The brand new Connacht Rugby Summer SkillZone with totalhealth Pharmacy has seen bookings in huge numbers since its initial launch last week.
 
The series, which sees two-hour, one-day camps take place in 10 clubs across Connacht, begins this Friday. Two of those camps, at Galwegians RFC and Creggs RFC, are now completely SOLD OUT with just a handful of spots left in places like Connemara RFC, Ballinasloe RFC and Tuam RFC.
 
In these two hours, children will get to relive the enjoyment of rugby in their community with fellow players their own age, all under the guidance of fully accredited IRFU and Connacht Rugby coaches.
 
Most importantly, these SkillZones will be held in a safe and healthy environment, where the wellbeing of all attendees will be of absolute paramount importance.
 
Connacht Rugby would encourage parents, particularly in Loughrea, Sligo and the Mayo vicinity of Westport, Castlebar and Claremorris, to avail of the opportunity of sending their kids to a Summer SkillZone in advance of the planned reopening of the schools next month.
 
Joe Gorham, Head of Rugby Development at Connacht Rugby, says they have been blown away by the response to the Summer SkillZone series:
 
This has been a summer unlike any other. While there have been some extremely challenging times for everyone associated with rugby in Ireland, I am delighted to see such a positive response to our return to the Connacht communities with the Summer SkillZone series.
 
We are thrilled to see so many events already sell out, but I would also encourage everyone to consider a spot for their sons and daughters in one of our other camps where there is limited availability.
 
The Summer SkillZone is our first step towards a ‘new normal’ and we can’t wait to get it all started. We’d also like to say a particular thank you to our partners totalhealth Pharmacy for their continued support, particularly in these difficult times.”

 
For full details on our Summer SkillZone series, and to book a place, click on the link below.
 
BOOK A SUMMER SKILLZONE SPOT HERE

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.

Irish Rugby’s Give It A Try programme is set to expand in 2020
 
The initiative has grown from strength to strength in recent seasons with a 65% increase in participating clubs last year. Over 2,000 girls with no previous experience in rugby have taken part in the 8-week programme in the last two years.
 
This year Give It A Try will be open to girls aged 8-10 for the first time. The programme is designed to kick start the participation of girls up the age of 14 in clubs and boost existing playing numbers by attracting new players with a fun introduction to the sport.
 
Clubs are now invited to register for the 2020 Give It A Try programme. Deadline for receipt of applications is 7 February 2020.
 
Download the Give It A Try Club Information Guide
 
Download the application form here
 
“Give It A Try is helping to make rugby clubs more sustainable across the four provinces,” Women’s Development Manager Amanda Greensmith told IrishRugby.ie.
 
“These young girls are excited to get involved in rugby. Clubs are reporting a welcome boost in membership subscriptions but we’re also seeing new teams popping up and a fresh influx of volunteers. The players are so enthusiastic about rugby that more parents are becoming active in the club for the first time,” she said.
 
Creggs are one of the clubs who successfully ran the programme in 2019. Their Head of Girls’ Rugby Dave Purcell says the resources available through the programme were of particular use.
 
“We had a week-by-week guide and it was of great benefit to the club in boosting the number of girls playing rugby. It gave them a good grasp of the basics of the game in a very fun environment. The added bonus for us as a club was that it enticed new coaches into the club which was very welcome.”
 
Below is a video case study from Corrib RFC of their participation in the 2019 programme.
 

Last Saturday saw Claremorris Colts host Creggs RFC in a Silent Sidelines mini blitz at the Convent pitches.
 
With clapping and applause for good play the only distraction, the young players could focus on playing and enjoying their matches and their reactions highlighted the benefits of the initiative:
 
“It was good cos the parents couldn’t say anything, there was more chat from the players, it was different, good different!”
 
“We could hear each other which was good, sometimes it’s hard to hear each other with the shouting”
 
“It was a good match, very challenging, they’re a good team – there was no shouting so we were talking to each other… it was a bit weird but easier”
 
Speaking about the activities, Chairperson of Spirit in Connacht, Kevin O’Malley said: “We’re delighted with the way the blitz has turned out, talking to parents and coaches on the sidelines it’s clear that, though the majority found it unusual, they embraced the concept and the reactions from the players says it all.”
 
“This season we have embarked on a number of initiatives to raise awareness of the values of rugby and this Silent Sidelines blitz helps us to highlight two of the most fundamental core values, respect and fun, and both were evident in abundance today!”
 

 

Sligo RFC has become the latest club to adopt the Rugby For Children (RFC) coaching model.
 
The programme has energised the mini rugby experience with players constantly active in a rotation of fun, developmental and skills activities.
 
Coach Development Officer Gavin Foley led the workshop for coaches of U7 to U12 teams, where they could see the GAME Box, SKILL Box and FUN Box in action.
 
Game Box Small Sided Games which avoids bigger numbers of kids with no space and less touches on the ball
Fun Box Allows the players to be less focused with more fun.
Skills Box This allows coaches to focus on key skills with more outcome eg catch/throw tackle tech.
 
This format caters towards children’s needs of variety and changing environments while providing skills development in both game and reduced activities.
 
Credit must go to Phelim O’Connor and David Gerrity of Sligo RFC for facilitating the workshop.
 
Phelim O’Connor says:

“The framework helps coaches to maximize game time – and also helps to remind that there needs to be a balance of fun activities and skills with small sided games throughout every session. We’ve used the format at U11 now for a number of weeks and it’s been working really well. The kids love it, and it has actually helped manage our increasing numbers. With this week’s session it will be great to see the new standard used for all our mini age groups. I can’t see us ever reverting to the standard drills which we used over the years.”
 
Gavin Foley added:

“The level of activity children are experiencing in these sessions speaks volumes. We set out to create a fun experience for children , while supporting the challenges coaches have in time constraints and coaching resources. In clubs who have adopted the programme we are already seeing more skill repetition and smiles on faces.”
 

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