22 May, 10:29
Munster Rugby recently attended Rockwell College to host a skills session for their Junior Cup players.
Butler is in his fifth season as Rockwell’s Head Coach and his team are current holders of the Munster Schools Senior Cup, having claimed the much sought after trophy in the last two seasons.
Off the back of his Munster Schools Head Coach appointment and following his involvement with Munster interprovincial sides since 2010, Butler has also been named Ireland U18 Schools Backs Coach.
The Munster Schools management team will see Butler join newly appointed Team Manager Kevin Long from Ard Scoil Rís and will be assisted by Tony Trehy from Crescent College Comprehensive and former Ireland international Ken O’Connell.
Congratulations on your appointment as Munster U18 Schools Head Coach, it must be a huge honour for you?
“It’s a massive honour and I’m really looking forward to the challenge ahead. I really enjoy working with players that have high aspirations for the game and it’s great to help them along at this stage of their career.”
What are your main challenges as Munster Schools Head Coach?
“The first challenge is that we are absolutely meticulous about our selection process and get the right players involved in our various training camps over the next mid-term and Easter break, then progress to the selection process for the Munster Talent Camp which will happen over the summer. It is imperative we select the form players in Munster to represent our province in the interprovincial series and that is what we will be concentrating on over the next few months.”
What is the purpose of today’s training session at CIT?
“We’ve called in fifty plus players that we would have had our eye on from last summer’s regional development squads along with players that we would also have earmarked from the recent Bowen Shield campaign. We want to have a look at where these guys are at in terms of skills and game understanding.”
What is the next step of the selection process?
“To the forefront of these players’ minds is their own Munster Schools Senior Cup campaigns and the last thing we want to do is get in the way of that. We’re going to have one more camp in the February mid-term, then we’ll leave those players back to train with their respective schools and concentrate on the Senior Cup.”
“We’ll be looking at player performances very closely throughout the competition as part of our selection process. We then plan to select an extended squad for around Easter time to take part in about four or five weeks training combining players from last year’s Regional Development Squad, selected players from the Bowen Shield and Senior Cup competitions. We’ll then look to pick our final squad of 26 plus 10 players on reserve.”
You were involved in the inaugural Munster Talent Camp last summer – how do you think it benefited the interprovincial players?
“What we have seen following last year’s camp is the players’ general approach to the game. I never saw an interprovincial series with so few injuries last season and I put this down to the educational modules given to players over the five weeks in camp. Information on body conditioning and the importance of recouperation and recovery was really taken on board and proved to be a huge benefit to the players. Feargal O’Callaghan from the Munster Academy organised for the lads to meet guest motivational speakers each week and they also attended many nutritional talks from Ruth Wood-Martin, IRFU Head of Nutrition which gave them a more educated approach to a balanced diet.”
You have also been appointed Ireland U18 Schools Backs Coach. Are you looking forward to the challenges in that role?
“To work with players at a national level is obviously a huge honour and I think this year’s schools team is a particularly talented bunch. I’m always learning more about the game and I think that being involved with the Irish camp and gaining more knowledge and experience will benefit Munster also. We have two internationals against England away and France at home in the last week of March and the first week of April respectively. They’re always strong opposition but I have no doubt that there is quality in the side to get the results.”
“I had a very busy Christmas between my Munster head coach appointment and my involvement with the national side, but you know what, there is no place else I want to be!”
Midleton College will take on Christian Brothers College on Wednesday, 16th January at Towns Park in the opening match of the Munster Schools Senior Cup. To view the Senior Cup draw please visit http://www.munsterschoolsrugby.com/competitions/u19-senior-cup/
Munster Schools forwards in training last week at CIT
Mark Butler (centre) pictured with Munster U18 Schools forwards coach Ken O'Connell (left) and Ben Martin (right) at the preliminary Munster Schools selection process in CIT.