Leinster Rugby have today confirmed the province’s Academy panel for the 2016/17 season.
Eight players in total have joined the Leinster Academy including Ireland Under-20 captain James Ryan (Lansdowne), currently in Manchester preparing for Saturday’s World Rugby U-20 Championship final against England.
He is joined in that Year One roster by his Ireland Under-20 team-mates Will Connors (UCD), Max Deegan (Lansdowne), Hugo Keenan (UCD), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD) and Andrew Porter (UCD). Jack Power (Clontarf), who has also been named in the 2016/17 Academy, was ruled out of the World Championship due to injury.
Leinster Rugby have also confirmed the names of those graduating from the Academy set-up with eight of those players pursuing professional contracts with Leinster or elsewhere, while Harrison Brewer and Steve Crosbie are still exploring options away from Leinster.
Two players, Tom Farrell and Cian Kelleher, have signed with Bedford Blues and Connacht respectively.
Of the six players staying with Leinster, four made senior appearances last season while two others, Billy Dardis and Tom Daly, were a crucial part of the Leinster ‘A’ team that went unbeaten through their British & Irish Cup pool campaign and also competed as recently as last weekend with the Ireland Men’s Sevens team in Monaco.
Of the other players graduating and staying with Leinster, Adam Byrne started three times for Leinster in the GUINNESS PRO12 last season, scoring two tries in the process. The UCD winger was also a prominent figure in Monaco last weekend as Ireland lost out in the Cup quarter-finals.
Lansdowne man and Offaly native Peter Dooley made his senior debut in October 2014 against Edinburgh but made his first Leinster start last season in the Champions Cup against Bath. In total, the loosehead prop made 21 appearances during his breakthrough campaign.
Former St. Michael’s College pupil Ross Molony was another to make a big impact in his last season in the Academy and like Dooley, he made 21 appearances over the course of the season in the PRO12 and Champions Cup. Molony started last month’s PRO12 final from the second row against Connacht.
Finally, UCD’s Garry Ringrose made his debut last season against Cardiff Blues and would go on to win a total of 22 caps in 2015/16. Along the way he crossed the whitewash three times and, like Molony, started the PRO12 final in Edinburgh. Ringrose was also nominated for the IRUPA Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year award.
Peter Smyth, the Leinster Rugby Academy Manager, said: “It is great to welcome into the Academy all of our Year One recruits. They have all made significant contributions to the successful Ireland Under-20s’ Six Nations and World Championship campaigns. Along with our Year Two and Three players, we look forward to continuing their development as professional players during the season ahead.
“A number of players graduating from the Academy have secured professional contracts for the upcoming season with Leinster and elsewhere. Congratulations to every single player and also to the staff who assisted with their development and we wish them all the very best of luck for the future.”
LEINSTER RUGBY ACADEMY PANEL – 2016/17 SEASON: