Connacht look to spread game with four new CCROs
Connacht Rugby have added four club and community rugby officers to the ranks with Peter O'Hara (Monivea RFC), Will Thornton (Buccaneers RFC), Simon O'Malley (West Mayo) and Walter Gibbons (South/East Mayo) joining the team in the last week.
Club and community rugby officers (CCROs) work with teachers in primary and secondary schools setting up training sessions and coaching kids with a view to increasing numbers within the local clubs.
The scheme has been very successful to date with CCROs already operating in Sligo, Ballina, Westport/Castlebar and Galwegians/Corinthians.
The expansion of the programme has been driven by domestic rugby manager Eric Elwood.
"Growing the number of players participating at all levels across the province is one of our strategic objectives and the CCRO Programme is a key element in achieving this target," Elwood said.
"We have been innovative in our approach to funding these roles and have worked very closely with both the clubs and the county councils across the province to activate the funding."
One such example of the multi-faceted approach to funding the roles was in the south and east of Mayo where Ballinrobe RFC, Claremorris RFC and Ballyhaunis RFC have collaborated, along with Mayo County Council, to fund a CCRO in the area.
Speaking about the initiative, club support manager Lyndon Jones said the buy-in of all parties was critical.
"Working with Mayo County Council CEO Peter Hynes and director of services Joanne Grehan has been central to the creation of the South/east Mayo CCRO role," Jones said.
"Their enthusiasm and vision for the project has been instrumental in funding the role and we are really excited about this new and innovative approach to the scheme,"
Elwood added: "Mayo county council, along with Charlie Lambert from the Mayo Sports Partnership, have very much been a part of the initiative in South and East Mayo.
"Along with Walter, Will, Peter and Simon have come through a rigorous selection procedure and we are delighted to have coaches of such a high calibre and strong work ethic working within the Connacht Rugby family.
"We had a very productive team meeting last week where the guys got to catch up with the rest of the club and community staff and elite player development officers Mossy Lawler and Ambrose Conboy made a presentation on some of the technical frameworks we operate under.
"I know the CCROs are really looking forward to hitting the ground running and we're very excited about where this programme can take us."