still love my golf and growing up watching the likes of Seve Ballesteros grabbed my interest. Rugby wise then, you had the likes of Serge Blanco who was someone that stood out for me growing up”. While rugby may not have been at the forefront of his sporting loves growing up, attending the rugby bastion of Terenure College soon saw O’Shea fully ensconced in the 15 man game, it would be the beginning of a sporting romance that would take him to great heights, both domestically and internationally. O’Shea’s career in rugby neatly bisected an interesting period in the game. When O’Shea was pulling on the green jersey of Ireland and the green and white of London Irish, rugby was not the fully professional juggernaut that it has become today. Back then, rugby was only beginning to welcome in the professional era. The game still had a deep and strong connection with its amateur past and while attitudes and outlooks have moved on immeasurably over the course of the last two decades, O’Shea feels that some values from the past, like having an outlet from the game of rugby, still hold a great deal of weight in the today’s game. Modern day rugby players like Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy have the likes of restaurants and dj’ing to step outside the rugby bubble, and O’Shea feels that having a connection with the outside world, is one of the better things to have come from the amateur game into the professional era. “I think having an outlet from the game is vital. There can be such a laser like focus on the game nowadays that I can think it can be unhealthy. You see the guys that qualified with their degrees over here which I think is brilliant. The Irish structure is as good as it gets at the moment. The system here (in Ireland) gives players another string to their bow, and more importantly gives them a switch off. “Having their outside projects, be it from a business, or personal point of view, allows them to concentrate on something else when they are not playing the game, which in turn can keep a player mentally fresh. “While we are thoroughly professional in everything that we do at Harlequins, we feel that having an outside interest is very important and it is something

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that we always try to encourage our players to. Combining a number of different projects at the same time is a hallmark of Conor O’Shea’s career. A successful stint at Lansdowne, where he won a prestigious Leinster Senior Cup medal, preceded a move to London Irish, which would see him link up with future World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward. Making such a dramatic move, when it would have been seen that staying in Ireland would have been the safer option, was something that appealed to O’Shea, and it was move that, looking back, O’Shea is happy that he made. “The move (to London Irish) came about because I was looking for a fresh challenge. I was working away with Ulster Investment Bank at the time. I also had my degree in commerce and my diploma in legal studies. “However I wanted to make sure that what I learned, I could apply to sports. So I went for a Masters in Sports Management. Basically I wanted to position myself on one hand to enjoy my professional career and then make sure that when my career came to an end I could go into something that I enjoyed”. O’Shea got the opportunity to experience life beyond the rugby pitch, sooner than he expected. An ankle injury sustained playing for London Irish against Gloucester in the year 2000, curtailed a career that was only beginning to scale the heights that his talents deserved. Capped 35 times for Ireland, seems a disproportionate amount of appearances for someone of O’Shea’s deep talent. Despite having the carpet taken from him, far too early than he anticipated, he remains fairly stoic about the whole episode, dealing with his career change in the manner of fact way that has grounded him throughout his career. While his playing career may have come to an abrupt end, it would not see the end of O’Shea’s involvement with the game of rugby. He would swap his playing boots for the boardroom of London Irish and his talents off the pitch would soon be recognised when he would land (jointly with Brendan Venter) the Zurich Rugby Director of the Season Award in 2002 after he guided London Irish to victory over Northampton Saints in the Powergen Cup. To think that O’Shea’s career has been a smooth transition from job to job would be a misconception. Unlike so many people who are content to stay in their own bubble, O’Shea is always on the lookout for the next big challenge in his career, the next goal to be obtained, or the next boundary to be pushed. There is a restless, yet balanced focus to him. A trait that has seen him rise through the ranks of some of the most prestigious sporting organisations in the British Isles. Working as part of a successful team is something that O’Shea knows a lot about. From London Irish to his time working

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CONOR on... ...working with Sir Clive Woodward “Clive was always destined to reach the top. It is probably the wrong thing to say, but he was just different. He thought about the game in a way that few people before him or after him have done so. There were quirky things in training, some of them were ridiculous, and others were brilliant. The one thing that he did do was free your mind, and that for the game of rugby, is hugely important. I will never forget one day when we were training at London Irish and he nearly killed me with a slip catcher. There was this wooden hammock that they used in cricket for catching and Clive wanted our hand-eye coordination to improve, so we would spend hours on the pitch, practising our catching. One day he whizzed this dead hard cricket ball in to and the next thing I remember is the ball flying, inches past my head. He threw it a particular way and whatever way it came off the hammock, it must have missed me by millimetres. It was laughed at when it happened, because it was seen as ‘oh the Irish guy who can’t play cricket’ but I’m happy to report that my catching skills have improved a considerable amount since that incident”.

CONOR on... ...LOVE OF SPORT

as Director of Regional Academies with the RFU, O’Shea is well placed to offer a little insight into what makes a successful person, and therefore a successful team tick. “It is never about just one person”, O’Shea’s muses. “Everyone makes the team tick. Take someone like Chris Robshaw at ‘Quins now. Everyone at the club must take a huge amount of pride in watching a player that has come up through the ranks and is now captaining England. Weather you succeed or fail, what is important is that you did it on your own terms. “I think that when I was at the Institute of Sport, I realised what my passion was, which was to be involved in the game at the ground level. I know that nowadays that a coach loses six games and they will get the sack, but that is the life that we lead. It is mentally tiring, but unbelievably energising at the same time”. Having been a part of both club systems in Ireland and England through his career, O’Shea is better placed than most to offer an insight into the different structures of the game in both countries, and he feels that Ireland, in particular, was the perfect model for the professional game. “Ireland was just made for professional rugby. The provincial structure was there. The supporters understood the provincial set-up. We have always had an unbelievable amount of talent in Ireland, and we still do today. “At times people say that numbers are a problem. Some say that there are too few professionals in Ireland, well the flip side to that, is, having too many players and that can just be as difficult to manage. You can then find yourself in a situation of backing too many horses, and picking one player one week, then a different player the following week. It is important to change and refresh things, but not just change for change’s sake.

“I love every sport. From my GAA, through golf, to rugby, tiddlywinks, you name it I will sit down and watch any sport that is on, and I am very lucky to be working at something that I am extremely passionate about.

“I think you might find that the club game in Ireland will grow over the next number of years, as the numbers that make it into the provincial academies begin to shrink. The professional game grows from the amateur arena so there can never be a full disconnect between the two spheres.

Rugby is technically what I understand, but in terms of performance structures and getting from your starting point, to your objective, each sport is pretty similar. Individual sports are different to team sports, but performance pathways are the same, the technical aspects are different, and that’s where coaches coach. A lot of skills are transferable and you can learn a lot from a different number of sports.

“The elite game is something completely different in terms of commitment and everything that goes with that level. You don’t want the amateur game to kill itself by trying to be professional. You want people to enjoy themselves at the grass roots level”.

I worked with the British Olympic swimming team last summer. Now I can swim a length of a pool, which would be the extent of my prowess. However I was working alongside Bob Bowman, who coached Michael Phelps (below), so he understood the type of questions that needed to be asked. In terms of pathways and structures, maybe someone from the outside, looking in, is not a bad thing to have because you can ask what people would class as ‘dumb’ questions”.

Enjoying himself is something that O’Shea knows about. He is currently flying high with Aviva Premiership team Harlequins and has made such a deep impact during his time there, that more and more people see him as a natural candidate should Declan Kidney vacate the Ireland head coach position over the coming seasons. Coping with such a high level of expectation is something that sits naturally on O’Shea’s broad shoulders, and he believes that once you give it your all in whatever field you are working in, then nobody can demand any more of you. “All you can do is your best, and if that is good enough, so be it”, O’Shea explains. “The one thing that I would never like to be is anyone bar myself. At times I am very, very, competitive, but I do it my own way. I enjoy watching players and coaches getting better.” For O’Shea his most pressing concern is ensuring that his Harlequins side continue their fine form both on the domestic and European front. He does however let his mind wander to what might be when you press him about Ireland’s chances in the forthcoming Six Nations championship. Ireland open their tournament away to Wales on February 2nd and O’Shea believes that a good start is vital, in what he feels is as wide open a tournament for many years.


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CONOR on... ...RUGBY LIFE “The structure in England is very different to the set-up in Ireland. In England it is just so uncompromising, in terms of the number of week in, week out, massive games that take place. There is really no break from the treadmill. It is becoming more like Premiership soccer, not only in terms of the way that the players behave, in terms of levels of professionalism, but also in terms of the intense pressure that they come under from the media. Some people may feel that Declan Kidney (right) is under pressure over here, but the type of pressure that people like Stuart Lancaster have on them is immense. There is pressure in every job and everyone copes with it in their own way. Personally, I like to be kept busy. One thing that I would never like to be, is someone other than myself. We all know, the cut throat life that a coach leads but that is just the nature of the game that we are involved in. I’ve had the good fortune and pleasure to work with and under some fantastic coaches. You think, just at London Irish, the likes of Willie Anderson, Dick Best and Clive Woodward. I’ve also worked with Brendan Venter. In Ireland there are the likes of Eddie O’Sullivan, Warren Gatland and Jerry Murphy. There are so many unbelievable people that I have come across, that you couldn’t help but be influenced by them, but I keep coming back to it, always be yourself”.

“I think Ireland have a tremendous chance. Getting off to a good start is going to vital. Facing Wales after the autumn series they had isn’t going to be easy. They will be hurting. But we have the pool of players to take on anyone. “The likes of Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy have to step up and fill the void left by the likes of Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll, you can allow yourself the excuse that we have lost a number of players, but that cannot be an excuse with the quality of player that we have in Ireland. It promises to be an extremely interesting Six Nations that’s for sure”. Interesting times. With Conor O’Shea involved in the game of rugby, there promises to be many more interesting days ahead. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

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LEGEND of the ball


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n a cold New Year’s night in a deserted industrial estate a legend is speaking. The temperature may be freezing outside, but talking to former Ireland and British & Irish Lions legend Ollie Campbell would warm anyone up.

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“People used to say about Jack that he had three speeds-fast, very fast & very, very fast. I wish I could say the same about myself!

The word legend is thrown around with such careless abandon these days, that the word and the connotations that go along with it are somewhat lessened. Make no mistake about it however, when describing Ollie Campbell, the word legend scarcely does him justice.

“Of the players that I saw play, the outstanding one was Mike Gibson. What an inspiration he was too, not only in his play but in his philosophy on the game. He once wrote that rugby is like love, it is a game of touch and of feel and of instinct and those who play it will enjoy it most if they master the basic skills and give freedom to their instincts and freedom to the naturalness of the game.

Born on March 5 1954, Campbell, whose famous out-half battles with Tony Ward made national headlines, played a crucial role in helping Ireland land their first Triple Crown in 1982, which snapped a thirty three year drought for the Irish team.

“I remember his debut against England in Twickenham in Feb ’64 as if it was yesterday, when he had what could only be described as a dream debut. Ireland won 18/5 which was an enormous score in those days. I was playing my first season at out half on the Belvedere under 10s that year.

His love affair with rugby began from an early age. Despite having a passion for, as he puts it, ‘all ball sports’, it was rugby that grabbed the young Campbell’s attention. “I remember getting my first black and white Belvedere kit and sitting at the dining room table doing my homework with my kit on, boots and all. I then went to bed in my kit and sleeping in it, boots an all!” Campbell says, smiling at the memory. That infectious love of rugby would soon take a major grip on his life.

“He set up one of the great tries in Irish rugby history that day with a beautiful dummy from inside his own 25. This was followed by a famous double switch in the middle of Twickenham and ended with Pat Casey scoring under the posts at the far end. It is a try I have never forgotten”.

