Ulster Rugby today confirmed the signings of talented young back row players Charlie Butterworth and Sean Reidy ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Charlie Butterworth, who can operate at openside or blindside flanker, joins on a one-year contract from Ulster Bank League outfit Landsdowne. The 23-year-old Wicklow native was a key player as the Dublin side won the Division 1A title in 2012/13.
Sean Reidy has signed a short term deal with the province after impressing with Counties Manukau Steelers in New Zealand.
The 25-year-old can play across the back row and is Irish-qualified through his grandfather who hailed from Castlegregory, County Kerry.
The additions will give Ulster even more depth in an already strong area. The province currently have three back row players on tour with Ireland in Argentina, while Roger Wilson played for a World XV against South Africa last weekend and they also have Nick Williams on the books.
And with young indigenous talent like Conor Joyce emerging too, it will provide the coaches with plenty of options for next season.
Butterworth, who played for the Ireland Club XV this year, is delighted to have signed his first professional contract, stating: "I can't wait to get started, it will be brilliant to be involved. Ulster are one of the best teams in Europe, if not the world, at the moment and it was a 'no-brainer' once David Humphreys offered me the contract.
"When I got the chance to go up and have a look at the facilities I was just really blown away. It's a top class stadium - everything is state of the art and I can't wait to start training."
Reidy is also relishing the prospect of joining the Ulster squad for their pre-season regime, admitting: "I had heard a lot about Ulster before I signed. They are a team with a lot of history and tradition but have done really well in their competitions recently and are a team on the up.
"It's a great opportunity for me to go over and learn from the coaches and try to develop my game."
A fascinating battle lies ahead in the Ulster Bank Junior Cup final on Saturday, as Enniscorthy aim for their second title in three years and Instonians bid to lift the trophy at their very first attempt.
Friday Night Lights action returns to the top flight of the Ulster Bank League when Clontarf host Terenure College in a crunch Dublin derby, while Saturday's schedule in Division 1A includes the meeting of third-placed Garryowen and a resurgent Lansdowne team.
The Ulster Bank League resumed last weekend with last year's champions Lansdowne hosting current table toppers UCD. Check out the best of the action from an exciting Division 1A encounter on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.
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The IRFU High Performance Unit, under Colin McEntee, and Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek brought together coaches from all four provinces and Ireland representative teams to share ideas and look at recent trends in scrummaging. We spoke to Colin and Greg on the day.
Watch the IRFU/Ulster Bank 'Your Club, Your Country' Grand Draw which took place at Irish Rugby headquarters. The winning tickets were drawn by IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan and Lionel Mahon of Ulster Bank, with Aidan Connaughton of Grant Thornton overseeing the draw. The full list of winners is available here - http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/36203.php.
Table toppers Clontarf entertained Galwegians in Ulster Bank League Division 1A, hosting the game on their new 4G pitch which was officially opened on the day by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan.
With the Ulster Bank League resuming this week, we take a look back at a cracking Division 1A contest from the last round when Old Belvedere got the better of defending champions Lansdowne at Anglesea Road.
There was huge excitement surrounding the Aviva Irish Schools Rugby Festival last Sunday as 32 boys and girls teams got to play at the home of Irish Rugby. We hear from IRFU National Age-Grade Manager Hendrik Kruger, Shane Culleton from St. MacDara's, Ireland Women's star Jenny Murphy and some of the players involved on the day.
We take a look back at one of the best games from the opening four rounds of Ulster Bank League Division 1A - Galwegians' memorable 41-20 defeat of reigning champions Lansdowne at Crowley Park last Saturday.
Highlights of Lansdowne's 24-10 Friday Night Lights victory over Terenure College on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch, as Mike Ruddock's men maintain their unbeaten start to the Ulster Bank League season.
Galwegians head coach Matt Brown talks about his side's return to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, while New Zealander Josh Hrstich, captain of Garryowen, looks forward to their campaign - including this Friday's derby clash with Young Munster.
The Ulster Bank League kicks off on Friday night and fans can tune in from around the world for IrishRugby.ie's live stream of the Division 1A opener between UCD and Clontarf at the Belfield Bowl (kick-off 7.30pm). We hear from captains Stephen Murphy and Ben Reilly.
Ireland Women's internationals Nora Stapleton and Niamh Briggs talk to Irish Rugby TV about the IRFU's new Long Term Player Development Model for Women's rugby. For more on Women's LTPD, please visit www.irishrugby.ie/womensltpd.
The launch of the IRFU Long Term Player Development programme for Women's rugby is an important milestone in the game. Michael McGeehin of Coaching Ireland and Louis Magee, former IRFU President, speak about the programme.
The Irish Rugby Football Union will help clubs make the most of the upcoming Rugby World Cup with a number of initiatives designed to make clubs 'THE' place to support the men in green during England 2015.
MU Barnhall RFC hosted their first ever Special Needs Tag Rugby Blitz last weekend. Great fun was had by the players and coaches from the Barnhall Buffaloes, Salmo Eagles, Westmanstown Taggers, Terenure Tigers and Mullingar Lions as they showed that rugby is a sport for all.