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.
Day To Day Role
“My primary function is to work with the Munster clubs and schools in the Cork area to assist with the upskilling and development of players and coaches within stage 1 (6-12 years) and Stage 2 (13 to 17 years) of rugby.”
“A major aspect of my role is overseeing the Munster Cadet squads. This focuses on identifying top players from Munster’s four regions and bringing them together at the primary stage of progressing them towards representative rugby. There is an initial squad of 240 players selected from North, South, East and West Munster who compete against each other in a round robin series. Players are then identified through a selection process and the final squad of 30 to 40 players become the Munster Cadets”.
Munster Cadets Programme
“The cadet programme involves intense pitch and gym sessions throughout the season overseen by community rugby officers throughout the province. We start identifying players from October and whittle the squad down via a selection process in November. We keep the players all the way through to the summer and in October hand them over to the next stage RDS (Regional Development Squads). Selected players will then progress into the Munster U18 squad and compete in the interprovincial series".
How has domestic rugby changed over the years?
“There has been vast changes and improvements particularly within the youths section of Munster Rugby over the years. The recognition of the importance of developing coaches and players from a young age is what I believe has contributed to the provinces success over the last number of years.
Upskilling coaches in the clubs has created a more advanced type of coaching which has led to producing better players for the cadets and the regional development squads. We are also developing mini rugby coaches within the clubs who initially get involved in the game as volunteer parents of players and just need a bit of guidance, coach education and confidence to go on".
“With the increase of rugby officers on the ground, generating interest in the sport and helping to put teams together, players are now staying in the game and the amount of ‘drop off’ numbers has decreased. I also think that the success of the Munster professional team has enticed young people to take up the sport and a well organised set up in our clubs has encouraged them to stay in the game. The Munster Community Rugby Officers also run Summer Camps in the off season throughout the province for boys and girls aged between 6 and 13 years of age. This encourages young people to take up the sport and gives the players a platform to develop their new skills and hopefully encourage them to join their local rugby club. This has also contributed to the increase in playing numbers over the years.”
Are there any players coming through now that you have previously coached that we should be looking out for?
“We started the cadet and regional development squads set up six years ago and since then there has been many talented players coming through the system. A recent example is Kerry man JJ Hanrahan who has progressed from the West Munster RDS squad through to representing his province and country at underage level. I was delighted to see him make his Heineken Cup debut last Sunday against Edinburgh in Thomond Park.
John Madigan (second row) from Charleville has also recently been involved with the RDS progamme and is now in a selection process for the Ireland U19 squad. John is one to look out for in the future and I wish him every success!
I should also mention Idris Rqibi from Skibbereen who has progressed from the cadet programme to the RDS set up. He recently captained the Munster Youths (U18s) in this year’s interprovincial series and hopefully will progress to the Munster U19s squad next season.
The club youths are getting more and more players into the interprovincial squads because of what Munster Rugby Community Rugby Officers are now doing on the ground. The next stage for these talented players is into the pathway of the Munster Academy and then on to the red and green jerseys!"
Munster Community Rugby Officers
Cork City and County: Finny O'Regan email: firstname.lastname@example.org
West Cork and Kerry: Ray Gadsden email: email@example.com
Limerick and Tipperary: Ed Daly email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Limerick and Clare: Fiach O'Loughlin email: email@example.com
East Cork and Waterford: John O'Neill email: firstname.lastname@example.org