The Rugby Players Ireland Awards took place on Wednesday evening with Connacht players Ronan Loughney and Jake Heenan both honoured on the night.

Ronan, a member of the Rugby Players Ireland Executive Board, was awarded the Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. The Galway man will finish with Connacht Rugby this summer after 12 seasons as a professional player. He was a member of the first academy squad assembled in the province and went on to play 191 games across the PRO12 and Europe competitions.

The Contribution to Irish Society award was presented to both Heenan and Hannah Tyrrell in recognition of their work in their respective communities.  After four years at Connacht, Jake continues to set an example on and off the pitch as a member of the senior squad. This season, he bravely told his story of facing adversity and the importance of talking to people in a nationwide awareness campaign known as Tackle Your Feelings with Rugby Players Ireland.

Jake gives a lot of his time supporting local charities and is closely involved as a volunteer with Dóchas don Óige – a provider of services for young people in the Galway city area.

2017 Rugby Players Ireland Awards – Winners

Women’s 7s Player of the Year – Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
Medal for Excellence – Ronan Loughney
Moment of the Year – ‘One Day in Chicago’ – Ireland defeat New Zealand at Soldier Field
Supporters’ Player of the Year – Tadhg Furlong
Women’s XVs Player of the Year – Lindsay Peat
Contribution to Irish Society – Jake Heenan & Hannah Tyrrell
Try of the Year – Robbie Henshaw (v New Zealand, at Soldier Field, Chicago)
Hall of Fame – Geordan Murphy
Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year – Garry Ringrose
Players’ Player of the Year – Conor Murray

To find out more about Rugby Players Ireland, visit their website at rugbyplayersireland.ie.

Connacht Rugby can confirm that Ronan Loughney will finish with the province at the end of the current season.

Danie Poolman, John Cooney, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Danny Qualter, Rory Parata, Shane O’Leary, Lewis Stevenson, Rory Moloney, Josh Rowland and Ivan Soroka are among those also departing the Sportsground in the summer.

32-year-old loosehead prop Loughney has been with Connacht Rugby for 12 seasons as a professional player. The Galway man was a member of the first academy squad assembled in the province and went on to play 191 games across the PRO12 and Europe competitions.

Having represented Ireland at Youths, U19’s and U21 level, Loughney earned his senior international cap away to the All Blacks in the summer of 2012.

Reflecting on his Connacht career, Ronan said:

“I have had an amazing time with Connacht and am grateful to have had the opportunity to represent my home province on so many occasions. The last 12 years have been a dream come true and I am incredibly proud of what the club has achieved.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the great teammates, coaches, management and staff that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. I’ve had the honour of playing alongside a remarkable group of players who have also become close friends.

“I would also like to thank our wonderful supporters who have stood by us through thick and thin and have made the Sportsground the fortress it is today. Thanks for your incredible support down through the years.

“I am excited for the future and the next challenge. And will forever cherish my time with this great club.”

Connacht CEO Willie Ruane added:

“On behalf of everyone in the Connacht Rugby organisation and around the province I would like to thank and pay tribute to each individual that will depart the club at the end of the season. Some guys have been here longer than others and have played in more games but we are grateful for the commitment and hard work put in by every individual in the squad throughout the year.

“It would be hard not to give a special mention to Locks (Ronan Loughney) who has given so much to Connacht Rugby over the years. He epitomises the core values of not only Connacht but also rugby. He is a credit to his family and to the West of Ireland and he will be sorely missed around the Sportsground. I know that he is hugely proud of the province and he should be so proud of his own contribution to all that is good about Connacht Rugby.

“We recognise and value the role all these men have played and we will celebrate it together with our supporters at the game on Saturday.”

Ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 game at home to Leinster, the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Tom McCartney (ankle) will undergo surgery this week on the ankle he injured v Edinburgh and will return to training in the pre-season.

JP Cooney (shoulder) will be monitored this week following a minor shoulder injury sustained in the Edinburgh game.

Ronan Loughney (arm) underwent surgery last week on the arm he injured in training prior to the Zebre game and will be out of action for the remainder of the season.

James Connolly will integrate into training with the squad this week following his hamstring injury.

Stacey Ili (ankle) will undergo surgery this week on the ankle he injured v Zebre and will return to training in the pre-season.

Darragh Leader will integrate into training with the squad this week following his hamstring injury.

CONNACHT RUGBY v LEINSTER RUGBY
Saturday 15th April
At the Sportsground, 7.35pm.
Live on TG4

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 62nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies (WRU), Joy Neville (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Eugene Ryan (IRFU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)

Having returned from Italy yesterday, the Connacht squad trained today as preparations began for Friday night’s Guinness PRO12 clash against Edinburgh at Myreside (7.35pm, live on TG4).

After a well-earned rest week, Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran are back in contention and trained today.

Niyi Adeolokun, JP Cooney and Jake Heenan have all recovered from minor injuries and are available for selection.

Naulia Dawai’s Visa issues have been resolved and he is also in contention for the trip to Edinburgh.

Stacey Ili, a try-scorer in the defeat to Zebre, was replaced in the first half of that game with an ankle injury and is awaiting the results of a scan.

Ronan Loughney injured his arm in training last week and will see a specialist to determine the extent of the injury.

 

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Ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup game away to Toulouse (4:15pm), the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Denis Buckley (foot) sustained a foot injury in the Zebre game and will be monitored this week by the medical staff up to the Toulouse game.

Ronan Loughney (knee) has progressed well in his rehabilitation from surgery and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Quinn Roux (groin) has recovered from his groin injury and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Ultan Dillane (ankle) has progressed very well in his rehabilitation and will integrate into partial training this week with the squad.

Jake Heenan (knee) and Nepia Fox Matamua (chest) have recovered from their recent injuries and will integrate into full training this week with the squad.

Eoghan Masterson (knee) will integrate in to full training this week following his recovery from a serious knee injury.

Jack Carty (knee) will integrate into training this week with the squad following his injury sustained in the PRO12 game away to Ospreys this month.

Both Shane O’Leary (concussion) and Peter Robb (concussion) have successfully completed the return-to-play protocols and will integrate into full training this week.

Josh Rowland (knee) sustained an injury to his knee playing for the Connacht Eagles at the weekend and will be out of action for up to two months.

Toulouse v Connacht Rugby
Sunday, 22 January
Kick-off: 16:15
Stade Ernest Wallon

Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant Ref: JP Doyle (Eng)
Assistant Ref: Peter Allan (Eng)
TMO: David Grashoff (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: John Montgomery (Sco)

Cornish Pirates v Connacht Eagles
Saturday, 21 January
Kick-off: 14:00
Mennaye Field, Penzance, Cornwall

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