We all can remember our first game that our parents took us to as we were growing up. The different sights, sounds and smells, are still as fresh in the mind today as they were the day that it happened. For Ollie ‘my defining day’ came when he was nine years of age, and accompanied by his father, his life was transformed, one dull overcast day at Lansdowne Road. “It was the 7th of December 1963 when my dad brought me to my first international. Ireland played Wilson Whineray’s All Blacks. I can safely say I have been hooked on rugby since that day. Those giants in the All Black outfit with the silver fern are responsible for that. It was as if they had come from another planet. There were players like Colin “Pinetree” Meads playing, who is probably the All Black of all All Blacks, his brother Stan alongside him in the second row, Ken Gray, Kelvin Tremain, the brilliant Mac Herewini at outhalf and the legendary Don Clarke playing at full back. Not surprisingly it was Don Clarke who kicked the winning penalty that day”. “Despite Ireland losing that day 6-5, that game and the whole experience was the defining day of my life. Since then, for me, there has always been something mystical and magical about the All Blacks”. Not only did Campbell have a love and passion for the game of rugby, but he had a natural talent for the game too. An ideally, slenderly build out half, having won 2 Leinster Schools Senior Cup medals with Belvedere College, he rose through the ranks of his beloved Old Belvedere and Leinster at such a rate that he would soon challenge for International honours. Growing up, it was a player that Campbell never even saw playing that had a massive influence on him and that is the immortal Jack Kyle. “Even though they didn’t know each other at the time my Mum and Dad were both in Ravenhill on March 13th 1948 when Ireland won its first Grand Slam. It was my Mum’s 25th birthday and believe it or not that is how she spent it, with her older sister. I was born almost exactly 6 years later. “Jack Kyle was my Dad’s all time sporting hero so I grew up hearing all about his amazing exploits on the field and his quality as a man off it. The first time I met Jack was after an Irish training session in Lansdowne Road, and I have to admit it was like a spiritual experience. To this day he still has a very special aura about him and I always treasure my conversations with him whenever we meet.

While some people never get the chance to meet their hero, Campbell had the good fortune, not only to meet Mike Gibson, but eleven years after first watching him cut a dashing figure across his mental tableau, the fresh faced Campbell made his Ireland debut against Australia in 1976 with none other than Mike Gibson lining up in the centre outside him, and as captain too. Campbell was 21 and weighed in at just 11 stone 2lbs. That debut game would prove memorable for a number of reasons as Campbell explains with a wry smile. “As I have always said I had a 100% record with my kicking that day-four attempts & four misses.” he says laughingly. It was most definitely not a dream debut! “We lost 20-10 that day and I had to wait another three years to get my second cap, which ironically was also against Australia. It may not be unique but it certainly is unusual to have won my first three caps all against the same opposition. The only team that I was ever dropped from in my entire career, from the time I first started playing until I retired, was after that first cap against Australia in ‘76. I deserved to be dropped too. I just wasn’t ready for that level of rugby at that time”. That intervening three year period would see the beginning of one of the most talked about rivalries in Irish sporting history. Ollie Campbell v Tony Ward. Even the mention of their two names provokes huge debate, to this day, of who was the better out half. For many years you couldn’t split the two players, such was the closeness of their rivalry.

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To put things in context before Campbell won his second cap against Australia in 1979, Tony Ward had been crowned the European Player of the year for the past two seasons, and would have been seen by many as the complete number 10 of his generation.

OLLIE on...

Campbell takes up the story “Yes, you could say that the decision to select me over Tony was something of a surprise. Nobody was more surprised than me, not even Tony himself. Neither of us saw it coming and I don’t think anyone else did either. My rivalry with Tony was a purely sporting one and we have always had great mutual personal respect for each other, and are in regular contact to this day.”

...THE british & irish lions

“As far as the games go, well we won both tests against an Australia team that was very strong at the time. They had beaten a strong Wales touring team in both tests the previous year and they had even defeated the All Blacks in Auckland at the end of the previous season too. That tour was really where my international career started.

The Lions have a magnetic attraction, wherever they play and whoever they play against. When the Lions tour Australia this summer, it marks the 125th anniversary of the first touring team from these islands to travel to the Southern Hemisphere. Amazingly, there have only been four successful Lions tours in that time, yet that magnetic attraction is still there. Cliff Morgan, the brilliant Welsh and Lions out-half in the ‘50’s, once said that Lions tours should be not all about winning, but how the game is played. For him Lions tours should always be fun, and should always be an adventure. I too am an incurable romantic when it comes to the Lions.

“We won the first test 27-12 in Brisbane and it was just one of those days where everything went exactly according to plan. Colin Patterson scored two great tries and I ended up scoring 19 points which was a new Irish record. “In the second test we played them in the Sydney Cricket Ground and we won 9-3. Years later the late great Moss Keane said that we were the first country from the Northern Hemisphere to win a test series in the Southern Hemisphere. I do not know if this is true but if Moss said it then it must be! “Noel Murphy (the Ireland coach at the time) has said to me, pretty much every time we have met in the subsequent thirty years or so, that if the decision to select me in Australia in ’79 hadn’t worked, he would now be an Australian citizen! “It was a very successful tour with Ireland winning 7 of the 8 games played, losing only to Sydney”. Despite been at the centre of a considerable storm, Campbell refused to let the out-half debate affect his ability to produce on the biggest stage for Ireland. His laser like kicking ability, combined with a rugby brain that ticked faster than most, helped Ireland develop into one of the strongest teams in what was then the Five Nations Championship. “When we won the Triple Crown in 1982, it was only the fifth time in our history that we had won it. It was our first Triple Crown in thirty three years, and the first ever in Lansdowne Road. Having been weaned on the ’48 and ’49 Grand Slam and Triple Crown winning teams I consider being on that Triple Crown winning team as one of the major highlights of my career and indeed my life. It definitely was something of a Holy Grail for us at that time, and I have always felt particularly blessed having been a part of that special team of players and a part of that success. “We were a seasoned team when we came into that campaign, [so seasoned the pack were often referred to as “Dad’s Army” by the press] but an interesting backdrop to that season was that in the previous eight games that preceded that Five Nations, we had drawn one and lost seven. “So when we beat Wales in January of ‘82, the sheer relief of just breaking that long losing sequence was immense. Two weeks later we beat England 16-15 in Twickenham in a game that will always be remembered for Ginger McLoughlin’s famous try. Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, we would be facing Scotland in two weeks with the opportunity of winning a Triple Crown.

“The Lions stand for everything that is good in rugby. Tony O’Reilly, one of the truly great Lions who scored no less than 38 tries in just two Lions tours, once said that “all Lions tours should represent the highest form of the art of rugby football”.

One of the major fears when rugby went professional was that there would be no room in a modern, professional game, for Lions tours. Thankfully the opposite has happened and the Lions are still as significant in the World game as they ever have been. Interestingly Lawrence Dallaglio has said that he would rate winning the Lions series against South Africa in ’97 above winning the World Cup with England in 2003. This is quite an endorsement for the whole concept of the Lions in this new era. I was on two Lions tours, to South Africa in 1980 & New Zealand in 1983. We lost the test series in South Africa 3-1 but we were undefeated in the provincial games. While South Africa was and is a truly wonderful country to tour and to visit, I have to admit that touring New Zealand was the “mountain top” experience of my life. Between seeing Wilson Whinerary’s All Blacks playing in Lansdowne Road in 1963 and touring New Zealand exactly twenty years later I read everything I could about All Black rugby. The first rugby book I ever read was “Bob Scott on Rugby”. Bob Scott was an iconic All Black full back of the 40s and 50s. The very first sentence of that book was “The science, the essence and the art of rugby football, is attack”. What an introduction to the written word of rugby that was. Sadly he died recently at 92. Unfortunately we were well beaten in the test series by a very good All Black team, but even more disappointingly the rugby we played did not really live up to the high ideals of the Lions either. Despite this, that tour remains one of the fondest memories of my rugby career, and I treasured every moment of it. Although we were whitewashed it was an electrifying experience to play against the All Blacks, and I am proud that I played some of the best rugby of my career on that tour. If there is a secret to their continuous success over the years it is that they never get tired of doing the simple things well. Experiencing this first hand was invigorating and the rugby education of my life. Although both Lions tours were ultimately unsuccessful when judged by the test results, they were both unforgettable adventures and I made friends that I have to this day, some Lions, some South Africans and some New Zealanders. Like every player who has ever played the game at any level it is the friends that I have made since I first started playing rugby on the under 9s in Belvedere all those years that I value and cherish the most.


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“We knew something special was happening when we trained in the Wanderers ground on the Merrion Road on the Sunday in between the England & Scotland games and a crowd actually turned up to watch us train. This was unusual to say the least”. In the end Ireland defeated Scotland 21-12 to land the Triple Crown. Despite that huge success, Ireland missed out on the elusive Grand Slam, going down to France in Paris.

OLLIE on... ...‘that’ rivalry with Tony Ward “The world was a much bigger place back in 1979 when Ireland toured Australia on that famous tour. Back then there were of course no mobile phones, no skype, no emails and no computers. So as we were on the other side of the world, far away from home, I had absolutely no idea as to the commotion and the attention that my selection for the first test in Brisbane was causing back in Ireland. One example of this was the big banner headline that the now defunct Irish Press had on their front page. It simply said, “WARD OUT, CAMPBELL IN”. The sub-headline, yes the sub-headline, was the announcement that the Pope would be visiting Ireland that September! I can also safely say, without any exaggeration at all, that hardly a week has gone by since then without Australia ‘79 and the name Tony Ward coming up in some conversation. However when we won the Triple Crown in February 1982, one of the unexpected side effects was that it suddenly seemed as if Tony had never even existed. It was the happiest time of my life and three months later I spent the May bank holiday in Westport Co Mayo. It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have a care in the world as I headed back to Dublin on the Monday. On the outskirts of Westport I picked up an elderly lady who was thumbing a lift. She was visiting a friend of hers in Castlebar hospital. We chatted away about the weather and about business. She told me all about St Patrick, about Croagh Patrick and then she asked me had I any interest in sport. I said I did. “Gaelic Games is it”? “No” I said “rugby is my game”. With that she went totally silent until we were pulling into Castlebar. “You know, there is only one thing I don’t understand about rugby”, she said. “What’s that” I said, “I might be able to help”. “The only thing I don’t understand about rugby”, she said speaking very slowly, very quietly and even somewhat sombrely, “is why Tony Ward is not on the Irish team”. This is just one example of what I have had to deal with for nearly 34 years now!!! A decade or so later, quite by accident, I discovered that her name was Margaret McMenamin, 3 Distillery Road, Westport. She was a very well read and knowledgeable woman. To her eternal credit, despite phone calls and a few visits, occasional boxes of chocolates and even sending her Christmas cards she remained a devoted Tony Ward fan to the end of her days!”.

