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XRugby7s Coaching Award Launched To Get Girls In Schools Onto Rugby Pathway
Canterbury of New Zealand

XRugby7s Coaching Award Launched To Get Girls In Schools Onto Rugby Pathway

XRugby7s Coaching Award Launched To Get Girls In Schools Onto Rugby Pathway

A new coaching award is being offered to help grow rugby participation numbers for girls in schools.

XRugby7s is a format of the game played cross pitch with seven players per team as a fun way of introducing rugby to players. The format features reduced intensity contact while the need for fewer players allows teams to get up and running without a large player base.

The first offering of the IRFU XRugby7s Coaching Award is primarily aimed at teachers who would like to offer contact rugby as an option to girls in their schools.

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There is no previous rugby experience required to undertake the course. The modules focus on fundamental and accessible skills as well as ensuring a fun and safe environment.

XRugby7s has grown in popularity in recent years. Schools learn the basics of rugby during the autumn and winter months with more formalised games and provincial qualifiers taking place in February and March.

This season’s programme is building towards an IRFU All-Ireland Girls XRugby7s finals day to take place on Wednesday April 6th 2022.

Kelly McCormill in XRugby7s action for Monaghan Collegiate at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 27/4/2016. ©INPHO/James Crombie

XRugby7s has proven itself as invaluable to both the 15s and the 7s game on the IRFU Women’s 15s & 7s Rugby Pathway. Many girls are using the format to try contact rugby for the first time with schools and clubs working together to provide further playing opportunities. The three winning schools to date are from counties Offaly, Wexford and Galway.

Monaghan Collegiate were one of the first schools to sign up. Kelly McCormill captained their side and was a break through player this year for Ulster in the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship. Sacred Heart Tullamore were cup winners in 2016 with a side including Megan Burns. Less than three years later, Burns made her debut on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Megan Burns in XRugby7s action for Sacred Heart Tullamore at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 27/4/2016. ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Natasja Behan captained Gorey Community School to victory in 2017 and has since become a regular face in the Energia All-Ireland League with provincial honours to boot.

Beibhinn Parsons burst onto the world stage when she made her Ireland debut against the USA on November 18th, 2018. Just 11 days earlier, she was part of the Ardscoil Mhuire Ballinasloe side that won the All-Ireland Schools competition for XRugby7s.

Many of Beibhinn’s school mates from that team remain on the rugby pathway. Emily Gavin is playing with Galwegians in the Energia All-Ireland League and made her Women’s Interpro debut for Connacht in September. Meabh Deely and Aoibheann Reilly represented Ireland at the International Rugby 7s tournament at St George’s Park in May.

XRugby7s is also invaluable in the opportunities it provides for participation and fun. Players from that 2018 side like Joanne Curley and Avril Deely are still in Ardscoil Mhuire and still playing. The schools rugby programme has continued to grow to the point where they are looking at 15-a-side competition.

Gorey Community School XRugby7s Captain Natasja Behan is presented with the cup by Chloe Blackmore of the Ireland Women’s sevens team, Energia Park, 8/11/2017 ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IRFU Women’s Development Manager Amanda Greensmith says one of the reasons why participation numbers are growing for girls is that clubs and schools are finding the right format to fit their needs.

“Our focus is getting girls onto the pathway as early as possible and ensuring a positive rugby experience that keeps them involved. It can be difficult for clubs and schools that are in the early stages of offering rugby to women and girls to go straight to a 15 a side programme. In that sense, XRugby7s is ideal as a gateway offering that helps to develop a love of the game.

It’s primarily a participation format. Yes, it presents opportunities for talent identification, but the success of the programme is girls getting involved, enjoying their rugby and looking at ways to stay in the game with their school, their club or their college if they move onto third level.

That’s why the IRFU XRugby7s Coaching Award is so important. Teachers are already experts at facilitating learning and new experiences in a safe environment. Many will already have some experience in other field sports. It’s about giving teachers the confidence to make the switch to coaching rugby, even if it’s something they haven’t done before.”

The course itself features a blended learning approach starting with online pre-course elements including:

  • What is XRugbys7s
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Award Process and Accreditation
  • Pre-Course Module 1: Mini Rugby Refereeing Module
  • Pre-Course Module 2: Role Of The Coach
  • World Rugby Concussion For The General Public Certificate

All would-be coaches will take part in three hours of practical workshops. These can be done in a single block or broken down into one-hour sessions.

Practical Workshop 1: Practical Workshop 2: Practical Workshop 3:
  • Intro to XRugby7s
  • Contact 1: Falling in the tackle, tackling
  • Game understanding 1: Defence
  • Debrief
  • Contact 2 – Ruck
  • Unit Play 1 – Scrum
  • Game Understanding 2
  • Debrief


  • Unit Play 2: Lineout Attack
  • Game Understanding 3
  • Summary & Review

Session plans and sample rugby activities which focus on fun will be made available to all course participants.


How To Take Part:

If a provincial rugby staff members is currently active within your school, talk to him/jher about taking part in this programme.

For teachers and would-be coaches who do not currently have access to a  provincial rugby staff member, please contact one of the following:

Connacht (North):

Emer O’Dowd, Women’s Development Officer: wendy.hickey@connachtrugby.ie

Connacht (South):

Wendy Hickey, Women’s Development Officer: emerodowd@connachtrugby.ie


Jennie Bagnall, Lead Women’s Development Officer: jennie.bagnall@leinsterrugby.ie

Munster (North):

Ken Imbusch, Women’s Development Officer, kenimbusch@munsterrugby.ie

Munster (South):

Willie Shubart, Women’s Development Officer, willieshubart@munsterrugby.ie


Eliza Downey, Female Rugby Co-ordinator: Eliza.Downey@ulsterrugby.com