Leinster Rugby v Cardiff Blues

IgnitionSportsMedia2020

Leinster Rugby v Cardiff Blues | Issue 04
Leinster Rugby Official Matchday Programme
Sunday 22nd November, 2020 | Kick-off: 17:15

ISSUE 04 | LEINSTER RUGBY OFFICIAL MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

DAN

LEAVY

JOSH

MURPHY

DAVE

KEARNEY

O’Brien

Jimmy

NOV

22

20

20

KICK OFF 17:15


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A sea of blue

rising since 1879.


#LEIVCBL

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E-mail:

information@leinsterrugby.ie

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EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT

President: John Walsh

Chief Executive: Michael Dawson

Honorary Secretary: Stuart Bayley

Honorary Treasurer: Michael McGrail

7 22

RUGBY MANAGEMENT

Head Coach: Leo Cullen

Senior Coach: Stuart Lancaster

Head of Rugby Operations:

Guy Easterby

Assistant Coach: Robin McBryde

Backs Coach: Felipe Contepomi

Kicking Coach: Emmet Farrell

Contact Skills Coach: Hugh Hogan

PROGRAMME CREDITS

Editorial Team: Marcus Ó Buachalla

& Ryan Corry

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www.leinsterrugby.ie | 3 | From The Ground Up


JOHN WALSH

WEL COME

We extend a warm festive welcome

(croeso) to our guests from Cardiff

Blues for this evening’s fixture in

Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14

in what is our final home PRO14

fixture of 2020.

We welcome ‘home’ head coach John

Mulvihill who has swapped the navy and

sky blue jersey of Navan RFC for the similar

colours of Cardiff Blues. We also welcome

team captain Ellis Jenkins, club President

Peter Thomas, Chairperson Alun Jones and

Chief Executive Officer Richard Holland.

Cardiff are one of the great clubs in

world rugby and Cardiff Blues European

successes include a thrilling final victory

over Gloucester in the European Challenge

Cup in 2018 to add to their previous victory

in the Challenge Cup over Toulon in 2010.

Since 2005, the club has contributed eight

players to the British & Irish Lions tours

including Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts,

Leigh Halfpenny, Martyn Williams, Gethin

Jenkins and Tom Shanklin all of whom were

multiple tourists while their total number of

Lions players amounts to a staggering 41

and include legendary names Barry John,

Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies.

This evening Leinster take the pitch with an

undefeated Guinness PRO14 record of six

consecutive victories this season that have

yielded a maximum 30 league points.

Indeed Leinster’s Guinness PRO14 winning

run is now a remarkable 26 consecutive

victories and our last defeat at ‘fortress’

RDS was in April 2019.

Congratulations and well done to all

involved in this success story which

has brought joy and happiness to our

supporters who have endured so much as

a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has

blighted our love and passion for sport for

these past two seasons.

Rugby-wise, 2020 has been a year which

we will not forget for some time. With

the exception of Leinster winning a third

consecutive Guinness PRO14 title and

a record seven titles in total the playing

season has been decimated for players

and supporters across the province and the

country due to the pandemic.

In Leinster we have lost close to 1,000

fixtures that span every section of our

competitions from mini rugby to adult level.

We express our thanks to all volunteers,

sponsors and members of our clubs for their

tireless efforts in supporting their sport in

what has been a most challenging period

both on and off the pitch.

Many of our Leinster clubs and schools

have over many seasons established strong

links with our neighbouring clubs in Wales

with exchange fixtures. For example my

own club Naas are twinned with St David’s

RFC in Pembrokeshire and for the past 26

years we have had a bi-annual exchange

of fixtures. However this has not been

possible this season and such is the case

with so many other planned tours between

our Celtic cousins this past season. These

tours are part of our rugby heritage and I

earnestly hope that these relationships will

continue to grow, flourish and strengthen as

soon as we can safely return to play.

A big thank you to all the Club Community

Rugby Officers (CCRO) in Leinster who,

in tandem with the many club Covid-19

officers, have succeeded in providing

the opportunities for our mini players to

continue to train and develop their skills.

Many of these programmes have been

developed so that the sessions are fun and

conducted in safe environments.

Initiatives such as the ‘Games on the Green’

programme staged jointly in conjunction with

Kildare County Council and Kildare Sports

Partnership have proved very successful in

attracting new players to the game. It is a

joy to hear the sound of children engaged in

playing sport on our pitches.

All Leinster fans will celebrate James Lowe’s

achievement on receiving his first Irish

International cap, scoring on debut and

becoming the 29th current Leinster squad

player to achieve this and the fifth new cap

so far this season. Having represented New

Zealand Schools and the Maori All Blacks

his career with Leinster since signing in

March 2017 has resulted in winning three

PRO14 titles as well as a Champions Cup

in 2018.

A most popular member of Clondalkin

RFC whose previous Irish international

was winger John Sexton. Remarkably the

total number of Irish caps in the Leinster

squad this season extends to over 700

and this experience and craft gained at

this level has contributed significantly in

the development and advancement of our

Leinster Academy players.

Our enjoyment of our sport for the past

nine months has been confined to the

role of TV spectators and we have to

extend our thanks and congratulations to

all those involved in the presentation and

coverage of the Guinness PRO14 against

a background that is challenging to say

the least. The professional coverage of the

tournament from eir Sport, TG4, Premier

Sports and of course print, radio and

online media has been excellent and most

enjoyable and we applaud all the team

involved.

Finally I would appeal to all players,

members and supporters of our clubs and

schools to strictly comply with the advice

given to us by our Government health

officials.

On behalf of Leinster Rugby I wish all

involved in the game this evening a good

and injury-free game and to you, our loyal

supporters, until we meet again, keep the

faith.

JOHN WALSH

PRESIDENT, LEINSTER RUGBY 2020/21

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 5 | From The Ground Up


Leo Cullen

HEAD COACH WELCOME

THE GAMES

ARE COMING

THICK AND

FAST AT THE

MOMENT, SO I

HOPE YOU ARE

ENJOYING THE

ACTION AND

GETTING A

BIT OF ‘RUGBY

RELEASE’

DURING LEVEL

5 LOCKDOWN!

A warm welcome to John Mulvihill

and his Cardiff Blues team for this

evening’s Guinness PRO14 game. John

is no stranger to Leinster Rugby as he

has experience of coaching Navan

back in the early ‘noughties’. It’s been

a while since we’ve come up against

one another and, off the back of their

big win on Monday against Benetton,

we know we’re in for a tough

challenge this evening.

This block of games has been really positive

as not only have we seen a number of players

getting their first Leinster caps, but we’ve also

had a number of Leinster players making

their international debuts with Ireland. A big

congratulations to James Lowe, who is the

latest Leinster player to become a fully-fledged

Irish international. James has made a huge

impression on the pitch and in the dressing

room since his arrival from Tasman and the

Chiefs in New Zealand just over three years

ago.

Congratulations also to James Ryan who

was named Ireland captain for the Autumn

Nations Cup international against England at

Twickenham this weekend. It’s a great honour

for James, and his family, but thoroughly welldeserved

for one of the most influential players

in Ireland at the moment.

Today will be our last home game until we

take on Northampton in Round 2 of this

season’s Champions Cup. We will have played

Montpellier the week before that and, with only

four pool games, it’s clear that every point will

be vital if we want to qualify for the quarterfinals.

The new competition format means there

are a number of elements outside your control

and nobody can afford any slip-ups.

The months of December and January always

go a long way to defining our season, as

sandwiched in between four Champions Cup

games, we play three interpro derbies over

consecutive weekends. Welcome to rugby’s

‘festive’ season!

Normally, we would be playing these games

in front of packed houses and we all look

forward to the day that we can have our

supporters back to create the special moments.

It is encouraging to hear some positives noises

about that prospect.

A huge thanks to all of you who have signed

up to become Official Members. Every bit of

help is welcome at the moment!

For November, we are also delighted to have

Women’s Aid as the team’s charity partner. An

important reminder that we must all dig deep to

help and support the many great causes there

are out there.

Thanks again to all the team’s sponsors, in

particular Bank of Ireland, for their continued

support and loyalty. Everyone has been

working hard to ensure these partnerships

continue to deliver value on both sides.

There’s lots to look forward to, and we are

working hard to get ourselves into the best

possible position to hit the ‘business’ end of the

season in good shape. Hopefully, by the time

the big knock-out games come along, we will

be back playing in front of packed stadiums.

Back to this evening and I hope you enjoy the

game. Thanks as always for your support and

stay safe.

Leo

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 7 | From The Ground Up


JOANN

HOSEY

PROVINCIAL DIRECTOR

BANK OF IRELAND DUBLIN

WELCOME TO

THE ROUND

7 GUINNESS

PRO14 CLASH

AGAINST THE

CARDIFF BLUES.

It was hugely entertaining watching

Rhys Ruddock and his team defeating

Edinburgh Rugby in Round 6, a team

that has caused Leinster plenty of

difficulty in the past. To record a sixth

consecutive victory and earn another

bonus-point win was hugely satisfying

for all supporters.

As cold and as windswept as the RDS Arena

was for that clash, I’m sure every fan would

still love to have been there, whether it was

saluting the hat-trick hero Cian Kelleher or

Dan Leavy’s triumphant return to action. There

have been numerous positives to take from the

PRO14 season to date, but for now we must all

continue to keep supporting from the comfort of

our own homes.

It is great to also see so much great work still

going on in the domestic game across the 12

counties, with the ‘Give It a Try’ scheme proving

to be a brilliant initiative at MU Barnhall,

Coolmine RFC, Clontarf FC and Blackrock

College RFC over the last few weeks. And that’s

before we even mention the recent launch of

Inclusive Tag Rugby in Clondalkin RFC. I want

to thank all the domestic coaches and officers

out there in our communities at present, working

so hard to help our young boys and girls enjoy

all that local rugby clubs have to offer.

And we all know now that James Lowe is a

proud adopted son of Clondalkin, and we

shared their pride as he made his Ireland debut

against Wales. James has been a brilliant role

model since coming to Leinster Rugby, working

tirelessly off the field for a number of charities

but also bringing his own sense of fun and

enthusiasm to Clondalkin RFC. Well done again

James and hopefully you’ll go on to win many

more Ireland caps.

The European games and the local derbies are

not too far away but we all know that Leo and

his squad will have their sights firmly fixed on

tonight’s fixture against Cardiff. I want to wish

everyone involved the best of luck.

Enjoy the game,

JH

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 9 | From The Ground Up


FOLLOW ALL THE ACTION ON

PRO14.RUGBY

YOUR GUINNESS

PRO14 HOME

LATEST NEWS, LIVE MATCH

CENTRES, STATS & MORE

VISIT NOW

WWW.PRO14.RUGBY


WHY IT

MATTERS

LLOYD ASHLEY | OSPREYS

“The most important action we can take when we recognise that

someone is feeling down or struggling is to create a safe space to talk.”

Think about this. One in four people

suffer from mental illness. That’s not a

bad day or a rough patch, that’s a real

condition that needs to be treated and

requires backing from friends, family and

specialist support.

Although many of them will not

suffer from an illness, almost everyone

experiences challenges with their mental

health at some point. So what if you knew

not only how to look after yourself, but

how to recognise the signs when someone

you care about is struggling or having a

hard time? Those are some pretty good

life skills that can make a difference and

prevent someone from having some

serious struggles.

Promoting good mental health is

important to me. I’m the Mental Health

and Wellbeing Lead for the Welsh Rugby

Players Association where we’ve started

a Resilience for Rugby programme. I’ve

also started my own business Living Well

with Lloyd Ashley that you can find on

Instagram at @LivingWellwithLloydAshley.

It launched in March and, well, with the

pandemic its purpose became even more

meaningful.

Uncertainty has the potential to

be a killer when it comes to individuals

mental health and eight months ago none

of us knew what was coming or what to

expect. The unknown creates anxiety for

everyone. As rugby players, we suddenly

had our routines taken away. Our safe

space of the training ground that we rely

on for social interaction and friendship

also removed from our day-to-day lives.

Clearly, everyone else was dealing with

their own situations – people were worried

about getting sick, their jobs and possibly

losing loved ones.

Speaking from a rugby perspective,

early new year up to March can bring quite

a lot of anxiety when guys are looking

to renew contracts, especially when you

hear about other players being signed up

to the club. Often, stories appear in the

media about players’ futures that are not

true or are based on rumours. It’s safe to

say that Covid-19 made that even worse,

and players were left to worry what they

would do when their contracts expired in

just three months’ time.

These are some very obvious serious

concerns around the pandemic, but you

can’t dismiss the small things either. As

rugby players we are used to having

breakfast with 50 or 60 people each day

and overnight it changed into just myself

and my wife or I could be on my own.

That’s a small part of the day, but a major

change in daily interactions and support

networks for any individual.

One of the keys to coping from a

mental health perspective was keeping

everyone in contact and getting the right

information out. I have to give so much

credit to the WRPA, the Ospreys and the

Welsh Rugby Union for looking after us.

My wife was pregnant with twins and there

were many others with partners who were

expecting. They gave us great information

throughout lockdown and when we

returned to training so we could make the

right decisions for our families.

Technology helped us a lot, too. I

don’t think there is anyone who didn’t

do a Zoom quiz at some point! Fair play

to Tim Jones at the WRPA for creating a

sense of community among the players.

At Ospreys, our S&C coach Simon Church

would put on extra sessions via Zoom,

which also created another sense of

togetherness. But when you’re not around

each other it’s hard to know how people

are feeling away from the screens.

When you see someone in the flesh

you can read body language, mood and

humour – that’s difficult to do over a video

call or in a WhatsApp message.

I was inspired to get my introduction

to counselling qualifications from the

experiences I had with former team-mates.

Guys would be retiring and they’d say how

much they were looking forward to it -

when you knew they weren’t. Or injuries

would be occurring that could affect

players careers but instead of speaking

they’d brush it off. As a friend you knew

that these guys weren’t expressing how

they really felt. You could tell it was a

mask, but at the time I didn’t understand

how to support breaking this barrier down.

We all know the clichés around rugby

and the macho image that is portrayed.

We are trained to be impervious on the

pitch and that expectation subconsciously

transfers off the pitch, too. ‘Be bulletproof,

don’t show weakness’. Thankfully, that

image is changing and now the most

important action we can take when we

recognise that someone is feeling down or

struggling is to create a safe space to talk.

We need to move on from the ‘It’s

okay to not be okay’ conversation to proactively

creating environments and spaces

where we can express ourselves or share

the weight of anything that’s troubling us.

In rugby, we’re learning to put the person

before the player and I believe that should

be a learning for any profession.

Our sport exposes us to the learning

of so many core values around team

work and supporting each other, it’s vital

that we ensure players leave rugby with

skillsets not only to look after themselves,

but to help support and educate others

about addressing mental health as a

positive action.

Each player leaves the professional

arena at a different stage. You might

not get out of an academy, you may

retire early, you may not become an

international player or the next superstar,

but we need to send these guys back to

their communities with the information to

ensure they can support themselves and

those around them, not just to play rugby

but to cope with the strains sport and life

can place on our mental health.

I was really impressed with Ashton

Hewitt’s message about everyone

educating themselves on how to combat

racism so they can share their learnings

with less understanding people. I read how

Kelly Brown overcame his stammering

problem to be captain of his country. Their

messages show how just learning about

an issue can make a difference. Their

experiences also show how rugby is not

just a game for all shapes and sizes, but for

all walks of life no matter what challenges

you face.

With the right knowledge we can

make life easier for ourselves and those we

care about. Don’t be afraid to talk about

your mental health and don’t be afraid to

help someone who is struggling either.

Sometimes, all it takes is a safe space, a

cup of coffee and a chat.

If we carry on this conversation, the

stigma can’t last much longer.

Be part of the solution and feel better,

follow: @LivingWellwithLloydAshley

- Lloyd Ashley


Did you know?

Leinster have a maximum

30 league points after six

rounds of the Guinness

PRO14 and another bonus

point victory would equal

the Championship record of

seven five-point victories in

succession.

Leinster have not been

beaten by a Welsh region

since they visited Scarlets in

September 2018.

Cardiff Blues 22-5 victory

at home to Benetton on

Monday ended a run of three

successive defeats.

• The Blues have won just

once away from home in

2020, 16-6 at Zebre on 2

October, whilst their most

recent victory at an Irish

province was at Connacht in

Galway in September 2017.

Leinster have won their last

14 encounters against Blues

in the Guinness PRO14 since

the Welshmen’s 11-3 victory

at the Cardiff City Stadium in

February 2011, although four

of the last five clashes have

been very close with three

of those being decided by a

solitary point.

Cardiff Blues only previous

victory on Leinster soil came at

Donnybrook in March 2004.

