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Schmidt to speak at conference to promote safe rugby for children

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Pictured are some of the almost 100 Connacht players past and present who were honoured at the first Connacht Women’s Recognition Night earlier this month

Pictured are some of the almost 100 Connacht players past and present who were honoured at the first Connacht Women’s Recognition Night earlier this month

Pictured are some of the almost 100 Connacht players past and present who were honoured at the first Connacht Women’s Recognition Night earlier this month

The IRFU have announced that the first Spirit of Rugby Conference is to take place in Dublin in 2019.

The one-day event will be held at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, January 13 as part of the IRFU's commitment to a safe and fun environment for age-grade players.

The theme of the conference is 'play your part, let them play,' with the aim of helping adults to create and maintain a safe and fun environment that prioritises player welfare.

Player welfare has been identified as an essential element in the retention of age-grade rugby players.

The conference is open to coaches, volunteers, parents and all those working with age-grade players in clubs and schools across the four provinces.

Four experts in well-being will address the conference, including keynote speaker John O'Sullivan.

O'Sullivan is a coach, author, TEDx speaker and founder of Changing The Game Project, a US organisation dedicated to improving the lives of children through sport.

The theme of the keynote address is: "How adults can contribute to creating and maintaining a player-centred environment in age-grade rugby."

Also addressing the conference are IRFU head of physiotherapy & rehabilitation, Professor Phil Glasgow, senior clinical psychologist Dr Paul Gaffney and Dr Anne Marie Waldron, who is a clinical director with the HSE's child and adolescent mental health services.

The conference will be opened by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and MC for the day is RTÉ broadcaster Damien O'Meara. A Q&A session with all four speakers will follow the keynote address.

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Attendees will learn how to create and maintain a safe and fun environment that prioritises player welfare.

Previous initiatives by the Spirit Safeguarding programme include a sideline behaviour video and providing every club in the country with fun and friendly pavement signs.

The conference costs €25 to attend and early registration, which can be done through irishrugby.ie, is advised.

Beibhinn does her province proud

There was a huge sense of pride among the Connacht Women's rugby community and province as a whole at the weekend when Beibhinn Parsons made history by becoming the youngest Irish senior international player.

The 16-year-old Ballinasloe native was selected in the match-day 23 for Ireland's Test match against USA at Donnybrook, and subsequently made an appearance off the bench.

Her first touch of the ball was a memorable one as she used her trademark lightning pace to break through the US line, but was just held up short of the try line.

Parsons' appearance was the result of a huge amount of work by Ballinasloe RFC to increase the numbers of girls at the club.

Eleven players, including Parsons, were members of the victorious Connacht U-18 Girls team this season which again speaks volumes for the work carried out.

Congratulations to Beibhinn and Ballinasloe from all at Connacht Rugby.


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