“As Moss Keane always said, whatever chance we had of beating France with a two week gap between the games, we had absolutely no chance of defeating them with a four week gap, such were the celebrations that proceeded winning that Triple Crown. I firmly believe that the rock on which that Triple Crown was won was that great man of Irish and World rugby our coach Tom Kiernan”. Having played such a pivotal role in Ireland’s success, Campbell retired from the Ireland jersey in 1985, playing his final game in green against Wales. He would then bow out from the game, fully, the following year, earning 22 caps for his country, scoring a hugely impressive 217 points in his international career. Chronic hamstring problems were responsible for his demise. In the 26 years that Campbell since played rugby, the game has undergone a huge evolution. You wonder, given where the game has gone, does he ever look at the current generation of players with even the slightest hint of envy? The glint in his eye, when you ask the question, gives it all away. “Yes, I would of course love to be playing nowadays, but at the same time I wouldn’t swap what I experienced for anything either”, he says. “I don’t think there is another sport that has changed as fundamentally as rugby has in the past quarter of a century or so. It has changed so much I sometimes think the only things that have remained the same since my own playing days are the shape of the ball and the dimensions of the pitch! “As an out-half, what would excite me most about the game now is that I would touch the ball maybe twenty or thirty times more often in any game than I did when I was playing. The game, back then, was of course much more set play orientated, and you didn’t have the multi-phase style that there is now. I do think that it is a far better game now, for both players and spectators. Never in my wildest dreams did I think rugby would have the profile that it has in Ireland today either. This is rugby country now, as the Guinness ad says”. Looking ahead to this year’s Six Nations, Campbell feels that while Ireland had a ‘difficult’ campaign last year, there are a number of reasons, why the squad and fans alike have reasons to be optimistic when Ireland open their campaign away to Wales on February 2nd. “After that performance against Argentina in November I’d be hopeful that Ireland will have a good Six Nations. Without a doubt the most crucial game of 2013, from our perspective, is the opening game against Wales. At the moment Wales are not going too well at club or national level, morale and confidence is low, so we have a great opportunity to get our season off to a winning start. If we can win that game all sorts of possibilities open up for us, not least welcoming England to Lansdowne Road the following weekend. Being a Lions touring year this does of course add an extra dimension and some extra spice to this year’s tournament too, as it always does”. Leaving Ollie Campbell and heading out into the cold night, the lights in the industrial estate have faded into darkness, but the memory of time spent with Ollie Campbell shines as bright as any star in the sky. A legend past, present and for all time.

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RBS 6 NATIO Ahead of what is expected to be a hugely exciting Six Nations Championship, Club Rugby editor Alan Conway sits down with Irish rugby legends Tony Ward & Shane Byrne to discuss Ireland’s chances ahead of their opening game away to Wales on February 2nd

Six Nations preview with Shane Byrne & Tony Ward Alan Conway (AC): After Ireland’s tremendous performance against Argentina in the November Internationals, how do you rate Ireland’s chances ahead of this year’s Six Nations? TONY WARD (TW): I think Ireland is in good nick at the moment. It’s hard to believe that it was nearly three months ago that we played Argentina, so in many ways it’s a new coming together. There are a lot of young players coming through so I’d be fairly optimistic of a good campaign. However so much hangs on that opening game against Wales. That, to me, is the most crucial of the entire campaign. Wales away will make or break our campaign. SHANE BYRNE (SB): This Six Nations, to me, is so wide open. There are so many variables. You have England who had that cracking game against New Zealand in November. They will come in buoyed by that. France will obviously come in as favourites. Ireland are forever failing to bring up the success of the provinces, but there were definite green shoots in November. Wales are a little bit in disarray having lost seven games on the trot, so who knows about them. So it’s going to be hugely interesting, in what is a very winnable championship for a number of teams. AC: Given the fact that Wales are in disarray at the moment, is there any danger that Ireland may underestimate the Welsh on February 2nd? TW: There is absolutely no chance of that. The entire focus of the whole squad will be on that first game against Wales because the Six Nations is all about momentum. When Ireland won the Grand Slam in 2009 they beat France in Croke Park, which was huge, as it gave them huge confidence and momentum, which they carried forward. If Ireland beat Wales, suddenly they have momentum on their side, I think the other fixtures fall into place after that opening game, so it’s going to be a massive fixture. SB: I totally agree. This squad is too experienced to go into the game against Wales, without anything but 100% focus on the task in hand. But isn’t that the beauty of the Six Nations? Because you just really never know how each team are going to go. The only team that you could count on, with any degree of confidence, would be France. If France are going well in November, then they usually have a good Six Nations the following year. How many times have Scotland, for arguments sake, had the hell beaten out of them for a year, and then they turn everything around and have a decent Six Nations. So it will be fascinating to see how Ireland gets on in that first game.

AC: How much do you think the loss of Tommy Bowe, Paul O’Connell, and Stephen Ferris will impact Ireland’s chances in the Six Nations? SB: It’d be foolish to say that any side wouldn’t miss three players of their calibre. We are lucky in a sense that we have players to step into the fold. I think Donnacha Ryan is going to be a stalwart in the Irish side for a long time to come. In the back row we aren’t so bad off. Sean O’Brien can fit on either side, but you’d love to see him play six in an ideal world. TW: Personally I think you are going to see Heaslip, O’Brien and O’Mahony lining up against Wales. Chris Henry is another possibility. I just think the options that O’Mahony gives you in the lineout will see him get the nod. SB: For me, I would love to see Henry start at seven because of the mobility that he can bring to the game. If Henry plays then it would free up O’Brien a good bit. Sevens are normally so busy around the park, that they sometimes don’t get the chance to make the impact that they want to. TW: I don’t think Declan Kidney will go for Henry, myself. I think he is a fan of O’Mahony. SB: I agree, because I think Declan is still ultra conservative. It looked like he made huge changes in November, but they were all enforced. At no point in his tenure has he made a decision that has made us all stand back and go ‘wow’ and I don’t think that will happen this time either. AC: Given Kidney’s conservative nature, do you think that players like Craig Gilroy & Luke Fitzgerald may miss out on a starting place against Wales? TW: I think the fact that Bowe will be unavailable will help Craig’s chances. I believe that Gilroy is a special talent and I’m hugely excited by him. He is young & hungry. His natural instinct is to run at the opposition, which causes havoc. In many ways he reminds me of Theo Walcott at Arsenal. I love guys who want to take on defenders. SB: I think that the problem is Declan. Take Luke for example. He hasn’t


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ONS PREVIEW just arrived back, it looks like he has picked up from where he was before he got injured. Luke has talent falling out of his ears and is one of the most talented players around, who is in with a shout of starting against Wales. We should stop thinking of him as a full-back or a centre; he is an out and out winger. Against the Scarlets in the Heineken Cup, anytime there was a kick through, he was the first one on the premises. The pace that makes him the player that he, is still there.

TB: What Luke does very well is that little kick ahead that he uses. He times it to perfection. The only problem he has is that he is so keen to make an impact that he needs to hold back a little bit. You can see that he is trying to control himself. I’d love to see Luke involved, but I don’t think we will. Because for some reason Declan doesn’t seem to trust him. You have Trimble, Gilroy, Fitzgerald and Zebo which is not a bad foursome to select from. On the basis of only being as good as your last game, Gilroy should start against Wales. I think Zebo deserves to start too. SB: I’m stuck between two stools. I’d like to see Luke start, because I know what he can offer. Trimble is going well for Ulster and could do a job against those big Welsh backs. It’s going to be interesting who Declan decides to go with. TW: For me this is how I see things. On the right wing I think you have Trimble or Gilroy and either Zebo or Fitzgerald on the left wing. AC: How much are you expecting Ireland to finally deliver a consistent level of performance and shed that inconsistency that has plagued them over the last 12 months? SB: This is one thing that frustrates me. On their day, Ireland can beat any side in the world, excluding New Zealand!. It’s a shame in many ways, because the guys who are knocking on the door are not getting the chance to showcase their talent. We seem to just stick with the tried and trusted on too many occasions and the guys in the second tier are not getting a look in. There is an enormous amount of young talent in Ireland that hasn’t been given a chance yet. TW: I think that if we do have a poor Six Nations, and Declan does end up losing his job, I think that inconsistency will be one of the lasting memories that people will have of his time in charge. I know that he won the Grand Slam in 2009 and that is something that I know Declan wouldn’t want.

SB: In this Six Nations, most of the side will not have played too many games, so the pressure will be on them from the word go, because they need to be on top form from game one. The team that builds the most momentum from day one will have the best chance of winning the Grand Slam. TW: I can’t stress how important it is that we perform well against Wales in that opening game. If we win then we are on the pigs back. If not it could be a long championship for all concerned. AC: Playing England at home will be a massive occasion, is that still the one game that Ireland want to win, above any other?

SB: I have to say that it is. From a personal point of view, I was lucky enough to play against every side, and win against most of them, but England was still my favourite game to be involved in. The England game in 2004, when they were coming back after winning the World Cup, was probably the best game that I played in. We beat them 19-13 and there was nothing left in the tank that day. I’m not too sure if you get the same kind of emotion from a win in Paris or Cardiff. TW: It’s very funny in a way, because when you are away on a Lions tour, the nicest guys are the English. But collectively when we play them, there is just something that stirs the blood. I remember when we played England in Twickenham one year and one of our players, Stuart McKinney said in the hotel the night before the game “These guys think we are f***ing mad men, coming down from the hills to kick them off the pitch. So let’s not disappoint them”, which I thought summed up the rivalry perfectly. They expect that from us, to them that is a challenge. It is just a very special game, home or away. AC: Along with England, Ireland welcomes France to the Aviva. Our record against them is dreadful. Do you expect this to continue this season? SB: To me the French game has become more than a physical game, it is a mental one at this stage. Ireland have to believe that they can put the game away in the last twenty minutes against France. One year we beat them in Lansdowne Road, and you actually saw some of the players thinking with 20 minutes to go ‘hang on we can beat these guys’. Once we believed we could beat them , we actually did. TW: I think the fact that we haven’t beaten them in so long has a major bearing on things. The one thing that annoys me is when people trot out the line that ‘the French are bad travellers’. I mean, they win here every second year nearly, so I don’t know where people get that argument from. Ireland have only won over there twice in fifty years, so who are the bad travellers? We have Scotland sandwiched in between England and France, so the French game is awhile off. But I keep coming back to it. The opening game against Wales is so important. Win that and anything is possible.


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AC: People would argue that Scotland & Italy are Ireland’s two most winnable games. Would you go along with that? TW: To me the Italy game is a gimme. That’s the saddest thing to me about the Six Nations, in that it usually comes down to Scotland & Italy for the wooden spoon. You don’t know how Scotland are going to shape up with so many new faces in their squad, but an on form Ireland travelling to Murryfield, you would expect Ireland to come away from there with a win. They had a run in the 1990’s where they beat Ireland three times on the spin, but they have never kicked on from there. SB: Ironically in many ways Italy has the same problem that Ireland have with France. They undoubtedly have made progress, but it is just that last twenty minutes that undoes them. It’s just a case of them closing the game out. But like Tony I expect Ireland to get the win against Italy and Scotland. AC: Excluding Irish players, who are you most looking forward to watching in this year’s Six Nations? SB: I think the French centre that plays for Clermont, Wesley Fofana is the best centre in the Northern Hemisphere. He is incredible. They also have Mathieu Bastareaud back in the squad, so maybe that is a sign of the way that the French are going to play in this Championship. TW: I certainly hope not!. For me there is one player I love watching and that is Aurélien Rougerie. I think he is injured at the moment, so hopefully he

makes it back, because he is just at the cutting edge of the game, no matter where he is playing so I’m hoping that he has some involvement in the Six Nations. SB: Another guy who I love to watch is Lee Byrne. I just think he is a class act, because he masters the Welsh backline whenever he plays. However with Leigh Halfpenny there at the moment, I think it’s doubtful that Byrne will start. AC: Is a Grand Slam a realistic target for this Ireland team? TW: I think with the year that’s in it and the way the fixtures fall, a Grand Slam is very possible. One would expect Ireland to beat Scotland and Italy, Wales are beatable at the moment, so it comes down to the two home games. I’m not taking the three away games for granted, but they are very winnable. All the pieces are in place for a very good Irish campaign. SB: If you want to challenge for the title you have to take this year as the year where we should be winning a Grand Slam. When you have the two heavyweights at home, that is the year when you are expected to do well. AC: Finally, in one word, who will win the 2013 Six Nations Championship? TW: France SB: France

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Tony WARD

TONY WARD looks ahead to another fascinating and highly-charged season of schools rugby Piecing together back to back titles is (for a myriad of reasons) extremely difficult in any sporting endeavour. In the highly competitive world of underage schoolboy rugby it is no different. So for St Michael’s College in Leinster, Methodist College in Ulster, Rockwell College in Munster and Marist College in Connacht a massive challenge comes in the days and weeks ahead.