#LEIVcBL

Overall Guinness

PRO14 head to head

record:

33 21 12 0

PLAYED Leinster won Leinster lost DRAWs

COMPARISON

Last 3 PRO14 results:

LEINSTER

2 Nov - Glasgow (A)

W 32-19

8 Nov - Ospreys (A)

W 26-7

16 Nov - Edinburgh (H)

W 50-10

Conf A:

1st - W6 D0 L0 - 30pts

WWWWWW

(30pts)

James Lowe, Luke McGrath, Scott

Penny, Dave Kearney, Cian Kelleher 3

Harry Byrne 36

PRO14

2019/20

PRO14

form

Top try

scorer

Top points

scorer

CARDIFF BLUES

2 Nov - Ulster (H)

L 7-11

9 Nov - Edinburgh (A)

L 0-18

16 Nov - Benetton (H)

W 22-5

Conf B:

2nd - W3 D0 L3 - 14pts

WWLLLW

(14pts)

2 Rey Lee-Lo, Hallam Amos

34 Jarrod Evans

Date Venue L C Leinster scorers Cardiff Blues scorers

Sat 12 Sep 15 RDS Arena 23 15 Jack Conan(T) Penalty Try(T) Isa

Nacewa(2C/3P)

Sat 1 Oct 16

Cardiff Arms

Park

Rhys Patchell(5P) Sat 20 Feb 16 Cardiff Arms

Park 14 13 Ian Madigan(3P) Isa Nacewa(T)

Gareth Anscombe(2P) Rhys Patchell(C) Josh

Navidi(T)

16 13 Rhys Ruddock(T) Johnny Sexton(C/3P) Gareth Anscombe(T/C/2P)

Sat 25 Mar 17 RDS Arena 22 21 Ross Byrne(2C/P) Dan Leavy(T) Luke

McGrath(T) Ross Molony(T)

Fri 8 Sep 17 RDS Arena 37 9 Ross Byrne(4C/3P) Barry Daly(T) James

Tracy(T) Sean Cronin(T) Nick McCarthy(T)

31 Aug 18 Cardiff Arms

Park

33 32 Ross Byrne(2C/2P) James Tracy(T) Bryan

Byrne(2T) Jamison Gibson-Park(T) Fergus

McFadden(P)

Sion Bennett(T) Tomos Williams(2T) Steve

Shingler(3C)

Steve Shingler(3P) Fri

Rey Lee-Lo(2T) Jason Harries(2T) Jarrod

Evans(3C/2P)

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 13 | From The Ground Up


O'Brien

Jimmy

From The Ground Up | 14 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


AS ONE LEFT-

FOOTED FULL-

BACK HEADS

OFF INTO THE

AUSTRALIAN

DISTANCE, SO

ANOTHER LEFT-

FOOTED FULL-

BACK STEPS INTO

THE BREACH.

THE KING IS

DEAD, LONG

LIVE THE…

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 15 | From The Ground Up


Jimmy O’Brien would be the first

man to stop you there.

He is very anxious that no comparisons

are drawn between him, a 23-year-old

Leinster Rugby back starting out his

career in blue and one of the all-time

greats of Irish and European rugby in

Rob Kearney.

But that’s not to say that some of that

Cooley Mountain magic wasn’t thrown

young O’Brien’s way before Kearney

headed south.

“I was playing a lot of my rugby in the

centre last season but then there were

chats about playing full back and doing

that role so I started looking at full back

last season and as a result would have

trained a fair bit with Rob and looking at

how he did his thing.

“I mean he is one of the great full backs

so to be able to even spend a few months

watching him up close and learning from

him, kicking tips as well, it was brilliant

because he was very generous with his

time.

“He might be gone but he has definitely

left a legacy here and hopefully we

can live up to that as a group and as

individuals.”

But what of that cultured left peg? It’s

an added bonus to have in any team’s

armoury.

“Yeah it is and I think having played at

full back now the last few weeks you are

definitely thinking more if you are playing

against a team with a right footer and a

left footer in their fifteen.

“So knowing that you have that option is

brilliant for your team. It helps the nines

and tens as well and gives them another

option for the kicking game and the exits

and then the flip of it as I said is that it

gives the opposition much more to think

about when they are setting up for a

game.

“The range of kicking options open to

a team with both increases and it keeps

opposition defences on their toes for

sure.”

Anyone who has been watching O’Brien

play over the last few rounds of the

Guinness PRO14 will have seen a nice

variety to his game too.

Touch finders when looking to clear his

lines, or kicks into acres of room in the

back field, but also subtle little grubber

kicks in behind for Messrs. Kearney and

Kelleher to chase.

And of course, he has a nice step and a

turn of pace himself if needs be.

Striking the ball sweetly off the left peg

isn’t as obvious to explain as the turn of

pace.

“My parents are from Clonmel and it

just wasn’t a rugby stronghold at all. My

Dad (John) was more into athletics. Long

jump and sprinting at 400m and the like.

He won quite a bit at school and was an

All-Ireland winner as well I think so that

would be where his leanings were. He

actually never played rugby at all.

“We then moved to Kildare though. Only

for my uncle Toby (Sheridan) introducing

him and us all as kids to Naas RFC I’m

not sure where I’d be. He played rugby

all the way up with the club so that was

the introduction. He was onto my parents

and saying ‘you should bring the lads

down, it’s good craic’ and it went from

there.

“My parents love rugby now but not sure

they knew much about it way back then.”

O’Brien is from a family of five. There’s

Mum and Dad, Caroline and John, with

younger brother Patrick and older sister

Megan keeping Jimmy company growing

up.

Those bonds are still there, strong as

ever, and while the middle sibling is

creating headlines on the pitch, there is

no less pride in their achievements as he

explains.

“My brother and sister have been brilliant

supporters of mine over the years. It’s

difficult not having them around now as

much. The same as all players really. We

all miss family and mates at the games.

“Patrick played senior cup in Newbridge

and loved his rugby but maybe didn’t

love the gym side as much, which isn’t

ideal for a flanker! Very different to me.

Very physical, aggressive, loved to smash

lads!

“He played a bit with the Naas 20s and

hopefully will play there again soon. I’m

keen that he goes back and gets involved

as it would be great for more of those

Newbridge College lads to go on and

then join Naas.

“It’s a brilliant club so it would be great

for them to have that almost formal

From The Ground Up | 16 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


“IT’S WHERE IT

ALL BEGAN ISN’T IT

AND WITHOUT THAT

FOUNDATION THAT THEY

GIVE YOU IT’S HARD

TO FOLLOW THIS PATH

AND TO BECOME A

PROFESSIONAL RUGBY

PLAYER.”

link. He’s doing a Masters in Digital

Marketing at the moment so he’s busy

enough with that.

“My sister did a Masters as well in

Biomedical Engineering so she is working

in that field now in a healthcare company

in Dublin and doing well.”

The affection for family is clear to see

and their role in his development but

also his affection for Newbridge College

and for Naas RFC and he’d love nothing

more than to see them develop the bond

further so that players could stay involved

and keep playing beyond school.

“It’s where it all began isn’t it and without

that foundation that they give you it’s

hard to follow this path and to become

a professional rugby player.

“Obviously for those that make it onto

the junior and the senior cup teams in

school it gets more serious but they

also really encourage the enjoyment

and a lot of my mates loved their

rugby in Newbridge College and then

stayed involved with Naas after it and the

social element to it.

“That’s hugely important because not

everyone becomes professional players

and if that love of the game isn’t a key

element to it as you are growing up, a

lot of players would just drift. So I think

massive credit to the school and the

atmosphere that they build around rugby

and all sports.”

It also explains his own willingness – and

that of James Tracy – to go back and to

give back.

“Myself and James gave a dig out last

year. Just a few sessions here and there. It

was great to help out and to see the lads

deliver in the games that they played in.”

Is it weird to be there with the coach’s

jacket and the whistle standing alongside

former teachers?

“Yes!” he says matter-of-factly.

“There are a few teachers there that I

would have had when I was at school

and also coaches. Dave Brew is still there

and I would have played under him.

“Aaron Dundon, who would have

played with Leinster, when I was in fifth

year he would have coached my senior

cup team. Then Massey Tuhakaraina

would have coached me at junior

and senior cup and then he actually

coached Hughie (O’Sullivan) and Hawk

(David Hawkshaw) and the lads in Old

Belvedere for a bit. So there are plenty of

familiar faces there alright.

“But probably even stranger to be

coaching lads that I would consider to be

a lot younger than I am. Lads that I was

on a bus with going to and from school.

Them in first year and me in fifth or sixth

year. The years have flown by and it’s

crazy to see them now.

“It would have been brilliant to see them

winning the Senior Cup last year.”

Ah yes.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 17 | From The Ground Up


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The cancelled Bank of Ireland Leinster

Rugby Schools Senior and Junior Cup

Finals.

Newbridge College were going for

a double until Covid-19 interrupted

everyone’s plans.

“Reaching finals doesn’t happen easily

for any school but certainly in Newbridge

we have had to fight harder to reach that

point so to do both in the one year was

a special achievement and I think that is

important for those players to remember.

“I AM FOCUSED ON THE TWO POSITIONS

THAT I PROBABLY ENJOY THE MOST

BUT LOOK, LIKE ALL THE LADS, WHEN

LEO OFFERS YOU A ROLE YOU TAKE IT

WITH BOTH HANDS BUT I’M DEFINITELY

ENJOYING IT AT THE MOMENT.”

“It was an achievement to get to the final

and they should be very proud of that.

“I suppose it will go down as a double,

of sorts, in that both titles are shared but I

know they would have loved the chance

to have won it outright.”

So when he was in their shoes and

tearing it up in Newbridge colours who

was he looking up to?

“I played in a few different positions in

Newbridge and particularly at outhalf I

suppose but also nine and in the centre.

“But that’s what I liked. You weren’t

pigeon-holed into one and then left to

it. They wanted to try lads in different

positions on the pitch. Develop them and

their skills. Challenge them in different

ways. Try to make you into a complete

footballer that can play in any number of

positions. It was great.

“So because of that I would have

enjoyed watching a load of different

players growing up. Felipe (Contepomi) I

remember watching him and enjoying him

and his style of play. Gordon D’Arcy as

well. Rob obviously in terms of full back

play. I remember seeing him on that Lions

series in South Africa in 2009. He was

just class.

“And even players like Geordan Murphy

who built his career in Leicester Tigers but

he was obviously a Kildare man, a Naas

man as well. So I’d have an eye on him

and what he was doing. Such a quality

player. He was always talked about when

I was growing up.

“You would be keeping an eye on them

all and how they played and how they

ran. Little things.”

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 19 | From The Ground Up


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There are some decent centres in that list.

And not a bad full back or two either.

In his 23 caps to date there have been

15 starts. Seven starts in the number 13

jersey and eight in the number 15.

Any preference?

Again his experience throughout school

comes to the fore and his comfort in a

number of positions.

“It’s hard to say really. I like 13 and

15 to be honest. Obviously, they’re the

positions that I am playing in the most so

I have had time to get used to both and I

really enjoy them.

“I played both wings for Leinster as well

off the bench and have even covered

10 as well in pre-season games and

stuff so I’m lucky in that, at the moment,

I am focused on the two positions that I

probably enjoy the most but look, like all

the lads, when Leo offers you a role you

take it with both hands but I’m definitely

enjoying it at the moment.”

For this weekend he has again been

entrusted with the full back role. His fifth

game in a row in that position.

He is building momentum and form at

just the right time. Europe and the festive

interpro derbies lie just around the corner.

“I know it’s a cliché but you can’t get

too ahead of yourself. Cardiff first this

weekend and then we have Scarlets

away which will be tough so we’ll look to

get through those challenges first.

“But it is definitely a target of mine to pull

on a jersey for Leinster in a European

game. A few of the lads had that honour

last year and it was great to see them

go well. Josh Murphy, Will Connors,

Hugo Keenan. They all experienced it

and it’s that next step in your progress

so hopefully if I get a chance this year I

can take it.

“It is definitely the next level.”

The next step of course from European

debuts and games is the national radar

and the progress of his mates is not lost

on him either.

“Delighted for Hugo. I’ve known him

years and have played a lot of rugby

with him at Leinster and with Ireland

age grade teams. He is a brilliant fella

and just delighted for him and yeah,

you’re right, if you can be staking a

claim for a Leinster jersey regularly in the

PRO14 and then in Europe, you are in the

spotlight.

“It’s brilliant to see the lads taking their

chances. Ed, Jamo and Lowie as well.

They have all gone well and taken their

chance and it is encouraging for us here

to see them take those chances with

Leinster and then to kick on.”

For now, O’Brien will just narrow his focus

on Cardiff and maintaining the record

that sees them in control of Conference A

but mindful too of a resurgent Ulster.

“We just need to focus on our own

performance. It’s a short turnaround this

week from Monday to Sunday so we

have to just focus on Cardiff who had a

good win themselves.

“If we do that, the result and the table will

look after itself.”

And then there is the small matter of his

final year in UCD.

“Final year exams at the moment,

hopefully I will be done in May. I’m a

bit behind my mates who started out

with me but given Covid restrictions and

everything now being online I have done

well the last while to catch up on a lot of

things so it’s been good.”

So what does the future hold for a

graduate of Financial Mathematics in

UCD?

“It’s finance mainly or banking. That’s

where the opportunities would be and

that is where most of my classmates

would be headed. So hopefully I’ll have

my qualifications all sorted by May.”

And with that off he goes. Another

weekend of defusing situations and

coming up with the answers.

Study and exams to be done but also

full in the knowledge that if the career

in banking and finance doesn’t go

so well, he is carving out an exciting

career for himself in the blue of Leinster

and who knows beyond that, maybe too,

in the green of Ireland.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 21 | From The Ground Up


GUINNESS PRO14

16 NOVEMBER 2020

RDS ARENA

REFEREE: CRAIG EVANS

50

10

Jimmy O’Brien; Cian Kelleher,

Liam Turner, Ciarán Frawley,

Dave Kearney; Harry Byrne

(David Hawkshaw 54), Luke

McGrath (Hugh O’Sullivan

57); Peter Dooley (Michael

Milne 50), James Tracy (Dan

Sheehan 50), Michael Bent

(Ciaran Parker 50); Devin

Toner (Ross Molony 68),

Scott Fardy; Dan Leavy (Ryan

Baird 57), Scott Penny, Rhys

Ruddock (Josh Murphy 50).

SCORERS: Tries: Cian

Kelleher (3), Luke McGrath

(2), Peter Dooley, Dave

Kearney, Dan Leavy. Cons:

Ciarán Frawley (5).

Jack Blain; Eroni Sau, Mark

Bennett (James Johnstone 22),

Chris Dean, Jamie Farndale

(Charlie Shiel 69); Nathan

Chamberlain, Henry Pyrgos

(Nic Groom 47); Pierre

Schoeman (Sam Grahamslaw

68), Dave Cherry (Mike

Willemse 56), Lee Roy Atalifo

(Dan Gamble 52); Andries

Ferreira (Jamie Hodgson

56), Andrew Davidson

(Rory Darge 62); Magnus

Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Ally

Miller.

SCORERS: Try: Nic Groom.

Con: Nathan Chamberlain.

Pen: Nathan Chamberlain.

“I FELT

GOOD. I FELT

LIKE MY OLD

SELF. LEO

HAS REALLY

LOOKED

AFTER ME.

I’LL TAKE ALL

THE MINUTES

I GET.”

Player of the Match

Dan Leavy on his first

start after 20 months

From The Ground Up | 22 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


“THERE WAS

LOTS OF GOOD

THINGS. THE

PLAYERS

ARE ALWAYS

CONSCIOUS

OF PEOPLE

AT HOME

WATCHING AND

WANT TO PUT

ON A SHOW.

OVERALL,

WE’RE VERY

PLEASED.”

Leo Cullen

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 23 | From The Ground Up


Music Overload:

YOU CAN LISTEN TO LEINSTER RUGBY’S HOME WORKOUT MIX

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST HERE, WITH TRACKS SELECTED BY PLAYERS

FROM LEINSTER RUGBY’S MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TEAMS.

GIRL

ON

FIRE:

TAKING ON

OUR MUSIC

Q&A THIS TIME

IT’S LEINSTER

AND IRELAND

PROP LINDA

DJOUGANG

TELLING ALL

ABOUT WHAT

MUSIC IS ON

HER PLAYLIST

RIGHT NOW.

1. What was the last song you listened to?

Alicia Keys – “Girl on Fire”

2. Tell us a song you’re currently obsessed with.

Any of the ones from TikTok or Sam Fischer’s one

“This City”.

3. You’re booking your dream festival line-up:

who are the main stage headliners for the

Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

Friday night – Jay Z, Saturday – Beyonce and

do a 180 then on Sunday and finish with Neil

Diamond.

4. Earliest music memory?

My early memories of music are dominated by

African songs, Sarkodie ft. Castro – “Adonai” is a

good example.

5. Your guilty pleasure?

Definitely K-Pop!

6. You can only listen to one album for the rest

of your life, what is it?

Alicia Keys – “The Element of Freedom”

7. What was the first concert you ever went to?

Little Mix were my first concert.

8. Favourite Irish band/artist?

I really like Gavin James.

