Club Focus: Newport RFC - Tipp club building foundation on bright prospects
Newport RFC was established in 1971 and is based at Freigh Park, Co Tipperary.
Following participation at a challenge match at neighbouring club Ballina on St Stephen's Day in 1970, a group of Newport players decided to form their own club and have fielded a competing adult side ever since.
Playing in Division 2 of the Junior league, Newport RFC have focused on the development of their underage structure which was put in place over 30 years ago.
"During the early eighties Willie O'Dwyer, Paddy Ryan and Padraic Walkin started an underage team and our youths system have developed progressively ever since," says club fixtures secretary Sean Colgan.
Colgan, originally from Dublin, moved to Tipperary over 20 years ago and got involved with Newport RFC through his father-in-law Eamon Coffey, one of the club's founding members. In his capacity as U-13 coach along with Declan Ryan, Colgan said the club will continue to develop their current squad of players through the youth ranks and hope to retain and eventually field those players at adult level.
"We have a fantastic U-13 squad who recently played in their first youths match against Nenagh and I am very proud to say they won!
"At the moment we're amalgamating at U-14, U-15 and U-18 with other clubs but it is our goal to continue recruiting players and eventually field our own teams at those age grades.
"Our plan is also to keep going with our U-13s and eventually form a full U-20s side and we're only seven years away from achieving that.
"We want our youths to be a feeder into the adult side and after a couple of years competing at 20s, we believe we can form a second adult team and broaden our player base."
Newport RFC also caters for mini rugby with teams ranging from U-7s up to U-12s and Colgan said the basic skills developed at that level is a significant factor for the club's future success.
"The first time that mini rugby was played in Newport was back in 2003. An U-8s team was started by Mike Coughlan and John Delaney and our numbers at mini level have continued to grow significantly ever since.
"We have about 130 minis training on Sunday mornings so it's bedlam - but great craic!
"The players are really enjoying their rugby and developing their skills from a very young age which will definitely stand to them as they progress to youths rugby.
"I have to give credit to Mike Coughlan who is also doing trojan work in getting girls rugby up and running at the club.
"Mike has 30 players ranging between U-15 and U-17 training every Sunday morning so things are looking really positive for girls rugby taking off at Newport."
Situated in North Tipperary, Newport RFC boasts two playing pitches, a clubhouse and changing room facilities with ongoing plans to develop.
"We have adventurous development plans in mind," adds Colgan. "We have two pitches which facilitate home games and training sessions with training lights in place, and have further projects in the pipeline in conjunction with the IRFU to facilities our club's growth."
Looking ahead to the future, Colgan says Newport will set out to compete in Division 1 of the Junior League and reiterates the importance of investing time in the club's underage section.
"In the short term we are happy to stay in Division 2 but in the near future we would definitely like to be competitive in Division 1, to reach the top of that division and to play in the All-Ireland Junior Cup.
"Our long-term plan would be to have a team at every age grade and eventually have an adult ladies side.
"With the way things are going with girls rugby at the club, we're very close to achieving that goal and Newport RFC has a lot to forward to."
Newport RFC Officers
President: Mrs MJ O'Sullivan
Hon Secretary: Eugene Hanrahan
Fixtures Secretary: Sean Colgan
Youth Officer: John Delaney
Director of Rugby: Declan Ryan