Connacht Rugby Club & Community can now confirmed the below roadmap for the return of Junior Rugby in the province.
 
The following was agreed after many weeks and months of planning on the back of the unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It involves reduced League formats and other adjustments to the Cup competitions.
 
Full details can be found below, or CLICK HERE for a PDF of the 2020-21 season plan.

The IRFU are now in a position to add a ‘Competition Stage’ to their Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs.
 
This is to allow clubs to plan and work towards the start of the 2020/21 season and the playing of rugby matches.
 
September has been given as the month in which rugby matches will be permitted to return for clubs.
 
Given the changing nature of the reopening of society and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a specific date will not be issued until further clarity is available and will remain subject to change.
 
The given date will also factor in a minimum window of five weeks permitted for contact training ahead of a return to rugby matches.
 
The Competition Stage is the final stage in the summary roadmap of the IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines. All clubs are currently in the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage, which they must complete before moving to the resumption of training at any level.
 
The IRFU are working toward a modified season for 2020/21. The governing body recognises concerns over travel, safety and expense and this will be reflected in the season’s structure. Clubs should expect that games at the start of the season will be kept local where practicable.
 
Further detail on the structure of the season will also be issued in due course.
 
The IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs are available at https://www.irishrugby.ie/running-your-club/return-to-rugby-for-clubs
 
Speaking about the announcement, Chair of the IRFU Rugby Committee Greg Barrett said:
 
“This is another welcome step in our return to rugby. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes in clubs at present as they put Health & Safety plans in place to manage the risk of COVID-19. This announcement helps give us all something to work towards.
 
“It’s important for rugby players to have competitive sport to look forward to and they deserve to know that our return to rugby guidelines are built around their welfare.
 
“We will provide further clarity on what the 2020/21 season will look like, but what we can say is that the first matches permitted will keep travel to a minimum.
 
“This should help with concerns around travel, but our hope is that this will also serve as an opportunity for the rugby community to support their clubs and help generate some much needed cash-flow.
 
“For now, I would urge clubs to continue to focus on completing the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage of our guidelines and availing of the education & training supports that the IRFU have put in place. That is ultimately what will lead to the resumption of rugby as we know it.”

Connacht Rugby partners, Clubforce, are hosting a Webinar on Wednesday 10th June on the topic of ‘Fundraising in a Virtual World’, something that has become very relevant over the last few months.
 
Clubforce would like to share their wealth of experience and support in this area with all Connacht Clubs. We encourage a member of your club to attend online to gain some invaluable knowledge for future fundraising.
 
Clubforce: Fundraising in a Virtual World Webinar
Date: Wednesday 10th June
Time: 7 PM
Registration link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7314591670880317196
 
“While some clubs have frozen their fundraising activity and are waiting for “things to return to normal”, more and more clubs are recognising that we will have to adjust to a new normal and are accelerating their online fundraising efforts in anticipation of a return to sports participation in the near future. The old reliable ways of fundraising through in-person, cash-based fundraisers have become a thing of the past”.
 
“Clubforce offers clubs the flexibility to handle virtually any fundraising effort with ease online. We provide a range of alternative ways of generating revenue for your club from members and supporters at home and abroad. All fundraising activity is made easier with the Clubforce app, designed to make it easier to raise funds and manage member data from one complete club management system”.
 
In this webinar, Clubforce will look at
– Examples of current Club fundraisers on our system
– Communicating with your members with new fundraisers
– How to utilise the Clubforce App to promote sales

The IRFU has published a summary roadmap for a return to rugby in clubs.
 
The objective of the roadmap is to provide high level clarity to clubs and ensure COVID-19 safety measures are taken before activities can resume.
 
Irish Rugby is now in the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage of its roadmap.
Clubs may only resume training and rugby activities in accordance with government protocols.
 
Full details are available at https://www.irishrugby.ie/return-to-rugby/
Clubs are being asked to focus for now on COVID-19 safety planning. A range of training and education supports will be available to guide clubs through this stage.
 
IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines will be issued to all clubs on Friday June 5th 2020.
 
The summary roadmap and details of the COVID-19 Safety Planning Stage were issued to club Honorary Secretaries on Friday May 29th.
 
Recommendations include the appointment of a COVID-19 Club Safety Officer to oversee public health measures in the club. Appointed COVID-19 Club Compliance Officers will be asked to monitor day-to-day compliance with protocols across all teams.
 
Clubs will be guided through the process of completing a COVID-19 Club Risk Assessment and a COVID-19 Club Safety Plan to outline safety measures and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
 
Templates for these documents will be issued to clubs as part of the IRFU Return To Rugby Guidelines
 
Speaking about the plan, IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said:
 
Like everyone else, our community has been following the updates to government roadmaps and recovery plans and asking when clubs can reopen. That’s from junior clubs right up to our men’s and women’s clubs in the Energia All-Ireland League.
 
