The draw for the 2020 Connacht Youth Cups took place last Monday night, with 137 teams across 22 clubs learning their opponents for the months ahead.
 
In all there are nine cup competitions – six Boys Cups ranging from U13 to U18.5 level, and Girls Cups at U14, U16 and U18 age grades.
 
It’s the girls who get their campaigns underway this weekend, with the last 16 games across the three competitions taking place on Saturday, while the Boys Cups begin next month.
 
Other important dates for your diaries are the three Cup final days, with a triple-header of Girls Cup deciders on 8th March and the Boys Cup finals on the 19th and 26th April, with all nine games taking place at the Sportsground.
 
The full draw including who could be playing who in the latter stages can be found below. Best of luck to all clubs taking part!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to Storm Brendan and the ongoing Status Orange warning, tonight’s Connacht Youth Cups draw at the Sportsground has been *postponed*.

The draw will now take place next Monday 20th January at the same location.

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!”
 

 

Connacht Rugby and Galway City Council are delighted to announce the appointment of Craig Hansberry as Regional Development Officer (Galway City) for Connacht Rugby.
 
Hansberry is originally from Killererin outside Tuam, Co. Galway and was most recently a Connacht Club & Community Rugby Officer. He is also a regular rugby player for Corinthians RFC.
 
This new RDO role will see Hansberry work alongside Galway City Council to provide rugby coaching and sessions to primary and secondary schools and clubs across Galway City.
 
Joe Gorham, Head of Domestic Rugby at Connacht Rugby says:
 
“The continued development of rugby in Galway City is a key objective in the Club & Community Strategic Plan. We are delighted to welcome Craig to the team after his excellent work as a CCRO and look forward to seeing more rugby balls in the hands of as many students and players as possible in the months and years ahead. We’re also delighted to work in conjunction with Galway City Council to make this possible”
 
Gary McMahon, Head of Corporate Services & Community at Galway City Council says:
 
“Galway City Council is committed to the development of increased participation in sport and active recreation across the range of communities, schools and clubs in the city. We look forward to working closely with Connacht Rugby and with Craig in particular to enhance and deepen the participation in rugby at grassroots level. Go n’éirí leis an obair!”
 
To contact Craig regarding a visit to a school or club, follow him on his Facebook page at facebook.com/CraigHansberryRDO or email [email protected]
 

Would you like to help shape the future of Irish Rugby?
 
Applications are now open for vacancies on the IRFU Youth Council, for further information on the work of the Youth Council, please see our terms of reference below.
 
The aim of the programme is to advocate for and on behalf of all youth and ensure there is a range of opportunities youth can have their voices heard.
 
Candidates should be an active member in their rugby club, must be aged 16-25 and must be committed and passionate about youth rugby.
 
Candidates are being recruited from Connacht, Ulster and Munster.
 
COMMITMENTS

  • At least 1 hour per week working on Youth Council Projects (further commitments may be needed at weekends)
  • Attend meetings up to 4 times a year
  • Report to Spirit officers in each province
  • Present and report to national committees as well as provincial committees
  • Youth Council members may be asked to assist at other IRFU events
  • Liaise with clubs and club officers to organise Youth Council events

TO APPLY:
 
Please complete the attached application form HERE and email to [email protected]
 
Candidates will be contacted by the Co-ordinator to set up an interview.
 
Should the applicant meet the criteria conditions the candidate will be invited to attend regular meetings.
 
The closing date for applications is strictly 1pm, 4t h October 2019.

Connacht Rugby have launched their strategy for the development of the women’s game in the province.
 
“Women of the West” sets out ambitious targets to increase participation rates right throughout the province and develop the pathway for players to transfer from underage grades to senior adult rugby.
 
The strategy is fully aligned with the IRFU Women in Rugby Action Plan and is based on the core principle of integration with all departments of Connacht Rugby.
 
Women’s rugby in the province has seen some significant developments over the past twelve months both on and off the field. The emergence of Beibhinn Parsons to become the youngest ever player capped for Ireland at the age of 16 has demonstrated the good work being invested in the women’s game by clubs like Ballinasloe RFC.
 
Off the field there has been another first as Anne Heneghan now holds the position of Senior Vice President of the Connacht Branch of the IRFU. In the 2020/21 season Ms Heneghan will be the first woman in any province to be elected President of their home Branch. Furthermore, she has recently been accepted as a Judicial Officer with World Rugby.
 
