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.
It's not often that Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan reveals the trade secrets of preparing a team for an international match but that is exactly what happened for over 200 IRFU Supporters Club members at Lansdowne Road last Thursday night.
In a fascinating insight into the practice and the theory behind that practice of how our 'heroes in green' prepare for a series of international matches, head coach O'Sullivan kicked off the season for IRFU Supporters Club Members with an in-depth presentation giving a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Ireland camp.
If you thought the life a professional rugby player was 'easy street', Eddie soon dispelled that notion as he talked and walked the audience through a typical week in the build-up to a Test match - stressing that the life of a international rugby player is not all 'fancy hotels and the adulation of adoring fans' but that the 80 minutes of a Test match was underpinned by weeks and months of serious preparation, discipline and rigorous application.
In camp, from an 8.00am rise each day the average international player's day is completely scheduled from pre meal weigh-in to obligatory afternoon rests, strapping, physiotherapy, refuelling, not to mention actual training, which adds up often to a 13-hour day.The presentation highlighted just how demanding a day in the life of a squad member during training camp was and provided a great insight into the complex workings of Ireland's training schedule.
In a series of fascinating video clips, Eddie took us through some of his highlights as head coach of the Ireland team, and in a questions-and-answers session for the members of the Supporters Club, he outlined his plans and aspirations for the coming season.
Following on from that, Ireland internationals Shane Horgan and Keith Gleeson dropped in to generously put themselves under the spotlight! Both spoke candidly about what it is like to play in an international match and taking up from where Eddie left off, Keith took us through the highs and lows of playing, the dislike of early kick-offs and how some players react to the emotion of the occasion and the singing of the national anthem and Ireland's Call.
Shane spoke about how much he loved playing in the permanent tsb autumn Test series at Lansdowne Road, how the floodlights added to the buzz and the drama of the match occasions and how much he was looking forward to getting back into action after the Lions tour.
If you weren't there, it was a great night - roll on New Zealand in November!