Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

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Virtual Run – For the love of the Blues

Connacht Rugby and Bank of Ireland have teamed up for a fundraising initiative ‘For The Love of the Club’ from St Patrick’s Day for one week until Mar 24th.

There is great interest across the club in getting behind this fundraising initiative, especially from the players.

Connacht Rugby have made it incredibly simple 2 steps:

  1. Register at www.myrunresults.com
  2. Do a virtual 5K or 10K fundraising walk or run from Mar 17-20th
  3. Record your result at www.myrunresults.com

The entry fee is €10 and all of the money raised will go to Galwegians!

So this is a chance for some much-needed exercise, and to support our beleagured club funds.

There is also a €5K donation by Bank of Ireland to the club who goes the extra mile.

Are you up for helping us with the challenge?

Danno Heaslip RIP

Our club is deeply saddened by the passing on Thursday 4th February of our former Captain, past President and club stalwart Danno Heaslip after a long illness borne with great bravery and dignity.

Due to the current public health restrictions, unfortunately we are unable to be present for the funeral, however Galwegians members and the many friends of Danno can express sympathy with the Heaslip family by leaving a message of condolence online.

Ar dheist Dé go raibh a anam dílis

Reflections on vaccination from our Club Doctor

David Bouchier-Hayes, Club Doctor

Tonight I sit here watching Match of the Day whilst a remarkable process in going on inside my body. This Wednesday I was lucky enough to receive my first dose of the much discussed Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19. This novel vaccine uses well researched mRNA technology adapted to fight this virus. mRNA (or messenger RNA) is a substance found in all cells that transmits instructions for building proteins to specific areas in the cell called ribosomes which are essentially small protein producing factories in each cell. It is a little like having blueprints for a car being delivered to an assembly plant.

The vaccine uses mRNA to make these small assembly plants produce a protein called a ‘spike’ protein, which is a match for the one that is on the outside of the Coronavirus which causes the viral cells to be able to enter our own human cells, with subsequent damage to those cells. The mRNA does not affect my own cells’ DNA, nor does it make the ribosomes produce the actual virus itself. Once these ‘spike’ proteins are produced and multiplied within my body, my own immune system responds by producing antibodies to the ‘spike’ protein. So if I am exposed to coronavirus, these antibodies attack the ‘spike’ protein and render the virus incapable of attacking my cells.

It is a little like nullifying the attacking talents of a good opposition out half. Without this incisive player or protein, the rest of the team or virus becomes useless as an attacking force, simply by taking out this one protein or individual player. So as I write this, my body has been manufacturing this protein inside my own cells, rather than in a laboratory. My immune system is now recognising these spike proteins and attacking them, as it will subsequently attack any coronavirus that has the temerity to enter my body, and completely obliterate this noxious invader.

Thinking in depth about it, the processes involved and the research and human endeavour that underpins them is as close to magic as I think I will ever experience in my lifetime. The scientific community have produced the equivalent of putting a man on the moon, in record time, but with safety being the overwhelming consideration. I feel truly honoured and humbled to have this remarkable process go on inside me, and I can assure you that the actual injection was extremely easy, aided by the professional, dedicated and very upbeat staff at the vaccine centre in GUH, even though it was well after 5 pm, and they had another two or three hours to go.

I didn’t feel the needle go in. I’ve had a slightly sore arm today, but two paracetamol this morning was enough to take care of that. I received the vaccine after a busy day in the operating theatre, but it wasn’t a problem at all. I’ve done a full day’s work today, and took a 45 minute walk with no issues at all. There has been one mild adverse reaction to the vaccine seen in GUH in someone with a history of severe allergy to a previous flu vaccine, and was managed easily and appropriately and I don’t believe even needed to stay in hospital overnight.

