18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Over the past eight weeks aspiring young players have been spent three days every week in a residential camp learning new skills and getting a small taste for life as a professional player.
Players range in age from U-17 to U-20 and are all aiming for a place in the Connacht Academy, a professional contract and one day an Ireland jersey.
The players and their parents sit down at the outset with Connacht Academy Manager Nigel Carolan who outlines the sacrifices required and the gains that can be made.
There is a holistic approach to these rugby camps as players learn lifestyle as well as rugby skills. Modules include nutrition advice, yoga sessions and mental preparation seminars as well as gym work and skills training.
Coach Development Manager Eamonn Molloy is impressed with the application of these young players and the sacrifices they are willing to make.
The objective is not just to produce good young professional rugby players but better all round players who will return to their clubs and schools with a new mindset, increased fitness and skill levels and an approach to the game that will make their teams better as well.
Connacht's inclusion in the Heineken Cup for the second year running has seen another big increase in season ticket sales and those supporters old and new can be sure that there is a good flow of aspiring young hopefuls coming through the ranks.
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