9. What two songs do you want to add to the

Leinster Rugby Workout Mix on Spotify?

Shakira – “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”

P-Square Ft. Akon, May D – “Chop My Money”

10. And what one song do you want to remove?

Get rid of Fall Out Boy.

From The Ground Up | 24 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


www.leinsterrugby.ie | 25 | From The Ground Up


IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STORY, PLEASE CONTACT

WOMENSPRO@LEINSTERRUGBY.IE OR CHECK OUR SOCIAL

MEDIA CHANNELS...

Leinster Women’s Rugby

LeinsterWomensRugby

@LeinsterWomen

womenspro@leinsterrugby.ie

BY: MARTA GINER

WICKLOW WOMEN RFC:

A Fit, Active snd Solidary Team!

It’s mid-November and

despite restrictions preventing

players from resuming their

competitions, the teams around

the province are training very

hard and can't wait to get back

to playing rugby as soon as it is

allowed.

The creativity and effort in keeping

the teams active and engaged is

phenomenal. An example is the brilliant

work done by Wicklow Women’s team

and girls U-18 team with their numerous

initiatives.

One of these collaborations was with

Wicklow Tidy Towns. Wearing the

club gear, women and girls spent an

hour-and-a-half cleaning up rubbish left

behind along the community walkways

around the riverwalk, the Murrough, the

Harbour pier and the recycling centre.

Both squads have well represented their

club and their values to their community,

who appreciated the teams’ effort in

keeping the town clean.

There were another eight players and

five management missing from the

picture below. Well done and thank you

to everyone who took part.

From The Ground Up | 26 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


Wicklow Women RFC keeps their

social media channels very active by

introducing some of the members of

the Wicklow Women's squad over the

weeks.

One of the highlights of the Women’s

Team Facebook page every Tuesday

and Thursday night is their Lockdown

Weekly Challenge. This is a strength

and conditioning program presented

in a more fun format in anticipation of

returning to the pitch.

Last week’s challenge was won by

Saoirse O’Reilly who managed over 30

kicks with a rugby ball. Certainly, a very

entertaining and creative way to stay fit

from home!

As part of these preparations for the

resumption of league games and the

anticipated start to the AIL in January,

the two Women’s teams are taking a

pilates session run by Marian Earls

every Wednesday, as well as a HIIT

session with Colin Younger, Strength

and Conditioning classes with Marian,

and a board session with Jason

Moreton.

The team opened this program to all

players and are still welcoming anyone

who might feel they would like to give

rugby a try when the club resumes the

pitch training in the coming weeks.

Also in their spare time, some members

of the Women's team are supporting

the coaches in training the U-14 and

U-16 girls.

There is no doubt the Wicklow

Women’s team are ready to go back

to competition after their hard work in

keeping their players active, connected,

supporting each other, and always

having fun! Staying in touch and

having regular calls has a very positive

impact on the team’s dynamic and

members’ wellbeing.

If you would like to share your news

and stories and how your team stays

connected during these challenging

times, please reach out to womenspro@

leinsterrugby.ie or find us on social

media.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 27 | From The Ground Up


Leo

Kids

the Lion's

Corner

spot the

differences

ANAGRAMS

Can you un-jumble the

names of these players?

FAN LYRIC

WEAR

DRAFT HOG

LUNG

GUESS

WHO?

Can you name these

three players?

ANSWERS

ANAGRAMS

Ciarán Frawley

Tadhg Furlong

GUESS WHO?

Jack Conan

Vakh Abdaladze

Andrew Porter

From The Ground Up | 28 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


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QUEST10NS

with...

Milne

Michael

1. What's the one thing that you check is

always in the gear bag on match day?

Boots

2. Who sits beside you in the Leinster

dressing-room?

Dave Hawkshaw. He wouldn't be shy

about giving out.

3. What is currently on your playlist?

Run This Town – Jay-Z ft. Rihanna and

Kanye West.

4. What did you want to be growing up?

A Farmer

5. Best advice you ever got?

Never p*ss into the wind.

6. Worst advice you ever got?

P*ss into the wind.

7. What is your phone screensaver at the

moment?

Picture of Bruno Fernandes.

8. You can be another sportsperson for one

event...who and what is the event?

Shane Lowry winning The Open.

Hon Offaly!

9. Money is no object - who do you sign for

Leinster Rugby and why?

The Beast (South Africa’s Tendai

Mtawarira). He’s so powerful. I’d

love to watch him scrum in a training

session.

10. What is one staple item all men should

own and why?

Deodorant. You know why!

From The Ground Up | 30 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


www.leinsterrugby.ie | 31 | From The Ground Up


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New pop-up club

in North-West Dublin

Leinster Rugby and Dublin City

Council are running a four-week

afterschool pop-up club in North-

West Dublin, for first and second

year students from the local

secondary schools in the area.

The afterschool pop-up club aims to

keep students active through fun noncontact

rugby games at DCU’s Astro

Pitches.

The first week of the afterschool pop-up

club proved a success with two pods

of St Mary’s, Glasnevin first year

students attending. What was even more

special, many of these students have

experienced the grassroots Tag Rugby

programmes in their primary schools.

The afterschool pop-up club will

continue for another three weeks, with

the hope that more students will come

down and join in, just remember to

register your free place on here:

Juliet Short, Leinster Rugby Community

Rugby Officer said, “A huge thank

you has to go to Dublin City Council

staff, Nuala O’Donovan for her work

in making it extremely easy to register

to attend, to all the secondary school

staff, especially Heather Bunnett, Eimear

Considine and Sinead Collins, without

their help it would not have been such

a successful first week and finally,

thanks to DCU and the Leinster Rugby

Community Rugby Staff for supporting

the afterschool club with their facilities

and knowledge.”

If you would like to hear more about the

pop up club, please contact your Head

of P.E in your school or email

Leinster Rugby Community

Rugby Officer Juliet Short.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 35 | From The Ground Up


2020/21 squad

VAKH ABDALADZE - #1263

DOB 6 FEBRUARY 1996

From KUTAISI, GEORGIA

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 117KG (18st 6lbs)

Position PROP

Club CLONTARF FC

Leinster Debut 2 DECEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND U20S (2 caps)

MICHAEL BENT - #1212

DOB 25 APRIL 1986

From HAWERA, NEW ZEALAND

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 118KG (18st 8lbs)

Position PROP

Club DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

Leinster Debut 1 DECEMBER 2012

Honours IRELAND (4 caps)

ED BYRNE - #1222

DOB 9 SEPTEMBER 1993

From CARLOW

Height 1.80M (5’ 11”)

Weight 114KG (17st 13lbs)

Position PROP

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 9 FEBRUARY 2014

Honours IRELAND (4 caps)

ROSS BYRNE - #1236

DOB 8 APRIL 1995

From DUBLIN

Height 1.88M (6’ 3”)

Weight 90KG (14st 2lbs)

Position OUTHALF

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 4 SEPTEMBER 2015

Honours IRELAND (9 caps)

WILL CONNORS - #1264

DOB 4 APRIL 1996

From DONADEA, KILDARE

Height 1.94 (6’ 4”)

Weight 102KG (16st 1lbs)

Position BACK ROW

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 9 FEBRUARY 2018

Honours IRELAND (4 caps)

RYAN BAIRD - #1278

DOB 26 JULY 1999

From DUBLIN

Height 1.98M (6’ 6”)

Weight 112KG (17st 8lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

Club DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

Leinster Debut 27 APRIL 2019

Honours IRELAND U20S (7 caps)

ADAM BYRNE - #1213

DOB 10 APRIL 1994

From KILDARE

Height 1.93M (6’ 4”)

Weight 101KG (15st 12lbs)

Position WING / FULL BACK

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 29 DECEMBER 2012

Honours IRELAND (1 cap)

HARRY BYRNE - #1280

DOB 22 APRIL 1999

From DUBLIN

Height 1.88M (6’ 2”)

Weight 92KG (14st 6lbs)

Position OUTHALF

Club LANSDOWNE

Leinster Debut 28 SEPTEMBER 2019

Honours IRELAND U20S (13 caps)

JACK CONAN - #1223

DOB 29 JULY 1992

From BRAY, WICKLOW

Height 1.93M (6’ 4”)

Weight 111KG (17st 6lbs)

Position NO. 8

Club OLD BELVEDERE RFC

Leinster Debut 20 FEBRUARY 2014

Honours IRELAND (17 caps)

SEÁN CRONIN - #1202

DOB 6 MAY 1986

From LIMERICK

Height 1.80M (5’ 11”)

Weight 103KG (16st 3lbs)

Position HOOKER

Club ST. MARY’S COLLEGE RFC

Leinster Debut 28 OCTOBER 2011

Honours IRELAND (72 caps)

From The Ground Up | 36 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


MAX DEEGAN - #1256

DOB 1 OCTOBER 1996

From DUBLIN

Height 1.93M (6’ 3”)

Weight 109KG (17st 1lbs)

Position NO. 8

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 3 DECEMBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (1 cap)

CAELAN DORIS - #1268

DOB 2 APRIL 1998

From MAYO

Height 1.94M (6’ 4”)

Weight 106KG (16st 10lbs)

Position BACK ROW

Club ST. MARY’S COLLEGE RFC

Leinster Debut 28 APRIL 2018

Honours IRELAND (6 caps)

SCOTT FARDY - #1257

DOB 5 JULY 1984

From SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Height 1.98 M (6’ 6”)

Weight 111 KG (17st 7lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

Club UNASSIGNED

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2017

Honours AUSTRALIA (39 caps)

TADHG FURLONG - #1220

DOB 14 NOVEMBER 1992

From WEXFORD

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 123KG (19st 5lbs)

Position PROP

Club NEW ROSS RFC / CLONTARF FC

Leinster Debut 1 NOVEMBER 2013

Honours IRELAND (44 caps) AND

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (6 caps)

CIAN HEALY - #1142

DOB 7 OCTOBER 1987

From DUBLIN

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 112KG (17st 8lbs)

Position PROP

Club CLONTARF FC

Leinster Debut 5 MAY 2007

Honours IRELAND (102 caps) AND

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (2 caps)

DAVE KEARNEY - #1158

DOB 19 JUNE 1989

From LOUTH

Height 1.81M (5’ 11”)

Weight 90KG (14st 2lbs)

Position WING / FULL BACK

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 16 MAY 2009

Honours IRELAND (19 caps)

CIAN KELLEHER - #1234

DOB 7 AUGUST 1994

From DUBLIN

Height 1.85M (6’ 0”)

Weight 90KG (14st 2lbs)

Position WINGER/FULL BACK

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 16 MAY 2015

Honours IRELAND U20S (9 caps)

PETER DOOLEY - #1230

DOB 4 AUGUST 1994

Birthplace OFFALY

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 116KG (18st 4lbs)

Position PROP

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 31 OCTOBER 2014

Honours IRELAND U20S (18 caps)

JACK DUNNE - #1276

DOB 21 NOVEMBER 1998

From DUBLIN

Height 2.02M (6’ 7”)

Weight 112KG (17st 9lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

School ST. MICHAEL’S COLLEGE

Club DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

Leinster Debut 16 FEBRUARY 2019

Honours IRELAND U20S (10 caps)

CIARÁN FRAWLEY - #1265

DOB 4 DECEMBER 1997

From DUBLIN

Height 1.92M (6’ 3”)

Weight 95.6KG (15st 1lbs)

Position OUTHALF

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 17 FEBRUARY 2018

Honours IRELAND U20S (10 caps)

JAMISON GIBSON-PARK - #1247

DOB 23 FEBRUARY 1992

From GREAT BARRIER ISLAND, NEW

ZEALAND

Height 1.76M (5’ 9”)

Weight 80KG (12st 8lbs)

Position SCRUM HALF

Club UNASSIGNED

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (3 caps)

ROBBIE HENSHAW - #1251

DOB 12 JUNE 1993

From ATHLONE

Height 1.91M (6’ 3”)

Weight 99KG (15st 8lbs)

Position CENTRE / FULL BACK

Club BUCCANEERS RFC

Leinster Debut 8 OCTOBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (46 caps) AND

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (4 caps)

HUGO KEENAN - #1253

DOB 18 JUNE 1996

From DUBLIN

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 92KG (14st 4lbs)

Position FULL BACK

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 5 NOVEMBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (4 caps)

RÓNAN KELLEHER - #1277

DOB 24 JANUARY 1998

From DUBLIN

Height 1.85M (6’ 0”)

Weight 106KG (16st 7lbs)

Position HOOKER

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 22 FEBRUARY 2019

Honours IRELAND (5 caps)

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 37 | From The Ground Up


JORDAN LARMOUR - #1258

DOB 10 JUNE 1997

From DUBLIN

Height 1.78M (5’ 10”)

Weight 90KG (14st 1lbs)

Position WING

Club ST. MARY’S COLLEGE RFC

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND (24 caps)

JAMES LOWE - #1262

DOB 8 JULY 1992

From NELSON, NEW ZEALAND

Height 1.88M (6’ 2”)

Weight 105KG (16st 7lbs)

Position WING / FULL BACK

Club CLONDALKIN RFC

Leinster Debut 2 DECEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND (2 cap)

ROSS MOLONY - #1233

DOB 11 MAY 1994

From DUBLIN

Height 2.00M (6’ 6”)

Weight 113KG (17st 11lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 20 FEBRUARY 2015

Honours IRELAND U20S (10 caps)

ROWAN OSBORNE - #1281

DOB 3 NOVEMBER 1996

From EADESTOWN, KILDARE

Height 1.71M (5’ 7”)

Weight 77KG (12st 1lbs)

Position SCRUM HALF

Club DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

Leinster Debut 4 OCTOBER 2019

Honours IRELAND SCHOOLS

JIMMY O'BRIEN - #1272

DOB 27 NOVEMBER 1996

From KILDARE

Height 1.84M (6’ 0”)

Weight 89KG (14st 0lbs)

Position CENTRE

Club NAAS RFC

Leinster Debut 23 NOVEMBER 2018

Honours IRELAND U20S (8 caps)

RORY O'LOUGHLIN - #1248

DOB 21 JANUARY1994

From DUBLIN

Height 1.88M (6’ 2”)

Weight 94KG (14st 6lbs)

Position CENTRE

Club OLD BELVEDERE RFC

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (1 cap)

CIARAN PARKER - #1288

DOB: 5 OCTOBER 1995

From: STOCKPORT, ENGLAND

Height: 1.88M (6’ 2”)

Weight: 120KG (18st 10lbs)

Position: PROP

Club: UNASSIGNED

Leinster Debut: 23 OCTOBER 2020

Honours: ENGLAND U20S

DAN LEAVY - #1231

DOB 23 MAY 1994

From DUBLIN

Height 1.91M (6’ 3”)

Weight 106KG (16st 9lbs)

Position FLANKER

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 31 OCTOBER 2014

Honours IRELAND (11 caps)

LUKE McGRATH - #1206

DOB 3 FEBRUARY 1993

From ONTARIO, CANADA

Height 1.75M (5’ 9”)

Weight 82KG (12st 12lbs)

Position SCRUM HALF

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 5 MAY 2012

Honours IRELAND (19 caps)

JOSH MURPHY - #1261

DOB 17 FEBRUARY 1995

From DUBLIN

Height 1.96M (6’ 5”)

Weight 110KG (17st 4lbs)

Position FLANKER

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 3 NOVEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND U20S (13 caps)

CONOR O'BRIEN - #1260

DOB 6 FEBRUARY 1996

From WESTMEATH

Height 1.90M (6’ 3”)

Weight 101KG (16st 0lbs)

Position CENTRE

Club CLONTARF FC

Leinster Debut 3 NOVEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND U20S (9 caps)

TOMMY O'BRIEN - #1283

DOB 28 MAY 1998

From DUBLIN

Height 1.83M (6’ 0”)

Weight 95KG (14st 3lbs)

Position CENTRE

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 20 DECEMBER 2019

Honours IRELAND U20S (15 caps)

HUGH O'SULLIVAN - #1270

DOB 24 FEBRUARY 1998

From MEATH

Height 1.79M (5’ 9”)

Weight 80KG (12st 8lbs)

Position SCRUM HALF

Club CLONTARF FC

Leinster Debut 15 SEPTEMBER 2018

Honours IRELAND U20S (10 caps)

SCOTT PENNY - #1271

DOB 22 SEPTEMBER 1999

From DUBLIN

Height 1.85M (6’ 0”)

Weight 103KG (16st 3lbs)

Position FLANKER

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 23 NOVEMBER 2018

Honours IRELAND U20S (5 caps)

From The Ground Up | 38 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


ANDREW PORTER - #1246

DOB 16 JANUARY 1996

Birthplace DUBLIN

Height 1.84M (6’ 1”)

Weight 114KG (17st 13lbs)

Position PROP

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2016

Honours IRELAND (30 caps)

RHYS RUDDOCK - #1167

DOB 13 NOVEMBER 1990

From DUBLIN

Height 1.91M (6’ 3”)

