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Irish Shamrocks to Tour with the Lions.
1 January 2005, 4:51 pm
The Irish members of the 2005 Lions will not be the only Irishmen hoping to make their presence felt in New Zealand this summer, as once again the Irish Shamrocks Rugby Academy travel Downunder
The Irish members of the 2005 Lions Rugby Team will not be the only Irishmen hoping to make their presence felt in New Zealand this summer, as once again the Irish Shamrocks Rugby Academy head for their yearly sabbatical Down under.

The Shamrocks Rugby Academy is the brainchild of RTE rugby pundit Brent Pope and is aimed at giving young Irish rugby players a once in a lifetime opportunity of sampling some of New Zealand s famous rugby culture. ,p>The Academy, based in the heartland of New Zealand rugby Canterbury, focuses on developing the talents of young players by immersing them into nearly 2 months of full time professional rugby.

Players are given strict training programmes devised by ex Australian Institute of Sport fitness expert Will Heffernan, and all players are closely monitored at the Canterbury University gym.

Each week some of New Zealand s top underage coaches help develop the Shamrock s skills, including All Black forwards coach Mike Cron, New Zealand High Performance Manager Richard Smith and New Zealand Schools coach Richard Taylor.

In addition it gives the selected players an opportunity to sample some of the camaraderie and culture involved in touring a country where rugby is the national pastime.

During the week the players are placed with leading Christchurch clubs to further enhance their game, and each Wednesday the team come together as the Irish Shamrocks and play a series of prestigious games.

In previous years the Shamrocks have played some high profile games against leading New Zealand School and Youth sides.

To date nearly 70 players from over 50 different clubs throughout Ireland have availed of this wonderful opportunity, and it is a great chance for clubs to reward a player who would benefit from the Academy. It also sends out a positive message to the players, parents and community that the club is proactive in recognising and developing their own local talent.

The Academy is open to any clubs wishing to sponsor a player, or individuals who want to significantly improve their fitness and game.

The Academy has been an incredible success, with many junior clubs sending repeat players each year. It is not all about rugby however, as young men united in a love of rugby gain invaluable life skills while living away from home and asked to mix with other young adults from different backgrounds and cultures.

Interested players or club officials can obtain more information by visiting the Shamrocks website at or alternatively by contacting Brent Pope directly at

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