Rath­drum RFC pres­i­dent says youth sys­tem is key to suc­cess


Bray People - - Sport -

RATHDRUMRUGBY. COM talks to new Rath­drum Rugby Foot­ball Club Pres­i­dent, John Cash­man about his new role at the club, the strides taken by the club over the last few years and his hopes for the cur­rent sea­son.

John, May we first con­grat­u­late you on your elec­tion as Club Pres­i­dent for the com­ing sea­son. You must feel hon­oured?

It was def­i­nitely a great hon­our to be elected Pres­i­dent of Rath­drum RFC for the 2008-09 sea­son and also a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence when I think of all the past pres­i­dents who held this po­si­tion.

I have es­sen­tially grown up in the club, some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are at­tend­ing matches watch­ing my fa­ther, with my mother in the old pitch be­side Avon­dale.

Once I was able to run I started act­ing as ball boy which was tough work in those days as the pitch was prac­ti­cally at a 45 de­gree an­gle and any kicked ball would nearly end up on the Avon­dale Road.

And we be­lieve you are not the first Cash­man to hold the top job in Rath­drum Rugby Foot­ball Club?

No, both my par­ents were founder mem­bers of the club and are still heav­ily in­volved in it.

My fa­ther was club pres­i­dent for a con­sid­er­able pe­riod of the 1980’s and Mum was on the com­mit­tee up un­til two years ago.

My mother says that I was the first child born into the club and now as pres­i­dent, the first of the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion to hold that post.

And how are you set­tling into the job?

Very well I hope! I am ex­cep­tion­ally for­tu­nate to have a very ded­i­cated and hard work­ing com­mit­tee who help run the club in a very pro­fes­sional man­ner.

We are all work­ing to­wards the same goal and that is to en­sure that the club can com­pete ef­fec­tively at all lev­els from un­der 8s to se­nior 1sts.

There is no doubt that I have a hard act to fol­low in Padraig Smith who was Pres­i­dent for the last 4 years.

The club has thrived un­der his stew­ard­ship and I hope I can bring some of the same suc­cess as he did over the past few years.

Do you think it will be long be­fore the club be­gins to host the af­ter match re­cep­tion at its new club­house at the Ivy Leaf grounds?

We cer­tainly plan to one day have full post match re­cep­tions in the club­house.

At the mo­ment it is a ques­tion of pri­ori­tis­ing our ex­pen­di­ture and build­ing up the more es­sen­tial fa­cil­i­ties in the club. In the space of only a few short years we have gone from a sit­u­a­tion where we changed in a con­tainer, to a state of the art club­house with four chang­ing rooms and two shower blocks.

We now have two fully playable pitches, one all weather and a fully equipped gym for the use of our mem­bers on the first floor of the club­house.

None of th­ese projects would have been pos­si­ble without the hard work of a ded­i­cated few mem­bers such as Larry Par­sons, Tony and Ker­rin Buck, Padraig Smith and the other mem­bers who clubbed to­gether to help fit out the premises.

At the mo­ment we are in the process of in­stalling flood­light­ing that one day will en­able us to have full night­time matches.

This present project is the fo­cus of our at­ten­tion and fundrais­ing at the mo­ment and ma­jor fundrais­ing ini­tia­tives will con­tinue un­til it is com­pleted.

Once we have ful­filled our am­bi­tion of hav­ing the finest rugby fa­cil­i­ties in county Wick­low, then we will look at a so­cial area.

This re­ally should be the ic­ing on the cake in terms of the cul­mi­na­tion of so much ef­fort over the pre­ced­ing years.

Af­ter the hero­ics of winning the league last sea­son, the club has been pro­moted to Le­in­ster League, Divi­sion 2 this year. How are things shap­ing up and do you think we have what takes to last the pace?

We have the same coach­ing team in place this year as we had last. Ja­son Emery as head coach has brought many new ideas and be­liefs into the club from his play­ing days at a high level in New Zealand.

He is ably as­sisted by Mor­gan Sheri­dan who is a spe­cial­ist backs coach, hav­ing learnt his trade play­ing with Terenure at both schools and All Ire­land league level. The club has ab­so­lute faith in this coach­ing team and with club cap­tain David Wal­she the team will not be found want­ing on the rugby pitch. We have started the sea­son well this year, draw­ing with lo­cal ri­vals Wick­low who are a divi­sion ahead of us and beat­ing Kilkenny one of the tra­di­tional pow­er­houses of pro­vin­cial rugby in Le­in­ster.

Morale and ex­pec­ta­tions are jus­ti­fi­ably high in Rath­drum at present and with es­sen­tially the same squad with a few new play­ers we look for­ward to the Le­in­ster League with con­fi­dence.

It has been men­tioned that the lack of fix­tures and the late can­cel­la­tion of fix­tures was a real prob­lem last sea­son in terms of pro­duc­ing a con­sis­tent de­vel­op­ment side. Do you agree and how do you see the de­vel­op­ment side fair­ing this year?

The de­vel­op­ment team is in many ways as im­por­tant as the se­nior first’s squad. It is with this team that we get the op­por­tu­nity to blood new play­ers, re- in­tro­duce guys af­ter in­jury and also fa­cil­i­tate those who for what­ever rea­sons can’t make as much train­ing as they would like.

it We have the nu­cleus of a very good team with a fan­tas­tic com­bi­na­tion of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth.