Weight 111KG (17st 6lbs)

Position BACK ROW

Club ST. MARY’S COLLEGE RFC

Leinster Debut 6 DECEMBER 2009

Honours IRELAND (26 caps)

JOHNNY SEXTON - #1127

DOB 11 JULY 1985

From DUBLIN

Height 1.88M (6’ 2”)

Weight 92KG (14st 6lbs)

Position OUTHALF

Club ST. MARY’S COLLEGE RFC

Leinster Debut 27 JANUARY 2006

Honours IRELAND (94 caps) AND BRITISH &

IRISH LIONS (14 caps)

DEVIN TONER - #1128

DOB 29 JUNE 1986

From MEATH

Height 2.08M (6’ 10”)

Weight 126KG (19st 11lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

Club LANSDOWNE FC

Leinster Debut 27 JANUARY 2006

Honours IRELAND (70 caps)

GARRY RINGROSE - #1237

DOB 26 JANUARY 1995

From DUBLIN

Height 1.87M (6’ 2”)

Weight 95KG (14st 11lbs)

Position CENTRE

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 12 SEPTEMBER 2015

Honours IRELAND (30 caps)

JAMES RYAN - #1259

DOB 24 JULY 1996

From DUBLIN

Height 2.04M (6’ 7”)

Weight 116KG (18st 3lbs)

Position SECOND ROW

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 2 SEPTEMBER 2017

Honours IRELAND (30 caps)

DAN SHEEHAN - #1286

DOB 17 SEPTEMBER 1998

From DUBLIN

Height 1.91 M (6’ 3”)

Weight 111KG (17st 5lbs)

Position HOOKER

Club DUBLIN UNIVERSITY FC

Leinster Debut 23 OCTOBER 2020

Honours IRELAND U20S (5 caps)

JAMES TRACY - #1211

DOB 2 APRIL 1991

From KILDARE

Height 1.85M (6’ 1”)

Weight 106KG (16st 9lbs)

Position HOOKER

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 4 NOVEMBER 2012

Honours IRELAND (6 caps)

JOSH VAN DER FLIER - #1228

DOB 25 APRIL 1993

From WICKLOW

Height 1.87M (6’ 2”)

Weight 102KG (16st 1lbs)

Position FLANKER

Club UCD RFC

Leinster Debut 11 OCTOBER 2014

Honours IRELAND (27 caps)

Coaching Staff

LEO CULLEN

HEAD COACH

STUART LANCASTER

SENIOR COACH

ROBIN MCBRYDE

ASSISTANT COACH

FELIPE CONTEPOMI

BACKS COACH

EMMET FARRELL

KICKING COACH AND

LEAD PERFORMANCE ANALYST

GUY EASTERBY

HEAD OF RUGBY OPERATIONS

HUGH HOGAN

CONTACT SKILLS COACH

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 39 | From The Ground Up


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Girls Youth Rugby

in the North-East

OVER THE LAST NUMBER OF YEARS, THE NUMBER

OF GIRLS PLAYING RUGBY HAS INCREASED

EXPONENTIALLY ACROSS LEINSTER AND NOWHERE

MORE SO THAN THE NORTH-EAST.

Navan, North Meath, Ardee,

Dundalk, Skerries, Ashbourne and

Balbriggan have been fielding

minis and youth teams over the

last number of seasons.

This season, Boyne have revived their

girls section and Leinster’s newest club,

Carlingford have just started recruiting

girls.

Navan RFC has a vibrant girls section,

starting at U-10s all the way up to U-18s.

This season, there are over 100 girls

making their presence felt on the pitches

of Balreask Old.

The girls compete at a good level and

are respected throughout Leinster as a

force to be reckoned with!

Each season Navan is well represented

on regional development teams. This

season there are three players, Aine

Nangle, Molly O’Brien and Jade

Gaffney, on the Leinster U-18 squad.

They are following in the footsteps of

Molly Fitzgerald and Leah Reilly who

have played underage for both Leinster

and Ireland.

Before them came Meaghan Kenny and

Maedbh Smyth, both playing for Leinster

U-18s. Navan has a long tradition of

developing top class female athletes.

North Meath RFC put the success of their

women’s section down to the hard work

of one person, Ben Traynor.

When Ben arrived as CCRO in the club

they had no girls section, it was through

his perseverance and dedication that they

have developed a thriving and vibrant

female presence in North Meath.

In the last few seasons, this success has

been most evident in the number of

players that have represented the club as

part of the North East U-18 Girls squad,

Leinster and, most recently, for Ireland.

This year they also introduced the first

training session exclusively for girls

(aged from six up to 14) from 12-1pm

on Sundays which has proven a great

success and hopefully will boost female

participation in the sport as well as the

club.

The ethos for girls rugby at Dundalk RFC

has been ‘Why Fit In When You Were

Born To Stand Out?’.

It is something that continues to be

promoted by the Dundalk RFC girls

coaching teams who encourage the

Dundalk girls to be the best they can be.

They have been superb role models

and ambassadors for the girls game as

a result of the belief instilled in them at

grass roots level.

Dundalk is another club with over 100

girls playing rugby thanks to the hard

work of Suzanne Flynn, Linda Valentine,

Dermot Lennon and countless others.

In 2019, Dundalk RFC U-18 Player

Ellie Meade was given the honour of

leading out the Leinster U-18 Girls at

interprovincial level.

She was joined by her Dundalk

teammates Caoimhe O’Callaghan

and Nina Hjalmers. Another Dundalk

teammate Sophie Kinghan lined out on

the Ulster wing.

O’Callaghan and Hjalmers were selected

for the Ireland U-18 Sevens Squad. Last

season they were also joined by another

Maria Smith who was selected for both

the interprovincial and international

squads.

The club’s commitment to the

development and promotion of the girls

game was such that an event to celebrate

the growth of girls rugby and their

From The Ground Up | 42 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


success on the pitch had been planned

for March 2020 however has yet to take

place due to Covid-19.

This was the first time a rugby club had

planned an event in celebration of the

contribution of their ladies while also

honouring the memory of those Dundalk

RFC ladies who had lost the fight against

breast cancer and to support those who

continued the battle by hosting ‘No High

Tackles Just High Heels’ to raise much

needed funds for the National Breast

Cancer Research Institute and the rugby

club while celebrating the girls.

It received the backing of both Leinster

Rugby and the IRFU.

Ashbourne RFC and Balbriggan RFC

joined forces two seasons ago to form

ABS. They are now fielding teams from

U-18 right down to U-8.

It’s always difficult combining two

clubs but hard work from coaches and

the management work from Emma

O’Kennedy made it a success.

The hard work did not go unnoticed

by the North-East Leinster and Metro

selectors. Several of the girls were

selected to represent the North-East panel

with Orla Hayes representing Metro.

Hannah Barton was selected for the

Leinster U-18 panel.

Orla‘s level of performance has been

recognised at the very highest level,

culminating in Orla signing a professional

contract with the IRFU. Orla will now

go on to represent Railway Union and

Ireland Ladies Sevens. An amazing

achievement!!

Aislinn Duffy and Tom Coleman are

doing sterling work at Skerries RFC.

Having started a few seasons ago with

minis, they have made full use of the

‘Give It A Try’ program and are now

fielding teams at U-16, U-14 and minis.

Ardee RFC is another up and coming

girls club with a strong U-16 team.

With Carlingford RFC and Boyne RFC

starting to develop teams, the future of

girls’ rugby in the North-East looks very

promising. Nothing like competition to

hone skills and I am sure we will have

more of the region’s girls representing

Leinster and Ireland in the near future.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 43 | From The Ground Up


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Rugby session with

Gaelscoil Moshíológ, Gorey

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 45 | From The Ground Up


Leinster Player Statistics

SQUAD

CAP

NO

DEBUT

2020/21 SEASON FOR LEINSTER LEINSTER CAREER

ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR

App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts

SINCE LAST TRY

CAPS

VAKH ABDALADZE 1263 2 DEC 17 - - - - - - - - - 0+11 1 5 0+11 1 5 - - - 10 -

RYAN BAIRD 1278 27 APR 19 1+2 1 5 1+2 1 5 - - - 4+9 4 20 4+8 4 20 0+1 - - 3 -

MICHAEL BENT 1212 1 DEC 12 6 2 10 6 2 10 - - - 85+61 6 30 81+39 6 30 4+22 - - 3 IR 4

ADAM BYRNE 1213 29 DEC 12 - - - - - - - - - 49+8 20 100 39+8 14 70 10 6 30 5 IR 1

ED BYRNE 1222 9 FEB 14 2 - - 2 - - - - - 16+43 8 40 16+34 7 35 0+9 1 5 6 IR 3

HARRY BYRNE 1280 28 SEP 19 4+1 - 36 4+1 - 36 - - - 7+8 3 94 7+8 3 94 - - - 6 -

ROSS BYRNE 1236 4 SEP 15 1+1 - 21 1+1 - 21 - - - 59+32 5 539 50+17 2 415 9+15 3 124 12 IR 8

TOM CLARKSON 1285 29 AUG 20 0+2 - - 0+2 - - - - - 0+3 - - 0+3 - - - - - - -

JACK CONAN 1223 20 FEB 14 2 - - 2 - - - - - 74+21 21 105 55+11 14 70 19+10 7 35 12 IR 17

WILL CONNORS 1264 9 FEB 18 1 - - 1 - - - - - 16+5 2 10 15+5 2 10 1 - - 8 IR 3

SEAN CRONIN 1202 28 OCT 11 0+2 - - 0+2 - - - - - 115+72 41 205 71+51 24 120 43+19 16 80 11 IR 72

MAX DEEGAN 1256 3 DEC 16 0+1 - - 0+1 - - - - - 35+30 18 90 32+22 16 80 3+8 2 10 7 IR 1

PETER DOOLEY 1230 31 OCT 14 3+1 2 10 3+1 2 10 - - - 31+49 4 20 30+44 4 20 1+5 - - 1 -

CAELAN DORIS 1268 28 APR 18 1 - - 1 - - - - - 26+8 5 25 21+6 3 15 5+2 2 10 3 IR 5

JACK DUNNE 1276 16 FEB 19 0+2 - - 0+2 - - - - - 1+8 - - 1+8 - - - - - - -

SCOTT FARDY 1257 2 SEP 17 3+2 - - 3+2 - - - - - 53+13 10 50 39+8 6 30 14+5 4 20 9 AU 39

CIARAN FRAWLEY 1265 17 FEB 18 3 - 10 3 - 10 - - - 12+17 3 134 12+14 3 128 0+3 - 6 10 -

TADHG FURLONG 1220 1 NOV 13 - - - - - - - - - 69+39 7 35 40+31 3 15 29+8 4 20 4 IR 44

JAMISON GIBSON-PARK 1247 2 SEP 16 2 - - 2 - - - - - 46+49 16 80 42+26 14 70 4+23 2 10 23 IR 3

DAVID HAWKSHAW 1290 2 NOV 20 0+3 - - 0+3 - - - - - 0+3 - - 0+3 - - - - - - -

CIAN HEALY 1142 5 MAY 07 0+2 - - 0+2 - - - - - 148+74 25 125 85+48 12 60 61+25 12 60 6 IR 101

ROBBIE HENSHAW 1251 8 OCT 16 1 - - 1 - - - - - 48+1 9 45 21 3 15 27+1 6 30 3 IR 46

DAVE KEARNEY 1158 16 MAY 09 4 3 15 4 3 15 - - - 132+21 44 220 108+15 39 195 23+5 5 25 1 IR 19

HUGO KEENAN 1253 5 NOV 16 2 - - 2 - - - - - 17+3 1 5 16+3 1 5 1 - - 17 IR 3

CIAN KELLEHER 1234 16 MAY 15 3 3 15 3 3 15 - - - 9+9 8 40 9+9 8 40 - - - 1 -

RONAN KELLEHER 1277 22 FEB 19 1 - - 1 - - - - - 14+2 9 45 11+1 8 40 3+1 1 5 4 IR 4

JORDAN LARMOUR 1258 2 SEP 17 2 1 5 2 1 5 - - - 44+8 14 70 25+5 11 55 19+3 3 15 2 IR 24

DAN LEAVY 1231 31 OCT 14 1+3 1 5 1+3 1 5 - - - 40+27 15 75 32+19 12 60 8+8 3 15 1 IR 11

JAMES LOWE 1262 2 DEC 17 2 3 15 2 3 15 - - - 49 33 165 33 25 125 16 8 40 1 IR 1

LUKE MCGRATH 1206 5 MAY 12 4+2 3 15 4+2 3 15 - - - 87+46 34 170 57+41 26 130 30+5 8 40 1 IR 19

MICHAEL MILNE 1279 28 SEP 19 1+3 - - 1+3 - - - - - 1+12 2 10 1+12 2 10 - - - 11 -

ROSS MOLONY 1233 20 FEB 15 3+2 - - 3+2 - - - - - 55+46 3 15 53+33 3 15 2+13 - - 63 -

JOSH MURPHY 1261 3 NOV 17 3+1 1 5 3+1 1 5 - - - 31+6 3 15 31+5 3 15 0+1 - - 4 -

ROWAN OSBORNE 1281 4 OCT 19 - - - - - - - - - 1+4 1 5 1+4 1 5 - - - 4 -

From The Ground Up | 46 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


SQUAD

CAP

NO

DEBUT

2020/21 SEASON FOR LEINSTER LEINSTER CAREER

ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR

App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts App Try Pts

SINCE LAST TRY

CAPS

CONOR O'BRIEN 1260 3 NOV 17 - - - - - - - - - 16+7 6 30 16+6 6 30 0+1 - - 9 -

JIMMY O'BRIEN 1272 23 NOV 18 4+1 1 5 4+1 1 5 - - - 15+8 4 20 15+8 4 20 - - - 3 -

TOMMY O'BRIEN 1283 20 DEC 19 3+1 2 10 3+1 2 10 - - - 4+3 3 15 4+3 3 15 - - - 3 -

RORY O'LOUGHLIN 1248 2 SEP 16 2 - - 2 - - - - - 53+20 21 105 47+13 18 90 6+7 3 15 16 IR 1

HUGH O'SULLIVAN 1270 15 SEP 18 0+4 - - 0+4 - - - - - 2+22 1 5 2+20 1 5 0+2 - - 8 -

CIARAN PARKER 1289 23 OCT 20 0+3 1 5 0+3 1 5 - - - 0+3 1 5 0+3 1 5 - - - 3 -

SCOTT PENNY 1271 23 NOV 18 4 3 15 4 3 15 - - - 14+4 9 45 14+4 9 45 - - - 2 -

ANDREW PORTER 1246 2 SEP 16 0+1 - - 0+1 - - - - - 22+45 10 50 18+29 7 35 4+16 3 15 2 IR 29

GARRY RINGROSE 1237 12 SEP 15 2 1 7 2 1 7 - - - 76+2 26 132 46+1 15 77 30+1 11 55 2 IR 30

RHYS RUDDOCK 1167 6 DEC 09 5+1 - - 5+1 - - - - - 134+45 10 50 101+31 8 40 32+12 2 10 10 IR 26

JAMES RYAN 1259 2 SEP 17 2 1 5 2 1 5 - - - 36+5 3 15 16+1 1 5 20+4 2 10 1 IR 29

JOHNNY SEXTON 1127 27 JAN 06 1 - 2 1 - 2 - - - 144+24 26 1497 84+18 13 825 58+6 12 641 8 IR 94

DAN SHEEHAN 1286 23 OCT 20 1+3 2 10 1+3 2 10 - - - 1+3 2 10 1+3 2 10 - - - 4 -

MICHAEL SILVESTER 1288 23 OCT 20 0+1 - - 0+1 - - - - - 0+1 - - 0+1 - - - - - - -

DEVIN TONER 1128 27 JAN 06 3+1 - - 3+1 - - - - - 198+55 4 20 135+37 4 20 60+18 - - 36 IR 70

JAMES TRACY 1211 4 NOV 12 4+1 2 10 4+1 2 10 - - - 50+65 10 50 44+40 9 45 6+25 1 5 2 IR 6

LIAM TURNER 1287 23 OCT 20 2+1 - - 2+1 - - - - - 2+1 - - 2+1 - - - - - - -

JOSH VAN DER FLIER 1228 11 OCT 14 1 - - 1 - - - - - 65+20 9 45 39+14 6 30 26+6 3 15 7 IR 27

2020/21 SEASON FOR LEINSTER LEINSTER CAREER

ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR ALL GAMES PRO14 EPCR OVERALL

KICKING

SUCCESS

RATE

C PG DG C PG DG C PG DG C PG DG C PG DG C PG DG ATT Career

%

- - - - - - - - - - HARRY BYRNE 85.00% 15 2 15 2 35 3 35 3 49 77.55%

ROSS BYRNE 100.00% 6 3 - 6 3 - - - - 167 59 1 132 46 1 35 13 - 299 75.59%

CIARAN FRAWLEY 62.50% 5 - - 5 - - - - - 49 7 - 46 7 - 3 - - 69 81.16%

GARRY RINGROSE 100.00% 1 - - 1 - - - - - 1 - - 1 - - - - - 1 100.00%

JOHNNY SEXTON 100.00% 1 - - 1 - - - - - 232 290 11 119 167 7 106 119 4 653 79.94%

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 47 | From The Ground Up


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congratulations o

From The Ground Up | 50 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


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#1286

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#1289

n your leinster rugby debuts

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 51 | From The Ground Up


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Monday evening just gone saw us welcome Edinburgh to

the RDS Arena and this time we extend a warm welcome

to the management, staff and players of Cardiff Blues.