The fact remains we can only resume activity in line with the easing of government restrictions, but there is also a lot we can do to ensure the right practices are in place.
 
Many clubs are already looking at revised operating procedures. This plan is about helping all clubs move forward as one in providing health and wellbeing opportunities for their community.
 
I’m hopeful our clubs can rise to the challenge. The support will be there for them at both national and provincial level.
 
From there, we can look at a graduated return to rugby with a focus on reduced activities and non-contact forms of the game along the way.”
 
There were 217 clubs active in the 2019/20 season.”

 
Guidelines for rugby in schools and third-level institutions will be issued in due course.
 

Following yesterday’s statement from the IRFU, Connacht Rugby wishes to reaffirm that the decision to conclude the 2019/20 season applies immediately to all domestic rugby within Connacht Rugby.
 
As is the case with the Men’s and Women’s Energia All-Ireland Leagues, there will be no promotion or relegation in the respective Connacht Rugby Leagues for 2019/20. All teams will remain in the leagues they are currently in for 2020/21.
 
In the respective Cup competitions where the two finalists are known, the cups will be shared with the two teams who have reached the final. In particular, this applies to the Connacht Junior Cup.
 
This also applies to the respective Connacht Schools competitions as there were a number of cups & leagues outstanding.
 
In total 69 leagues and cups were held across Adult, Schools and Youth Rugby. Of those competitions:
25 competitions have been completed with one winner.
15 competitions have ended with shared winners, based on the criteria set out by the IRFU Rugby Committee.
25 competitions have been declared incomplete.
4 competitions are listed as non-competitive.
 
The final status of each competition is listed below. While Connacht Rugby shares in the deep disappointment of the Club & Schools rugby community that the season was unable to conclude, we are fully supportive of the decision by the IRFU to put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else.
 
We would encourage every member of our Clubs & Schools to continue to adhere to the advice of the HSE and the Irish Government in relation to the current COVID-19 outbreak, particularly with regards to social distancing at all ages.
 
Never before has the sense of community been more important to all of us. Please continue to look out for the vulnerable people within your localities and above, stay safe.
 
CONNACHT RUGBY COMPETITIONS CONCLUSION 2019/20
 
ADULT RUGBY

Women’s League – Westport RFC
Women’s Invitational Plate – Westport RFC 2nd XV
Women’s Invitational Bowl – Ballinasloe RFC
Women’s Cup – Incomplete

Senior League – Sligo RFC
Senior Cup – Sligo RFC
Cawley Cup – Creggs RFC
Curley Cup – Ballinasloe RFC & Corrib RFC shared
Ard na Cregg Cup – Incomplete
Junior Cup – Connemara RFC & Castlebar RFC shared
Junior Plate – Tuam RFC & Westport RFC shared
J1A League – Incomplete (Won by Connemara RFC prior to conclusion)
J1B League – Incomplete
J1C League – Incomplete
J2 League – Portumna RFC & Westport RFC 2nd XV shared
 
SCHOOLS RUGBY

Girls Junior 10s League – Incomplete
Girls Senior 10s League – Incomplete

U14 A League – Incomplete
U14 B League – Athlone CC
U14 C League – Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin
Junior A League – CBS Roscommon
Junior B League – Athlone CC
Junior C League – Gort CS
Senior A League – Sligo Grammar
Senior B League – St. Muredach’s College
Senior C League – Gallen CS

Junior A Cup – CBS Roscommon
Junior B Cup – Athlone CC & Coláiste Éinde shared
Junior C Cup – Enniscrone & Sancta Maria shared
Senior A Cup – Garbally College
Senior B Cup – St. Muredach’s College
Senior C Cup – St. Joseph’s Foxford & Gallen CS shared
 
YOUTH RUGBY

U14 Girls Div. 1 – Non-competitive
U14 Girls Div. 2 – Non-competitive
U16 Girls Div. 1 – Claremorris RFC
U16 Girls Div. 2 – Corinthians RFC & Westport RFC shared
U18 Girls Div. 1 – Ballinasloe RFC & Connemara RFC shared
U18 Girls Div. 2 – Corinthians RFC & Portumna RFC shared

U13 Boys Div. 1 – Non-competitive
U13 Boys Div. 2 – Non-competitive
U14 Boys Div. 1 – Buccaneers RFC (Black team)
U14 Boys Div. 2 – Ballinasloe RFC
U14 Boys Div. 3 – Gort RFC & NUIG RFC shared
U15 Boys Div. 1 – Sligo RFC
U15 Boys Div. 2 – Ballinasloe RFC
U16 Boys Div. 1 – Creggs RFC & Corinthians RFC shared
U16 Boys Div. 2 – Incomplete
U17 Boys Div. 1 – Ballina RFC
U17 Boys Div. 2 – Corrib RFC
U18.5 Boys Div. 1 – Ballinasloe RFC
U18.5 Boys Div. 2 – Corrib RFC & Westport RFC shared

