12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
The province's latest HETAC graduates - Mark Flanagan, Brendan Macken, Ian Madigan, Jack McGrath, Ciaran Ruddock and Dominic Ryan - were in attendance at a Leinster Rugby Academy HETAC Conferring Ceremony in the RDS on Tuesday.
One of the graduates, Rhys Ruddock, was unable to attend due to his involvment with the Ireland GUINNESS Series squad this week at Carton House.
The players received their Diplomas in Professional Rugby, following in the footsteps of the graduates from the same programme in recent years - Fionn Carr, Matthew D'Arcy, Jason Harris-Wright, Felix Jones, Ross McCarron, Conor McInerney, Ian McKinley, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Monahan, Sean O'Brien, James Power, Jonathan Sexton, Thomas Sexton, Eamonn Sheridan, Richie Sweeney, Devin Toner, Kyle Tonetti and Cillian Willis.
Overseen by Academy Manager Colin McEntee in conjunction with Tom Turner (Academy fitness coach) and Caroline Keane (Academy administrator), the programme encompasses a three-year supplementary course in modules such as 'Rugby Technical', 'Tactical', 'Generic', 'Fitness', 'Lifestyle', 'Media' and 'Psychological Skills'.
The course also includes the recently created 'Community' module which sees the players undertake modules in hospitals and community centres around the province.
Leinster Rugby acknowledge the continued support of those conducting the modules over the course of the diploma, ranging from Leinster and IRFU staff together with outside professionals specific to each module.
Special thanks to the support team of Girvan Dempsey, Wayne Mitchell and John Fogarty (Elite Player Development Officers) and also Dave Fagan, Sami Dowling and Bryan Cullen (Age Grade strength and conditioning coaches) for their hard work.
McEntee commented: "The Diploma in Professional Rugby is a very important part of the Leinster Academy programme and we pride ourselves on our provincial development pathway and in encouraging players to have the best all-round education, on and off the field.
"That so many of these players have gone on to make a contribution to the senior team's fortunes in recent times is satisfying and bodes well for the future of the game in our province.
"Through our association with HETAC, it enables Leinster Rugby to conduct a course, culminating in a diploma which is specifically designed to prepare for all aspects of professional sport.
"We are delighted that seven more of our Academy graduates have received their diplomas today and we wish all of them every success in the future.
"Finally I would like to thank Frank Sowman for his outstanding contribution to the Academy Board in recent years. As Chairman, Frank has played a key role in the various advances of the Academy of late and has been an important support base for me and the other staff.
"We thank him for his hard work and wish his successor Tony O'Beirne well in his new role."
Leinster Academy Board: Tony O'Beirne (Chairman), Michael Dawson, Guy Easterby, Des Lamont, Philip Lawlor, Colin McEntee, Philip Orr and Ben Underwood.