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IRFU Announce New PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group

IRFU Announce New PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group

The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced the new PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group (HPSG). The players selected enter an elite process, complementing their provincial ambition with exposure to national squad expectations.

The Select Group is part of the IRFU strategy to develop and prepare players for international rugby. The goal is to create an environment of excellence, working in partnership with the respective provincial structures, to ensure ‘the player’ realises his full potential.
The PwC High Performance Select Group has been selected by the IRFU High Performance Manager Allen Clarke with input from national coach Eddie O’Sullivan and consultation with each of the Provincial Directors of Rugby.

Players will move in and out of the PwC High Performance Select Group depending on performance, injury and succession into the national team. The players will spend the majority of their time working in the provincial structures with specific High Performance Unit consultation during their time as part of the group.

In line with this strategy, the new HPSG sees some changes to last year with Cian Healy, Jonathan Sexton, Gavin Duffy, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Hurley, Ryan Caldwell and David Pollock joining the other members who have remained part of the group.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group


Luke Fitzgerald*, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip*, Trevor Hogan*, Robert Kearney*, Jonathan Sexton


Daniel Riordan*, Gavin Duffy


Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Hurley


Tommy Bowe*, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris*, David Pollock, Bryan Young*

*Indicates second year as part of PwC HPSG

Players moving out of PwC HPSG: Ronnie McCormack, Kieran Lewis, Barry Murphy.

HPSG Programme – Added Value

The programme will also contain ‘added value’ elements that will include –

 Regular consultation with the Provincial coaching teams

 Individual player evaluation – on and off the field

 ‘Player cam‘ footage, analysed by the High Performance Unit and national management during Magners League and Heineken Cup/European Challenge Cup games

From this, individual programs will be devised, providing the player with key performance indicators in order to achieve his playing ambitions. The HPSG players will also be invited to attend national squad sessions to acclimatise and prepare for progression into the National team structures.

The PwC HPSG is the pinnacle of a three tier High Performance structure. It is underpinned by the Academy Select and the National Talent Squad (NTS), which selects and identifies players from schools and clubs.

“The ambition and potential to become seasoned internationals”

IRFU High Performance Manager Allen Clarke said: “Players within the HPSG have the ambition and potential to become seasoned international players. The fact that we have new faces and an increase in overall numbers is reflective of the quality within our provincial structures and Irish rugby.

“Coming at the end of a Rugby World Cup cycle, the goal is for these players to have the necessary competencies to ensure selection for RWC 2011 and, in some cases, 2015.

“Some already have international experience, but the challenge is to confirm technical and positional proficiency, tactical understanding, optimum physical and conditioning presence and the psychological hardness to not only survive in the international arena but to become winners in it.

He added: “The challenge for Irish rugby is to create a continuous flow of quality indigenous talent into our provincial and national game. To achieve this requires early identification and selection of players with the potential and capacity for success. The relationship and support from the club and school environment, in particular, has been excellent.

“The role of these key partners and their respective coaches is greatly valued. There is a genuine understanding that by working in harmony to deliver a holistic program for young talent, will ultimately result in reward for the player.”

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan said: “The next four years will be important in planning for player succession. The end of the Rugby World Cup cycle will mean that these players, form and injury permitting, will move more into the national team set up and hopefully selection. The high number of the PwC HPSG selected in this year’s Six Nations Squad shows how the process is continuing to aid these players’ development at the highest level.”

“The right people with the right talent and experience”

Speaking at the announcement, Ronan Murphy, Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers said: “Having the right people with the right talent and experience and who work well together is crucial for winning in business and in sport. It is this combination, together with appropriate nurturing and succession plans that results in maximising performance and securing long term success.

“The PwC High Performance Select Group is about achieving just that. Through selecting the best players and giving them the best coaching and training, this initiative supports these young high achievers in their challenge to become regular international players and world class performers.

“Likewise at PwC, we aim to recruit the best and the brightest people, and develop their potential through great training and experience so that they become top class business advisors. PwC is delighted to be associated with the IRFU, the High Performance Select Group and Irish rugby.”

For photos from today’s launch of the new PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group at Spencer Dock in Dublin, please click here.