U14 Girls Cup – Ballinasloe RFC & Creggs RFC shared
U14 Girls Plate – Incomplete
U16 Girls Cup – Ballina RFC & Claremorris RFC shared
U16 Girls Plate – Incomplete
U18 Girls Cup – Incomplete
U18 Girls Plate – Incomplete

U13 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U13 Boys Plate – Incomplete
U14 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U14 Boys Plate – Incomplete
U15 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U15 Boys Plate – Incomplete
U16 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U16 Boys Plate – Incomplete
U17 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U17 Boys Plate – Incomplete
U18.5 Boys Cup – Incomplete
U18.5 Boys Plate – Incomplete

Irish Rugby’s 2019/20 domestic season is to conclude with immediate effect due to ongoing concerns over coronavirus.
 
Government action in combatting the virus looks set to continue beyond March 29th. Irish Rugby wants to play its part while giving clubs the chance to put plans in place for the 2020/21 season.
 
The directive applies to all incomplete national and provincial competitions. It was ratified by the IRFU Rugby Committee on Thursday March 19th 2020.
 
Cups will be shared by finalists, where cup competitions have reached the final fixture.
 
There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the five divisions of the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League.
 
The planned expansion of the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League for the 2020/21 season remains in place.
 
There will be no league or cup winners in any competition organised at a national level including the Energia All-Ireland Leagues, Energia Women’s All-Ireland Cup and the Energia Bateman Cup.
 
The Fraser McMullen U20 Cup, the Junior Interprovincial Championships and the round-robin qualifiers for the Energia All-Ireland League will not take place.
 
Speaking about the announcement, IRFU Director of Rugby Development Colin McEntee said:
 
“The decision to end the domestic rugby season for 2019/2020 season has not been made lightly. All options were discussed and the IRFU is satisfied it has arrived at the only equitable solution.
 
These are challenging times for us all and we know clubs will be impacted by this directive, but we will look back at this season as one where we put the physical welfare of our rugby community above all else.
 
Clubs are now in a position to make plans for the 2020/21 season. We look forward to marking the 30th anniversary of the All-Ireland League.”

The Irish Rugby Football Union, together with Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Rugby have announced the suspension of all Domestic Rugby activity from 6pm this evening 12th March until the 29th March (inclusive), in response to the latest Government advice on the Coronavirus (Covid – 19) pandemic.
 
Future Domestic Rugby activity will be reviewed in line with government advice.
 
Training and Playing
All Rugby activities across Clubs and Schools , from minis to adult rugby, must now cease.
 
Clubhouse Operations:
While Rugby Clubs may wish to continue to operate facilities such as bars and function-rooms they must observe government restrictions in relation to the number of people that may attend indoor (no more than 100 people) and outdoor (no more than 500 people) events.
 
Impact on fixtures of note:
We will work with clubs and schools to rearrange fixtures.
 
Professional Game:
Updates, when available, in relation to the professional game will come from tournament organizers.

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that last season’s Coaching & Management Team for the Connacht Juniors have been reappointed for this season.
 
The Head Coach will again be Michael Harding (Buccaneers RFC), who will be joined by Assistant Coaches Pat Cunningham (Creggs RFC) and Henry O’Toole (Connemara RFC). The joint Managers of the squad will be Sean Higgins & Declan Slattery (Tuam RFC).
 
We wish them the very best of luck for the coming season and look forward to seeing the Connacht Juniors playing with similar passion and skill as they displayed last season.
 
The Connacht Junior squad is made up of the top talent represented from the Connacht Junior League Teams. They put in great work in their lead in to the Interprovincial Series and we ask that all followers of the Club game within Connacht give them their full support.
 
The three Interprovincial games this season are as follows:
 
( a ) 25/04/2020 : Munster v. Connacht : Killarney RFC.
( b ) 02/05/2020 : Ulster v. Connacht : Lurgan RFC.
( c ) 09/05/2020 : Connacht v. Leinster : Buccaneers RFC.

Connemara won the repeat of last season’s Connacht Junior Cup final with a 16-8 victory away to Creggs on Saturday night, writes John O’Sullivan.
 
The Blacks, who began the game at the top of the Connacht J1A League, trailed to an unconverted Eoghan Coyle try, but rallied in the second half and sealed the victory thanks to a late Curtis Jonas try — added to three Henry O’Toole penalties — which Shane Sweeney converted.
 
Creggs and Connemara went head to head for both the Connacht Junior League and Cup last season, with the Clifden based side victorious in both competitions, and it was clear from the early exchanges that the hosts were keen to avenge their defeats.
 