To add to the intrigue the Leinster Branch is operating a new open or rolling system whereby each successive round will only be known when the previous one has been completed. Heretofore schools could plan their strategy well in advance. Now advance preparation will be limited to days not months. It brings a different type of pressure but adds a certain element of excitement to the re-structured format.

It’s that time of the year again. Running parallel with the eagerly awaited Six Nations is the equally anticipated schools cup campaigns in all four provinces. And while the holders in each of our provinces has it all to do I would qualify it by saying that in all four the reigning champions have the basic ingredients to go the whole way again. Indeed if anything Methody, Rockwell and Marist will start out as favourites in their respective competitions while in Leinster ‘Michael’s are right in there again just behind Terenure but alongside Blackrock as pre-tournament favourites.

Only time will tell if it’s a success but certainly the schools committee is to be commended for this initiative. Assuming the logistics of organising big matches at relatively short notice can be negotiated and there aren’t too many replays or postponements then a new and exciting dimension may have been added to the Junior and Senior Cups for 2013.

So what lies ahead? Starting in Leinster where having put together back to back Junior Cup wins in 2009 and 2010, and with the vast majority of that 2010 winning side still available three years on, I think there are substantial grounds for optimism that this could indeed be Terenure’s year. Add to that the backbone of perhaps the most talented Leinster Schools representative team ever and I think the role of pre-tournament favourites well appointed. That tag (although unwanted) should sit comfortably on the D6W School for before a ball is kicked in Stephen O’Neill, Billy Dardis, Harrison Brewer, Paddy Thornton, Tim Schmidt and the rest they represent the best equipped side.

It all kicks off on Sunday (27th Jan) when great cross city rivals Terenure and Belvedere come head to head. It’s another tough 1st round draw for the 2008 winners but the type of competitive encounter to set the 2013 tournament underway. Of the remaining ties King’s Hospital against Newbridge (in Tallaght Stadium) and St Mary’s against CBC look the most difficult to call while ‘Michael’s and ‘Rock will both have it put up to them against very solid opposition in Castleknock and Gonzaga respectively. At an unconfident push we take Kilkenny, Clongowes, Newbridge, Terenure, Michael’s, Roscrea, St Mary’s and Blackrock to be still alive come the draw for round 2. The nature of the draw in Munster (a variation on the backdoor system employed in Gaelic Games) makes both cups extremely difficult to call. It is a system which


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guarantees a minimum of two highly competitive cup games per year and that in itself has to be a good thing. With just eight schools involved in the main event (compared to sixteen in Leinster) it is easier to operate and so far the reaction from within the schools has been positive. Certainly it has not deflected from the competitiveness given the full on nature of every game. The only sensible strategy is in taking each game as it comes and winning accordingly. The plum tie in Qualifying Round 1 pairs Senior Cup winners in 2011 and 2012 Rockwell College with Junior Cup winners in 2010 and 2011 Crescent College Comprehensive. That mega Limerick/Tipp clash takes place in Clanwilliam. Before that Glenstal Abbey will meet this year’s dark horse Ardscoil Ris in Coonagh while on the same day as the Clanwilliam clash the irresistible force meets the immovable object when St Munchin’s (runners up to Rockwell in 2012) front up to Cork giants PBC in Corbally. The final tie takes place in Clifford Park when CBC and Castletroy come head to head. This double qualifying round makes confident prediction practically impossible but for the sake of argument we’ll go with ‘Munchin’s, Rockwell, Christians and Ard Scoil to make the final four. In Connacht too it’s all change with what could be best described a Heineken Cup or

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Champions League system now in place. The Senior Cup will comprise two pools of three with Rice College Westport, Colaiste Iognaid (Jes) and Marist Athlone making up Pool 1 and Garbally College, Sligo Grammar and St Joseph’s Galway (Bish) comprising Pool 2. The top two in each section will qualify for the semi-final but with Marist and Sligo having already met in the League Final in Ballyhaunis (won by Marist 13-0) the smart money is on these two meeting again at the Sportsground for the much coveted cup and far be it for me to argue with that. In Ulster where the ‘Leinster experiment’ has long been in operation the big eight – Ballymena Academy, Ballyclare High, Campbell, Sullivan Upper, Royal School Armagh, Wallace High, RBAI and Methodist College – will come on board in Round 4 on Feb 9. Pending the luck of the draw the feeling is that Sullivan (coached by Willie Anderson) are best placed to cause an upset while Inst’ (RBAI) could prove a good outside bet. That said Belfast’s big two of Methody and Campbell (and probably in that order) will take some shifting once again. For those new to rugby and all the game entails I urge you visit a school or provincial ground in the coming weeks where the standard, organisation and sheer competitiveness of schools rugby will astound. Whatever else you sure as hell won’t be disappointed. Bring it on.

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BLACKROCK RFC NEWS RESULTS STATS ProfileS Blackrock College have a proud tradition of participation amongst their members at all levels of international competition, and they are set to be well represented at international level in the coming months, as both Shannon Houston and Amy Davis have been called into the Extended 15s and 7s Irish squads respectively for the upcoming Women’s Six Nations and Women’s Rugby 7s World Cup, which are due to take place later on in the year. Both Houston and Davis are highly experienced at these particular levels, and will have vital roles to play in Ireland’s quest for glory in both competitions. Aside from these seasoned campaigners, there are also call ups for Katie Fitzhenry and Aoife Tyrell, who will be new to the international scene, but will bring a decent pedigree with them from club level, where they were part of the Blackrock College All-Ireland winning side. The recognition of all four players at the highest level is testament to the fine work currently being done in the Women’s Rugby section at Stradbrook. Sunday February 10th 2013 is sure to be one of the highlights of the Irish rugby calendar, as it will see Declan Kidney’s national side taking on England in a vital RBS Six Nations encounter at the Aviva Stadium. However, before the action takes place, there will be a dinner at the Dublin 4 venue, to celebrate the arrival of Stuart Lancaster’s men to the capital, at 7pm on the eve of the game. Blackrock College RFC will be the hosts for this occasion, which will be an evening filled with fun, music and no shortage of surprises. The guest of honour will be none other than the legendary Irish lock Willie John McBride. With entertainment coming courtesy of acclaimed comedian and TV personality Risteard Cooper, the profits from this year’s dinner will go towards the floodlights for the main pitch in Stradbrook. There is a mixed format black tie table for 10 available at a price of €2,000, but there is a special offer available to current Blackrock club members. This offer provides individual places at two designated club members’ tables on the mezzanine level at €150 per head. Those interested in availing of this specific offer can contact Pat Deegan in the club on 01-2805967, or on his mobile at 087-1236920. Fergus Slattery can also be contacted at his e-mail address: fslattery@fslattery.com. The Christmas Draw in Blackrock College garnered plenty of attention during the festive period, and for five lucky club members, they had special reason to be thankful over the holiday season. Claiming fifth prize was

Barbara McLean, with Tony Amoroso coming away with fourth prize. Taking third prize was Dave Fry, with Dave Brennan ending up with second prize and Sally Cooke emerging with the much-coveted first prize. January 5th marked the return to action for three of Blackrock’s senior outfits, who all would have been hoping to have benefited from the extended period of rest since they last took to the field in December. Results on the field were somewhat mixed, as the ‘Rock thirds lost out 26-10 in a League TOP 12 (Phase 2) Section B clash following a spirited performance, whereas the fourths were comprehensively defeated 58-3 against Clontarf in the J4 League Section A. The ‘Rock Senior XV had much more joy in their first game of 2013, though, as they came out on the right side of a low-scoring Ulster Bank League Division 1B tie against Bruff at Kilballyowen Park, where a drop-goal and penalty from David Godfrey meant that the visitors enjoyed a 6-3 victory over the Limerick men. This gave ‘Rock their third success from four outings in the second tier, and after a run of form that saw them losing their opening four games in the 2012/13 season, they can certainly feel more confident of avoiding back-to-back relegation in the All-Ireland league than they were in the early months of the campaign. With nine games remaining in the league (five of which are at home) there is still plenty of action left for Blackrock in Division 1B, and the eighttime Leinster Senior Cup champions will hope to maintain their improved form in order to keep themselves away from danger at the tail-end of the season. The month of February will be a busy one for Ben Mannion & Co. especially, as they face three tough fixtures against some of the division’s more notable opponents. First up on Saturday February 2nd is a trip to Dubarry Park to face a Buccaneers side that occupied third place at the end of game week eight as a result of five wins in succession. Next up on February 16th is their fifth home league game of 2012/13, when Belfast Harlequins (who narrowly missed out on promotion last term) visit Dublin 18. Stradbrook is also the venue a week later when Tyrone’s Dungannon take on ‘Rock. Dungannon have also found victory hard to come by at times this season, but they lost by the narrowest of margins (9-8) when the two sides faced off in November at Stevenson Park, making the return fixture a nerve-jangling prospect for all involved.


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PRESIDENTIAL THOUGHTS Challenging times are everywhere nowadays. Speaking to Blackrock President Tony Amoroso, you soon realise that the wider economic problems that have affected us all over the course of the last number of years are not just confined to individuals, but also to rugby clubs all around the country. It has been a long & winding road for Amoroso who has risen through the ranks of Blackrock College, from playing schools rugby for the famous club, all the way up to becoming President this season. Sport has always being a part of his life. Along with rugby, cricket was a big part of the formative years of Amoroso’s life. A passion for rugby that was passed down to him from his grandfather and father soon took hold of him and in particular the captivating talents of one player in particular. “Mike Gibson was the standout player when I was growing up, without question. I grew up with my father and grandfather telling me that Jack Kyle was the greatest player that ever played the game. When I was growing up I thought Mike Gibson was the greatest, now with my son watching rugby, he will probably think that Brian O’Driscoll is the best player to have played the game. So different generations will have their own opinions on who is best, but for me, it was Mike Gibson”. His involvement with Blackrock College proved to be very successful. He was part of the 1962 Senior Cup winning team, a season that also saw their Junior side land their own schools trophy win. Amoroso would then take on the role of captain in the 1965 season, a role that he enjoyed, even though it brought with it its own unique pressures. “I suppose there was a certain expectation when you played for Blackrock. You were expected to be competing at the business end of competitions so that put the onus on us to a degree. The year that we won the Senior Cup, we had a more forward orientated game, which didn’t sit well with some of the traditionalists within the school. “Our coach at the time was of the view, that if we won the cup by playing a forward based game, then it didn’t really matter, as long as we won. We had a very good team in the year that we won the cup. The now Minster For Education Ruairi Quinn played in that team, which some people not may know”. After a successful schools career, Amoroso continued his links with the club. Upon finishing school, he joined Blackrock College RFC, and continued to play at various levels until he hung up his playing boots at age 36. Having decided to take a number of years off from the game,

Amoroso returned to Blackrock in various guises, before ascending to role of President at the start of this season. While it was not necessarily a role that he was courting, when the call came it was something that he could not turn down. “It was a huge honour”, describing the moment that he became President. “I said that I would devote two years to it, one as vice-President and one as President. So far it has been a tremendous experience”. One of the most challenging aspects to his tenure as President has been the financial challenges that clubs like Blackrock have had to face over the last number of years. While admitting that the club has to get their own financial house in order, he is confident that over the course of the next few years the club will be, once again, being able to gain a stable financial footing. “We are not ashamed to say that we are carrying some debt at the moment”, he says. “We need more income coming into the club. It’s as simple as that. At the moment we are undertaking a root & branch look at the club. While rugby is of huge importance to us all at Blackrock College, we have to become broader based. People tend to forget that this is still an amateur organisation. Very few people here get paid for what they do, it is mainly volunteer work. People still have jobs to hold onto & family to look after, which in the current climate is tough enough. We are lucky to have so many committed people involved in the club at the moment”. One example of how tough things are at the moment was the news that Ulster Bank ended their association with the Blackrock first team. While acknowledging that it was a big blow to lose such a high profile sponsor, the setback has presented Blackrock with a unique opportunity, as Amoroso explains. “We have decided to give the sponsorship of our 1st team and some of the signage around the pitch to the charity organisation Goal. It was actually our first team coach Ben Manion who came up with the idea. Goal do a tremendous amount of good work around the world. The deal runs to the end of the current campaign and if another sponsor comes in and wants to take over the sponsorship of the first team, then that would be ideal. However, if we don’t get a sponsor then we will be more than happy to work with Goal. It would be very difficult to cut our ties with Goal, but that is for the future”. A future, with Tony Amoroso in charge, that should be bright and successful for Blackrock College. They know no other way.

