Wednesday 11 December 2019

Like father, like son - Tullow's future stays in safe hands

CCRO focus: Will Canavan - Tullow RFC

Will Canavan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Will Canavan. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

Will Canavan is following on a strong family tradition in Tullow RFC.

Having come into the CCRO (Club Community Rugby Officer) position earlier this year, it wasn't through the normal channels.

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When he was young, he had rugby instilled in him by his father Larry, who is a long-standing servant of the club. Larry Canavan was also the CCRO in the club until earlier this year but illness struck him down.

It was almost fate that the Canavan name would come into the breach and his son Will is now in as cover as Tullow CCRO. Will Canavan has been involved in rugby since his early years and has been a stalwart for the club between the white lines over the years.

With a strong background and a glimpse into the role of CCRO back in 2016, he has taken on the challenge and carrying on the family tradition. "I started playing for Tullow when I was nine and I would always be at the men's games growing up as my father Larry played and coached the team," he says.

"I just started in the CCRO role in 2019 as cover for Larry who is recovering from illness.

"I did a year of work experience in this role back in 2016."

He has pretty much been a one-club man during his playing career also.

Tullow through and through, he started at out-half in the Towns Cup final in 2018 when Tullow were agonisingly defeated by Enniscorthy a year on from their maiden Towns Cup victory in 2017.

"I played all my underage rugby with Tullow. When I went to college in Athlone Institute of Technology, I played a couple of seasons with Buccaneers RFC.

"Since returning to Tullow, I've played all my rugby with Tullow RFC."

His new role in the club has brought him closer to the heartbeat of the club.

Now focused on spreading the game of rugby to the young kids in the area, he is doing a job that his father would have done for many years before him.

Getting into the schools and getting kids into the basics and the enjoyment element of the game is what it's all about with the hope that the kids will take to the game and end up joining Tullow RFC.

At the moment, Will Canavan has 20 primary schools and two secondary schools under his watch.

It is a big work load but when you have a deep-rooted love for the game, the hard work is that bit easier.

The area is a broad one, from Bunclody in north Wexford right up as far as Donard in south-west Wicklow, not to mention all in between.

With such a large area to cover, support and encouragement from the club have been vital since he came into the job.

"The club are a great help to be fair.

"Eddie Thornton and Robin Johnson are the points of contact and if I ever need anything, they are always there to help out.

"They are very generous with their time and that support from my club has been invaluable."

In recent years, the club have had some significant success at underage level with Canavan pointing out that his father's role as CCRO would have played a big part in that.

"The U-17 Tullow team won the All-Ireland in 2017. Four members of that team have gone on to represent the Leinster Youths with two making the Irish Youths.

"All of these players would have been identified by Larry in primary school as players with potential as he would have coached them tag rugby.

"The Aldi tag rugby programme has been a great benefit to the club as our numbers at mini and underage level have swelled thanks to Larry and his hard work in getting around to as many schools in the area as possible."

Tullow RFC are a deep-rooted part of the community in the area with a history dating back over 90 years.

Founded in 1928, the club found it hard to get momentum in its earlier years and, as a result, had a stop-start existence for a number of years.


That was until 1971 when the club was reformed under a stronger footing and since then the club has grown into a club who are now a recognised force in Leinster Junior rugby.

Tullow has grown at a tremendous rate over the last few years thanks in no small way to the performances of their best-known clubman, Seán O'Brien, for the Lions, Ireland and Leinster. Seán dedicates a tremendous amount of time to the club not just at senior level, but at all age grades.

Larry Canavan has given the club countless hours of his life and has been rooted in the underage development for so long.

Will Canavan is now the new man on the scene and he is eager to give the job the effort and commitment it deserves.

The club is thriving. Participation numbers are up across the board and the hard work on the ground is paying off.

All signs are on it that the next potential stars from the Tullow area are in safe hands.

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