Tuesday 15 October 2019

Vaugh revels in chance to help next wave of rising stars

Despite coming late to game, Edenderry native is helping club evolve

Blues brothers: Bryan (front) and Ed Byrne battling the elements in squad training Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Blues brothers: Bryan (front) and Ed Byrne battling the elements in squad training Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Brian Lowry

The job of the CCRO (club community rugby officer) is fast becoming one of the key roles in a club.

Working within clubs around the province, under the guidance of the regional community rugby officer, the CCRO is responsible for the delivery of programmes in the designated area surrounding their club, with schools and community groups their main focus.

More often than not, a child's first encounter with rugby will come from a CCRO coaching in their school in the hope that they will join the local club and go on to harbour a love for the game.

Grainne Vaugh (right) is one such CCRO. Based in the Edenderry club on the Offaly/Kildare border, she has a large pond of schools in her area that spans three counties - Offaly, Kildare and Meath.

An Edenderry RFC woman at heart, the enthusiastic scrum-half was a late-comer to the game but in her nine years involved, she has achieved a lot, including playing in Division 2, Division 1 and the All Ireland League.

"I always had an interest in the game but didn't start playing until 2010. I have been a member of Edenderry Ladies since then and not only have we been very successful but I've made some great friends along the way.

"The ladies team has won various competitions such as Leinster league, cup and plate and can hopefully keep this going.

"I was very proud to captain the team for two years and have received personal awards such as player of the match, player of the year, players player of the year and club person of the year."

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In 2017 she delved even further into the rugby world when she was appointed the CCRO for Edenderry RFC.

"I started as CCRO in 2017 and have loved every second of it. I love getting out and coaching the next generation of players who are vital in every club."

Her main focus is getting kids to dip their toes in rugby while also getting secondary schools in the area playing at a competitive level.

"I am currently working in one secondary school and 18 primary schools, spread over three counties. My favourite part of the job is getting the children playing and experiencing rugby."

The influence of Vaugh in the club can especially be seen when it comes to girls' rugby.

Female rugby is on the crest of a wave nationally the last few years but the work and effort still has to be put in on the ground and the Edenderry CCRO has certainly done that.

Coaching

"I began my coaching experience over four years ago with secondary school girls who won a Leinster schools competition that year. I then encouraged these girls out to the club in Edenderry to start up an U-18 girls team.

"The girls put in great work-rate throughout the years and achieved success this year, winning the conference cup, creating history in the club.

"Last season I also helped start an U-16 and U-14 team to encourage more girls to play rugby and this has really taken off this year with the help of volunteers, parents and coaches.

"Some of the U-18 girls progressed on last year and were selected for Midland girls U-18s' which I also coached this year and they also attended screening blitzes for Leinster 7s and 15s.

"Eight of these midland girls were successful in making the Leinster 15s panel while five were selected for Leinster 7s.

"Edenderry RFC are proud to say they had one player, Laura Carty, selected for both and she excelled in the most recent interprovincial series and is now currently playing for Edenderry RFC ladies team.

"Through the development of underage teams, it is great to say both the ladies' and men's teams have benefited with the advancement of these players up to senior level."

It's a wide-ranging job and one she thoroughly enjoys. It is hard not to get consumed by it but as she explains, there is great satisfaction at seeing young boys and girls forge friendships and enjoy the game of rugby.

"With my role as CCRO, I am in a prime position to see the advancement of rugby in the youth of today through all stages from primary to secondary school, and to underage level.

"It gives me great pride to see the youth not only in my local community but also in surrounding areas have an outlet where they can participate in a group activity and build long-lasting friendships and develop personal skills such as leadership, teamwork and dedication.

"While working in the schools I also help out with many youth and minis teams, I make myself available to help coaches within the club and encourage many more to get involved in the club through coaching courses to simply helping out with after-match refreshments and supporting their local teams."

The boys are also seeing improvements in terms of development and in numbers taking part.

"The boys' rugby has grown in both the schools and club with St Mary's Secondary school, Edenderry fielding both junior and senior boys' teams last year and again this year, with many of these players filtering through the club.

"This year I also got the opportunity to work on one of Leinster's Inclusion Camps in Newbridge RFC. Events like these camps allow you to reach out to children with various levels of rugby - some that may have no rugby experience and it is wonderful to see them turn into keen players, while others work on fine-tuning their rugby skills in a fun environment."

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