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CORINTHIANS RFC NEWS RESULTS STATS ProfileS

Galway Corinthians Rugby Football Club was founded in the 1932/33 season and as such celebrated their 80th anniversary in the 2012/13 season. The founding members of the club were a group of young boys, mostly of whom were past pupils of the local St. Josephs school. The pupils came together to form the club along with some of their teachers, most notably Harry Warner who served as the first President of the club and was also for many years secretary of the Galway Chamber of Commerce (& Industry). The first Secretary of the club was Bernie O’Connell from Woodquay, who only passed away in the last number of years. Success for the club was immediate, with the club winning the Connacht Senior Cup in its inaugural year in March 1933. They would go on and retain the cup the following year in 1934. The Connacht Senior Cup, like the other provincial cups, was at that time the major event of the rugby season. There had been an All-Ireland competition for the Bateman Cup but it had been discontinued some ten years earlier. Like all the city clubs Corinthians made extensive use of the Sportsground and the grounds of the adjacent Galway Grammar School for training and for matches. The club had many temporary homes in the early days of their existence such as the Skeffington Arms Hotel in Eyre Square for togging out and Cullinanes of Eglinton Street for committee meetings. In the mid-sixties the club bought a three story private residence, Ard na Cregg, on College Road, directly opposite the Grammar School and it proved a most popular club house and meeting place.

Due to the continued expansion of the club, particularly in the pioneering work of the underage section and the consequent need for more pitches, the club bought a property in the townland of Cloonacauneen on the Tuam Road some fifteen years later, known today as Corinthian Park. The then President of the IRFU Des McKibbin opened the gleaming new facilities in 1985. Corinthian Park is by any standards one of the best appointed clubhouses and grounds in the country. The recent renovations to the clubhouse have made it a most welcoming rendezvous for members and visitors alike. Corinthians have also continued to raise the bar on the pitch in the last number of seasons. The recent addition of Phil Pretorious to their coaching panel is a prime example of the ambition that the Connacht club have for themselves. Pretorious , a former international coach to Tonga and Super 14 team the Blue Bulls, has travelled from his homeland of South Africa to assist Corinthians in their ambitions to reach the highest levels. When asked about his appointment Pretorious commented, “I’m excited to be joining such a vibrant club, my emphasis is on the future and my part is to try to help build an enjoyable and winning culture”. This is one of the most exciting appointments in Irish club rugby in the past number of years and Corinthians have already begun to reap the benefits of Pretorious’ input. His emphasis on an open running style of play has brought success to the Galway club, as they continue to ply their trade in Division 2A of the Ulster Bank Leag


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PRESIDENTIAL THOUGHTS It is hard not to become excited about the current prospects of Corinthians RFC when you are taking to their President Johnny Campbell. His infectious personality has seen the Connacht based club become one of the most progressive clubs in the country, where they are currently battling it out in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League. Raised in Roscommon, Campbell’s background was away from the rugby fields, a brief period of playing rugby when he moved to Dublin preceded a move to Galway, where his involvement with Corinthians in 1970, a relationship so strong, that it has continued to this day. You probe to see just what it is that attracted to the game of rugby, and the answer is immediate and to the point. “It’s the friendships”, he says with a passionate tone. “The amount of people that you meet in rugby, on and off the pitch is extraordinary. It’s amazing to think of how many friendships that I have formed through my involvement with rugby, friendships that I still have to this day. The camaraderie that you find in rugby circles is, I think, unique to other sports that are out there”. Those bonds have seen Campbell develop a lifelong affinity with the game of rugby, and in particular Corinthians. Having being involved in a number of off the pitch roles, he would soon become the 55th President of the Galway based club, an invitation that he accepted with open arms.

That desire to compete, coupled with the lack of numbers that Campbell talked about, has seen the Connacht club join forces with University College Galway to pool their resources to establish a new club that will play under the name ‘College Corinthians’ from next season. Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Campbell says “It’s something that is very much in its infancy. We think by pulling our resources together we will have a bigger amount of players to choose from. We have already tried this with the U-20 & U-21’s which has proved to be a big success, so hopefully we will have the same type of success with the senior teams”. With three months left of his Presidency, Campbell still has clear goals that he wants for the club that holds such a place in his heart. “Like every club, we want to be playing in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League. It may take two or three years to get there, but ultimately we want to be competing with the Blackrock’s of this world. It will cost a lot, but eventually we hope that we will get to where we want to be. There is a lot of running and racing around, but it is wonderfully enjoyable”. A sentiment that everyone in Corinthians RFC will agree with.

“Like anyone who has gone before me, when the opportunity to become President was available, it was something that I couldn’t turn my back on. “The Presidency came at a time when my children were all grown up, so it was the perfect time to take on the role. I live an hour away from the ground, which means a little bit of travelling to get to the club, but it’s a small price, to be involved in such a great club”. The ‘great club’ that he talks about has thrived over the last number of years. Despite been only one of five senior clubs in the Connacht, Corinthians have made a deep impression on the landscape of Irish rugby. One area that Campbell is particularly proud of is the investment that the club has made in their youth and mini setup. “On any given weekend we could have up to 400 children from the local community in our grounds, which is a huge number. We were the first club in this area to start a youth section, which is something that I take particular pride in”. While trying their best to be as progressive as they can be, Campbell believes that for the club to really develop, more support is needed, with the issue of players been taking away from the club, his main bug bearer. “There is no doubt that sides like the Connacht Eagles are a bit of drain on us here. We could find ourselves in a situation where we maybe have three or four very good players in our side, that could help us kick on to the next level, and all of a sudden they are taken away from us in the blink of an eye. “It is a huge disruption to us at Corinthians, particularly if we get a number of injuries. As we all know rugby has such a high rate of attrition, so for a club like us to lose two or three players to injury, we just don’t have the sufficient numbers to cope & compete at the level that we want”.

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TERENURE RFC NEWS RESULTS STATS ProfileS Though the Christmas period was quiet in terms of competitive games for their respective teams, there was still plenty of activity around Lakelands for Terenure College RFC, with the first outing, in what may well turn out to be a regular event, taking place just a few days before the end of the 2012 calendar year. December 29th was the date for the 1st Annual Family Tag event in Terenure’s history, with over 100 adults and children participating over the course of the day. A total of nine teams were in action at the south Dublin venue, and the involvement of outside clubs was crucial in ensuring that the event was a worthwhile experience for the club. One of the more eye-catching performers on the day were the Casey/Baird family, who ran a star-studded Clinch/Blackrock team right to the wire in the final game of the afternoon. Special thanks was extended to Paul Clinch, who made an invaluable contribution to the organisation of the Family Tag, and with a summer gathering already in the pipeline, Christmas 2013 should see this particular showpiece gathering plenty of momentum. Those who are interested in booking a place on the pre-match lunch for Terenure’s next home game against Old Wesley on February 23rd are advised to contact the club office on 4904283, or alternatively Flash Morrissey on 086-2371188. The lunch for ‘Nure’s previous home clash, against Banbridge on January 19th, sold out well ahead of time, and it is anticipated that demand will be just as strong for the visit of the Donnybrook men. Since the start of the season, Terenure College have been hard at work setting the foundation for their Vision 2020 campaign which, with the proper implementation, will provide the framework for the Dublin 6 side to develop over the coming months and years. One of the key components of Vision 2020 is the Nurenet/Learning Hub, which aims to help players, members and past pupils of Terenure to maximise their potential by learning and developing new skills. The target skill areas are, for the most part, related to business skills, and with this in mind, the club started an eight week business skills program during the month of January. Every Monday, starting on January 21st, 90 minute sessions will focus participants on the skill areas of finance, marketing, selling, cloud computing, tax, business law, entrepreneurship and personal development. As well as those connected to Terenure College in both sporting and academic circles, invitations are also being extended to local business owners in Terenure, Templeogue and Rathfarnham. They are also working on a mentor network that will help friends of Terenure as they progress their careers and/or business ideas. Through this initiative, experienced and qualified mentors will be called upon for those who wish to avail of their expertise. Anyone who is interested in volunteering as a mentor, or is simply looking for further details on the Nurenet/Learning Hub, can contact ronan@cumara.ie or paul@paulhaycock.ie.

Following a successful run in 2012, the Umbrella Rugby 7s tournament will return on Saturday March 2nd, and it will once again take place in Terenure College. The current plan is to double the size of the tournament, with teams from all over Ireland and beyond invited to take part. Also, in addition to the main under 17s (fourth years) competition, Terenure will also be hosting an under 15s (second years) tournament. Those interested in registering the interest of their school can fill out the official form for the competition, a link for which can be found on the Terenure College website www.tcrfc.ie. Upon submission of your application, a member of the Umbrella 7s team will contact you, at which point you can request further information on the tournament. With places limited at the time of writing, it recommended that players and schools register as soon as possible. Newbridge College were the victors in last year’s competition, when they fought off the strong challenge of Cistercian College Roscrea to seal the overall crown. Blackrock College came away with the plate, while Terenure ensured that they didn’t end the day empty handed thanks to their success in the shield. This is not the only competition that the Umbrella 7s have held recently, as they also staged two successful events in Toronto. Due to its association with the Umbrella Foundation, this competition takes on a life of its own, because apart from the tension and excitement that is part and parcel of any rugby 7s package, the Umbrella 7s provides much needed aid to orphaned and trafficked children in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries. With rugby 7s set to make its Olympic debut at Rio in 2016, interest levels are starting to grow as time goes by. Ireland are presently the only major nation in world rugby who are without a professional 7s team, but events like this could help to reduce the balance in the not-too-distant future. Rugby is not the only aspect that the Umbrella 7s are exploring, however, as they will also be supporting the work of the aforementioned Umbrella Foundation, which is an Irish charity that has been working with destitute children in Nepal since 2005. The upcoming competition makes it possible for young Irish school children to raise vital funds and awareness for children who are living in awful hardship. The work of the Leinster Schools Committee is also to be commended in this regard, as it has fully endorsed the tournament, as has Jamie Heaslip, who is a patron of the Umbrella Foundation, and volunteered back in June 2011 with Umbrella in Nepal, and has been a strong supporter of the Foundation ever since. All in all, March’s tournament promises to be one to remember, and all those who want to support a great cause are encouraged to make their way to Lakelands Park and help out in any way they can.