So there is an end in sight to this pandemic, and for those of you who are a little nervous about receiving the vaccine, I can only give you my story of a really positive and, to me, an absolutely extraordinary experience. I promise you, if you think that a smart phone or computer is cool technology, to have these processes in your body understood by people at a cellular level and that knowledge being used to empower my own body to manufacture the threatening piece of an invasive and life threatening virus, which then recruits my own immune system to produce something that will destroy this same virus, is truly mesmerising and bordering on the miraculous in my mind. Stay safe and well, everybody. There is an end in sight and with a bit more work and sacrifice, we will ride out this latest (and probably last) severe wave of this life changing virus.

If any member wishes to speak to me directly about this, please contact the main club email and they will put you in contact with me where I will be happy to help.

David Bouchier-Hayes, Club Doctor

MB, BCh, BAO, MD, FRCSI(Urol)

Consultant Urologist and Robotic Surgeon

Associate Professor(Hon.) RCSI

Clinical Fellow (Hon.) NUIG

Stay Vigilant, Stay Smart With COVID

In what is a landmark event (or possibly the landmark event) in the history of public health, the first vaccine against the novel Coronavirus has been administered outside of a trial setting.

The results to date have been extraordinary, and the side effect profile, although heavily reported especially on social media, is quite minimal and the vaccine appears to be very safe. In fact, my own sister who is a research scientist in Texas, is receiving her first dose on Tuesday 15th December, and is very excited.

This vaccine, allied to others that are coming on line, provide us with our best chance of resolving the incredibly difficult challenges that have faced us all, both individually and collectively as a society.

However, there is still a way to go, and in rugby terms, we are probably into the last 10-15 minutes of the match, and we have all seen matches lost, and people injured and hurt, at the very end of games, so we still have to stay vigilant and stay smart about what we do and who we meet over Christmas.

Thus it is with a positive outlook and hope in my heart that I would like to thank all the COVID compliance officers, the coaches, the volunteers and the players for all the hard work and perseverance that they have led exhibited over the last 9 months, which has ensured that our club has stayed safe. Happy Christmas and here’s to a happier New Year.

David Bouchier-Hayes
Club COVID Safety Officer

Return to Rugby for Youth Academy

With the return of underage rugby, we enter a happy phase of reopening of activity in Galwegian’s Rugby Club, and I felt it would be of help to outline some of the steps that parents which parents will have to take to help the club keep the children safe and having fun outside, which is our highest priority.  I highlight a few of the important points here.

1.  Outdoor activity is probably the safest form of social interaction available to all of us at present, as open spaces and wind and fresh, circulating air disperses viral particles away from areas of high concentration as well as anything we have available.  So we believe that the environment that we have in the club will be a very safe area.  Not even the virus likes a blustery day in Galway!

2. If the child has any signs of being unwell, please do not allow them to train.  If there is any doubt, keep them at home.

3.  Each team has at least one COVID Compliance officer per team who will be in attendance at every training session.  Please follow any instructions that they give you or your child.  Their role is to ensure compliance with the IRFU guidelines and to report to myself as Club COVID Safety officer.  They do not have any discretionary powers so please respect any of their instructions, they are volunteers taking on extra responsibilities, and have very little personal leeway in terms of the adhering to safe practices that they are monitoring. 

4.  All participating players of any age have to have a Fitness to Return to Play declaration form filled out EVERY time they come to training.  This should be done via the Clubforce app which all parents should download. In order to utilise this facility, all players of any age will be required to be registered.  This should be completed ON THE DAY OF training, not the day before.  Your team coaches and Compliance Officer will assist you with set up of the app. and registration etc.

5. Travelling in a car together has been shown to be a dangerous environment for virus transmission.  Thus people from separate family ‘bubbles’ or ‘pods’ must NOT travel together in a car to or from training.  Thus car pooling, or giving lifts to your child’s friend should be avoided.

6.  Public transport should also be avoided to get to training.  If there is no alternative, either skip training, or make sure that older children wear a mask in keeping with CIE regulations. 

