9 Dec, 12:44
Munster Rugby and IRFU Referee Department have just completed their very successful joint venture to find the next generation of referees in schools within the Limerick area.
“We’re here at Rockwell because after the last couple of years we had a good long look at our approach, particularly in pre season and have decided to take a far more professional, progressive approach to our preparations".
“This involves bringing the guys together and spending a lot more time with players and coaches which will essentially give us a far greater preparation for the interpros coming in September in comparison to previous years. It will also benefit the players within the squad who are knocking on the door of academy and sub-academy places”.
Following Ireland’s recent success at the Junior World Cup Burns said management teams at representative levels now have a responsibility to give players the best development opportunities possible.
“ It’s all part of their pathway and its all part of their development to give them as good a chance as possible. You saw what Munster players JJ Hanrahan, James Rael, Niall Scannell and Shane Buckley did over in South Africa at the Junior World Cup and talking to some of the guys in our squad, they feel that they also want to achieve that kind of success”.
Following a vigorous selection process over the past ten months the Munster Under 20 players attending the talent camp are currently training for the interprovincial series against their Leinster, Connacht and Ulster counterparts.
“We’ve our squad of 26 here which has been selected and whittled down from an original squad of around 45 through a series of trial games and fitness sessions. We’ve also looked at players during schools cups and various other competitions, so the competition for places has certainly been fierce and anyone who has got into the final 26 has done really well to do that”.
“We also have a reserve squad of ten players and can bring guys in as and when we might pick up injuries or loss of form. It is very much an open door policy, if a player is in form he stays, if he’s not then we have to review the situation.
Giving an account of the player's day to day schedule at Rockwell College Burns said “We’re here for three days from Tuesday through to Thursday each week. There is a combination of on pitch skills sessions which will gradually build up to include contact over the next couple of weeks. We also have off the pitch sessions where we are spending a lot of time working on strength and conditioning programmes”.
“We are working on player specific modules where the hookers will all get together, the tens will get together etc. and they will work on their individual skills. We will have outside assistance from some of the pro coaches within Munster giving us a full programme of rugby lined up for both on and off the field”.
“In addition to that we have introduced the education side of things into the programme, for example nutrition is a big part of what we do so we are educating guys in a collective group on how to prepare themselves properly off the field”.
Asked about the objectives of this Munster initiative Burns said ”Many people have done a lot of work behind the scenes to get the ‘Talent Camp’ where it is today and I’ve no doubt that with the effort and the planning that has gone in the results, and not just the results on the scoresheet, but getting Munster players back in the green jerseys in the numbers of players that we should have and we deserve to have will be achieved. That’s the ultimate aim and player development is also what this is all about”.
With over 100 participants at the Munster Talent Camps Graham Burns identifies the advantages in bringing all Munster representative teams together to take part within the same work schedules.
“We’re using this camp as an opportunity to get all the squads together. We have two Under 18 squads (clubs and schools) and an Under 19 squad here so they become familiar with the approach that’s required to play at Under 20 level which is effectively the highest underage level in the country. Players also see positive cultural aspects of forming relationships between groups which up to now has really operated on a fairly isolated basis, so I’d see this as a real positive feature included in this programme”.
“Rockwell has been a really good opportunity to get everyone together in their squads working as a collective. The Under 19s can train with the Under 20’s, that’s going to bring them on, and the 20’s are going to gain from some good match contact so this is the first ‘real’ step we’re taking and we’re really looking forward to it”.