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CCROs creating a revolution across province

While Leinster Rugby may be synonymous with packed houses and glorious European nights at the RDS and Aviva, this is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the mandate of the province in relation to developing rugby across a 12-county area.

While it may be the professionals who bring the publicity and success, it is the amateur participants who ultimately ensure the game's long-term health and prosperity with 15,000 playing in Leinster and many more involved in the administration, coaching and development of the game through schools and clubs.

Those at the coal face, figuratively speaking, are the club community rugby officers, the point of first contact between Leinster Rugby and local schools and communities.

These rugby lovers are 21st century sporting missionaries, committed to spreading the game throughout the province by liaising closely with their individual clubs.

The scale of the operation becomes apparent when one considers the number of clubs in the province with a CCRO, which currently stands at 40, with the entire geographical area of the 12 counties under the CCROs' collective sphere of influence.

Philosophy

One of the most impressive aspects of the program is the concerted desire to implement a specific province-wide rugby philosophy based on the principles that have garnered the professional players so much success. The focus on a skills-based offloading game, where space not contact is sought, is a fundamental cornerstone of the CCROs' raison d'ĂȘtre.

Although the schools game is still the predominate player in terms of producing talent that rises to the professional ranks, there is genuine cause for optimism that this may not be the case indefinitely. Scott Broughton, Ashbourne RFC CCRO, is a believer. He said: "I think the clubs are starting to get more of an influx into the Leinster set-up and that's down to the work that's been done at grassroots level. Hopefully if we keep going we can get even more club players into the Leinster Academy."

The success of the CCRO program since its inception is evidenced in the dramatic increase in both playing numbers at club youth level and school involvement in areas that would not traditionally be considered hotbeds of rugby talent.

Unidare RFC's chairman Pat O'Donnell is fulsome of his praise of the role of local CCRO Colm Finnegan. "We wouldn't be where we are without the full support of Leinster. It's fantastic."

With dedication like this, it appears rugby is on a solid footing for the future.


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