The 11th annual Irish Exiles Screening camp took place at St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham last weekend. With 47 players selected, the camp provided a unique opportunity for these players to work under top flight coaches in a professional atmosphere.
This year’s Exiles Screening Camp was notable for the spread of players, with two USA Eagles Under-17 internationals, two Spain Under-16 and Under-18 internationals, and players from Belgium and Luxembourg joining the usual contingent of players from England, Scotland and Wales.
The 47 players selected all play at Under-17, Under-18 or Under-19 levels (as at January 1, 2010).
While the majority of the camp was taken up with skills/techniques sessions, the players also undertook a full battery of fitness tests, administered by our sport sciences support team led by Lisa Griffiths and overseen by Des Ryan, the IRFU Fitness Development Manager.
Talks on ‘The Prevention of Injuries’ – Neil Boyd, the Exiles Physio – ‘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.
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 by Allen Clarke, the IRFU High Performance Manager and current Ireland Under-20 coach, assisted by Jonathan Bell, the Elite Player Development Officer with Ulster, and Exiles head coach Peter Halsall.
They were supported by fellow Exiles Kevan Bell, Andrew Browne, Brian Farrell, Paddy Gill, Henry Diamond, Danny Lyons, and former Ireland international Simon Mason.
The breadth of knowledge on the coaching team meant that every technical aspect, e.g. scrummaging, was covered by a ‘specialist’.
A pleasant surprise awaited John Hunter at his 11th and last Camp as organiser, when a presentation was made to him by Willie Gribben, the Ireland Under-18 Clubs manager, in front of all the players.
John was deservedly honoured for his services to age grade rugby in Ireland. He will retire from his role with the Exiles this summer and will be greatly missed.