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PRESIDENTIAL THOUGHTS Driving ambition and a desire to continue to improve, both on and off the pitch, are just two of the characteristics that strike you when you first talk to Terenure College President Donal Hyland. An affable and engaging man, Hyland has been a mainstay of Terenure College since he first donned the famous white and purple jersey when he was aged 12. Despite having an active in interest in both “soccer and GAA” it was rugby that captured the young Hyland’s attention, in particular a rivalry between two of Ireland’s most famous out-half’s. “It was really the Ollie Campbell & Tony Ward rivalry that got me hooked on rugby”, admits Hyland. “I suppose the fact that both of them were so good, that’s what did it for me. As a young child growing up what better introduction could you have to the game of rugby, then watching those two players operating at the height of their powers? Having played as a prop until he stepped away from the game at age 38, Hyland took a sabbatical from the game, before returning refreshed four years later with renewed vigour. A three year stint as Chairman preceded his rise to become President, a role that he felt hugely honoured to be asked to take on. “It was a tremendous privilege to be asked to become President. When I came back after my break away I began to get involved with some of the teams, and basically just helping out wherever I could. When the time came and I was asked, there was only one answer that I could give. It was and has been a great pleasure to take on such a prestigious role”. When Hyland did become President he had clear & definite goals that he wanted the club to achieve. As he admits himself, the off the field structures at the club where not what they could be, and he was keen to give some organisation to off the field matters. “In many ways it was about putting business like structures in place. Not running the club like a business, but more like using some business models to give some clarity about where we wanted to go as a club and how we were going to get there. “It was also important to me that the club go back up to competing at a high level. We are a club with a proud tradition and we want to be up there with the best clubs in the country”. Such ambition was crystallised in Terenure’s recent ‘Vision 20-20’ project, which will see a bigger emphasis placed on member’s involvement within the club. It is something that Hyland is justifiably proud of, and believes that his club are

turning the tide for rugby clubs, by bringing the focus of the club, back to the local community. “The ‘Vision 20-20’ idea was essentially a forum for members to voice their opinions and ideas about how the club could be improved, both on and off the pitch. It brought members back into the club and gave them a sense of ownership, because they had a voice in the club. “I think when we first launched the project there were over a 100 different suggestions that we received from people. We were already working on some of the ideas that people mentioned, but it was fantastic to see the energy that members brought to the meetings. I definitely think it has brought a new energy to the club, which is great to see. “We also have big plans to develop our playing fields over the coming seasons. Our big venture is what we are calling the ‘turning on the lights’ project. The club has recently signed an agreement on the grounds, so we are now in a position where we can improve the pitches and surrounding areas. “Ultimately we are looking to get floodlights put onto the first teams pitch. We also put lights on two all-weather pitches, and finally, we are planning to build a new suite of dressing rooms. “The whole project will cost around €700,000, so it is a massive undertaking, but it is something we are very keen to do, as it will provide excellent facilities, not just for the short term, but for years to come”. Along with developing the club off the pitch, Hyland is keen to reach out to some parts of the local community, which may not have been rugby strongholds in recent years. Traditionally Terenure has been one of the strongest rugby clubs in Ireland, and as Hyland describes “perhaps more of a boys club” but shedding that image is something that he is keen to see during his Presidency. “We are very keen to expand our reach to parts of the community that we may not have reached in years gone by. I would rather see us concentrate on developing and finding the next generation of rugby players, because there is a huge amount of talent out there that has yet to be tapped into”. On and off the pitch, under the influence of Donal Hyland, Terenure is extremely well placed to continue the success that has become synonymous with one of Ireland’s leading clubs.

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CLUB NEWS The Latest From Around the Grounds BALLYNAHINCH

GARRYOWEN

County Down side Ballynahinch are currently making excellent strides in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B, and they recently embarked on an exciting phase in their development when they started work on extending the clubhouse facilities at Ballymacarn Park, as well as applying groundwork to the pitches that can currently be found on the Mountview Road. This venture has come into being as a result of the Biffa-Award Grant that they received recently. This multi-million pound fund helps to build local areas through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. As a result of this grant, Ballynahinch are now able to invest in the enhancement of their changing facilities, ensuring that visiting teams and referees are provided for in the best possible manner. However, this also gives ‘Hinch the opportunity to build their very own female changing facilities, which is essential for the club as they aim to progress their Womens’ Rugby section even further than they already have. Speaking to the club’s website, www.hinchrfc.com, Ballynahinch RFC Senior Vice-President Ian Dornan was delighted to receive this grant, and is looking forward to the benefits that will come to the club as a result. “We at Ballynahinch RFC, are delighted to have received this grant award from the Biffa-Award Fund and it now allows us to enhance our club facilities, raising them to a better standard for all in the local community involved with the club,” Dornan stated.

Garryowen RFC are currently encouraging members and friends of the club to consider sponsoring the match balls for each of their home AIL games. For a nominal fee of €100, interested parties can help the Dooradoyle club to fund the laundry bills for their various teams. With the Limerick side currently performing impressively in the top tier of the Ulster Bank League, the remaining games in Dooradoyle will attract plenty of interest. February will see them facing Cork Constitution at home on the 2nd of the month, followed by a local derby against UL Bohemian on the 22nd. March 22nd will then see them taking on Young Munster, before they finish up their league campaign by welcoming last season’s runners-up, Clontarf, to Dooradoyle. Though they will also be on their travels during the league run-in, these games will be of vital importance to Garryowen’s quest for the top prize, and those with an interest in sponsoring match balls for these games are asked to contact Christopher Barry on 087 929141 or cjb@ohbconsulting.ie.

BELFAST HARLEQUINS The Belfast Harlequins website, www.belfastharlequinsrfc.com, has been powered in recent times by Pitchero, which is a global network of sports websites that helps to bring together countless players, parents, coaches and club officials online. They (Pitchero) have now launched an iPhone app, which makes club news, fixtures and results, match reports and team selection available to all members of clubs at home and abroad. This particular app is free, and can be downloaded from the App Store, or through a link on the Harlequins club website. An Android version of the app is also expected to be available later on in the year. The main purpose of the app is to keep club members up-to-date with the latest news in the club, regardless of where they might be in the world. Aside from the features mentioned above, the app also includes league tables, videos and photos, player availability and an inbox. Player and parents can use the app to confirm their availability for matches and team selection, and can also check match information, such as meet times and location. This is only the first phase of the app, and upcoming grades will also afford Webmasters and Team Admins the opportunity to update fixtures, results and team selections within the app, with Team Managers also having the chance to record match statistics pitch side as they happen.

CORK CONSTITUTION Friday February 8th promises to be a memorable occasion at Temple Hill, as Cork Constitution host a clash between an Ireland Club XV and the England Counties in an Ulster Bank Club International. This is an exciting event for Cork Con, as their magnificent new clubhouse will be on full display for all outside spectators on the night. This new facility was completed at the tail end of the summer, and was opened in time for the start of the 2012/13 campaign. This project was embarked upon with the future generation of Cork Con in mind, and they are set to see the benefits of this in decades to come. The clubhouse caters for the needs of the players, members, spectators and guests in a number of different ways, and with Con’s reach extending far and wide in the community, it is anticipated that patrons outside of the club itself will have their part to play in how it prospers in its formative years. This state of the art clubhouse is a purpose built facility, containing two bars and a large hall, with an extended kitchen also situated on the premise, making it ideal for social events and occasions. This game forms part of an annual Ulster Bank Club International event, which the Ireland Club XV lost to a Counties side 34-16 at Preston Grasshoppers RFC in March of last year, despite winning the Dalriada Cup with victory over their Scottish counterparts.

CLONTARF Clontarf RFC are set to host their Strictly Come Dancing Fundraising Challenge in The Wright Venue, Swords on Saturday February 23rd, with 28 Clontarf locals taking part in what is sure to be an evening to remember. The contestants began six weeks of intensive training in the middle of January, which will include four hours of professional dance coaching each week, right up until the night of the competition.


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CLUB NEWS The event, a fundraiser for the Clontarf Rugby Youth & Minis section, will kick start at 7.30pm, with one lucky couple hoping to be crowned as King and Queen of the dancefloor. General admission for the challenge is priced at €20, and are available at the Clontarf Rugby Club Bar. However, tickets can also be purchased from Karen Mulvaney, who can be reached at 087-6671986. Karen can also be contacted by those who are interested in sponsoring or donating spot prizes for the event. Her e-mail address is karen@ buyersagent.ie. The full list of competitors in the Strictly Come Dancing Fundraising Challenge can currently be found on the Clontarf website.

OLD WESLEY The next Members’ Lunch of Old Wesley RFC is due to get underway on Thursday January 31st at 1pm, with former Irish national coach, Roly Meates, set to appear as a guest speaker. At a price of €10 per person, all members of the club are cordially invited to the lunch, and may bring a guest along with them if they so wish. This is one of a number of important events in the club’s calendar, and all club members are asked to make a special note of it in their diaries. Patrons are also requested to place their reservations no later than Friday January 25th 2013. Placements can be made by contacting any of the following: • Mel Smyth: smythtaney@yahoo.co.uk / 01-2982969 • Bobby Barden: bobbybarden@gmail.com / 01-4945671 • John Bailey: baileyjk@eircom.net / 087-4179887 • John Fish: johngeorgefish@eircom.net / 01-4963728 (after January 19th only) • John Wallace: johnkwallace2@gmail.com / 01-2856336

DE LA SALLE PALMERSTON An important milestone was made at De La Salle Palmerston recently, when club captain Keith Taite lined out for the Kirwan Park outfit for the 150th occasion in the All-Ireland League back in November 3rd in the home defeat to Highfield. In recognition of this tremendous honour, Taite was awarded a special plaque by club President Karl Burke. Taite is a former Leinster Development player, and will be a vital cog for DLSP as they aim to avoid relegation to Division 2B in 2013. While Taite’s quality has been recognised at provincial level in the past, members of the current squad have also been rewarded for their fine performances. On January 3rd at 11.30am, a Leinster Metro team took on Leinster North East in the Shane Horgan Cup, and De La Salle Palmerston had a total of five players involved for the former. Kevin Dolan, Gavin Rundle, Devon Tarleton, Kevin O’Neill and Bhrion Tully were all selected for this game, which served as a good indicator of the talent that can currently be seen at club level around the province.

ARMAGH The City Of Armagh RFC are hard at work at the moment, as they try to help out Past President Andrew Nesbitt in his quest to support the Save The Children Charity through the avenue of a Team Cycle Fundraiser. Andrew is part of The Cross Group Team (which includes Daphne Greer and Randal McAllister), who are joining a group of friends and colleagues from Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning on a charity challenge marathon cycle in Vietnam to raise much needed funds for Save The Children. The group will be cycling from Saigon in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia over a six-day period, when they are expected to cover an extraordinary distance of 500km. This is a massive challenge for all involved, as they look to reach their projected target of £55,000 for Save The Children. The Cross Group itself are hoping to raise £10,000 of this figure. The City Of Armagh are doing their bit as well, with 100% of the donations that the club raises going directly to the ‘Save the Children’ fund. A total of £580 could provide enough nutrient-rich food to help 20 children suffering from severe malnutrition, £100 could train a health worker to diagnose illnesses and treat sick children, and £50 could pay for 25 blankets to keep babies suffering from pneumonia warm, so any donations would be greatly appreciated by City Of Armagh, The Cross Group and Save The Children.