Play­ers like Wil­lie Byrne, Karl Kennedy, Anto Byrne, Brian Burke and Dar­ragh Flan­nery have played at all lev­els from un­der-10s up to se­niors and it’s great to see them still play to­gether for Rath­drum on a Sun­day.

There is no sep­a­ra­tion be­tween play­ers in Rath­drum, if guys per­form to their po­ten­tial they can eas­ily end up play­ing for the firsts and equally if some­one takes things a lit­tle too easy they can be re­placed.

This keeps every­one on their toes and en­sures healthy com­pe­ti­tion for a start­ing place on a Sun­day.

The Drumettes have re­ally taken the club by storm over the last two sea­sons and have ce­mented Rath­drum Rugby Club as the home of women’s rugby in Co. Wick­low. As Club Pres­i­dent you must be very proud of their achieve­ments?

The Drumettes have come from nowhere to be the heart and soul of the club in only three years. All credit to their es­tab­lish­ment must go to Dave Fox who saw the op­por­tu­nity a few years ago to start a se­nior ladies team in Rath­drum.

This idea came about with the help of two lo­cal girls, Sarah Jane Bel­ton and Ger­maine Healy, who as es­tab­lished woman’s in­ter­na­tional rugby play­ers asked the club if they could train with the men dur­ing the sum­mer.

They were ac­cepted with open arms and this set in mo­tion the move­ment to es­tab­lish a team for women not only in Rath­drum but all of Co. Wick­low. Rath­drum is the only club in county Wick­low with a se­nior women’s team and at­tracts play­ers from all over the county. Sarah Jane and Gerri still pop by when­ever they get the chance to help train the girls, which is al­ways a big thrill as both girls have cap­tained their coun­try in in­ter­na­tional matches.

Not many teams of any sport in Wick­low can claim to have two for­mer Ire­land cap­tains as coaches.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the Drumettes has led to some of the boys tak­ing more care in their ap­pear­ance, a nicer smell around the chang­ing rooms and even a few ro­mances have started on the rugby pitch in Rath­drum.

Dur­ing the re­cent south­east games, it was no­tice­able that 90 per cent of the play­ers on dis­play for Rath­drum had come through the club’s youth sys­tem. You must be de­lighted by this?

The suc­cess of any club re­lies heav­ily of the vol­un­teer coaches and suc­cess­ful nur­tur­ing of play­ers from un­der 8s all the way through to se­niors.

There is no rea­son why a child start­ing out in rugby at age 6 or 7 can’t fin­ish in adult­hood play­ing for Ire­land in Lans­downe Road or Croke Park.

It is tes­ta­ment to the youth struc­tures that were put in place by the likes of Larry Par­sons, Dave Fox and Pete Mc Wil­liams that to­day the ma­jor­ity of our play­ers have played all their life in Rath­drum. As the old TV ad goes, ‘a club is more than just a club; it s a fam­ily’. Well this is es­pe­cially true in Rath­drum where we have a very close knit com­mu­nity and a rugby club that has grown up to­gether.

We are not just fel­low club mem­bers but friends, and any­one new to the club is wel­comed and made feel very spe­cial and part of the fam­ily. At least ten of our start­ing 15 in the last few games have played to­gether since un­der 14s and with more play­ers break­ing through, the fu­ture is very bright for Rath­drum Rugby Club.

How is the club’s cur­rent crop of youngsters get­ting on and what do you see as be­ing the main chal­lenges fac­ing our youth sys­tem over the com­ing years?

At present we have ev­ery level of rugby from un­der-8s all the way up to 16s. Next year, we will be es­tab­lish­ing an un­der­18s.

Re­al­is­ti­cally this is as far as we can go with the youth struc­ture, as af­ter 18s guys head off to col­lege and fil­ter back in dribs and drabs to our se­nior struc­tures.

We have some ex­cel­lent coaches at mini and youth lev­els, Dave Cross our youth co-or­di­na­tor is do­ing a fan­tas­tic job in en­sur­ing both coaches and games are in place for our stars of the fu­ture. All minis train on a Satur­day morn­ing, 14s and 16s af­ter school dur­ing the week.

The club also has a youth de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, Neil Short who trav­els around to all the pri­mary schools in the lo­cal­ity tak­ing classes for rugby train­ing.

This is a great way for kids to learn about rugby and gives them the op­por­tu­nity to be a Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Con­nell for a few hours ev­ery week. Ev­ery sum­mer we run a rugby sum­mer camp, this year the kids were de­lighted to be vis­ited by Shane Byrne and Gor­don Darcy, a great thrill for some of the Drumettes as well!!!

The big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing us for the fu­ture is the re­cruit­ment of coaches, we are al­ways looking for vol­un­teers to help out at ev­ery level in the club. If you are read­ing this and you want to help out please visit our web­site and get in touch, your help and sup­port would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

Fi­nally, the first wave of third gen­er­a­tion play­ers has started in Rath­drum, con­grat­u­la­tions to Ro­nan and Pam, Ja­son and Ann Marie, and Moggs and Brenda for sup­ply­ing the club with the nu­cleus of the Rath­drum 2028 se­nior team.

In­com­ing Rath­drum RFC Pres­i­dent, John Cash­man with his mother Telia and fi­ance Lara.

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