The season is well and truly underway

now and although supporters are still

distant from being able to be there in

person and support, there was some

positive news on Monday afternoon with

the confirmation of dates and kick-off

times for Rounds 9-11 of the Guinness

PRO14, and once again there are some

mouth-watering fixtures taking place over

the festive period.

Last season, we were scheduled to

welcome Cardiff to the RDS Arena on

May 15, however, due to Covid-19, this

game was postponed and so we must

travel back to the 2018/19 season for

the last time we faced off against the

Blues.

That season saw us record victory on a

score-line of 33-32 in front of a crowd of

9,284 in Cardiff Arms Park. That meeting

was a clash between ourselves as the

reigning Champions Cup champions

and the Blues who were the reigning

Challenge Cup champions and things

certainly didn’t disappoint on the day as

they played out an eight-try cracker.

Cardiff were on the verge of an opening

round victory before a late surge from

replacements Jamison Gibson-Park and a

double from Bryan Byrne were enough to

take the spoils.

Byrne’s final try came at the end of 24

phases of play and was quickly followed

up with the conversion from Player of the

Match Ross Byrne seeing us take the lead

for only the second time in the game.

That victory against the Welsh ensured

our unbeaten run against them has

remained in place since 2011 and no

doubt Leo Cullen and Co will be looking

for more of the same this evening.

Cardiff currently sit second in Conference

B (at the time of writing) and their current

form for this campaign reads WWLLLW.

So, after a somewhat up and down start

to the season, they’re coming here on the

back of a 22-5 win over Benetton.

Cardiff’s other two victories at the start

of the season saw them record victories

away to Zebre and at home to Connacht

so they know the requirements to go to

tough away grounds and secure victory.

There will be no doubt in their minds

however of the mammoth task being

asked with this fixture given our recent run

of form in the RDS and Monday night’s

demolition of Edinburgh where we scored

eight tries including a hat-trick from Cian

Kelleher, two from Luke McGrath and

one from POTM Dan Leavy, who was

unfortunate to have been held up in his

first attempt earlier in the evening so this

was a lovely reward for all of his efforts

in getting back into the squad and the

match-day 23 after a very long lay-off.

Leinster

QUICK STATS

Cardiff

243 POINTS SCORED 101

34 TRIES SCORED 12

2,975 METRES GAINED 1,618

74 POINTS CONCEDED 85

10 TRIES CONCEDED 10

888 TACKLES MADE 990

90% TACKLE SUCCESS 92%

All of the OLSC committee are mindful

of the fact that we are all still unable

to attend games for the most part and

therefore by putting together some

material for you to peruse over, we hope

it keeps you in the rugby frame of mind as

the season slowly but surely rolls along.

As always we’re thankful for the support

we get from Leinster Rugby as a whole

as well as yourselves and we encourage

you to continue to show your support for

the team through social media and the

posts on our pages.

For now though as always, stay safe!

Yours in Rugby,

OLSC Committee

From The Ground Up | 54 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


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ONE FROM

The Vaults

Leinster Rugby 37 Cardiff Blues 9

8 September 2017 | RDS Arena | Ref: Andy Brace | Attendance: 13,535

Cardiff Blues were well in this contest

for over an hour, trailing 16-9 before

Leinster replacements Sean Cronin,

Barry Daly and Nick McCarthy scored

three tries in the final 13 minutes

to give a lopsided look to the final

scoreline.

Lynchpin lock Devin Toner made his 200th

appearance for his native province, but a Steve

Shingler penalty brace – coupled with the sinbinning

of captain Isa Nacewa – raised hopes

of an upset.

However, a strong finish to a slow-burning first

half saw Leinster nudge their way into a 10-6

lead, the influential Ross Byrne converting

hooker James Tracy’s 32nd-minute try and

landing a late penalty.

Although out-halves Shingler and Byrne

swapped further penalties on the resumption,

Cardiff were held scoreless for the remainder

as Leinster’s greater firepower wore the Blues

into submission.

Picking up 10 championship points in an early

season Welsh double – they also put 37 points

on the Dragons in the first round – will boost

confidence levels in Leo Cullen’s squad ahead

of their two-match tour of South Africa which

begins next week.

They had nothing to show for a dominant start

against Cardiff, who were looking to bounce

back from a 20-10 home loss to Edinburgh.

Winger Adam Byrne was crowded out in the

right corner early on.

Ross Byrne, who ended the night with 17

points, pushed a penalty wide after Cardiff

tighthead Keiron Assiratti infringed at scrum

time, but good pressure in defence saw the

Blues frustrate the hosts.

A well-timed run from Alex Cuthbert set up

Shingler’s lead score on the quarter hour

mark, and as Leinster launched a kick chase,

the sidestepping Cuthbert was caught high by

Nacewa for a 21st-minute yellow card.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney

(Barry Daly h-t); Adam

Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Isa

Nacewa, Jordan Larmour;

Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath

(Nick McCarthy 68); Cian

Healy (Ed Byrne 51), James

Tracy (Seán Cronin 51),

Michael Bent (Andrew Porter

51); Devin Toner, Scott Fardy

(Mick Kearney 72); Rhys

Ruddock (Dan Leavy 57

(Cathal Marsh 77)), Josh van

der Flier, Jack Conan.

CARDIFF BLUES: Rhun

Williams (Matthew Morgan

68); Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-

Lo, Garyn Smith, Tom James;

Steve Shingler (Jarrod Evans

69), Lloyd Williams (Tomos

Williams 69); Rhys Gill

(Corey Domachowski 56),

Matthew Rees (Kirby Myhill

60), Keiron Assiratti (Dillon

Lewis 56); Seb Davies,

Damian Welch (James Down

63); Macauley Cook (Sian

Bennett 74), Josh Navidi,

Josh Turnbull.

Cardiff doubled their lead through Shingler

after Rhys Gill forced a 27th-minute scrum

penalty. Crucially, error-prone Leinster found

their rhythm as half-time approached. A Rory

O’Loughlin line-break lifted them, Ross Byrne

fired a penalty into the corner and a wellexecuted

maul saw Tracy crash over for Byrne

to convert.

With man-of-the-match Jack Conan and Cian

Healy growing in influence as ball carriers,

skipper Nacewa was tackled off the ball by

Josh Navidi and the three points were added

by Byrne for a 10-6 advantage.

Navidi’s breakdown skills enabled Shingler

to respond within a minute of the restart, but

Byrne rewarded the Leinster scrum with a

three-pointer soon after – his 44th-minute kick

incredibly striking both posts before going over.

The newly-introduced Daly then threatened

from a Jordan Larmour kick through and as

Cardiff gave away ground in defence, Byrne

was successful with the second of two penalty

attempts, splitting the posts from just inside the

visitors’ half.

Leinster had been on the cusp of a try but Josh

Turnbull repelled them with some excellent

work at the breakdown. Unfortunately for

Danny Wilson’s men, the home side saved the

From The Ground Up | 58 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


est for last as a seven-point gap was ruthlessly

turned into 28.

Scott Fardy’s impact at a ruck forced Cardiff to

spill possession and Cronin reacted quickest,

scooting clear from 40 metres out for an

opportunist 67th-minute try. Byrne converted

and it was his cross-field kick that the leaping

Daly athletically reached above Matthew

Morgan, juggling it before dotting down with

seven minutes remaining.

With the bonus point in sight, lovely hands from

Toner, Andrew Porter and Nacewa put Conan

into space. His intended pass was flicked

back by Josh van der Flier for the supporting

McCarthy to scramble over in impressive

fashion for his first Leinster try. Byrne tagged on

his fourth successful conversion before resilient

Cardiff were even denied a late consolation try

by the tireless van der Flier.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 59 | From The Ground Up


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“WE HAD SOME REALLY

GREAT DAYS BACK

THEN. WE PROBABLY

CELEBRATED THE BIG

WINS MORE THAN WE

SHOULD HAVE…”

From The Ground Up | 62 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


Where are

they now?

By Des Berry

John

McWeeney

THEN: JOHN MADE HIS DEBUT AGAINST CONNACHT

IN AUGUST 1997, EVENTUALLY WINNING 66 CAPS FOR

LEINSTER OVER EIGHT SEASONS, AND PLAYING ONCE FOR

IRELAND, FROM 1997 TO 2005.

NOW: NOW 44, JOHN LIVES IN TERENURE WITH HIS

WIFE AVRIL AND THEIR TWO CHILDREN, OLIVIA (8) AND

ALEXANDER (5) AND WORKS AS HEAD OF THE PRIVATE

CLIENT LENDING TEAM AT INVESTEC.

It was the summer of 1997.

Old school buddies escaped the city

for Brittas Bay where all subjects were

up for discussion. Daragh Coleman,

Stephen Molloy, Karl Jennings and John

McWeeney taking it in turn to slag off

Denis Hickie about the possibility of

facing Jonah Lomu in the Autumn.

By the time November 15 came around,

Hickie would have to deal with Glen

Osborne and McWeeney was on the

other flank coping with Jeff Wilson in

what turned into a 63-15 smashing at

Lansdowne Road.

It was a whirlwind time in the life of

21-year-old McWeeney for he had made

the outrageous climb from debuting in the

All-Ireland League in March to facing the

world’s best in eight months.

“What happened was I played my

first senior AIL game for St Mary’s in

1997, scoring six tries in six matches.

This prompted a call from Leinster

Manager Jim Glennon and the offer of a

development contract.

“At that time, Mike Ruddock had just

come in and there was the semblance of

a professional set-up. I spent that summer

as a professional for the first time. I had

never lifted a weight, never been to a

gym to workout properly.

“I was enthusiastic and kept my head

down and I think Mike liked my rawness

as a big wing. This led to my debut

against Connacht in Donnybrook. I went

straight from there into Europe where I

played against Toulouse for my Heineken

Cup debut and then we beat Leicester in

Donnybrook which was a phenomenal

achievement at the time.

“I will never forget that match against

Leicester. No one gave us a chance. They

were a force at the time and they had all

those big English names. That win stands

out from my time at Leinster.

“I had a really good game on the

wing and, somehow, found myself in

the Ireland squad a few weeks later.

From March to September, everything

happened so fast.”

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 63 | From The Ground Up


Ireland coach Brian Ashton, eager to

stamp his authority, handed out five new

caps and the reward may have come too

soon against the ruthless All Blacks.

“There was a series of events that led

to my call up to be considered. It was

all surreal, even at training camp. Sure,

Denis Hickie was a school friend. But,

you were also standing beside Nick

Popplewell and Keith Wood, two players

you watched as a kid in short pants. It

was the strange mix of people you knew

well with legends of the game.

“As a 21-year-old, you were just taking it

all in, not realising it wouldn’t last forever.

I would never change anything about it

now. I’m glad it happened. I look back

on it with great memories, even though it

was a difficult day at Lansdowne Road.”

It would be the first and last time

McWeeney would play for his country.

Ultimately, he returned to Leinster where

he won 66 caps, playing for eight

seasons.

“I was there or thereabouts. I was

consistently playing for Leinster and for

Ireland ‘A’. I felt there was a possibility

for more international caps until around

2000 when I got a bad shoulder injury to

miss a large portion of my third season.”

At that stage, Gordon D’Arcy and Shane

Horgan came on the scene and began

to establish themselves. Matt Williams

came in and made positive changes.

But, from that point on, there were two

tiers at Leinster. He had a set of players

delivering for him and he stayed with

them.

The breakthrough just wouldn’t come for

Leinster.

“We had some really great days back

then. We probably celebrated the big

wins more than we should have,” said

McWeeney.

“From 2001, I wasn’t always involved

in the big games. The memories came

down to great personal performances. I

remember one in particular against the

Scarlets in Donnybrook when everything

went just right for me.”

To this day, Dave Quinlan, Peter Coyle,

Aidan McCullen, D’Arcy, Malcolm

O’Kelly and Liam Toland are the men

From The Ground Up | 64 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


McWeeney remains closest to after his

playing days.

“When you are in that rugby

environment, the true test of friendship is

when you are still making an effort to stay

in touch 15 years later.

Unlike so many others, McWeeney

stepped away from the game at a

relatively young age (29) to begin his

second career.

“I had considered moving abroad and

there were a few opportunities that, in the

end, I didn’t really explore. In my head, I

just needed a new challenge.

“So I requested not to be considered

for a contract renewal. I almost needed

to go and do something else and that

something else turned out to be financial

services.

“I felt the drive to get involved in that then

rather than chase a lifestyle and a dream

for another few years. I would be a better

proposition as a hire and it would stand

to me career-wise to get out there and

then.”

John has lived in Terenure for 20 years

and is married to Avril with their two

children, Olivia (8) and Alexander (5).

He has no regrets about the decision to

leave professional rugby.

“I feel I would have side-stepped into

rugby at the start. It was never my plan to

play professional rugby,” he shared.

“I was in college when this came upon

me and when the chance came around,

it was a case of ‘why wouldn’t you take

it on?’ I had always anticipated moving

into financial services and that is where

I am.

He is Head of the Private Client Lending

team at Investec and has been able

to take much of what he learned and

observed in rugby into the mainstream

workplace.

“I retired 15 years ago. It seems like a

lifetime away. I am still proud to have

been involved in the organisation. It

is nice, even now, that people will still

remember that.

“The key for me, in terms of what I

learned is that you should always

communicate well with the people you

work with. Be honest with them. In rugby

sometimes, coaches weren’t as honest as

they could be. They were trying to keep

everyone happy rather than give them

the truth.

“If I look back at my time in rugby, and

what Leinster transformed into, the core of

the team I left turned into the best team in

Europe by the end of the decade. When

I was there, we didn’t have that belief or

that winning mindset that was needed.

“It was great for me to see Leinster

evolve, knowing that I had been part of it

at a time when it wasn’t working as well

as it should. There wasn’t a huge amount

needed to move something from being

average to exceptional.

“That is why in my working environment

I try to ensure the mindset is right. If you

are not striving to be better, you will never

achieve what you should. If you take that

lesson into anything you do, you realise

the only difference is yourself and what

you bring to it.”

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 65 | From The Ground Up


I STARTED OUT MY REFEREEING CAREER IN 2001 AND AS I MOVED THROUGH THE

RANKS AT A STEADY PACE, A YOUNG SEAN GALLAGHER JOINED A FEW YEARS LATER

AND SHOT BY ME. ONE OF IRELAND AND LEINSTER’S FINEST REFEREES, I CAUGHT

UP WITH HIM LAST WEEK, IN BETWEEN GUINNESS PRO14 GAMES, TO TRY AND

UNDERSTAND WHERE MY CAREER TOOK A WRONG TURN AND TO SEE HOW HE IS

GETTING ON IN HIS ROLE AS A FULL-TIME PROFESSIONAL REFEREE IN THE IRFU…

Sean Gallagher Q&A

Sean, how long are you refereeing now

and what made you decide to take up

the whistle all those years ago?

I started refereeing in October 2005.

I returned to Navan Rugby Club one

afternoon, having played a match

against Bective Rangers in Donnybrook.

The Thirds were due to play a match

against County Carlow but received a

call to say the referee’s car had broken

down and he couldn’t make it.

BY DAN WALLACE

The coaches were trying to find a

replacement referee and I reluctantly

agreed to take up the whistle. I really

enjoyed the experience and some of the

senior referees in the club persuaded me

to give it a go that season. I’m still at it

almost 16 years on!

What is your day to day role in the IRFU

as a full-time professional referee?

I work as a High Performance Referee in

the IRFU. There are four others in Ireland

– Andy Brace, George Clancy, Joy

Neville and Frank Murphy. We represent

the IRFU in professional game matches

across the world – including World

Rugby, EPCR and PRO14 competitions.

I’m also the Referee Development

Manager in Leinster Rugby and work to

educate and develop the 200 domestic

game referees in the province.

What does your average day look like?

I get up early and train in the IRFU High

Performance Centre in Abbotstown.

After that it depends on the day of the

week. Monday and Tuesday involves

reviewing the matches from the previous

weekend. Wednesday is our rest day.

Thursday is spent preparing for the

upcoming matches that weekend. Friday,

Saturday and Sunday includes travel and

matchday. I spend three or four hours

each day working with the Leinster Rugby

Referees in my Referee Development

Manager role.

What is your training regime like and

how does this fit around your working

day?