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February promises to be an eventful month for the Sligo 2nds, as they aim to book their place in the Junior Cup semi-final when taken on Galway side Gort RFC in a last-eight clash in Hamilton Park at the beginning of the month. Their passage into the quarter-final was made possible thanks to a hard-earned victory over another Galway outfit, NUIG, in a low-scoring encounter. Though it was a very competitive game, much of the action took place in the middle sector of the field, and the sides were still scoreless at the mid-way point. Scrum-half Sean Bagnel did eventually break the deadlock with a penalty, however, and even though the Tribesmen managed to cancel out this score, Bagnel was able to restore Sligo’s lead with a second three-pointer. This scored proved to be crucial because, despite some nervy moments in their half of the pitch, Sligo were able to hold out for a 6-3 triumph thanks in large part to a man of the match performance by Dave Bergen. This should give Sligo plenty of momentum ahead of the arrival of Gort to Strandhill, and based on the evidence of their most recent cup display, they will be a hard team to break down.


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KNOCK-OU This year marks the 115th anniversary of the establishment of the Provincial Towns Cup, a knock-out competition participated by junior clubs outside of Dublin. First set-up in 1888, the cup bears the title of the ‘Leinster Junior Challenge Cup’ and was purchased in 1892 for £25 from Wests in Dublin.

It was reorganised in 1925 by the Leinster branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union, and the Leinster Junior Challenge Cup became the Provincial Towns Cup. Enniscorthy were the first winners under the competition’s new title, when they overcame the now defunct County Kildare (who were based in Naas) on a score line of 6-0. Their mean defensive unit was also on display the following year when they orchestrated another shut out in defeating Balbriggan 11-0. This automatically makes them one of the most respected names in the history of the Provincial Towns Cup, which made it all the more fitting that they were the victors in the 2012 final against Tullow on a score line of 23-17. This has raised anticipation ahead of this year’s competition, and with clubs like Navan, County Carlow, Kilkenny and Boyne all having defended their titles in the past 20 years, the Wexford men will be hoping to emulate their achievements, as well as the club’s heroes of ‘26 and ‘27. Their prospects of doing so have received a big boost from the word go this year, as they received a bye into the second round when the draw was made for this year’s contest (sponsored by Cleaning Contractors) on December 15th. With 29 teams in the draw, 13 fixtures were drawn for the date of January 27th, with Enniscorthy being joined by Tullamore and Newbridge in receiving a free passage into the next round. Tullamore will have plenty of motivation heading into the Towns Cup, as they will be eager to make amends for the three consecutive finals they lost in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Their most recent conquerors, Dundalk, are one of their potential opponents in round two, but the County Louth side will have to get past the tricky challenge of Gorey before they can contemplate what might await them in future rounds, and they will be looking to record their first win in three attempts when they make their trip to the Wexford market town. Their league campaign has been somewhat mixed to date, as they were on the receiving end of a 32-0 reversal to Tullamore in Spollanstown, but they did make an excellent start to 2013 with an 83-9 demolition of Garda at their home ground of Mill Road. This means that they currently lie in sixth with 6 wins from 12, whereas Gorey are in contention for promotion to Division 1B with 8 victories from 11 in their respective division, seven points behind leaders Kilkenny. Kilkenny have suffered just one defeat from 11 games in the league, and they will be hoping to maintain this momentum when they take on Portlaoise in their Provincial Towns Cup tie. They will certainly be favourites heading into this tie, with the Togher men currently placed sixth in the same division with just three victories, but despite defeating the O’Moore County side 35-14 back in November, the unpredictable nature of the Towns Cup means that Kilkenny cannot afford to rest on their laurels. One of the most eye-catching line-ups of round one comes in the form of County Carlow and Navan, as they are two clubs who take to the Towns Cup like a duck to water, with 12 and 10 triumphs respectively. Even though Carlow have been struggling in the Leinster Senior League Division 1B (they have one win so far in the

2012/13 season), their strong tradition in the Towns Cup means that they should not be ruled out of contention. In fact, the prospect of a lower division side making the final is still relatively high, due to the fact that three of the sides in the eightteam Leinster Senior League top-flight hail from Dublin (Wanderers, Coolmine, Garda) and are unable to compete in this level of competition. Indeed, apart from Dundalk, the only other Division 1A team that will see action in the opening round of the Provincial Towns Cup will be Cill Dara, who have a home tie against a Clondalkin team that are on a winning streak that currently stands at six games. They will be one of the teams to watch out for at the end of January, as will Tullow, who are coached by Leinster star Sean O’Brien, and are presently unbeaten after 11 games in Division 1B.

They face Rathdrum, who are the lowest ranked team in the Towns Cup, as they currently lie in fifth place in Division 3. Division 1B outfits Wicklow and Portarlington have tough draws against Skerries and Naas (clubs who have the benefit of Ulster Bank League), while Longford will be expecting to get the better off Division 2B’s North Kildare. The Kilcock-based side and their near neighbours Clane (who take on Ashbourne at home) will be motivated by the prospect of a potential giant-killing performance, while the clash between Athy and Wexford Wanderers appears almost impossible to call. Much the same can be said about the meeting of Division 2A rivals Mullingar and New Ross, while Arklow and Edenderry (third and fourth in Division 2B) promises to be a memorable encounter. Finally, Roscrea (who are performing admirably with six wins from ten in Division 2A) face the tough task of seeing off 2009/2010 champions Boyne, although home advantage should certainly give them an extra incentive, as it arguably will be for all teams throughout the duration of this year’s competition. Just as prestigious as the Leinster Towns Cup, is the Powerade Ulster Towns Cup, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. Organised by the Ulster branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union, it is confined to teams outside of Belfast, but since the resumption of play after World War II, towns that are represented by a senior club are allowed to enter their second teams into competition. The final is traditionally played on Easter Monday at Ravenhill, and Dungannon are currently the most successful club in the Ulster Towns Cup with 20 wins (19 outright victories and 1 shared victory with Bessbrook in 1886). Clogher Valley are the current holders of the trophy, having emerged victorious in the past two campaigns. 2011 saw them overcoming Ballynahich’s 2nd XV 34-7, before following up with an 11-0 triumph over the Ballymena 2nd XV in the 2012 decider. Much like Enniscorthy in Leinster, the Fivemiletown outfit received a bye into the second round, and they will face Ballymoney, who will also be making their bow at this stage of the competition. In total, there will be eight teams playing their first games in round two, although the Clogher Valley and Ballymoney game is the only fixture where these teams are drawn against each other. First round winners UUC and Enniskillen meet following their respective triumphs over Lisburn (20-16) and Larne (31-6), but in the remaining six ties, Ballynahinch


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UT RUGBY 2nds, Dromore, Bangor, City Of Derry 2nds, Dungannon 2nds and Ballyclare will be hoping to take advantage of the confidence and momentum gained from their opening round successes.

Ballynahinch, whose first XV may well be operating in the top flight of the Ulster Bank League by this time next year, had an impressive 21-3 win against Coleraine, with tries coming through James McBriar, Matthew Connolly and Aaron Cairns. ‘Hinch weren’t the only reserve line-up to come through the opening round either, as City Of Derry 2nds and Dungannon 2nds had too much for Randalstown (33-28) and Carrickfergus (10-9).

advantage given Banbridge’s lack of involvement in the competition so far, but on paper they do appear to be evenly matched.

Ballynahinch’s performance against Coleraine is certainly a firm indicator of their form so far this season, as they currently lead the 2nd XV League Section 1 on 11 points, and while the form of the Dungannon and City Of Derry 2nds has been less consistent (they both have three wins from six in Section 1 & Section 2 respectively), the gallant nature of their round one victories will provide plenty of belief in the last 16. The Ards and Ballymena 2nds were less successful in their clashes, though, and despite the latter displaying decent league form, they went down 30-17 to Dromore, with Ards suffering the heaviest defeat of the eight games in round one in losing 45-0 to Ballyclare. With an astonishing 17-point lead in the Kukri Qualifying Section 1, Portadown are arguably the in-form team in Ulster Junior Rugby, but Bangor are posing plenty of problems for Ballyclare at the top of the Kukri Qualifying Section 2, and they secured a hard-earned 21-12 victory in one of the more eye-catching pairings in the first round. All of these opening fixtures were played on January 5th, meaning that the winners will have a number of weeks to prepare for their next outings, which will take place on, or possibly before, Saturday February 2nd. Once more, this draw has thrown up some interesting ties, and what is most evident is the teaming up of all six 2nd XV teams spread over three fixtures. Ballynahinch 2nds will take on their Banbridge counterparts, which will be a battle between the two top teams in the 2nd XV League Sections. ‘Hinch should have an

Section 2 rivals, City Of Derry 2nds and Rainey Old Boys, may well go down to the wire in their clash, and while Dungannon 2nds may feel that their powerful display in beating Carrickfergus will give them the edge, they will be acutely aware of the challenge that will be offered by Armagh 2nds. From the remaining ten teams, there are a grand total of four Kukri Qualifying League Section 1 sides in the draw, and they will all fancy their chances of moving on to the last-eight. Something will have to give, however, as Ballymoney have secured a home fixture against present champions Clogher Valley, who they are currently two points ahead of in the league, but the imperious recent history that Clogher have in the Towns Cup might well prove crucial. Donaghadee, currently placed third in the Section 1 league table, face the unenviable task of curbing the challenge of Ballyclare, who have been in superb form in Section 2 this year with 11 wins from 12; Dromore will take on a Limavady side that have been showing indifferent form in Section 2 thus far; while Bangor’s game against Omagh presents the Tyrone men with the opportunity to avenge their 50-8 and 32-18 league reversals from last October and December. Any potential replays for these games are projected to take place on February 13th, and looking at the line-ups that have been produced, it is a distinct possibility that a second game will be required to separate some of these teams.

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ULSTER BANK LEAGUE

Back with a bang after break When the Ulster Bank League Division 1A action for 2012 concluded at the start of December, Garryowen held a one-point advantage over Lansdowne at the summit of the top-flight table. Now, eight games into the 2012/13 season, the Limerick outfit and their Metropolitan counterparts continue to be the pace-setters, but, following the resumption of domestic action on the weekend of January 5th, their positions have been switched, at least temporarily. The Dooradoyle club had a total of 26 points after seven outings, but they faced a tough proposition in their opening game of 2013, when they made the trip to Temple Hill to face Cork Constitution, who were undefeated in their four previous games on their home patch. Yet, despite Johnny Holland keeping them well in contention with a trio of successful place kicks, tries in either half from prop Rory Brosnan and full-back Ronan O’Mahony enabled Garryowen to hold out for a gutsy 20-14 success. However, this wasn’t enough to keep them on top of the table after Lansdowne had secured a bonus point triumph against an overwhelmed Dolphin on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch, thanks to two tries from Heineken Cup medallist John Cooney, and one each from Mark Roche, Willie Earle and Jordi Murphy. Out-half Craig Ronaldson was also on song from placed kicks, as his personal tally of 12 points meant that they were able to record a thoroughly deserved 37-7 win. The five points garnered from this game puts Lansdowne ahead of Garryowen thanks to their superior scoring average, but with the two teams set to clash in Dooradoyle on Saturday January 26th, there should be plenty of twists and turns before the season reaches its conclusion. Just behind Lansdowne and Garryowen in the table are Young Munster and Cork Constitution, who lie in third and fourth place respectively. Yet, while Con came away disappointed from their 2013 opener, Young