Connacht Rugby also recently announced the appointment of a second Women’s Development Officer, with Emer O’Dowd taking up the role to work in conjunction with current WDO Wendy Hickey. O’Dowd will oversee the development of woman’s rugby in North Connacht with Hickey working with clubs in the south of the province.
 
Commenting on the launch of the strategy, Head of Club and Community at Connacht Rugby, Joe Gorham said: “We are delighted to be publishing our four year strategy, Women of the West. We have engaged with our clubs and schools in the province, along with coaches and people working on the ground to develop the game. That has helped to develop a comprehensive and ambitious plan to grow the game in every area. Our strategy is based on the principle of integration not segregation. We want people from the women’s game to add value not just in the women’s game but in all areas of Connacht Rugby. We already have some incredible players and coaches involved in the game and this strategy is about developing a clear pathway for the young girls of tomorrow to get involved and more importantly to stay involved in playing, coaching or administration”.
 
The following are some of the key targets set out in the strategy
• 23 Clubs with a Female Mini Rugby section by 2023
• 10 Clubs with a Full Female Rugby Pathway by 2023 (Mini, U14, U16, U18 & Adult)
• 114% overall increase on Player base by 2023 (Additional 735 Players)
• ‘Staying in the game’ programme – This is a fully developed strategic programme aimed at former players and players nearing the end of their playing careers, which allows them to pursue other aspects of the game such as coaching, refereeing and/or administration.
• Introduction of an emerging talent programme
• Designed specifically to address the talent fall off years after U18s
• Build on progress made in the first of this programme in 18/19 (Year-long sponsored programme)
• Aim for 25/30 participants per season with a Transition target of 30% to the Connacht Women Senior Squad.
• Have 2 competitive teams in the AIL by 2023
• Representatives from women’s rugby involved in all sub committees of the Connacht Branch.

The Connacht U18 Girls squad has been named for tomorrow’s interprovincial semi-final against Ulster at Templeville Road in Dublin.
 
In all there are 9 changes to the team that lost to Ulster in the final round robin game between the two sides in Belfast.
 
Kick-off at St. Mary’s is at 12pm.
 
CONNACHT U18 GIRLS VS ULSTER
1. Mary McLoughlin
2. Emily Gavin
3. Zara Grehan
4. Eva McCormack (C)
5. Aishling Hahessy
6. Katelyn Bourke
7. Hannah Johnston
8. Grace Browne Moran
9. Olivia Haverty
10. Caoimhe Geraghty
11. Katie Hogan
12. Megan Walsh
13. Fodhla Ni Bhraonain
14. Hannah Gullane
15. Caoimhe English McNamara

Replacements
16. Molly Ager
17. Aimee Kelly
18. Leah Hogarty
19. Mollie Starr
20. Aishling Browne
21. Alana Roche
22. Nina McVann
23. Ava Ryder

Connacht Under 16s rounded off their summer campaign with an away trip to Thomond Park to take on their Munster counterparts last week.
 
In total 38 players from 13 different clubs were represented on the day with some great rugby on show in difficult conditions.
 
Connacht Under 16 Coach Ross Mannion – “The lads have worked really well this summer and have embraced every session with real energy. Those that played today showed great determination and skill, the most pleasing part is their willingness to back their skills and attack from everywhere possible. Hopefully they can continue to play like this and we are looking forward to seeing them in action in their clubs and schools and continuing their development as players”
 
Connacht Under 16 Coach Gavin Foley- “Its great to see so many players playing their first game for Connacht Rugby and we encourage them to enjoy themselves on the pitch and try to show the skills they have worked on over the Summer. To see so many clubs represented from all over Connacht is a great and shows the huge work going on by the players and coaches in their clubs and schools. What is important for us is that the players come away having enjoyed the experience but also learning and setting goals for themselves in their development.”
 
A special thank you goes to our friends in Munster Rugby for organising a great fixture which will be repeated early in the new season.
 

The Connacht U18s completed their Interpro Festival at UL yesterday with a disappointing loss to Munster U18 Clubs.
 
Despite tries from Declan O’Loughlin and Blaine Barry either side of the break Munster were able to pull clear in the second half.
 
Check out some of the best pics from the day below.

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