7.  Please arrive as close to start time of training (no more than 5 minutes before), with the player fully dressed for training.  Please do not congregate together (players or parents) before or after training.  Please leave the ground as soon as possible using the one way system in effect.  Again, do not congregate with other parents after training.  Dressing rooms, showers and the bar will be closed for the foreseeable future.  Please park at least one car space away from each other thus allowing adequate space between parked cars.

8.  Water bottles, bibs, training tops etc. are not to be shared between players.  The players should try and bring their own hand sanitiser, but there should be hand sanitiser available going on and off the pitch.  There is to be no hugging, hand shakes, high fives etc.

9.  One parent per each underage player is allowed to come to training and wait for them.  However, spectators are not allowed, so if you wish to wait in the ground throughout the training session, please stay in your car. This is a challenging time for everyone, but especially young people who are being denied many parts of their young lives, and have been distanced from their friends.  However, if we all work within the guidelines that are laid out, we should be happy kids laughing and exercising in a safe environment as soon as possible.

Please also read the most recent IRFU Return to Play Guidelines. See especially the section on “Guidelines for Club Members”. We advise all parents to read the information carefully.

David Bouchier-Hayes

Galwegians RFC 2020 AGM FAQs

BEFORE THE AGM

Q. Why is the AGM virtual?

A. Since last spring, the committee has been closely monitoring the Govt. COVID-19 public health guidelines, with a view to holding a live AGM if possible. In August, the further tightening of numbers for public gatherings meant that a live event was simply not feasible. Hence the decision to run a virtual event. This is in keeping with the advice of the IRFU to all clubs.

Q. When & how will the AGM happen?

A. It will be held online on the ZOOM platform at 7pm Thursday October 1st 2020.

Q. Who Is Eligible to Attend?

A. All Life Members and paid up Ordinary or Playing members are eligible and encouraged to attend the AGM. As this event is virtual, pre-registration is required by emailing  no later than 5pm, Tuesday 29th September. Entry to the virtual room on the night will strictly be limited to Members who have pre-registered.

Q. Can I Nominate an Individual for Office

A. Any Member wishing to contest election for a seat on the Board shall inform the Director of Administration by emailing  not less than seven clear days prior to the Annual General Meeting of his or her intention to stand for election and the Board position sought. The Member shall obtain from the Director of Administration the prescribed Nomination Form and return it to him by email, including a proposer and seconder together with a signed commitment to contest the election not later than two clear days prior to the Annual General Meeting. Only Members in good standing will be eligible to stand for election and/or propose and/or second a candidate for such an election. A Member may propose himself or herself.

HOW WILL THE MEETING BE RUN

The objective is to simulate a live event in so far as possible through the appropriate use of technology.

Q. How Can A Member Access the Virtual Meeting?

A. The AGM will be held on the ZOOM virtual platform. A private link to access the meeting will be emailed to all registrants on the morning of the AGM.

Q. What is the Quorum?

A. The quorum for an Annual General Meeting is 20. If a quorum has not assembled in the virtual meeting room within 30 minutes of the start time of 7pm, the Director of Administration may in his discretion declare the AGM abandoned.

Q. Is there a max. attendance limit online?

A. No, there is no max. attendance. The ZOOM platform will be able to accommodate as many eligible Members as possible. However please note the registration deadline above.

Q. What will the duration be?

A. While it is hard to predict an actual duration, the expectation is that the AGM should be complete within 90 minutes. To facilitate this, papers will be made available in advance to those registered where possible i.e. agenda, minutes from last year, Directors’ Reports

Q. How will input from attendees be possible at an online AGM?

A. At the start of the meeting, everyone will be asked to observe online etiquette, mute their microphones and switch off their cameras so that the only person visible and audible will be the person speaking. After each Director’s report is given, attendees will be invited by the Chair to indicate whether they want to ask a question or make a comment by switching on their camera and clicking the ‘Raise hand’ function. Attendees will then be invited to speak in the order in which the cameras were switched on. After an attendee has finished their input, they will be asked to mute their microphone and switch off their camera again.