We’re fortunate that training is built into

our working day – and it’s one of the

most important parts of our role. The

game is faster now than ever. There’s

more to it than looking physically

fit – referees need to make accurate

decisions, in high pressure situations,

under fatigue. The IRFU provides us

with access to strength and conditioning

coaches who monitor our fitness. I do two

strength sessions in the gym, one speed

session on the pitch and a high intensity

running session each week.

How has turning to a full-time role

changed your refereeing?

I was a secondary school teacher prior

to becoming a professional referee. I

wouldn’t say my approach to refereeing

has changed but being able to focus

solely on refereeing makes a huge

difference. I’m now able to spend more

time preparing and reviewing matches

From The Ground Up | 66 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


it is the teamwork involved. During the

week, the professional referees work with

Dudley Phillips (IRFU Head of Referees)

and Johnny Lacey (IRFU Referee Coach)

to review our performances to ensure

we’re always improving. Then at the

weekend we work together as a team of

four to referee the match – if we’re not

in the middle ourselves we’re supporting

each other as assistant referees and

television match officials. There’s a huge

element of teamwork involved.

What is the most memorable game you

have refereed so far?

Finally, what will make one improve as

a referee?

There are two simple ways to improve as

a referee. Firstly, watch our top referees

in the professional game and see what

they are doing. Look at their positioning,

movement and communication, as well

as their technical decision making.

Secondly, get out on the pitch and

referee as many games as possible. The

best way to learn is through experience.

Sean’s advice to anyone thinking about

taking up the whistle – Give it a go.

which results in stronger performances on

the pitch.

What kind of analysis do you do after

games?

We can download the game immediately

after the final whistle. I would normally

leave it until Monday and go through

the match with a fresh set of eyes. My

coach is Johnny Lacey and we complete

a detailed review in the afternoon to get

his perspective.

Tuesday is usually group review day

where all of the professional referees

get together to do a wider analysis

of all the games that took place the

previous weekend. I’m a firm believer that

preparation is key – and always ensure

that I’m fully prepared for matches which

should mean you’ll have less to review

the following week.

What is your favourite thing about

refereeing?

This might seem like a strange answer

because refereeing is probably seen as

a solitary job – but my favourite part of

It’s difficult to pick one because a lot of

games stand out. I refereed the Leinster

Senior Schools Cup Final in 2013

between Blackrock and St Michael’s. I’m

often reminded of that game because a

lot of the players from that match play

for professional teams now – the likes

of Garry Ringrose, Jeremy Loughman,

Nick Timoney, Oliver Jager, Cian

Kelleher, Ross Byrne, Nick Mc Carthy,

Ross Molony, James Ryan and Josh

Murphy. It’s great to say you refereed

those talented players when they were

younger.

What is your pre – match routine like

and should all referees have a defined

routine ?

You need to do whatever prepares you

mentally and physically for the game and

that differs for each referee. I like to be

in the stadium 90 minutes before kick-off.

I meet the teams and get any formalities

out of the way early. I then go back to

the changing room, put on some music,

and stretch for a while. It’s important

to do some movement and speed work

on the pitch too. Then it’s back to the

changing room for the broadcaster to put

the communications equipment on and

you’re ready to go.

Want to get involved?

Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby

Referees at hayley.whyte@leinsterrugby.ie.

If you are interested in becoming a referee get in

contact with us through our Facebook and Google +

pages, our website www.arlb.ie or through twitter

@leinsterreferee.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 67 | From The Ground Up


Back to where it all began

Craig Ronaldson

HAVING STARTED HIS PATH THROUGH RUGBY AT NAAS RFC,

CRAIG RONALDSON LEFT AS A 12-YEAR-OLD TO ATTEND

KILKENNY COLLEGE, THEN TRAVELLED TO LANSDOWNE RFC

AND CONNACHT RUGBY BEFORE RETURNING TO NAAS

THIS SEASON AS PLAYER-COACH.

It was always an ambition to

return and give back to the club

that gave me so much starting off

my rugby career. This season was

when the timing felt right to come

full circle and re-join Naas as a

player-coach.

There have been great foundations built

in the club over the last few years and,

with some new structures being put in

place with the likes of Johne Murphy

returning as Head Coach and local

legend Andy Kearney stepping up as

well, it felt like the right time to be able to

help out on and off the pitch to push the

club further along with an enthusiastic

and motivated bunch of players both

young and old!

Earliest memories: It all began running

and kicking a ball around on the pitch

with the likes of Peter Osborne, who

is the current club captain, and Cillian

Dempsey, another senior squad member,

after having watched the seniors play.

One of the early memories was being a

mascot for the Senior team at the Towns

Cup Final in 1995. My dad played on

that team who became the first side from

Naas to win the Provincial Towns Cup.

where we met many new sides around

Leinster.

I recall the "Joe Moran Festival" at Naas,

where U-11s from all four provinces came

to have a great day’s rugby. In my final

year of mini rugby, I joined my team for

the club's annual four-day Easter trip to

our twin club, St David's, near Fishguard

in Wales.

This was to be our final outing together

as a team before almost half of the squad

went on to "rugby schools" and would

therefore no longer be available to the

club.

Family History: The Ronaldson family has

been immersed in the activity of the club

for many years. My Grandad, Eric, was

Chairman from 1984 to 1989 and later a

Trustee of the club.

My Dad, Tim, had a long playing

career with the club, captaining them on

numerous occasions. Tim played for the

Leinster Juniors from 1989-1991 winning

Many a weekend growing up revolved

around our Saturday morning trainings

or travelling to and from games at Naas

and in the North Midlands Area.

Travelling with my brothers, Mark (who

later played senior rugby with Naas)

and Hugh became a ritual in our house.

In addition, I enjoyed the days out at the

Kettle (U-10) and O'Daly Cups (U-12)

Images: © YazzCoylePhotography

From The Ground Up | 68 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


12 caps, captaining the team to a triple

crown of victories.

Tim is now a Trustee of the club and while

he and my mum, Jackie, made an effort

to be at most of my games all around the

country, Dad would also be checking

in on how Naas were doing. While not

able to get to all the senior games as he

was supporting me, he could be found

supporting youths, U-20s and other

teams at Forenaughts.

From the time when I went to Kilkenny

College and then on to Lansdowne and

into the professional game, Naas were

always very supportive.

Messages of encouragement would

always come through from the club and

the people involved even acknowledging

the achievement of representing the Irish

Clubs while I was playing for Lansdowne.

Seeing the Naas scarf/beanie at

the Sportsground always offered

encouragement and showed the

continued support from the club. It has

been great to see a few other guys

in the current Naas senior squad

represent the Ireland Clubs team over

the last few years highlighting the

local talent. Naas has also been very

proud of all the local guys and girls

who have gone onto represent the

underage Area Squads, the provinces

and onto higher honours with the likes of

Adam Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien and James

Tracy in the current Leinster set up with

many others involved in other provinces

and the professional game.

It is also great to see two more local

lads, Marcus Kiely and Jamie

Osborne involved with the

Leinster sub-Academy and

playing for Naas.

As a member of the coaching team

at Naas, we look to help them

improve their games and remain

involved with the club going forward

where guys and girls feel that by playing

for Naas they will be in a good position

to take their game to the next level.

The professional game has given me

great insight and many learnings that I

look forward to sharing back at the club

where it all started.

During the current Covid-19 restrictions,

the senior coaches have been assisting

in player development with youth and

mini squads. We look forward to the

continued development of these players,

ultimately feeding into the U-20 and adult

game. The commitment is there among

the coaches and the players, all of which

should result in positive developments for

the club in years to come.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 69 | From The Ground Up


TO MAXIMISE YOUR SPORTS AND EXERCISE

PERFORMANCE THROUGH NUTRITION

Optimum Nutrition and Leinster Rugby have partnered to help share good nutrition tips throughout

the season to help you achieve your performance goals. Here are some simple tips and things to

remember to help maximise your performance and help you recover quickly to come back stronger.

Protein Rich.

Protein provides your muscles with

the building blocks to repair & grow.

Carb-Up.

Carbohydrate foods are king as they

power high intensity play.

Fuel-Up.

Consume the majority of your

carbohydrates around training to

support fuelling and recovery.

Recover.

Quality rest & nutrition between

training sessions is the key to

recovery. Remember to:

Repair with protein,

Refuel with carbohydrate,

Rehydrate with fluid.

Hydrate.

Dehydration can lead to a drop in

exercise intensity & can impact your

decision making. Drink 2-3 litres of

fluid each day to ensure hydration.

Game Day.

To fuel performance on the field,

consume a large carbohydrate rich

meal 2-3 hours before kick-off, i.e.

chicken & pasta, turkey bolognaise

wraps.

Get 20% off all Optimum Nutrition products

using code Leinster20 on optimumnutrition.ie


Knowing what advice to take

is essential in this game.

beauchamps.ie

OFFICIAL LEGAL ADVISOR

Contact: John White, Managing Partner +353 (0)1 4186000 | j.white@beauchamps.ie


LEINSTER RUGBY CHARITY AFFILIATE

Women's Aid

For victims of domestic abuse, the

Covid-19 emergency brought new

risks but also opened our eyes to

the dangers faced by thousands

of women and families across

Ireland. As we began the 16 Days

of Action campaign for 2020, we

highlight how we are responding

to victims during the lockdown and

hope to reduce levels of violence

and abuse by engaging with

young people. Sarah Benson, CEO

of Women’s Aid writes:

Within a few short months Covid-19 has

had a huge impact on Irish society. We

are rallying together to minimise risk

and harm to the most vulnerable in our

societies. But what about those for whom

Covid-19 is not the primary risk they face;

for whom the home they have been asked

to retreat to is not a safe one? As society

tries to adjust to a ‘new normal’, somehow

living with Covid-19, we must not forget

those subjected to domestic abuse,

including in younger relationships. Fear,

coercion and violence are used daily as

weapons against thousands of women in

intimate relationships to hurt and control

them.

The Tip of the Iceberg

In 2019, there were 20,763 contacts

made with our services during which

19,258 disclosures of domestic violence

against women were made and 4,791

disclosures of abuse against children.

Women disclosed being beaten,

strangled, burned, raped. They and their

children’s lives were threatened. They told

us about being denied access to the family

income to feed and clothe themselves

and their children and being stalked and

humiliated online.

When the pandemic hit, we worriedly

watched as the rates of domestic violence

soared across the globe. In Ireland, we

saw a 43% increase in calls between the

Sarah Benson

end of March and the end of June to the

24hr National Freephone Helpline.

Trapped with abusers and denied outlets

that may have brought them support

and solace in the face of abuse before,

women were coming up with ingenious

ways to get in touch with us. Women

called from their car, from the garden

shed, from the bathroom with the shower

running. We also saw a 71% increase in

visits to the Women’s Aid website for this

period where information and resources

are available to victims, survivors and

their allies. It is also where our Instant

Messaging Support Service can be

accessed. We know our figures are just

the tip of the iceberg with many victims

unable to reach out for help.

Working on the frontline

during Covid-19

In the midst of this challenge, where the

cracks of Ireland’s response to domestic

abuse were starkly revealed, there was

also hope and positivity.

Our own staff and volunteer team

adapted quickly and flexibly, and came

together to rally for Women’s Aid, for

which I am incredibly thankful. This has

also been a period of partnership and

innovation particularly with, and by, our

colleagues in Safe Ireland, our fellow

specialist domestic and sexual violence

services, and others who have come

together to amplify the voices of victims

and survivors; to propose solutions to ease

their situation and to engage with statutory

services, agencies and government to

progress more effective responses.

We have been part of Government

campaigns delivered in partnership with

specialist services including the Men’s

Development Network who provide

Freephone support to male victims. We’ve

seen proactive Garda operations to

prioritise the domestic abuse response.

There have been initiatives in social

protection and with private businesses to

make access to resources, and protection

From The Ground Up | 72 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


more accessible. There has been an

outpouring of community concern,

generosity and creativity to assist services

and to raise public awareness of these

heinous, and preventable, crimes.

16 Days of Action and

Intimate Relationship

Abuse against Young

People

Next week, Women’s Aid begins our 16

Days of Action Opposing Violence against

Women campaign. It is an important

opportunity to raise awareness and

call for a whole-of-community, whole-ofgovernment

response which is required

in order to prevent domestic abuse, to

protect women and children and to hold

perpetrators to account. The campaign

runs from November 25 (UN Day For the

Elimination of Violence against Women)

Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone

Helpline 1800 341 900

www.womensaid.ie

to December 20 (International Human

Rights Day).

The focus of this year’s Women’s Aid

campaign is intimate relationship abuse,

including online abuse, against young

people (18-25 years). On Wednesday,

the President of Ireland, Michael D.

Higgins, the Minister of Justice Helen

McEntee, TD, and a range of expert

speakers will launch a new Women’s

Aid report on the prevalence, nature and

impact of abuse against young people.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS HELP CALL:

Male AdviceLine

(Freephone) 1800 816 588

https://mensnetwork.ie/

We believe we can significantly reduce

levels of domestic violence, if we start now

and if we start young. We know that over

60 per cent of victims of domestic violence

experienced abuse for the first time under

the age of 25.

That statistic always shocks people.

Most of us have this picture of the typical

woman being abused – older, married,

children, mortgage – but the reality is

that abuse can happen in any intimate

relationship and at any age.

Our Too Into You campaign over the next

two weeks will highlight the signs of abuse

and will encourage anyone affected to

reach out for support.

For more information on the Women’s Aid

16 Days Campaign and how you can

support it visit the Women’s Aid website.

Details of all services available on

www.stillhere.ie

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 73 | From The Ground Up


IN OPPOSITION

Cardiff Blues

Last Time Out

COUNTRY

WALES

HOME GROUND

CARDIFF ARMS

PARK

FOUNDED

2003

Cardiff Blues 22 Benetton Rugby 5

A SCINTILLATING TRY FROM OWEN LANE HELPED

CARDIFF BLUES DEFEAT BENETTON 22-5 LAST MONDAY

NIGHT, AS THE ITALIAN SIDE’S LOSING RUN WAS

EXTENDED TO FOUR GAMES AT RODNEY PARADE.

Jarrod Evans got the first points of

the game with a well struck penalty

midway through the first half, as the

hosts put an end to their three-game

losing run on their own patch.

Rory Thornton then touched down in the corner

to extend the lead, before Lane added a

fantastic second midway through the second

half with the try of the match.

Tomas Baravalle scored a late consolation for

Benetton, before Ben Thomas touched down

under the sticks to seal the deal in the dying

seconds.

Neither side could stamp their authority onto

the game in the early stages in the Welsh

capital, with the blustery conditions proving

difficult for both teams.

Ian Keatley and Evans both missed penalty

attempts in the opening minutes, before the

latter converted his second go at a three-pointer

to give the hosts the advantage.

And that’s the way it stayed until seven minutes

before the break, as Thornton was the man

to capitalise after a surging Blues maul left

the lock with the chance to touch down in the

corner.

It turned into a gruelling battle of the forwards

for much of the game, with both sides giving

their all in the scrum, but neither could further

trouble the scoreboard before the interval as

the hosts went in 8-0 to the good.

Benetton came out with a vengeance in the

second half, and piled the pressure onto John

CARDIFF BLUES:

Matthew Morgan; Owen

Lane, Garyn Smith, Willis

Halaholo (Ben Thomas

55), Hallam Amos;

Jarrod Evans, Jamie Hill

(Lewis Jones 70); Corey

Domachowski (Brad

Thyer 51), Kristian Dacey

(Ethan Lewis 68), Scott

Andrews (Kieron Assiratti

63); Ben Murphy, Rory

Thornton (Teddy Williams

74); James Ratti, Olly

Robinson (Alun Lawrence

45), Josh Turnbull.

BENETTON: Jayden

Hayward; Ratuva

Tavuyara, Joaquin Riera,

Ignacio Brex (Angelo

Esposito 40), Monty

Ioane; Ian Keatley,

Callum Braley (Luca

Petrozzi 68); Nicola

Quaglio (Thomas

Gallo 43), Hame Faiva

(Tomas Baravalle 48),

Filippo Alongi (Tiziano

Pasquali 40); Federico

Ruzza (Irné Herbst 48),

Eli Snyman; Giovanni

Pettinelli (Marco Barbini

50), Manuel Zuliani

(Michele Lamaro 40),

Toa Halafihi.

Words: pro14.rugby

Imagery: Inpho

Mulvihill’s side from the off, but couldn’t find a

way past the Welsh side’s rearguard.

And after soaking up the Italian’s pressure the

Blues hit them with the sucker-punch just after

the hour mark, as Lane dazzled his way to the

try line.

The winger picked up the ball just outside

the Benetton 22, before wrong-footing the

entire visiting defence with his fleet-footedness,

before using his pace to surge over to score.

Benetton’s efforts were eventually rewarded

with 10 minutes remaining, as Baravalle

latched onto the back of a maul to finally get

the Italians on the scoreboard, before Thomas

added a third for the Blues seconds before the

final whistle.

