The Exiles Branch of the IRFU has played a key role in identifying players with an Irish qualification down through the years. The 10th annual screening camp for young hopefuls took place recently at St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham.
63 selected players from the Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 age grades (at January 1, 2009) participated in the screening camp.
They came from as far apart as Glasgow and Penzance, with several from Yorkshire and a couple from South Wales, and included a number of young internationals. There is no doubt – from what was seen at the camp – that more will follow them along that path.
While the majority of the camp was taken up with skills/technique sessions, the players also undertook a full battery of fitness tests.
Talks on ‘The Prevention of Injuries’ (Neil Boyd), ‘Sport Psychology for the Young Player’ (Mark Pink) and ‘Rugby & Education’ (John Hunter) were included in the programme.
The latter was aimed at making our young players focus on their lifestyle (university, etc.) as part of their personal development – in line with IRFU thinking – and it was good again to see the large number of parents who availed themselves of the opportunity to attend this particular session.
The coaching team was headed up, as usual, by Exiles head coach Peter Halsall, supported by fellow Exiles Andrew Browne, John Casalaspro, Brian Farrell, Danny Lyons, and Simon Mason.
There was also the much appreciated support of the IRFU through the coaching inputs of High Performance Manager Allen Clarke, Connacht Academy Manager Nigel Carolan and Ireland Under-18 forwards coach Jimmy Duffy.
The breadth of knowledge on the coaching team meant that every technical aspect – from scrummaging to kicking, for example – was covered by a ‘specialist’.
It is also appropriate to give public appreciation of our physiotherapists, Neil Boyd and Maurice Collins, our medical officer Dr. Gary O’Driscoll, and our sport sciences’ support team led by Jamie O’Driscoll – all combining with the aforementioned to produce what most regard as the ‘best ever’ camp.