The Connacht Rugby Club & Community Department have been running Women’s Rugby World Cup National Schools Blitzes across the province this month.
Women’s Development Officer Wendy Hickey has been co-ordinating the five events as Connacht Rugby continue to promote girls’ rugby and the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The blitzes were played in Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Leitrim and Roscommon with 22 schools from those five counties taking part.
There will be a very special guest in Ballyhaunis RFC for the final, combined World Cup Blitz on Tuesday, April 4, as the Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy will be on display. The final blitz is open to all schools with a maximum of 32 teams catered for on the day and you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your school’s place.
Following the first blitz in Galway that saw over 80 fifth and sixth class pupils from Scoil Íde NS, Kiltartan NS and Tierneevin NS playing rugby, the second blitz took place in Castlebar RFC.
The turnout from the Mayo schools was incredible as close to 300 boys and girls took to the pitches to play touch rugby matches.
Breaffy NS (Canada), Balla NS (England), St. Brendan’s (Australia) and Snugboro (Hong Kong) were well represented on the day. Connacht Rugby Club and Community Officer Simon O’Malley, who works with Castlebar RFC and Westport RFC, had been training the players over the past couple of months, yielding some fantastic results.
To cater for the huge playing numbers, Wendy and Simon were assisted by fellow Club & Community staff Lyndon Jones, JP Walsh, Russell O’Brien, Walter Gibbons, Colm McWeeney, and Castlebar RFC volunteer Gavin Sullivan.
The third National school blitz in Carrick-on-Shannon was another incredible success as over 250 children from four schools took part. Scoil Mhuire Carrick on Shannon (Ireland), Gaelscoil Liatroma (Hong Kong), Drumkeerin Central NS (Japan) and Corrigeenroe NS (Italy) played their part in another excellent day of rugby.
Wendy Hickey and Colm McWeeney co-ordinated the blitz with a number of volunteers from Carrick-on-Shannon refereeing the games – Bryan Kelly, Nav Logan, Marie Clerkin and Justin Farrell.
A further five schools took part in the Sligo blitz with Connacht Rugby staff Carl Van Rensburg and Gavin Foley helping with the organisation of the event, along with schoolteacher Ruth Goodwin and other volunteers.
Strandhill National School (England), Ransboro National School (Canada), Chnoc na Ré (Ireland), Carraroe National School (Italy) and Geevagh National School (USA) all took part in another very successful event.
The final blitz was help at Creggs RFC in Roscommon blitz with another five schools involved – Tarmon National School (USA), Creggs National School (Australia), Cloontuskert National School (Canada), Kilteevan National School (France), Gaelscoil de hÍde (New Zealand) and Cloverhill National School .
Connacht Rugby staff Wendy Hickey and Emer O’Dowd were assisted by Transition Year students at the event and Connacht Rugby would like to thank Michael McAteer, Pat O’Gormon, Ger and Kieran Dowd, and Dave Purcell – all extremely active members of Creggs RFC, for their assistance.
Wendy Hickey, Women’s Rugby Development Officer and co-ordinator of the events, was delighted with the huge success of the initiative.
“The aim of these blitzes is to encourage children to play rugby as well as help promote the Women’s Rugby World Cup that is coming to Ireland this summer. The CCRO’s have been absolutely fantastic in getting their local schools involved in this initiative,” she said.
“Without their help and support, events like this just could not take place. I would like to thank all of the clubs for hosting the event, and also all the Connacht Rugby staff, volunteers and teachers for making this happen.
“The Club & Community Officers in each area were a massive help, they are doing great work on behalf of Connacht Rugby across the province and it has been fantastic to see so many girls and boys having fun playing rugby.”
Connacht Rugby will be holding Easter Camps in Castlebar RFC (April 11-13), NUIG RFC in Dangan Sports Campus (April 11-13) and Loughrea RFC (April 18-20). Places are still available and you can book here.
See a selection of photos from the five blitzes below.