From The Ground Up | 74 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


www.leinsterrugby.ie | 75 | From The Ground Up


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Squad | Positions 2020/21

Head Coach | John Mulvihill

Australian born John Mulvihill has

strong Irish connections having

started his coaching career with

Meath club Navan RFC in the late

1990s.

During that spell, Navan won the

Provincial Towns Cup and Leinster League

Division 1 honours.

He took the reins at Cardiff in 2018.

In the interim, he held roles at Western

Force in Super Rugby and several

Japanese clubs, most recently Honda

Heat.

Captain | Ellis Jenkins

Ellis Jenkins made his debut for

Cardiff Blues in the 2011 Anglo

Welsh Cup defeat to Newcastle

Falcons, and has gone on to make

over 100 appearances for his

home region.

Jenkins captained the Blues in the 2018

European Challenge Cup final victory

over Gloucester in Bilbao.

FORWARDS

SCOTT ANDREWS

PROP

DIMITRsI ARHIP

PROP

KEIRON ASSIRATTI

PROP

LIAM BELCHER

HOOKER

JAMES BOTHAM

BACK ROW

WILL BOYDE

BACK ROW

RHYS CARRÉ

PROP

KRISTIAN DACEY

HOOKER

SEB DAVIES

LOCK

WILL DAVIES-KING

PROP

COREY

DOMACHOWSKI

PROP

RHYS GILL

PROP

IESTYN HARRIS

HOOKER

CORY HILL

LOCK

ETHAN LEWIS

HOOKER

DILLON LEWIS

PROP

SHANE LEWIS-HUGHES

FLANKER

SAM MOORE

BACK ROW

BEN MURPHY

LOCK

KIRBY MYHILL

HOOKER

JOSH NAVIDI

BACK ROW

JAMES RATTI

LOCK

OLLY ROBINSON

FLANKER

RORY THORNTON

LOCK

BRADLEY THYER

PROP

JOSH TURNBULL

BACK ROW

TEDDY WILLIAMS

LOCK

BACKS

JOSH ADAMS

WINGER

MASON GRADY

WINGER

WILLIS HALAHOLO

CENTRE

JASON HARRIES

CENTRE

LEWIS JONES

SCRUM HALF

OWEN LANE

CENTRE

REY LEE-LO

CENTRE

MAX LLEWELLYN

CENTRE

HARRI MILLARD

CENTRE

MATTHEW MORGAN

FULL BACK

LUKE SCULLY

FLY HALF

GARYN SMITH

CENTRE

ALED SUMMERHILL

CENTRE

BEN THOMAS

CENTRE

JASON TOVEY

FLY HALF

LLOYD WILLIAMS

SCRUM HALF

Internationally, he made his senior debut

for Wales during the 2016 tour to New

Zealand, Jenkins captained his country

for the first time two years later, as they

completed a clean sweep in the summer

fixtures against Argentina and South

Africa.

ELLIS JENKINS

FLANKER

ALUN LAWRENCE

FLANKER

HALLAM AMOS

WINGER

JARROD EVANS

FLY HALF

TOMOS WILLIAMS

SCRUM HALF

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 77 | From The Ground Up


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Greystones

No matter the resources, every

club could do with upgrading

their facilities.

Many moons ago, Greystones had the

foresight to acquire farming fields to the

south of their fine clubhouse at Dr Hickey

Park.

A run-off ditch bordered by thick gorse

separated the field from the main pitch

and a ball kicked beyond this boundary

was considered unrecoverable due to the

thickness of the growth there.

“I remember those days well. Initially, we

leased those fields in 1991 before buying

them outright in December of 1995 from

the local council,” said club chairman

Donall Gannon.

“When we first got them, they would

have come to us as agricultural or potato

fields. They were harrowed and cleared

out, made reasonably level.

“However, there were stones that

appeared later on the surface and,

while we brought it up to a reasonable

standard, time and usage caught up with

them.”

The appropriately named ‘south pitches’

have provided a space to handle the

overflow of teams as the playing numbers

grew at Greystones.

It also meant that the primary club pitch

did not have to handle the burden of

over-use. The main surface has long

been recognised as one of the finest in

the province and was used as a training

location for the Irish rugby team before

they decamped for Carton House.

The ‘south pitches’ have enabled the club

to grow and expand on several levels.

One significant aspect has been the

consolidation of playing areas into one

club ‘campus.’ Previously, pitches at both

Mill Road and Farrankelly meant divided

training schedules. Consolidation brought

all playing areas to one site where all

members could avail of the clubhouse

facilities.

These pitches are a key feature of

mid-week training for various teams in

the club and, on Sunday, they support

extensive activities from 9am onwards for

U-7s to U-11s, both of the Seagulls mixedability

teams and Youths teams, coping

with around 500 players within a threehour

window. It doesn’t end there. This

can be followed by league matches for

the U-20s and the J1s in the afternoon.

There have been drawbacks, however.

The intense usage has taken its toll. The

pitches had been showing their age and

were fast-approaching their endpoint due

to the deterioration of the surface.

“They have been in play for the guts

of 30 years. The wear and tear and

old style drainage meant those pitches

suffered badly. In the last seven or eight

years, it was noticeable how the surface

deteriorated quicker through the seasons.

The maintenance carried out in the

summer would only last to January before

it became bumpy and uneven.”

All the while, there was an ambition to

bring the ‘south pitches’ up to standard

and, four years ago, it became part

of a plan for an extensive capital

refurbishment across the club.

A full grass-based transformation of these

pitches was made a priority, both to

safeguard player welfare and to create

two full-sized pitches, playable in almost

all conditions.

The costs of the renovation works

were estimated to be approximately

€150,000, or almost €4,000 per year

over the expected lifetime of 40 years.

This was partially circumvented in 2018

when the club applied for a sports grant,

from the National Lottery monies, and

received €80,500 towards the project.

By early 2020, it was full-steam ahead

for pitch preparation, beginning in

mid-March, when Covid became the

heavy cloud that hung over the project.

The groundsmen, Willie and Sam Byrne,

listed as essential workers, were limited

to applying grass and weed treatments,

From The Ground Up | 80 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


while the heavy machinery work was put

on hold.

On May 18, the machines were finally

allowed to get digging and extensive

subterranean works began, following

the removal of 250 tonnes of soil, all of

which was later reused as quality topsoil.

The groundworks were designed,

constructed and implemented by pitch

specialists Flood Landscapes, a family

firm from Wexford, with Wexford’s 1996

All-Ireland winner Sean Flood to the fore,

along with Paddy McCann and Jerome

O’Brien at Greystones.

In a meeting of horticultural minds, Garry

Flood, in consultation with Willie Byrne,

brought expertise in the form of state-ofthe

art drainage works.

These are built in a waffle-grid of multiple

minor drains, all of which lead to one

major drainage pipe, collecting water

drained from the pitches out to the small

stream on the north side of the club.

This network is part of what will be

instrumental in terms of longevity of the

pitch surfaces. At that stage, Willie and

his son Sam, with their extensive clubspecific

knowledge of rain run-off and

soil behaviours, liaised with the Floods.

All drains are placed optimally and

compliment the herring-bone drainage

structure which has served our main pitch

so well.

Once this structure was in place,

completed in two weeks, a further 500

tonnes of sand was added to the soil and

the surface was reconstructed.

This required laser-guided machinery to

establish both minute levels of camber to

assist water run-off and levelling needed

toward the sea end of Dr. Hickey Park,

creating 17,000 square metres of prime

playing surface.

The Covid-19 restrictions had significantly

reduced the window of opportunity for

planting and the dry and sunny weather

was a concern, compounded by a

hosepipe ban. However, as the due date

for the cancelled Leaving Certificate

rolled round, the warm, mild, wet

conditions proved ideal for the grass seed

to take root.

“We felt like victims of the pandemic

because it made it difficult for fundraising

to pay for the project when the club was

closed down in March,” stated Gannon.

“But, as it turned out, it became a blessing

in disguise because the dry weather

would have been a disaster for growing

grass for the pitches at that time.

“In terms of moving forward, it is a matter

of showing the pitches the loving care

necessary to bring them fully to life. We

estimate we are on track to have the

minis and youths back on the surface for

January.

“When the big heavy fellas in their

boots will be back on it depends on

the weather being kind to us. When the

adults do get back out there, they will be

excited about the standard of the surface

compared to what it was.

“Hopefully, it will carry us through for at

least another 30 years.”

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 81 | From The Ground Up


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© 2020 adidas AG

READY

FOR

ACTION

LEINSTER RUGBY

TRAINING 20/21


Listening, believing, supporting

women experiencing domestic abuse.

Free and confidential support including:

– One to One Support

– Advocacy

– Dolphin House Support & Referral Service

– Court Accompaniment Services

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

National Freephone Helpline

1800 341 900

Instant Messaging

Service

available 7 days

at womensaid.ie

Text Service for Deaf

and Hard of Hearing

087 959 7980

8am–8pm / 7 days

@Womens_Aid

Womens Aid

womens.aid

womensaid.ie


Comerford

Niall

WORDS: RYAN CORRY

From The Ground Up | 86 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


Control the controllables.

IT’S A PHRASE

THAT HAS

SNUCK ITS

WAY INTO THE

LEXICON OF

MANY PLAYERS

AND COACHES

THE WORLD

OVER AS THEY

EMPHASISE THAT

PLANNING AND

PREPARATION IS

ALWAYS THE KEY

TO THEIR NEXT

GAME.

Niall Comerford, a winger in his

first year with the Leinster Rugby

Academy, is a glowing example of

how to keep pushing on when the

‘uncontrollables’ try and disrupt your

plans and ambitions.

At just 20 years of age, the Shankill native has

already had an impressive sporting career at

club, school, county and provincial level.

But, there’s been some disruption along the

way. Three separate events stick out, a broken

wrist, being part of the ‘2000-born’ group who

missed out on an inter-county championship,

and now, Covid-19.

Gaelic football was his first love, a member of

the Kilmacud Crokes club, he would go on to

represent Dublin at underage level, lining out at

midfield in the 2017 U-17 Leinster Final defeat

to Meath.

It would be a disappointing note to bow out

of his inter-county football career with but, he

admits, the call to join Leinster Rugby was too

good to turn down.

“I’d been playing since I was five, hurling and

Gaelic with Kilmacud. I got to play with Dublin

underage from U-13 to U-17,” Comerford

explains.

“Unfortunately, we missed out – my year, the

2000s – on minor. I really loved it but it was

difficult playing hurling, Gaelic and rugby at

the same time.

“When hurling and Gaelic finish around

October, I could go back to rugby, it was great

having sport all year round. It worked well

during the school years.

“But then, making the step up to Leinster, I had

to make a decision whether or not to go with

Gaelic or rugby. I made the decision to go with

rugby and I’ve been very happy with it.”

The dominance of Dublin’s footballers is no

secret, and comparisons have been made

between their ability to constantly refresh their

team with young talent and Leo Cullen’s ability

to do the same in Leinster.

As someone who has seen and lived the

pathway of both, transferring skills where

possible, Comerford sees a major similarity

between the two respective set-ups that is

enabling them to have continued success.

“The standards that they hold you to,” he says

is the main likeness.

“It might be an amateur sport but we were

based out in Abbotstown, which is also where

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 87 | From The Ground Up


the Ireland camps are based, they’re about

200m away from each other, so the facilities

and how they operate are both directly

comparable.

“The training was quite professional and quite

similar to the sub-Academy.

“I was a midfielder. As a winger, there’s a

lot of crossover with general hand-eye coordination,

high balls, kicking and fitness, so it

was a good transition over to rugby. It seemed

to click well.”

He hasn’t always been out on the wing

though, that change came as he progressed

through the ranks in Blackrock College.

Having watched his older brother, Evin,

playing with the school, Comerford had it in

his head that he’d follow suit once he entered

the Williamstown institution.

And so he did. First, playing as a flanker, he

later transitioned to the backs where he settled

on the wing.

During his time with Blackrock, he scored the

only try in the 2016 Bank of Ireland Leinster

Schools Junior Cup final, an 8-3 win over archrivals

St Michael’s College at Energia Park.

At the same time he was dotting the ball down,

an awkward landing and the chasing pack

combined resulting in that broken wrist but he

refused to go to the hospital until he knew the

job was done.

“That was in the first 15 minutes, we’d a scrum

in the middle of the field. I managed to break

through and score a try, but in the process of

scoring the try, I also managed to give myself

a fracture in the wrist,” he reflects.

“I slid in weird and someone came in on my

back and I kept going over the ball and broke

my wrist doing it. We won 8-3 in the end so it

was worth it.

“I went back to the school and then went to

the hospital so I missed the team celebration

afterwards. I got back for the end of it but I

had to get it manipulated that day.”

“I was in a cast overnight, then had to get

surgery and was in the cast for another four

weeks. It wasn’t great!”

Rivals on that day and many since, he is

now working in Leinster alongside former

adversaries who have become teammates and

friends.

From The Ground Up | 88 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


“There’s always fierce competition in the schools

but those games (v St Michael’s) would have a

bit more niggle than the other ones but when it

comes to Leinster, that fades away, and you’re

all playing for the same team.

“There can’t be any distrust among players.”

That same policy extends now into joining

Ireland camp with players from other provinces

and clubs.

Comerford was selected as part of Noel

McNamara’s Ireland U-20 squad for the 2020

Six Nations tournament with a lot of promise in

the squad following on from the Grand Slam of

2019.

With a trial to join the U-19s on a tour of France

being the closest Comerford had

previously gotten to playing for

Ireland, excitement was high

at the prospect of getting to

pull on the green jersey in this

year’s tournament.

Ireland quickly racked up three

wins from three, beating

Scotland, Wales and England

before Covid called a

halt to their year.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 89 | From The Ground Up


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Comerford, however, didn’t feature after

picking up an injury early into his time with the

Ireland team, a cruel blow knocking his dream

of representing his country on the head.

“I injured my shoulder in the very first camp so I

missed out there.

“I was trying to get back into the squad really,

to get some game, or any game, and I would

be happy. But then, obviously, Covid hit just

before our Italy game.”

Like the rest of us, they had to accept it for what

it was. A global pandemic is not something that

can be wiped away overnight.

More disappointment arrived in August when

Six Nations tournament organisers declared

that the U-20 competition would not be

completed for 2020.

While the same frustrations we’ve all faced this

year will linger, Comerford, still shorn of that

chance to play for Ireland, doesn’t feel he has

any special grievance or cause for anger.

He simply suggests that he would have had an

uphill task of displacing any of the back three

who had made the jerseys their own over the

opening three games.

“We were all disappointed, we trained really

hard and I think we were ready to just get the

games done, we really wanted to play.

“Playing for your country is such a huge

source of pride for everyone. There was a

lot of frustration and disappointment, but we

understood the circumstances.

“It’s not normal, it wasn’t just a match being

called off, it was for our safety and for the

“PLAYING FOR

YOUR COUNTRY

IS SUCH A

HUGE SOURCE

OF PRIDE FOR

EVERYONE. THERE

WAS A LOT OF

FRUSTRATION AND

DISAPPOINTMENT,

BUT WE

UNDERSTOOD THE

CIRCUMSTANCES.”

benefit of everyone. We knew that they had to

make that decision.

“I’ve just been unfortunate, it would have been

tough anyway to break into the team with

players like Andrew Smith, Ethan McIlroy and

Oran McNulty.”

Despite that setback, he hasn’t had to look too

far for inspiration. Playing in the Celtic Cup

last year, Comerford shared a dressing room

with two players who have since made a huge

stamp on Leinster and Ireland – Hugo Keenan

and Rónan Kelleher.

“I got one or two games alongside guys like

Hugo and Rónan and now you see Hugo

starting full back for Ireland at the weekend.

“The step up he’s made is great to see, and Ró,

you can see the pathway that they have put in

place.”

While still only in Year One of the Academy,

Comerford has quickly caught sight of what to

improve and how to do that.

Taking part in that Celtic Cup campaign and

now getting the opportunity to train with the

senior Leinster squad have given him a good

opportunity to learn and develop.

“Particularly with not having the end of the

Six Nations and the Junior World Cup which

would be a time when a lot of guys would be

trying to break through, it’s been great being

up with the seniors.

“Even just being able to train with them, seeing

how they work and how they train, it’s been a

great experience.

“It’s another step up. It was probably a shock

to the system I would say, but I think I’m getting

used to it now.”

Many would agree.

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 91 | From The Ground Up


Academy squad

2020|21

DOB: 15 December 1999

From: Hampshire, England

Height: 1.88m (6’ 2”)

Weight: 92kg (14st 5lbs)

Position: Back Three

School: Henley College

Honours: Ireland U20 (1 cap)

AARON O’SULLIVAN

Did You Know: Aaron was signed from Wasps where

he made two appearances for the Senior team in the

2017/18 Anglo Welsh Cup. Aaron’s dad, Barry, had trials at

Newcastle and his grandad, at the age of 80, completed

five stages of the Tour de France in 2011.

