Creating a game for everyone in the west
Corrib RFC are continuing to grow as they seek to be an all-inclusive, forward-thinking rugby club, writes Daragh Small
Corrib RFC have cracked most facets of the club-rugby code in the province, and with the hard work of people like Paddy Tamplin they aim to grow the girls' game too.
Tamplin is a native of Shankill and went to school in Newpark in Blackrock. He arrived in Galway in 2000 and only started in his current role as minis co-ordinator at the Headford-based club, during the summer, taking over from Chris Kiely, although he has been involved for the last four years.
"We did have girls at U-12s but we can't field a full team once they go up to U-13. Unfortunately we lose them to Corinthians, Galwegians or Tuam," said Tamplin.
"We have a flyer that we put out to the schools for girls and boys. We have two female coaches at minis level with Helen O'Neill and Anne Marie Hernon which is great.
"We are aware that we need to focus a bit more on the girls' side of the game. But it's like anything once you get a few girls in that will start spreading a bit more. We have to work at that.
"We have to put that work in at different age levels too. At U-11s we have 32 players where we are very strong. At another age-group we would be low on numbers.
"You do tend to get to numbers where it just happens through osmosis and the kids invite their other friends. And that's what we want to do with the girls' side of it. It's certainly not by design, we are just low on numbers there."
But the rest of the underage section is booming in Headford and numbers are up on last year's figure of more than 160 between the minis and various age-groups.
"We are just pushing for including more kids, participation, the fun and enjoyment of the game. Connacht Rugby is great in how they support us in the community," said Tamplin.
"We are just trying to grow the game as a positive thing for the kids to get involved in through the schools and running non-competitive blitzes and things like that.
"Like all sports at that age-group all volunteers and people are in it for the enjoyment. We are trying to get kids away from their PlayStations basically."
Corrib RFC is located adjacent to the Presentation College Headford in north Galway, and it was set up in 1981 by Gerry Coen, Andy Reddington, Donal Halleran and John Cooke.
Since then they have become an accomplished outfit at senior level, but their growing minis and youths structure will ensure the club continues to thrive.
"We are up on our numbers from last year and I would put it down to the volunteers and parents," said Tamplin.
"Once you have committed and trained and have enthusiastic coaches first, who are giving the positive influence of the game, that's what is important. Inclusion is a big thing because it's non-competitive and there is a place for every child.
"The other one is the parents - they are the taxis. And as long as they feel their child is benefiting, enjoying it and that the parents themselves, when they bring them to training or blitzes, we make sure there is coffee there for them and it's a community gathering environment. That helps the game to grow.
"We have a young player who is playing with us. He has learning difficulties but he is involved in the game, and chatting with his mother recently she is delighted with how he has come on and is making a few friends through the club.
"That's the real positive thing we are trying to develop. It is working well."
The minis train every Saturday morning at 10am and they have regular blitzes with other clubs within the province, where Corrib travel or host the opposing sides.
But it's all done on a non-competitive basis and Tamplin urges any parent thinking about allowing their child venture into a new sport to give rugby a try.
It costs €30 for a child to join Corrib, and only €50 for two children from one family.
Tamplin believes there are massive benefits for anyone who plays rugby, especially with Corrib RFC.
"When I'm at the meetings everyone seems very focused on growing the club in a fun and inclusive way.
"It tends to work regionally, if the kid wants to play, most schools will be affiliated to a club. We would work with the schools within our area, which is about 14 primary schools and just the one secondary school which is PCH (Presentation College Headford)," said Tamplin.
"We find that if some kids are playing and really enjoying it that it spreads. More kids want to get involved and enjoy it. As long as they turn up and do enjoy it then it all goes the right way.
"We are finding by just engaging with the kids, when they come along and enjoy it. The interesting thing we get from parents is they are worried about their kid. And there is an unfortunate perception that the game is more dangerous than others. So it's up to us to ensure that we convey that's not the case.
"And secondly, if there are any risks we cover them to the max. This is where Connacht is very good in training up the coaches. We are using correct techniques, keep the enjoyment, and also the safety aspect of the game.
"That's where the success of club is in attracting new players in and they enjoy it."