The tempo of both teams’ defensive line-speed was at a ferocious level and the ambition with ball in hand was evident. The running games that brought so much success for both of the games contestants last season still the weapon choice.
 
However, defensive solidity was the prominent feature of the opening 20 minutes with the game played largely between both sides 22s.
 
It appeared as if it would take something special to open the nights try scoring account, and Creggs duly obliged midway through the half.
 
Eoghan Coyle, brushing off four would be tackles, burst through the Connemara defence and ran in a score of individual brilliance from the halfway line, much to the delight of the large crowd assembled under the new stand at The Green.
 
Shane Purcell’s conversion, from tight to the right hand touchline, was narrowly wide but any lead in a game of such narrow margins felt huge.
 
To the visitor’s credit, the concession of a try stirred a reaction from them and they were on the board themselves not long after. After a high tackle yielded a penalty, O’Toole — last season’s Connacht Junior Player of the Year — slotted the three points to make the score at half time 5-3 in favour of Creggs.
 
The second half saw no dampening of the attacking approach and Creggs’ Brian Diffley and Connemara’s Niall Staunton were both willing and massively effective ball carriers.
 
The home side notched the first points of the half when Purcell, after the Blacks were penalised for being offside, bisected the posts with an accurate penalty.
 
An 8-3 lead would be as good as it got for Creggs, though, as Connemara began to assert themselves and eventually make it count on the scoreboard.
 
Two further O’Toole penalties gave the table toppers a narrow 9-8 lead, but the best was saved to last for Connemara.
 
Picking up at the back of a retreating scrum just inside his own half, number 8 Jack Vaughan made headway through the heart of the Creggs defence before offloading to his scrum half, Michael O’Toole.
 
O’Toole, jinking through contact, found centre David McDonagh whose powerful run brought the Blacks deep into the 22. Before being tackled near the line, McDonagh had the wherewithal to skillfully offload to the onrushing fly half, Jonas, who acrobatically touched down for a try worthy of winning any game.
 
The conversion, from a difficult angle on the left hand side, was struck firmly and true by Sweeney to give the Blacks the win and — perhaps crucially come the end of the season — take the losing bonus point away from Creggs.
 
Creggs
T.Fleming, M.Buckley, A.Leech; I.Whittington, B.Donoghue; P.Lohan, J.Brandon(C), B.Diffley; E.Coyle, S.Purcell; K.Gavin; T.Callaghan, E.Jennings; R.Dowd; S.Dowd.
Replacements:D.Arnold, S.Higgins, K.Brandon, M.Brandon, M.Quinn.
 
Connemara
E.Conroy, B.Gibbons, F.Heffernan; M.Mullins, N.Staunton; J.Vaughan, P.Lee, K.Keogh; M.O’Toole, C.Jonas; P.O’Toole(C); D.McDonagh, E.Bourke; M.Conneely; H.O’Toole.
Replacements: K.Barry, C.O’Malley, S.Sweeney, R.O’Halloran, E.Conneely

Ireland Women’s Head Coach Adam Griggs has named a squad of 24 ahead of their test match against Wales this Sunday (10th November, kick-off 1pm)
 
The Squad are fresh off the back of two training weekends in Scotland and in France where they had games against their Scottish and French counterparts.
 
Griggs has named six uncapped in the squad, Leinster’s Judy Bobbett, Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony, Hannah O’Connor, Katie O’Dwyer and Niamh Ní Dhroma along with Ireland 7s International and Munster’s Dorothy Wall.
 
Speaking ahead of the game, Griggs said “The camps in Scotland and France were invaluable, it gave us a chance to get quality time together as a squad and feed more information in to the players about how we want to go about playing and performing this season.
 
We were able to travel with a larger playing panel for each camp which gave all the players named in our initial squad the opportunity to put their hand up for selection which has driven our standards and made sure there’s been high quality competition for places in this test match squad named.
 
Ultimately we have picked a strong squad with a good mix of youth and experience who we feel can go out and deliver against Wales.”
 
Ireland Women’s Squad to play Wales Women (Women’s International, Sunday 10th November 2019, Kick-off 1pm)
Judy Bobbett (Blackrock College/ Leinster) *
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo/ IQ)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Galweigians/ Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/ Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht)
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster)
Ellen Murphy (Gloucester-Hartpury/ IQ)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/ Leinster) *
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/ Leinster) *
Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galweigians/ Connacht)
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/ Connacht)
Dorothy Wall (Fethard/ Munster) *
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
Niamh Ní Dhroma (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *

November Internationals Fixture:
Ireland Women v Wales Women
The Bowl, UCD, Dublin.
Sunday 10th November 2019
KO: 1.00pm

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