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Over 100 Players Attend Schools Of Excellence In Bandon And Rockwell

4th August 2023 By The Editor

Over 100 Players Attend Schools Of Excellence In Bandon And Rockwell

A view of a session during the Munster Rugby School of Excellence in Rockwell College

It has been a busy few weeks for the Rugby Development department in Munster Rugby with the recent hosting of two Bank of Ireland Schools of Excellence in Bandon Grammar School and Rockwell College.

The Schools of Excellence provide an opportunity for boys and girls aged 13-17 to participate in a week-long structured rugby development programme which will include core skill development, game understanding, position specific workshops, appropriate strength and conditioning training and teamwork.

The two camps that were held in July were for boys with a Girls School of Excellence due to take place in Bandon Grammar School later this month.

We spoke with Munster Rugby Participation Programme Co-Ordinator Ray Gadsden who provided a review of the camps so far while outlining his excitement for the Girls School of Excellence in a few weeks time.

“While the camp isn’t part of our player pathway, we’ve seen players from previous years come through to representative squads and now into the Academy,” Gadsden told Munster Rugby.

“We’re looking at really talented lads who are taking their rugby seriously. We’re delighted with that. Our role is to help them along the pathway. During the week they work through our cornerstones; catch-pass, tackle, breakdown and ball carry & evasion. And then we put that all together throughout the week and then we play matches at the end which are videoed and sent out to the players.

“We also have our guest speakers who come in. Ian Costello (Munster Rugby Head of Rugby Operations) gave a great talk on the player pathway and how it works and what players need to do to not only get on there but to stay on there and progress.

A view of the School of Excellence in Rockwell College

“We had a sports psychologist come in and spoke about setting goals and their behaviours and attitudes. We also had nutrition and a strength and conditioning talk along with their rugby activities. From my point of view I was delighted with the two weeks, the attitude of the lads coming in and for our coaches, I think our coaches are top class and I really do think we offer a really good product for the players for those two weeks.”

Gadsden also outlines that it’s important for the players to have fun off the pitch as well so that’s it’s not all about rugby as he explains that other activities are available during the camp.

“Whilst it’s a rugby camp for players that are taking their rugby seriously. It’s not school. We want lads to have a bit of fun. In the downtime, there’s tennis courts, basketball courts and lads do make new friends. We want them to get a real good rugby experience but we want them to have a bit of craic as well.”

Josh Wycherley and Liam Coombes speaking to the players at the School of Excellence at Bandon Grammar School.

Gadsden also says it’s important that the players take ownership of their own development throughout the week with each player receiving position-specific training and it’s then up them as to how much they work on that for the remainder of the camp.

“They do a bit of position specific work as well. So we give them the tools to work with on the Monday. So we go through some of the things that we like them to take away and work on. On the off pitch times, I was delighted to see every single one of them go and practice what they had on a Monday throughout the week.

“We said to them, if they were tired they could go and rest, if they felt 10 minutes was enough, they could do 10 minutes. It was for them to take ownership of their position specific work. To be fair to the lads, they just really bought into the messaging.”

A view of the School of Excellence in Rockwell College

Ultimately, Gadsden wants to give the players the tools to be the best rugby players they can be, no matter what level.

“If you ask any pro player how they got there, it was down to hard work and dedication and that’s all we can ask for from the players. Everybody will find their level and we just want to give them the opportunity to be the best rugby player that they can possibly be.”

Looking ahead to the Girls School of Excellence, Gadsden is excited with the level of interest in the camp with an increase on last year’s numbers expected.

“It’s going to be good fun but exactly the same as the boys, a lot of these girls are starting to take their rugby seriously and it’s going to be an opportunity for some of the younger ones to see what really good coaching looks like.”

Gadsden added:

“If you look at girls rugby in general, it’s one of the growth sports in the country. You have to say that the Women’s Development Officers; Willie Shubart, Ken Imbusch and Rosemary Dillon have done a fantastic job of getting the message out there and supporting all the clubs.

“If it wasn’t for the work they’re doing, we wouldn’t have the numbers coming in to the camps. Again, really excited to see so many girls coming in and we’ll love to see how many actually come through and push through to the senior women’s team in a few years time.”  

The Girls Munster Rugby School of Excellence takes place between the 16th-18th of August in Bandon Grammar School. For more information, please click here or contact Ray Gadsden at raygadsden@munsterrugby.ie 

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