The IRFU Munster Development Office have made great strides in recent years, and we would like to highlight and celebrate the fact that these strides were made possible by the vast amount of work, effort and voluntary time offered by clubs, schools, volunteers and parents at grassroots level.
The increases in participation and promotion levels in the last decade alone comes down to the fact that when it comes to developing the game all groups are in step with one another and share a common vision for the future of the game.
The results we can celebrate to date are an increase in 197 to 375 schools playing Coca Cola Tag Rugby in school and due to programmes such as this as well as Kelloggs Frosties Youth Development Officer (YDO) Programme and VHI Fit for Life we now have a youth player base of 19,000 in Munster alone.
In the Development Office we work on three areas, Promotion, Participation and Elite. We promote participation through all our programmes to facilitate our club U8 players to the aspiring professionals and have seen young players dreams become reality.
Last year the IRFU had its first ever summer camp in Kerry and 100 children participated, watched by Mick Galwey. We also had great numbers in Tipperary and Waterford. We are growing numbers in non traditional areas each year thanks to the programmes on offer such as Coca Cola Tag and Frosties YDO Programme run through the schools and club underage structure.
Cashel is another non traditional hinterland that is becoming a rugby enclave, the club providing Denis and John Fogarty, Brendan O Connor and newly capped Denis Leamy to the professional ranks. After visiting all regions on the Munster Branch Roadshow, we listened to clubs needs and have already added new initiatives to our development season planner in direct response to the needs of the clubs/schools.
Since September we organised Scrum Safety Clinics for all Munster, as well as non affiliated referees courses in all regions. Munster was top of the Provinces for turnouts at these courses, which reflects the thirst for knowledge and motivation among the coaches and volunteers that we work with every day. There are now 806 accredited coaches (up from 216 in 2001) in the province.
Just last weekend we ran a Foundation Coaching Course in Castleisland. Co. Kerry which was full to max capacity and after this success we hope to return to Kerry to facilitate the demand. Co. Clare also had a Mini Rugby Course in Ennis at the start of September and after a full attendance will stand to benefit from more in the future.
The purpose of this article is to emphasise that all our work is made possible by all of you who give up your time and put in so much effort, without you, all our endeavours and achievements would fall short.
Thank you for your continued commitment and passion in assisting the wheel of development turn out success after success.