Instagram: aaron_sullivan11

DOB: 02 March 2000

From: Wexford

Height: 1.99m (6’ 6”)

Weight: 107kg (16st 8lbs)

Position: Second Row

School: St Peter’s College

Club: Clontarf FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (8 caps)

BRIAN DEENY

Did You Know: Brian played youth rugby with Wexford

Wanderers RFC. He got his first Irish cap playing for

Ireland Under-18 Sevens. Brian played midfield for his

school St Peter’s College in Gaelic football and reached the

All-Ireland Colleges Final in 2017. He is currently studying

Science in Trinity and lives in Abbey House B&B, Wexford...

if you are looking for a room?! Instagram: brian_deeny

DOB: 03 July 1999

From: Dublin

Height: 1.77m (5’ 10”)

Weight: 86kg (13st 4lbs)

Position: Centre/Outhalf

School: Belvedere College

Club: Clontarf RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (3 caps)

& Leinster Rugby (3 caps)

DAVID HAWKSHAW #1290

Did You Know: David started playing rugby at Coolmine RFC before

joining Belvedere College and won two Schools Senior Cup titles. He has

represented Ireland U18 Schools and was selected as Ireland U20s captain

for the 2019 Grand Slam winning campaign only to have his season cut

short after three games. He played hurling and Gaelic football for St Brigid’s

GAA club and also represented Dublin minors, winning a Leinster hurling

title. Currently studying humanities in DCU. Instagram: davidhawkshaw99

DOB: 30 December 1998

From: Dublin

Height: 1.72m (5’ 8”)

Weight: 76kg (11st 9lbs)

Position: Scrum Half

School: Blackrock College

Club: UCD RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (1 cap)

& Leinster Rugby (3 caps)

PATRICK PATTERSON #1274

Did You Know: Paddy made his debut for Leinster during

the 2018/19 season when only in the first year of the

Leinster Academy. He also scored his first Senior try for

Leinster off the bench against Southern Kings during that

maiden campaign.

Instagram: paddypatterson

Academy squad

2020|21

DOB: 24 October 1999

From: Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow

Height: 1.81m (5’ 9”)

Weight: 87kg (13st 10lbs)

Position: Scrum Half

School: St. Gerard’s School

Club: Lansdowne FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (9 caps)

CORMAC FOLEY

Did You Know: Started playing rugby with Greystones

RFC when he was nine. Growing up, Cormac did a lot of

show jumping and he is now studying Economics and

Finance in UCD.

Instagram: cormacfoley6

DOB: 05 February 1999

From: Birr, Offaly

Height: 1.82m (6’ 0”)

Weight: 112kg (17st 8lbs)

Position: Prop

School: Cistercian College, Roscrea

Club: Birr RFC/UCD RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (8 caps)

& Leinster Rugby (13 caps)

MICHAEL MILNE #1279

Did You Know: Michael has won two All-Ireland hurling

titles, one with his school in Roscrea and another with

Offaly Under-17s.

Instagram: michael_milne

DOB: 04 June 1998

From: Dublin

Height: 1.83m (6’ 0”)

Weight: 88kg (13st 12lbs)

Position: Back Three

School: Clongowes Wood College

Club: Dublin University FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (12 caps)

& Leinster Rugby (1 cap)

MICHAEL SILVESTER #1289

Did You Know: Started playing rugby with Wanderers

RFC before playing in school with St. Michaels and then

Clongowes. Played competitive tennis from the age of nine,

winning a national championship at age 12, before focusing

on rugby after moving to Clongowes. Graduated from

Trinity with a BESS degree.

Instagram: msilvester98

DOB: 22 February 2000

From: Dublin

Height: 1.85m (6’ 1”)

Weight: 111kg (17st 7lbs)

Position: Prop

School: Blackrock College

Club: Dublin University FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (13 caps)

& Leinster Rugby (3 cap)

TOM CLARKSON #1285

Did You Know: Tom studies Human Health and Disease

in Trinity College. He played underage rugby for Wicklow

RFC before moving to Dublin to attend Willow Park

primary school.

Instagram: tclarkson37

DOB: 19 October 1999

From: Athy, Kildare

Height: 1.88m (6’ 2”)

Weight: 99kg (15st 8lbs)

Position: Back Row

School: Clontarf FC

Club: Old Belvedere RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (5 caps)

MARTIN MOLONEY

Did You Know: Martin played hurling for Kildare and played

GAA and basketball for his secondary school, Knockbeg

College, and local GAA club, St Laurence’s. He played his

youth rugby with Athy RFC. He is now studying Business

and Law in UCD, He also enjoys working on the family farm.

Instagram: martin_moloney

From The Ground Up | 92 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


DOB: 03 February 1999

From: Dublin

Height: 2.01m (6’ 7”)

Weight: 108kg (17st)

Position: Second Row

School: Blackrock College

Club: UCD RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (15 caps)

CHARLIE RYAN

Did You Know: Charlie played youth rugby at Blackrock

College RFC while also attending the school since Senior

Infants. He captained Ireland to the U20 Grand Slam in

2019 and again for the U20s World Cup. His friends call

him Chuck! He is currently studying Business and Legal

Studies in UCD.

Instagram: chuck_ryan5

Academy squad

2020|21

DOB: 15 February 2000

From: Belfast

Height: 1.82m (6’ 0”)

Weight: 103kg (16st 2lbs)

Position: Hooker

School: Campbell College

Club: Old Belvedere RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (12 caps)

JOHN McKEE

Did You Know: John grew up in Belfast going to school

at Campbell College where he won a Senior Cup. He was

involved with Ulster at age grade level until moving to

Dublin after school. He also has multiple medals from

Northern Irish Schools Judo competitions.

Instagram: johnmckee_

DOB: 21 July 2000

From: Dublin

Height: 1.83m (6’ 0”)

Weight: 91kg (14st 3lbs)

Position: Back Three

School: St Michael’s College

Club: Clontarf FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (3 caps)

ANDREW SMITH

Did You Know: Andrew is currently studying Quantity

Surveying and Construction Economics in TUD. In 2019,

he won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup with St Michael’s

College. Andrew also played Gaelic football with his local

club - Clanna Gael Fontenoy GAA Club.

Instagram: andrew.sm1th

DOB: 14 July 1999

From: Dublin

Height: 173cm (5’ 9”)

Weight: 91kg (14st 5lbs)

Position: Centre

School: Blackrock College

Club: Dublin University FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (10 caps)

& Leinster Rugby (3 caps)

LIAM TURNER #1287

Did You Know: Liam started to play rugby at the age

of six at Blackrock College RFC. He later joined Blackrock

College and was part of the 2018 Senior Cup winning team.

He was also part of the Ireland U20 team that went on to

win the 2019 Grand Slam. Liam currently studys BESS in

Trinity College.

Instagram: liamtn123

DOB: 06 April 2000

From: Dublin

Height: 1.83m (6’ 0”)

Weight: 86kg (13st 8lbs)

Position: Wing

School: Blackrock College

Club: UCD RFC

Honours: Ireland U20

NIALL COMERFORD

Did You Know: Niall played both hurling and Gaelic

football with Kilmacud Crokes for 14 years. He also

represented Dublin in Gaelic football in the U17 Leinster

Championship. He is currently studying Commerce in UCD.

Instagram: niall_c123

DOB: 31 July 2000

From: Pittsburgh, USA

Height: 1.90m (6’ 3”)

Weight: 102kg (16st 1lb)

Position: Back Row

School: Blackrock College

Club: UCD RFC

Honours: Ireland U20 (3 caps)

SEÁN O’BRIEN

Did You Know: Seán started playing rugby at age six

with Greystones RFC where he played up until Under-13.

He then played on the Junior and Senior Cup teams in

Blackrock College. He is currently studying Economics and

Finance in UCD

Instagram: seanobrien456

DOB: 19 February 2001

From: Pearse St, Dublin

Height: 1.95m (6’ 5”)

Weight: 104.5kg (16st 6lbs)

Position: Back Row

School: Belvedere College

Club: Clontarf FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (2 caps)

ALEX SOROKA

Did You Know: Alex’s family moved to Ireland from

Ukraine shortly before his birth. He was born in Cork

before moving to Dublin.

Instagram: alex._.soroka

DOB: 26 March 2001

From: Manhattan, NY

Height: 1.95m (6’ 5”)

Weight: 113kg (17st 11lbs)

Position: Second Row

School: Blackrock College

Club: Dublin University FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (3 caps)

JOE McCARTHY

Did You Know: Joe started playing rugby with Blackrock

College RFC at the age of six before moving to Willow Park

and then Blackrock College. He was also on the Blackrock

swim team for five years. He’s currently studying Global

Business in Trinity College Dublin.

Instagram: joetmmcc

DOB: 26 February 2000

From: Enniskerry, Wicklow

Height: 1.85m (6’ 1”)

Weight: 86kg (13st 8lbs)

Position: Full Back

School: St Gerard’s School

Club: Dublin University FC

Honours: Ireland U20 (3 caps)

& Ireland Mens 7s (1 cap)

MAX O’REILLY

Did You Know: Max is currently in his third year of Business

and Management in DIT. His preferred sport was soccer

until about the age of 15, which he had played at centre

midfield with Enniskerry FC for over 10 years and also

for Wicklow.

Instagram: max_oreilly

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 93 | From The Ground Up


Fixtures &

results

2020/21

virtual match mascot

Ciaran Kane

Age: 10

From: Barraghmore, Drumlish,

Co Longford.

School: St Mary’s Mixed NS,

Drumlish, Co Longford.

Hobbies & Interests: Watching

rugby, making lego, art, Leinster

Favourite Player: Devin Toner

Fri 2 Oct 20:15

Guinness PRO14

W 35-5

Sat 10 Oct 18:15

Guinness PRO14

W 37-25

FRI 23 Oct 19:35

Guinness PRO14

W 63-8

MON 2 Nov 20:15

Guinness PRO14

W 32-19

KEENAN

LARMOUR 1T

RINGROSE 1T 2C

FRAWLEY (T O'BRIEN 9)

LOWE 2T

SEXTON 1C (R BYRNE 23 3C)

GIBSON-PARK (MCGRATH 67)

E BYRNE (HEALY 49)

R KELLEHER (CRONIN 49)

BENT (PORTER 49)

FARDY

RYAN

RUDDOCK

VAN DER FLIER

CONAN (DEEGAN 49 (BAIRD 62 1T))

KEENAN

LARMOUR (J O'BRIEN 48)

RINGROSE

HENSHAW

LOWE 1T

R BYRNE 3C 3P (H BYRNE 79)

GIBSON-PARK (MCGRATH 56)

E BYRNE (HEALY 52)

TRACY 1T (CRONIN 53)

BENT (CLARKSON 63)

BAIRD (MOLONY 64)

RYAN 1T

DORIS

CONNORS

CONAN

J O'BRIEN

T O'BRIEN 2T

TURNER

FRAWLEY (SILVESTER 64)

KEARNEY 1T

H BYRNE 9C

MCGRATH (H O'SULLIVAN 56)

DOOLEY (MILNE 52)

SHEEHAN 2T (TRACY 51)

BENT 1T (PARKER 51 1T)

MOLONY

TONER (DUNNE 56)

MURPHY 1T (FARDY 69)

PENNY 1T

RUDDOCK (LEAVY 51)

J O'BRIEN 1T (HAWKSHAW 71)

C KELLEHER

O'LOUGHLIN

T O'BRIEN

D KEARNEY

H BYRNE 3C 2P

MCGRATH 1T (H O'SULLIVAN 76)

DOOLEY (MILNE 54)

TRACY (SHEEHAN 54)

BENT 1T (CLARKSON 60)

MOLONY (FARDY 60)

TONER

MURPHY (DUNNE 71)

PENNY 1T

RUDDOCK (LEAVY 60)

SUN 8 Nov 15:00

Guinness PRO14

W 26-7

J O'BRIEN

C KELLEHER

O'LOUGHLIN (TURNER 59)

T O'BRIEN (H O'SULLIVAN 65)

KEARNEY 1T

H BYRNE 3C (HAWKSHAW 61)

MCGRATH

MILNE (DOOLEY 51 1T)

TRACY 1T (SHEEHAN 51)

BENT (PARKER 51)

MOLONY

FARDY (TONER 72)

MURPHY (LEAVY 54)

PENNY 1T

RUDDOCK

MON 16 NOV 20:15

Guinness PRO14

W 50-10

J O'BRIEN

C KELLEHER 3T

TURNER

FRAWLEY 5C

KEARNEY 1T

H BYRNE (HAWKSHAW 54)

MCGRATH 2T (H O'SULLIVAN 57)

RUDDOCK (MURPHY 50)

PENNY

LEAVY 1T (BAIRD 58)

FARDY

TONER (MOLONY 68)

BENT (PARKER 50)

TRACY (SHEEHAN 50)

DOOLEY 1T (MILNE 50)

ROUND

07

Leinster Rugby

v Cardiff

Sunday

November 22

RDS Arena

KO 5.15pm

ROUND

08

Scarlets v

Leinster Rugby

Sunday

November 29

Parc y Scarlets

KO 5.15pm

From The Ground Up | 94 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


Ted Scally

Age: 9

School: Carysfort National

School

Hobbies & Interests: Rugby,

Gaelic football, golf & cooking

Favourite Player Garry Ringrose

virtual match mascot

Montepellier v

Leinster Rugby

Saturday

December 12

CGL Stadium

KO 5.30pm Irish time

Leinster Rugby

v Northampton

Saints

Saturday

december 19

RDS Arena

KO 1pm

ROUND

09

munster rugby v

Leinster Rugby

saturday

december 26

thomond park

KO 7.35pm

ROUND

10

Leinster Rugby

v connacht rugby

saturday

january 2

RDS Arena

KO 7.35pm

ROUND

11

Leinster Rugby

v ulster rugby

friday

january 8

RDS Arena

KO 7.35pm

Northampton

Saints v

Leinster Rugby

Friday

January 15

Franklin's Gardens

KO 5.30pm

Leinster Rugby

v Montpellier

Friday

January22

RDS Arena

KO 5.30pm

www.leinsterrugby.ie | 95 | From The Ground Up


At Sword we know how important the Game is.

We know how important your memories are ....so relax

and enjoy yourself, you're in safe hands.

LEINSTER RUGBY FANS .... Secured by the team at Sword

Dublin: 01-6688220

info@swordsecurity.com

www.swordsecurity.com

Securing Sports Fans around the World.


Coronavirus

COVID-19

Coronavirus

COVID-19

Public Health

Advice

Stay safe.

Protect each other.

Continue to:

Wash

your hands well

and often to avoid

contamination.

Cover

your mouth and nose

with a tissue or sleeve

when coughing or

sneezing and discard

used tissue safely

Distance

yourself at least

2 metres (6 feet) away

from other people,

especially those who

might be unwell

Avoid

crowds and

crowded places

Know

the symptoms. If you

have them self isolate

and contact your GP

immediately

COVID-19 symptoms include

> high temperature

> cough

> breathing difficulty

> sudden loss of sense of smell or taste

> flu-like symptoms

If you have any symptoms, self-isolate to

protect others and call your GP for a

COVID-19 test.

#holdfirm

For more information

www.gov.ie/health-covid-19

www.hse.ie

Ireland’s public health advice is guided by WHO and ECDC advice


Jimmy O’Brien

Cian Kelleher

Liam Turner

Ciarán Frawley

Dave Kearney

Harry Byrne

Luke McGrath

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

FULL BACK

RIGHT WING

OUTSIDE CENTRE

INSIDE CENTRE

LEFT WING

FLY HALF

SCRUM HALF

Matthew Morgan

Owen Lane

Garyn Smith

Ben Thomas

Aled Summerhill

Jarrod Evans [C]

Tomos Williams

Peter Dooley

James Tracy

Michael Bent

Ross Molony

Ryan Baird

Josh Murphy

Dan Leavy

Rhys Ruddock [C]

Dan Sheehan

Michael Milne

Tom Clarkson

Devin Toner

Jack Dunne

Rowan Osborne

Michael Silvester

Scott Penny

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

LOOSE HEAD PROP

HOOKER

TIGHT HEAD PROP

SECOND ROW

SECOND ROW

BLINDSIDE FLANKER

OPENSIDE FLANKER

NUMBER 8

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

REPLACEMENT

Corey Domachowski

Ethan Lewis

Dmitri Arhip

Ben Murphy

Rory Thornton

James Ratti

Alun Lawrence

Josh Turnbull

Iestyn Harris

Brad Thyer

Keiron Assiratti

Teddy Williams

Gwilym Bradley

Jamie Hill

Max Llewellyn

Hallam Amos

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 46th competition game)

Assistant Referees: George Clancy, Peter Martin (both IRFU)

TMO: Ollie Hodges (IRFU)

From The Ground Up | 98 | www.leinsterrugby.ie


MAKE IT A GAME

YOU’LL REMEMBER.

MODERATE YOUR DRINKING.

MAKE YOUR NEXT PINT TAP WATER.

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE

#GUINNESSCLEAR

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