After over forty years of rugby football at Monivea RFC we found, as a result of the recession, we didn’t have the players coming through, as was the case in many rural clubs all over the country. To address the situation the club undertook a two year research project to get National Schools involved in rugby. Originally 10 National Schools participated over a 12 week period finishing with a schools blitz in Monivea which had IRFU President, Pat Fitzgerald in attendance. The outcome of this initial success was a decision to bring rugby into the National and Second Level schools in our wider catchment area alongside hurling and football. Our proposal for a three year project was presented to the IRFU and Connacht Branch/IRFU requesting their support. They have been fully in support of our plan and our thanks to Scott Walker, the IRFU, Lyndon Jones and Connacht Branch/IRFU for their outstanding co-operation and the financial support afforded us.Darren Collins - Connacht Rugby CCRO
The three year project commenced in September 2014 in the 22 National Schools in the Monivea catchment area and extended to First Year Students in the three Second Level Schools in September 2015. In year one, we coached boys only, 5th and 6th class and this year coached 5th and 6th class boys and girls. From September 2016 our focus will shift to coaching boys and girls from 1st class up to 4th class only.
As part of this project, Monivea RFC have held successful blitzes where parents brought their children to Monivea to play in a round robin series of games. To facilitate a blitz where the number can vary from 170 to 200 children huge resources are required due to the fact that the school children are transported by their parents and as yet there are no team managers, referees etc. involved directly with the schools teams. All aspects of the events are arranged and co-ordinated by the Schools Coach, Darren Collins with the assistance of representatives from the Connacht Branch. Darren has been involved in the Monivea Schools project for three years and has worked as Club and Community Rugby Officer for Connacht Rugby for the last two seasons. Darren’s contribution to the success of this initiative cannot be overstated; Darren delivers rugby training to up to 12 schools per week to prepare the children for the blitzes. Darren relies on an army of loyal volunteers to help run the schools blitzes; one blitz can require up to 23 team managers, 10 referees, 1 health/safety officer, 1 first aid officer, 8 catering volunteers, 2 car parking stewards, 2 photographers, 8 people to erect and dismantle the marquee and 2 Connacht Branch representatives. Speaking on the success of the project and the blitzes to date Darren was quick to thank those who have helped drive this success:
“The whole initiative has been a massive success, we started with a small number of schools to trial the project and now we are reaching 22 national schools in the area. I’d like to thank the Committee in Monivea RFC who have driven the initiative, the teachers in the schools who have really got behind what we are trying to do and all the volunteers who help us in delivering the blitzes. I would also like to thank Kay Mahon who does a fantastic job in looking after the administrative tasks associated with delivering the project from week to week.”Committee members left to right Stephan Berthoz, Dermot Cowman, Padraig McGann, Des Mahon (President) Peter O Hara, Pat McGrath, Carmel Laheen, James Quirke
In the early weeks of the project the many requests received resulted in the programme being extended to include girls. Girls are now being coached each week and girl’s only blitzes take place separately to the boys and the numbers have exceeded all expectations. In March 2016 16 girls’ teams from National Schools in the area took part in a blitz in Monivea Rugby Club. This was closely followed in April by a blitz for the boys in which 20 teams took to the field. By the end of the first year of the project the numbers attending mini rugby at Monivea increased from 85 to 138 and now the club have over 160 boys and 30 girls attending every week. With success comes challenges and the club now seek to add two additional coaches in year three.
The success of our Club is firmly based on the coaches, managers and mentors who invest an enormous amount of time and effort in the club. Their efforts are already beginning to show rewards at Provincial level with Connacht. Eoghan Maher who won a Leinster Schools Rugby Medal last season with the Cistercian College, Roscrea has now been selected for the Connacht Youth Academy. Eoghan is following in the footsteps of Caolin Blade, Monivea’s first professional rugby player with Connacht. Both are an inspiration to our current mini and youth players.
Monivea RFC wish to thank all of the teachers, parents, and all the voluntary helpers who have supported in developing rugby in the 22 National Schools and 3 Secondary Schools in the area.
If this project has been successful by 2022/23 a large proportion of the schools will have their own rugby teams and their teachers/parents will have become involved in schools and at club level. The numbers in mini and particularly in youths playing for Monivea RFC will have increased considerably and the rugby ball will have a permanent home alongside our sliotar and football.

To view all of the teams who took part in the recent girls blitz click here.

To view all of the teams who took part in the recent boys blitz click here.

Monivea Catchment Area LR

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