By John O’Sullivan


Connacht Rugby’s Learn To Perform webinar series, in association with Official Partner GMIT, kicked off last Monday night. 


In line with the current governmental COVID restrictions, Connacht Rugby is bringing the presentations to participants homes, via a series of online webinars. Previously, underage groups would have been brought to the Sportsground for the Learn to Perform talks, but — adapting to the ongoing restrictions — the informational sessions have and will now take place online.


Monday night’s topic was on Nutrition for 11 to 14-year-old rugby players and their parents. Gavin Rackard, lead performance nutritionist with Connacht Rugby, presented on the night, while Stephen Keirns and Nichola Fryday — players with the men’s and’s women’s senior teams respectively —  were also guest’s and talked about the importance of nutrition in their day to day lives in order to perform at the highest level.


Ross Mannion, Rugby Participation Officer (RPO) with Connacht Rugby, the organiser of the series, was delighted with the response and the number of interested parties logging on. The feedback received from parents, some of whom who have immediately taken on board the advice received during the webinar, was also positive. In total, between coaches, players and parents, there was over 100 people logged into the webinar.


“We had over 100 players, parents, and coaches log in to Monday’s webinar and the interaction from the kids on the night was fantastic, plenty of questions and a desire to learn was clear to see,” the Sligo native said.


“Some parents have been in touch to say how their children already have adopted some of Gavin’s breakfast and lunch suggestions, so we are delighted to have that positive reaction and that it’s all going help with their own development”.


Next up, on Monday the 14th of December at 7 PM, will be the next installment of the Learn To Perform series which will focus on nutrition for 15 to 19-year-old players. Once again, Rackard will present on the night, and invites will be sent out to all clubs youth coordinators.


There will, however, be a limited number of places on the webinar left and interested parties can sign up via the following link:


For people who cannot attend the webinar — some groups in those age groups may have club or PTS training — there will be the access granted to a recording of the webinar for those interested by contacting  [email protected]






Connacht Rugby and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have announced an exciting three-year partnership that will see collaboration in areas of research and further educational opportunities between the two institutions.
The partnership will involve the sharing of knowledge and expertise across the areas of sports management, strength and conditioning, and nutrition. This will provide great research opportunities for GMIT students of these disciplines and will benefit departments throughout Connacht Rugby. It will also enable learning opportunities for staff and players in Connacht Rugby across the broad prospectus of undergraduate and post graduate courses in GMIT.
GMIT will also be fostering the growth of rugby across the province by supporting the work being done by the network of Connacht Rugby Club and Community Rugby Officers (CCROs) who operate in clubs and schools all over the west of Ireland. Furthermore, they will support the age grade development pathway in the province by providing front of shirt sponsorship to Connacht Girls and Boys Under 17,18 and 19 representative teams for the next three seasons.
Announcing the partnership, CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: “We are delighted to announce this strategic partnership with GMIT. It will create exciting opportunities for both institutions to benefit from the sharing of knowledge and expertise. The partnership will also provide an opportunity to explore research opportunities in high performance sport. Our role as an organisation extends beyond the game of rugby and GMIT share our vision to make a positive impact throughout the West of Ireland, so this partnership is a perfect alignment between both institutions”.
Commenting on the research opportunities that will be created by the partnership, Head of Athletic Performance at Connacht Rugby Dave Howarth added: “This partnership will open up some hugely exciting research opportunities for both organisations. We have a team of experts in sports performance and we are constantly trying to find new innovative methods of developing our strength and conditioning, nutrition and sports management practices. We have already begun the collaboration process and foresee real tangible benefits to both institutions”.
Dr Michael Hannon, Acting President of GMIT says: “Sport is a very important part of life in Ireland today and we are delighted to be working closely with Connacht Rugby for the benefit of both organisations.  We see a significant congruence between both organisations in terms of location, values and commitment to the region.  This agreement is a wonderful way for us to promote our sport-related activity, especially in schools and clubs across the province.”
Dr Des Foley, Head of School of Science and Computing, added: “The first graduates from the progressive honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science will graduate in 2020 and in Public Health Nutrition in 2021.  The Institute will also begin a new Masters programme in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition next month.  From a standing start in 2016, we are expanding our programmes and collaborations with sports organisations, such as Connacht Rugby, at a very rapid rate. This is an important step for us”


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