Q. What happens if the same question is asked twice?

A. In the interests of time-keeping and efficiency, we would ask that attendees would try where possible not to repeat questions that have already been asked and answered.

Q. Can online voting be held?

A. Yes. If there is a contest for any position or vote to be held, we can conduct an online vote limited to the registered participants.

Q. Can I vote by proxy?

A. No, voting will be limited to those in attendance.

Q. What if I have further questions on the AGM?

A. Please email  and we will endeavour to answer any queries as best we can. 

Many thanks for your co-operation and we look forward to having a healthy attendance at the AGM.

Galwegians Pitch Development Fund Appeal

The return of rugby is now in sight, however COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines will place even more pressure on our limited facilities.

Conscious of this, the club committee are backing a creative solution to ease the load, namely the development and enhancement of our training facilities.

This will include the development of one end of our main pitch together with improving the top pitch sand area which will have a big impact on easing congestion amongst our different squads.

Naturally this comes at a cost, so we have set a fund-raising target of €15K to complete this work pre-season. We have set up a ring-fenced fund exclusively for this development.

We would appeal to all our members to please contribute whatever you can, to help provide this vital resource to our club players as they make their long-awaited return to training.

Our partners Clubforce have set up a Donations page to make this as simple as possible. Please click here for more info.

Pitch areas for development outlined in sky blue

Padraig Moran, President

Galwegians playing tradition

Call to Youth Academy Coaches, Managers and Volunteers

Joe Healy

Firstly, thank you all for your efforts over the past year. Whilst it has been a frustrating time for us all over these past months it has been heartening for everybody in the club to see the great work you are doing to develop our future Senior players.

Your role in ensuring that the young boys and girls in our care enjoy their rugby experience while improving and developing their skill sets is vital to our viability as a rugby club with the ambition to be competitive at the highest level.

It is, after all, only a few seasons since we gained promotion to Division 1 and there is no reason why the players currently in our Youth Academy shouldn’t be the young men to help bring us back there again in the coming seasons.   

We are in the process of finalising our plans for next season so for those of you who have an interest in coaching and/or management with a Youth Academy team for the coming season can you please respond to my recent email before the end of May with thanks to those who have already responded.

Please also get in touch if you haven’t already been involved with a team but would like to participate as a volunteer in any capacity.

Joe Healy, Director of Youth Academy ()

Seeking Women’s Head Coach

Who are we?

Galwegians Women’s Rugby is one of Connacht and Ireland’s most dominant and consistent Women’s teams. The Women’s Senior Squad competes in the All- Ireland League against the best teams in the country. The team also competes in the All-Ireland Cup and won the title in 2016, 2014 and 2012.

Recent seasons have seen Galwegians Women field a Second Team competing in Provincial competitions and allows players a stepping stone to All Ireland League standard.

Galwegian’s Women’s Rugby can boast within its ranks current and past Irish Internationals and are the back bone of Connacht’s Interprovincal Womens side. Connacht pro players Bundee Aki and George Naoupu have previously held coaching roles with the Women’s Team.

The Women’s section is a crucial component of Clubs social activities with a social calendar to rival our fixtures list during both the Winter and Summer months.

All of these components allow us to attract a good mix of committed athletes, rugby enthusiasts and novices to the game. We are looking for a vibrant, creative and ambitious Head Coach to bring their enthusiasm to this team

Who are we looking for?

  • Proven planning and organisational ability
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Understanding of a high performance environment
  • Minimum of three years coaching experience at a competitive grade.

Supported by the team manager, assistant coach, seconds team coach, team captain and director of women’s rugby, you will provide our women’s teams with the tools to achieve success in their individual competitions.

Your core duties will be:

• Plan the coaching program for pre-and-in- season training to support the development of player skills at all levels of experience and which will provide for challenging, active and effective coaching sessions for the entire player base;
• Execute the coaching program along with assistant coaches at training sessions;
• Evaluate match performances and training sessions with the coaching team and players and evolve the coaching program as necessary;
• Build and embed a process to identify and develop playing talent in both squads and regularly provide clear, honest feedback to individual players on how they can improve;
• Attend our Tuesday and Thursday coaching sessions and matches with the senior squad.

