James Lowe Signs for Clondalkin!
That’s the tagline Clondalkin would dearly love! He has, however, only gone and adopted Clondalkin as his ‘home’ club and came out this week sporting a ‘Clon’ Jersey to present the successful Clondalkin youths with their Leinster medals after a record-breaking season for the club. James was a very welcome visitor to the club on Wednesday evening and is no stranger to Clondalkin as his comments about Clon on social media went viral and have established him as the club’s favourite Leinster star player.
James presented medals to the Under 15s, who finished runners-up in Division 1 and took some major scalps on their way to the final. Derek Murtagh, the youth co-ordinator, noted how they got stronger as the season progressed and how they are developing into a very competitive outfit with a strong squad of players and plenty to look forward to next season.
James then presented the U13s with their League winners’ medals, a team who went unbeaten in their league campaign and, more importantly, managed to use all 40 players in league matches. The coaching philosophy, at this stage, can be summed up as follows: ‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s about performance and giving players game time. No one learns sitting on the bench so we try to use as many players as we can in matches and get extra fixtures to keep everyone involved.’
There has been a very steady improvement in the performances of the Clondalkin youth teams this season and having someone like James Lowe to come out and present end-of-season awards is very much appreciated. James is big star in world rugby but, beneath it all, a very humble guy who was happy to come out and encourage the lads, ladies and coaches to keep doing what they’re doing and grow rugby in this area.
Clondalkin had a very successful season across all age grades. Their men’s 1st XV won their League and gained promotion back to Leinster League 1 and their 2nd XV went unbeaten in their League, so there is depth in the squads to sustain a strong league campaign next season and the work has already begun. The 1st XV also went on a very successful cup run that ended with winning the Towns Plate – a very prestigious Leinster trophy.
Clondalkin women’s team, “The Clonettes”, not to be outdone by their male counterparts, also had a very successful league campaign and also reached a cup final, only to be beaten by a single score by a Wicklow team who had managed to do the double but were lucky on the day to beat Clon who finished the game stronger. The Clonettes are in a great position to kick on next season and have an established coaching ticket in place with plans to win their league and grow their numbers.
While James mingled selflessly with players for selfies and to chat, Clondalkin’s Mini and Youth Coaches were addressed by John Bagnall, the Leinster Rugby Development Officer for the North Midlands, on how to put in place a more sustainable template for the growth of rugby in the area.
Clondalkin are determined that the young boys and girls who come up to “give it a try” on a Sunday morning will find a welcoming, inclusive club that will do their best to teach them the game. That starts with volunteers and parents helping in any way possible to assist and encourage the children’s and youth teams to develop and reach their potential. We pride ourselves on being a very friendly, open club and are always looking for new players and members at all ages to join our family.
Thankfully rugby at the amateur level is still a game for all shapes and sizes, we can cater for all levels of ability and usually a player finds a position that suits them. The game we see on the TV is very different and parents need to realise that these are professional elite athletes and they are conditioned to play at that level. Most will never play or tackle each other at that level and so concerns re injury tend to disappear once they see the children in action.
The only rugby activity until the new season is a summer camp on the 9th of July in Clondalkin for U7s right through to U12s and for the last 3 years, it has been sell-out. There is still some availability but places are going fast. This is a great way to try out the game and make new friends along the way. Who knows, James may well attend this camp too?