10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
RUGBY A HIT ON TORY ISLAND: In a unique one-day trip to Tory Island earlier this month, Ulster Branch Development Officer Jonathan Llewhellin travelled to Tory to deliver rugby coaching to 20 local Island children as part of the Buntus Programme, which was organised by the Donegal Sports Partnership.
It was a unqiue experience for the children of Tory, who live 11 miles off the north west coast of Donegal.
The Buntus Play and Multi-Sport programmes, which are co-ordinated nationally by the Irish Sports Council, are two exciting programmes developed to support teachers and other adults in introducing young people to sport and helping to develop their interests.
The Buntus programme has five objectives including: raising the profile of physical education and sport, providing enjoyable and meaningful activity for children and supporting the National Curriculum.
Along with Jonathan, there were also representatives from the FAI and Junior Golf Ireland who also delivered sport specific sessions to the local children. The day was a huge success and everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about each sport.
This was the first time that an IRFU/Ulster Branch employee had visited the Island and the Ulster Branch were very happy to give their support to the Buntus programmes, which supports teachers and other adults in introducing young people to sport and helping to develop their interests.
There are currently 36 Ulster Branch Development Officers working throughout Ulster.
TERENURE LAUNCH RUGBY ACADEMY: The new rugby Academy of Terenure College RFC was launched on Wednesday. The players selected at the AIB League Division One club will be given specialist and quality input over the next three years to enhance their physical and rugby development.
These players will be involved in five to six sessions per week. The list of players joining the Academy includes: Mark Hamilton, Adam Hughes, Rob McCarthy, Kevin O'Dwyer, Mark O'Neill, Anthony Ryan, Conor Smith and Rudy Vij.
FUSCO STILL FIGHTING FIT AT 68: Denis Fusco certainly leads a busy life. Currently serving his second office as Civil Service rugby club President, the retired sales director is still putting on his boots a full 50 years after taking part in his first game of club rugby.
A keen sailor and swimmer, Fusco, despite being aged 68, currently plays as a prop forward for the veteran Perennials club who partake in up to twelve fixtures per season. From the days of leather studs that needed to be nailed into the sole of your boot, playing for the Civil Service second XV to the present day and the Perennials' tour of Portugal last season, he has seen it all.
Opposing former Ireland prop Peter Clohessy in scrums when the Perennials took the Limerick Leprechauns last year was certainly a highlight for Fusco, as were the beers and chips they were plied with in the Claw's 'Sin Bin' establishment afterwards.
The constant support of his wife Rosemary has been key to Fusco's longevity in the game, although there was one occasion on which it was questioned. He explained: "Most wives after a while tell their husbands that enough is enough, but Rosemary hasn't minded.
"Mind you, last year when the Perennials went on tour to Lisbon in Portugal, I got to the airport in Dublin only to discover that I had Rosemary's passport instead of mine. It was my fault but I tried to make out it was another ploy of hers to stop me playing!"
Fusco, who made his debut for Civil Service way back in September 1956, showed his unstinting dedication by getting his passport sent by courier to the airport and he got a later flight to Lisbon. An example to rugby players everywhere, he even bought a new pair of boots last month!
...Shannon's home ground of Thomond Park...
SHANNON MAINTAIN ENTRANCE FEE: Shannon RFC, the reigning AIB League Division One champions, have to be applauded for their decision to maintain the admission price for their home league games.
Despite the constant struggles to attract crowds in the league, the entrance fee at Thomond Park will remain at 8 for this season. Shannon's first home game, last weekend, saw them beat Buccaneers 34-6.
The Shannon admission price has not deviated since the introduction of the Euro, which is an indication of their commitment to their members and supporters.
Speaking of the decision, Treasurer Neil O'Carroll outlined the club's reasoning behind the move, saying: "With club rugby competing for attention with the likes of the Magners League and especially the Heineken Cup, we felt that an increase in the entrance price would be counter productive.
"It's certainly not a question of Shannon not requiring the extra revenue but our aim has always been to encourage the supporters who may have lapsed in their support of the AIB League.
"Last season we had a 'Bring a Parent Day', when parents of our underage players got in free and we hope that these initiatives will be appreciated. 8 represents fantastic value with club rugby the place to see future Munster stars in action and we have plenty of those in Shannon," he added.
NAAS HOST ST. DAVID'S TOURING SIDE: Naas RFC will play host to St. David's Under-13s from Wales from Thursday to Sunday this week as the Welsh club visits Kildare for the first time since 1998.
The two clubs have been interlinked in recent seasons with Naas' Under-12 teams involved in the Annual Easter tour to Wales, and Naas RFC have remained one of the main community activity groups participating in the Twinnning Project between the two towns.
A statement from Naas RFC read: "We, as a club, are delighted to be able to reciprocate the very generous welcomes, which we have received on our annual visits to St. David's.
"Gerard Miles and his team, who have hosted many visiting Naas Under-12 squads in recent years, are bid a hearty Cead Mile Failte to Naas."
The touring St. David's party will be welcomed at the Town Hall by the Naas Mayor and Naas RFC officials on Thursday evening. The Welsh youngsters are due to play Naas and Barnhall over the weekend, with a Dublin city tour, a Viking Splash tour, bowling, quasar and a disco also planned.