An IRFU Performance Coach Award (formerly Stage 4) or international equivalent is desirable but not essential (if you can demonstrate the capacity to progress and work towards this accreditation).

How can I apply?

If you are energetic and ambitious coach with a love of Rugby and are looking for a friendly squad with an ethos of success we want to hear from you.

Please contact our Director of Women’s Rugby, Ruth O’Reilly with your coaching
experience by email

Deadline for Expressions of Interst is Monday 8th of June.

Advice from our club doctor regarding COVID-19

I would like to give a few bit of advice from a medical point of view to the best of my ability. I would point out that I am not an expert in epidemiology, viruses or respiratory medicine but I will do my best to try and outline what is going on, what you can do to help yourself and others and how to get through this crisis.

David Bouchier-Hayes, Galwegians Medical Doctor

What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a variant of an extremely common virus which has caused respiratory infections for many years. However, the difference on this occasion is that this strain is incredibly contagious and has a significant death rate or mortality which is about 10 times that seen with the common flu.  It appears to have been transferred from the animal community, as many of these viruses are, and originated in the Wuhan region of China. Due to strong trade links in the textile industry, it found itself being transferred to Italy and other countries and then has travelled throughout the world.  

How Does It Impact Us?

It is important to remember that the vast majority of people who contracted this virus will have minimal symptoms and will recover very well. However, a number of people will be severely affected and this is especially relevant in people who are over the age of 70, with mortality rate increasing as you get older. The good news is that we are starting to see a significant drop off of the cases in China, there are medications that had been trialled which look very promising and there are also vaccines which are being inflated and investigated at present. However, there is no chance of a vaccine being available qualified for probably 12 months, unless some drastic measures are taken, which may compromise safety for those receiving vaccines in the long-term.

How Can We Prevent It?

With this in mind, in the short term the best measures are preventative. You will have heard probably of the phrase ‘flattening the curve’. The idea of this is to reduce the amount of social contact and interaction so that when the inevitable infected cases arise, they do so in numbers and over a period of time that the health care system can handle. The problem in Italy has been that the rise in affected cases has been so rapid that the health care system has been overwhelmed. I have been in touch with friends and colleagues in Italy, Asia, Seattle, Australia and Germany and the situation is very severe in Italy, with the whole health care system of the North of the country being devoted to treating people who have been affected by this virus. 

This is why ‘social distancing’ is such an important concept. An infected person will infect between 2 and 5 people.  Each of these will go on to infect between 2 and 5 people, and so on and so on, causing exponential growth. This will lead to massive numbers of infections that will also occur here unless we reduce the number of people that we come into contact with. The most effective measures to reduce social interaction are to:

  1. Stay at home.
  2. Stay approximately 6 feet away from other people as much as possible. 
  3. Reduce all activities outside of the home to an absolute minimum. That means only travelling to pick up medicines, shopping for food stuffs, or to seek medical care.  Activities such as going out to dinner, shopping for clothes, getting a haircut, going to the gym or going to any social gathering including meeting up together in someone’s home, should be avoided as much as possible
  4. Simple hand washing is the most effective way of reducing transmission.  This is much more effective than use of hand sanitiser, it is also much cheaper, and easily available in your home. 
  5.  If you have to sneeze, sneeze into a tissue and dispose of this tissue immediately. If you do not have a tissue, sneeze into your elbow. 
  6. Something that I have found helpful is to always have a pen on me. I use this for pushing buttons on lifts, pushing open doors or anything I can use it for so that I avoid touching possibly contaminated surfaces.

What if You Show Symptoms? 

