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Unidare RFC To Participate In Player Exchange Scheme

Unidare RFC To Participate In Player Exchange Scheme

His Excellency, the Ambassador for New Zealand, Derek Leask, formally launched an international rugby exchange programme between New Zealand and Ballymun/Finglas areas of Dublin on Thursday, on behalf of the New Zealand Ireland Association (NZIA).

The launch event took at the DCU Sports Complex on Ballymun Road, where the Ambassador announced details of a player exchange between Unidare RFC, who are based in Ballymun, and Matamata United Sports in New Zealand.

The groundbreaking initiative is the brainchild of the NZIA and Unidare RFC and will see a young player from one of the non-traditional rugby playing areas of Dublin spend six months playing in New Zealand to further develop their rugby skills.

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The selected player, who must be over 18 as of March 1, 2008, will be chosen after meeting strict criteria including: current level of participation, playing ability and likelihood of maximising the experience on both a personal and sporting level.

Once chosen the player will spend from April to September 2009 living, working and playing rugby with Matamata United Sports in New Zealand.

Current Ireland internationals Geordan Murphy and John Hayes spent time playing in New Zealand before their careers took off and both found the move very beneficial.

This Unidare-Matamata project seeks to promote the game in areas of Dublin city where it does not typically have a strong following, in addition to strengthening the sporting links between the two countries.

Speaking at the launch, Joe Harton of Unidare RFC, said: “Mr. Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the IRFU, has often talked of the demand for rugby in the areas of Dublin that don’t traditionally play rugby.

“Unidare RFC draws many of its players from the Ballymun and Finglas areas of Dublin and has proven his point on the matter of the future of the game.

“Even without major investment, the game has gone from strength to strength in Dublin 11. This scholarship demonstrates our commitment to supporting and growing the game at grassroots level into the future.”