Monday 18 February 2019

Rugby smarts have blues ahead of the game

Leinster crew, like Josh Murphy, prove to be high achievers on and off the field

Josh Murphy is making waves as a Leinster player but is also studying medicine. Photo: Sportsfile
Josh Murphy is making waves as a Leinster player but is also studying medicine. Photo: Sportsfile

The advent of professionalism has been accompanied by a ramping up of the level of knowledge needed to prosper in the game.

The devil is in the detail that Joe Schmidt brought to Leinster and that has become a stable course of the diet at headquarters out in UCD.

It is simply not an option to just go out and play anymore. There has to be a dedication to work or you simply won't survive.

The much-talked about Leinster Academy is often a place for athletes with a difference.

A deep dig into the marriage between rugby and education reveals an astonishing return of high achievers at the province.

Jack Dunne. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack Dunne. Photo: Sportsfile

"There is definitely a correlation to be made between the demands of playing rugby and the studying, learning environment" said Bobby Byrne, the UCD Director of Rugby.


"First, you have to structure your day, manage your time between being a full-time professional athlete and a student.

"There is no doubt about it, the lads who are highly motivated, generally in life, are among the high achievers.

"Guys, who are smart academically, are smart on the pitch and it is the academic flexibility given by the institutions that make it that bit more manageable."

Before all of that, the combination of preparing for the Leaving Certificate and the Leinster Schools Senior Cup are viewed as complementary tools rather than impediments.

"The day is very structured when you are involved in rugby there," said Leinster Academy hooker Ronan Kelleher. "If you take, for example, a day in which you have a gym session as well, you often have that in the morning before school starts.

Peadar Timmins. Photo: Sportsfile
Peadar Timmins. Photo: Sportsfile

"Then, there is the school day and a pitch session after that which is followed by study from, maybe, 5.30-to-9.30.

"A lot of the rugby lads become really good at managing their time," he added.

"When they are doing rugby or school or homework, they know they have to make the best use of their time.

"Wherever they are, they are there to work," said the UCD Commerce student.

"The real high achievers, say Josh Murphy and Jack Kelly, end up managing their time really well and end up smashing the Leaving as well."

This is a List of 20 of Leinster's recent and current Academy members with a back-up plan when their rugby days come to an end.



Course: Business Studies, DCU

The British & Irish Lions tight-head is a graduate of business, who uses his intelligence wisely on and off the field.


Course: Business & Law, UCD

The flanker graduated last year so that he can give all his attention to breaking into the Ireland back row for the Six Nations.


Course: Business & Law, UCD

The Ireland centre, a player of obvious intelligence, backs this up with a diligent work ethic away from the field of play.


Course: Biomedical Engineering, UCD

The Naas wing is a unique physical specimen for his position in Irish rugby.


Course: Arts, History & Politics, UCD

Decided to take an arts degree, despite high points in the Leaving Certificate, so that he could focus on his rugby.


Course: Commerce, UCD

The left wing got down to completing his Commerce degree when let go from the Sub-Academy, before fighting his way back through the All-Ireland League.


Course, Commerce, UCD

The 23-year-old made a career-high 27 tackles in his last outing against Connacht while demonstrating natural leadership.


Course: Biomedical Engineering, UCD

The No 8 out of Clongowes was the first in the Leinster Academy to be offered a rugby and full Academic scholarship.


Course: Commerce, UCD

One of the few positives to come out of the Carlow man's hellish time with injury is that the prop was able to fully concentrate on his studies.


Course: Medicine, UCD

The St Michael's College graduate was immense against Ulster at the weekend as the flanker balances a heavy academic schedule with playing as a Blue.



Course: Law, Trinity College.

The Ireland U20 captain from last season has dealt with the disappointment of multiple injuries by attending to his demanding studies.


Course: Actuarial & Financial Studies, UCD

It looks like the Blackrock whizz will be outside centre for the Ireland U20s this season.


Course: Business & Law, UCD

The outside centre has been moving between playing for Leinster A in the British & Irish Cup and a challenging course in College.


Course: Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Sociology (PPES), Trinity College

The Academy scrum-half's most outstanding attribute is his decision-making.


Course: Commerce, UCD

The son of St Michael's Principal Tim, and brother to Connacht's Cian, is beginning to make his move for Leinster A.


Course: Biomedical Engineering, UCD

Another ex-Ireland U20 captain, the scrum-half is starting to break the stanglehold of Luke McGrath and Jamison Gibson-Park.


Course: Psychology, UCD

The No 8 from Ballina is interested in the family business, as parents Chris and Rachel are psycho-therapists.



Course: Theoretical Physics, Trinity

The second-row has a Naughton Scholarship and is on course to make the Ireland U20s this season.


Course: Astro Physics, UCD

This Ireland U20 second row, playing for Clontarf, is a highly intelligent student with a back-up plan.


Course: Business, Trinity College

The Belvedere College Senior Cup winning captain is a high energy, ultra-competitive openside with the smarts to match.

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