The committee and staff of the IRFU were saddened to hear of the death of former Ireland coach Roly Meates and send condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
T.W. Roland ‘Roly’ Meates, who dedicated a lifetime of service to Irish rugby and was long hailed as a ‘scrum guru’, died on Wednesday after a long illness.
A dentist by profession, Meates played as a prop for Dublin University, with whom he won Colours for three years, Wanderers and Leinster.
He went on to make his name as a coach perhaps ahead of his time, firstly at Trinity through an immense 30-year spell – 1966 to 1996 – and then for two different five-year periods at Leinster’s helm.
He coached the Ireland team for two seasons in the mid-1970s (1975 to 1977). The highlight was a 13-12 comeback win over England at Twickenham in 1976, before they beat Fiji and narrowly lost to New Zealand on tour.
He was known for being meticulous in preparing his squads, especially regarding set-piece work, skills and fitness. Some of his training sessions with the national side included a famous mile-and-a-half race over a figure-of-eight course.
The Dubliner was later chairman of the Ireland Selection Committee, overseeing the 1982 Triple Crown success, and made his mark during the professional era, helping to hone some of Leinster’s leading front row talent as their scrum coach for seven seasons.
His breadth of scrummaging knowledge and sheer love of coaching led to him putting on scrum clinics around his native province, assisted by former Ireland internationals Philip Orr and Des Fitzgerald, and he also enjoyed taking schools teams for training sessions.
Meates’ coaching spells also saw him take charge of the President’s XV, Wolfhounds, Combined Provinces and Irish Universities teams down through the years.
Highly spoken of as an administrator, he served as President of the Leinster Branch in the 1968/69 season while at the same time coaching the province’s first ever Under-19 team. He was a member of the IRFU’s Rugby Committee from 1972 to 1984.
In the early 1990s, he spent time as President of the Irish Universities Rugby Union and Chairman of the IRFU Amateur Status and Medical Committees. He was also a trustee of the IRFU Charitable Trust.
In addition, he had the honour of being President of his two clubs, DUFC (1992/93) and Wanderers (2001/02), and made history as the first Honorary Member of Dublin University Football Club.
A Leinster Rugby Special Merit award winner on his retirement in 2007, he received the Tom Rooney award from the Rugby Writers of Ireland the following year for his exceptional contribution to Irish rugby, which saw him become one of the foremost scrum coaches in world rugby.
Meates had a successful private dental practice in Ballsbridge and was the appointed dentist to Arthur Guinness and Company in St. James’s Gate for over 30 years.
A governor of The High School in Rathgar where he was also Chairman of their Sports Committee, he was a very keen golfer and a renowned public speaker.
Our sincere condolences to Heather, his family and wide circle of friends as we fondly remember a true legend of Leinster and Irish rugby.
Funeral details here.