Munster had an afternoon to remember in their January 5th showdown with Old Belvedere, when the in-form Brian Haugh notched a 20-point salvo (four penalties and four conversions) in a one-sided affair at Tom Clifford Park, which saw Munster come away with a potentially priceless bonus point following tries from Darragh O’Neill (2), Neville Melbourne and Lukas Kunz. The only Dublin derby of round eight was the meeting of reigning champions St Mary’s College and Clontarf at Templeville Road, which saw Hugh Hogan’s men get back to winning ways against the team they pipped to the title on the final day of last season. A try on the half-hour mark from Darragh Fanning, and three successful penalties after the re-start from Steve Toal-Lennon and replacement Gavin Dunne (2) was enough to provide them with their third triumph of the season on a scoreline of 16-3. This ensured that Mary’s held on to eighth place in the table, but interestingly it meant that Clontarf actually moved up a place to fifth, courtesy of Dolphin’s 30-point reversal to Lansdowne, which means that their scoring average is now inferior to the north Dubliners. The two bottom teams were up against each other in the very first domestic encounter of 2013, when UL Bohemian and Shannon took to the field in Thomond Park in a ‘Friday Night Lights’ showpiece on January 4th, and Shannon really opened up the fight against relegation, with a try from replacement Johnny Sherin giving them their first win of the campaign (8-6), raising hopes that the new coaching team of Brian Tuohy and James Hickey might yet lead them to safety. In Division 1B, Ballynahinch hold on to top spot, but their remarkable winning streak came to an end when they drew 15-15 with Ulster rivals Malone in a tense encounter at Gibson Park, Belfast. Despite being rank outsiders, Malone held a 15-0 lead at the mid-way point with tries from


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Chris Leathem, Michael Barker and Alan O’Connor, and ‘Hinch had to rally with tries from captain Chris Stevenson and Adam Craig (as well as a penalty and conversion from Chris Quinn) to avoid falling to their first defeat of the season. With their unbeaten run now extended to nine games (stretching back to the end of last season), the two points gained from their clash with Malone leaves ‘Hinch with five points to spare over Dublin University (Trinity), who picked up a losing bonus point against Belfast Harlequins at College Park. Trailing 10-3 at the break, Trinity looked like they might have done enough to secure a vital victory when eight points from Cathal Marsh moved them six points in front, but the combined forces of replacement Matthew Holmes and reliable kicker Stuart Olding (who finished with 15 points to his name) helped ‘Quins to leap-frog UCD into fourth position. The Students have shown good form at various stages this season, and with 64 minutes gone on the clock against an in-form Buccaneers at Dubarry Park, they led 20-18 thanks to a try from Eoin Joyce, and five penalties from James Thornton, but a 70th minute try from Billy Henshaw, converted with eased by Jack Carty, gave Buccaneers a 25-20 success, which means that they have now won five games on the bounce, and trail second placed Trinity by just two points. With the top six battling in their own ‘mini-league’ of sorts on January 5th, it was left to the bottom four to slug it out against each other, with just two points separating fourth from bottom Blackrock College (nine points) and basement side Ballymena (seven points). Give their current predicaments, it was no surprise that these games were cagey affairs, and the game between Bruff and Blackrock College produced just two scores in the opening half; a penalty apiece for Brian Cahill and ‘Rock’s David Godfrey, but it was the latter who proved to be the hero in a low-scoring game, as his well-measured drop goal gave the south Dublin men their third win from four games on a 6-3 winning scoreline. This also meant that they had three points to spare over Bruff, and four points over both Dungannon and Ballymena, who drew 9-9 in their game at Eaton Park. ‘Mena had reason to be optimistic heading into 2013, as they recorded their first victory of the season in overcoming Blackrock on December 1st, Despite leading 9-3 early in the second half following three penalties from Tim Small, a penalty each from winger Darren Simpson and Stuart McCloskey for Dungannon meant that the sides finished on level terms. With the 16 game division now at the half-way stage, we can expect plenty of drama between now and April 20th, and the pick of the January 26th round of fixtures will be the top of the table meeting of Ballynahinch and Dublin University, and the must-win tie between Dungannon and Bruff at Stevenson Park. Division 2A’s opening weekend of 2013 was somewhat disrupted, because apart from Galwegians and Old Crescent remaining idle, the clash between Bective Rangers and Greystones at Donnybrook on Friday January 18th, as well as Seapoint’s game against Cashel originally set for the following day at Kilbogget Park, was postponed due to inclement weather. This meant that there was only five games in the round, but there was still plenty of highlights from the ties that did go ahead, with one of the more significant fixtures being Terenure’s 32-10 victory over Banbridge (with tries coming from James O’Neill, Ian Hanley, Robbie Smyth and Jonathan

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Barretto), which saw the Lakelands outfit leap-frogging the County Down men into second place. Equally, UCC displayed true championship form of their own, and they consolidated their position at the summit of the third tier with 4 penalties and 2 conversions from Sean Og Murphy, as well as an excellent individual try from former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam, giving them a 31-17 victory over Old Wesley, for whom Brian McLaughlin contributed 12 points. Just below Banbridge on scoring difference are Galway Corinthians, who came away with a maximum of five points from their outing with Highfield at Corinthian Park following a total of four tries through Darren Claasen (2), Kevin O’Byrne and James Buckley, with Cork side Highfield’s only score coming from a Paddy O’Toole penalty. They are relatively comfortable in fifth position on 22 points, while City Of Derry benefited from the absence of Galwegians and Cashel from the weekend’s action by running in six tries against 10th placed Queen’s University, including two from the outstanding Chris Barber, in an excellent 38-17 victory. Of those currently occupying the bottom six, only Midleton and De La Salle Palmerston saw game time, and it was the former who emerged victorious from their encounter at Towns Park, as a try from Brian Gill, and eight points courtesy of Jeff Hitchmough, proved decisive in swinging the tie in the favour of the south-east Corkonians. This win helped to lift Midleton out of the bottom two, and their place was taken by De La Salle Palmerston, who will be hoping that their form can pick up over the next few weeks, as the pressure begins to pile on them and bottom side Bective Rangers. Only one game fell foul of the weather in Division 2B, which was Ards’ home tie with Naas, but this helped both Nenagh Ormond and their closest rivals NUIM Barnhall to overtake the south Kildare men at the business end of the league table. Nenagh had a narrow 10-3 win over Thomond on Friday January 18th, but Barnhall truly turned on the style, scoring an impressive eight tries in a 53-11 victory over Instonians, giving them a bonus point with quite a bit to spare. This moved them into second place in the fourth tier, but they are still six points behind present leaders Rainey Old Boys, who are the only team with a 100% record in all four divisions of the Ulster Bank League. They were up against a Boyne outfit that had only lost one game before Christmas, but two penalty tries, supplemented by a 21-point salvo from Mark O’Connor, gave them their fifth bonus point win of the campaign. Moving up to sixth place are Armagh, who enjoyed a well-earned 1910 away success over Suttonians, and in between them and the North County Dublin unit are Skerries and Navan, who were involved in the two closest fixtures of round eight. Clonakilty drew 17-17 with Navan at The Vale, moving them above Instonians in the process, while league new boys Skerries triumphed by the narrowest of margins (20-19) in their trip to Sunday’s Well, thanks in no small part to ten points via former Old Belvedere stalwart Conal Keane. Sligo were also victors on January 19th, with their 31-6 winning margin over Connemara lifting them away from danger for now, but the Tribesmen’s prospects now look quite bleak, as they have failed to pick up a point in their opening eight games, and trail second from bottom Ards by six points, who also have a game in hand.

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Shoulder Injury Focus Anyone who has attended rugby matches, or who has played the game, will be well aware of the understandable risk to the shoulder joint due to the high intensity contact, and the forces associated with tackling, defending, and scoring tries. Proper preparation and early detection of laxity in the shoulder, will limit injuries. However due to the inherent nature of the sport there will always be a risk of shoulder injury as was demonstrated with Brian O’Driscoll’s dislocation in 2005 after a dangerous spear tackle during the British & Irish Lions opening test against New Zealand. His outreached right arm was used to protect his head and neck, but the ligaments could not hold under the enormous force of the spear tackle and the humeral head was forced out of the socket. Shoulders can be classified as either lax or stable. Those that are lax, are more likely to be either dislocated or partially dislocate when playing rugby. Once dislocated, a rugby player will need to be operated on in over 90% of cases. Unsurprisingly, at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the tackle was the most common cause of injury during matches, accounting for 45% of total injuries. Interestingly, forwards have been shown to be more likely to be injured when tackling, and backs more likely to be injured when being tackled. Research has identified that going into a tackle at high speed, high impact force, collisions and contact with a player’s head/neck are the significant injury risk factors for both the ball carrier and tackler. Ball carriers tend to be at highest risk of injury from tackles to the head-neck region, whereas tacklers are more at risk when making low tackles. In terms of injured parts of the body, the shoulder comprises about 20% of total injuries in rugby, being the second most commonly injured joint after the knee (with about 35% of shoulder injuries being recurrent). Shoulder, knees and lower backs are the most common forms of rugby injuries, along with ‘shoulder complexes’. These types of injuries include a variety of structures such as shoulder joint dislocation, AC joint sprains, rotator cuff muscle tears and fractured clavicles (collarbone). Analysis of shoulder injuries in elite rugby has identified three particular mechanisms of injury. These are the ‘Try-Scorer’, characterised by an outstretched arm such as when reaching for a try, like former Ireland international Alan Quinlan at RWC 2003; The ‘Tackler’, which causes hyper-extension of the arm behind the player while tackling; and the ‘Direct Impact’, which is a direct blow to the shoulder (e.g. landing onto shoulder when tackled).

With all of this in mind, the IRB Rugby Ready programme is an excellent online resource which details useful information on player development, physical conditioning, recovery and warm up strategies, along with injury prevention and management. When an injury occurs on the rugby field, it is important to be able to identify the injury, treat it appropriately and help the player recover and return to play. The rehabilitation phase requires supervision by appropriately trained rehabilitation professionals, in order to safely restore the player to full fitness. It is advisable that players only return to play once their team coach, doctor or physiotherapist has tested them to ensure that they are ready. Return to play assessments should include rugby specific skills and movements e.g. tackling, side-stepping, kicking etc. Player profiling information should be used for comparison with return to play fitness assessments, to see if the player demonstrates the same performance level as pre-injury.

Tips to prevent and recover from shoulder injuries 1. If you think the shoulder is moving too far it is lax and is at risk of dislocation. 2. Be prepared for the requirements of the sport 3. Being proactive is better than reactive. Get your shoulder screened at an early age to check for laxity of the joint. If lax, then pay extra attention to doing the right sequence of weights to provide extra stability. If you are very flexible around the shoulder then you need to be equally very strong in all angles. 4. Learn a proper closed chain shoulder warm up and apply it before all weight and training sessions. The shoulder muscles need to function in the manner which develops and maintains optimum stability. The warm up will activate the right patterns. 5. Use the Gym. Always spend time on weight techniques and on tackle preparation. Doing the wrong weights will activate the wrong muscles groups which can predispose to shoulder dislocation. The number of 18-years-olds who think their technique is perfect is surprising when international players of 30 will still be working at improving theirs! 6. Avoid recurrence of the injury and listen to the experts. Don’t be in a rush back from shoulder stabilisation surgery. Get your shoulder to perform better than it did pre surgery. The shoulder will be able to take contact at 4-6 months but the rehab needs to be done at a high intensity for a year.

Club Rugby were talking to John C Murphy who is a Consultant Physiotherapist, and co-founder of Medfit Proactive Healthcare. He is a published lead author in the American & British Journals of Sports Medicine. He is also a Specialist Member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapist in the discipline of Sports Medicine.


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Club Rugby Magazine - Issue 3