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:

 

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EWLYGrg8TaayXc6RLpH-Cg

 

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]

 

 

 

 

 

By John O’Sullivan 

 

Following on from the success of the TotalHealth Pharmacy Connacht Rugby Summer Skillzone, Connacht Rugby, adapting to the COVID-19 restrictions, have and are planning more events for the last weeks of November and throughout the month of December. 

 

Over 500 children aged between six and 12 attended the one-day Skillzone camps across 11 venues in the province in August. Coached by IRFU and Connacht Rugby accredited coaches, with emphasis on non-contact Rugby skills, catch and pass, evasion, and, first and foremost, fun the events were met with praise by both parents and the children attending. 

 

The safety of the camps, where governmental COVID procedures were followed to the highest level of compliance, was a particular area of approval from participants parents. To ensure compliance with safety regulations the camps were capped at 48 participants, which is less than in previous years. 

 

All interested players had to fill out a health check questionnaire 24 hours before the beginning of the camp to avoid the potential of infection. Additionally, a strict drop off and collection procedure was in place in all venues. All equipment was disinfected and thoroughly cleaned after use.

 

Ross Mannion, Connacht Rugby’s Rugby participation officer(RPO), says that the response of the players and their parents gave many clubs the confidence that restarting their on-field interaction with young players was possible while following governmental guidelines. 

 

“That gave the clubs a lot of confidence to say, ‘this is really manageable”, the Sligo native said. 

 

“They had the confidence to proceed with caution, as long as everybody complied with the rules that we had. The response from parents was very good. Once they could see how it worked, how well run it was it gave them the confidence that it was a safe environment.

 

“There was still very much a reluctance(at that time) from some people and an apprehension as to whether they could get going(youth training) like it used to be, to get back to some level of being able to interact with a small group. But it gave the parents that confidence.”

 

Connacht`s next events, because of the ongoing and changing restrictions, will be free to access online with some already having taken place. There will be The Learn To Perform series of webinars in association with Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and, in association with Total Health Pharmacies, there will also be a series of online skills videos.

 

Gavin Rackard, Connacht Rugby’s performance nutritionist,  presented a Learn to Perform webinar on nutrition for 11 to 14-year-olds on Monday the 30th of November.

 

​Later in December, Rackard will present a Nutrition webinar for underage players from 15 to 18 years of age. Both talks have and will aim to give the players, parents, and coaches an insight into the importance of nutrition in a child’s development and ability to perform to their best potential.

 

 

“It will be aimed at kids from 11 years old up to 14 years old. That’s going to be with Gavin Rackard, who is the lead nutritionist with the pro team. It will be an informational evening for the players, their parents ​, and coaches. The target of this, the first in the Learn to Perform series talks, ​is aimed at 11-14-year-olds, so it would be great if an adult did sit in with them. 

 

“Coaches as well, who would be involved with those age groups,​ are welcome to attend. It’s introducing and identifying to ​the kids,​ parents, and coaches the importance of a healthy diet, taking into consideration if they’re only playing rugby or are multi-sport players, and their growth period,” Mannion said. 

 

Connacht Rugby aims to have a member of the IRFU, Rugby Players Ireland, and representatives from both Connacht’s men’s and women’s teams to present on the Tackle Your Feelings scheme in the coming weeks and months aimed at underage players. Tackle Your Feeling is a mental health and wellbeing campaign, which supports proactively looking after your mental wellbeing. 

 

Similarly, Ann Caffrey, an athletic development coach with experience with elite and underage sports teams in Rugby and GAA, will present a series of strength and conditioning webinars for women’s underage and senior Rugby, starting on Wednesday, December 9th.

 

For more information, visit connachtrugby.ie/community

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