Thus far, nine Connacht clubs and seven Connacht schools have benefited.
As the brainchild of the Connacht Rugby Board, it was designed to show recognition for the work being done at mini, youth and school level by the Connacht Rugby club and school network.
Connacht Rugby's domestic rugby manager, Joe Gorham, was keen to praise the work being done at grassroots level when discussing the fund and its beneficiaries. He said: “Club & Community and Connacht Rugby as a whole, are hugely proud of our indigenous talent and this fund is to assist our Clubs and Schools in bringing through future Connacht Rugby Pro players into the future".
The initiative works by awarding the relevant Connacht Club and/or School on foot of the player having started 15 times for the Connacht Pro team.
The latest players to achieve the milestone, and who have, in turn assisted their clubs and schools financially are Niall Murray (Buccaneers RFC / Colaiste Chiaran) and Matthew Burke (Ballinrobe RFC).
The fund was initiated in 2019, however, at that time, a decision was also taken by the Connacht Rugby Board to pay out to our clubs and schools retrospectively for players they would have brought through their systems in the past, right back to the Johnny O’Connor/Gavin Duffy era.
This financial award system helps the Connacht clubs and schools to continue to grow the game at the grassroots level in their respective areas, with the hope that many more talented home-grown players will follow through into the Connacht Senior professional team.