Earlier this week the IRFU’s Head of Athletic Performance and Science Nick Winkelman facilitated a video call between the IRFU’s lead athletic performance coaches across the provinces and the Sevens programme with counterparts from high performance sport in the US to discuss strategies for connecting with athletes remotely.
Participating from the IRFU were the four Provincial Athletic Performance leads Dave Howard (Connacht), Charlie Higgins (Leinster), Denis Logan (Munster) and Tom Clough (Ulster) as well as Allan Temple-Jones, the lead athletic performance coach for the Ireland Sevens programme.
Participating on the video conference from US sport were Matt Blood, Director Player Development with the Baltimore Orioles and a number of his batting coaches. Coordinating input from a host of US Olympic sports was Christine Bolger, Associate Director, Coaching Education (US Olympic Committee) with contributions coming from Reilly Dampeer (USA Rowing), Bobby McGee (USA Triathlon), Karch Kiraly (USA Volleyball) and Billy Walsh (USA Boxing).
The various sports discussed the usage of social media and video conferencing platforms to support their athletes and stay connected with training plans, technical instruction and the importance of clear and consistent communication.
Supporting athlete mental well-being was identified as a key area particularly for Olympic athletes who have just this week been informed that the Games in Tokyo have been postponed for a year.
The IRFU will continue to explore the best ways to support our players over the period where they are on individual training programmes.