Ireland Head Coach, Joe Schmidt was among the guest speakers at the inaugural Rugby Players Ireland/BDO Rookie Camp held in Druids Glen this week.
New Academy players from each of the four provinces were invited to participate in the induction programme to help them with various aspects of a career in the game. There was a major focus on off-field matters during the camp with players taking part in modules on financial planning, media engagement, behavioural attitudes and leadership.
The session also provided players with an opportunity to hear what it takes to be a professional rugby player in Ireland with Joe Schmidt and former Irish captain Jamie Heaslip in attendance to share their own respective experiences of the game.
The camp was led by Marcus Horan who is a Player Development Manager with the association and the former Ireland international says its purpose is to equip players with the necessary skills for their future, both on and off-the-field.
“In my own experience, I have learned that the education of players is crucial if they are to survive in what is a unique professional environment. Through this programme we have been able to highlight some of the issues that they are likely to face in the coming weeks and months. We have also been able to put the first building blocks in place to equip them with the skills required for the future, whether that lies in the sport or not.”
Recently retired, Jamie Heaslip says the camp is “learning lessons from the past’.
“Thankfully, I was fortunate to have enjoyed a long career in the game. I have many great memories, but also a few painful ones. I was delighted to have the opportunity to get in front of the future of Irish rugby and share a few tips that I would have appreciated when I was starting out. Of course, the game was in a very different place at that time. Taking learnings from the past, the Rugby Players Ireland/BDO Rookie Camp is a great initiative that will put these players in a strong position to progress.”