If you develop a fever, or a dry cough, significant shortness of breath or begin to feel unwell, at present the advice is to contact your General Practitioner by telephone. They will decide whether you meet the criteria for testing for the virus. In the meantime you should self-isolate.

What is Self-Isolation? 

Self-isolation is recommended for anyone who believes that they may have the viral infection, or have recently been in a high risk area.  It is quite significant and you have to spend in your time in 1 single room, with meals being delivered to you to the door of the room. You should also try and use a separate bathroom from the rest of the family. It is a pretty daunting prospect, but is extremely effective.

In general, the best rule of thumb advice that I can give in relation to reducing transmission of this virus is to think you have yourself in the situation that you actually have the virus and trying not to give it to anyone else, as opposed to attempting to try and not contract the virus.  If you act as if you are contagious, you will be going a huge way forward towards reducing your risks of becoming infected.

Coping Strategies & Mental Health

Another area that is of significance is that of physical and mental well-being. The areas of keeping fit etc will be addressed by other contributors within our club, but I might give a small word in relation to mental health. This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions.  It may appear that nature and this virus has defeated us, despite our robust economies, lack of poverty and technological achievements.  However, all of these things will work very much in our favour to ensure a resolution of this crisis.  Please note that the number of recovered patients is also rising exponentially, and they will help confer immunity in our communities. 

Choose Information Sources Wisely

In the meantime, it is worthwhile trying to avoid bombarding yourself on a minute to minute basis with the ever changing details of the crisis. This will only lead to information overload and can be emotionally very difficult to handle. Take a break from social media, and try and concentrate on something else. I would recommend reading a book, binge watching that Netflix series that you wanted to watch, or playing games like Sudoku etc.  

Social media will convince you that the end of the world is upon us, if you let it. I would also only put trust in information sources that you respect and can trust.  I would listen to the WHO, and in particular, Dr. Michael Ryan, who is a no-nonsense Galwayman, who is at the forefront of defeating viral outbreaks for the last 25 years.  He is a straight talking, incisive man of action, and watching him on line will give you confidence that everything that can be done is being done. Also listen to the HSE.  They are coordinating the national response, and have many hard-working dedicated people there. There is not a huge conspiracy out there to ‘cull’ part of the population, nor was this a Chinese manufactured biological weapon.  It is a tiny, sub microscopic virus, with no innate will power or purpose.

Positive Social Interaction

While the dangers of social media are very apparent, I would also advise keeping in touch with each other. This can be done through telephone communication, WhatsApp groups, Facetime or any number of video communication applications that can be run off your phone or computer.  Humans do need some sort of social interaction, and to see other human faces and this is one sensible way of doing this. I would ask people to call their parents, grandparents and other loved ones regularly, and to keep in touch with neighbours, especially those who are older and live on their own and may be very frightened. 

A Hopeful Future?

To finish, I would like to point out that there is significant hope out there.  We are at the early stages of something that we cannot predict, but with everyone coming together, we can improve the outcome. Those of us involved in Healthcare will be dedicating ourselves over the next few weeks to make sure that this will come to pass. I myself have signed up with the HSE as a volunteer for when the system starts to come under pressure.  All of us involved in Healthcare got into this line of work primarily to help our fellow man. It is in a time of crisis like this that I believe that you will see the best response possible from us in the true traditions of medicine and nursing throughout the ages, and I promise you that we will do our very best to get through this crisis with as little damage as possible. 

How Can We Help?

Any of you with organisational skills, or simple enthusiasm can sign up as a volunteer via the HSE website. And when you are asked in 15 years time, ‘Dad/Mum, what did you do when the world was going down the tubes in 2020?’, you can say ‘I tried to help’.  No one can ask any more of you than that.  It is also a good way to fill your time during this lock down period.  I would finally say that, in time, this virus will recede, and we will pick up the pieces, and the bar will reopen, and rugby will go on.  And when it does, we will all be supporting our club with a new sense of pride and camaraderie that we all got through this together.  Stay well, my friends, and feel free to contact me by text or WhatsApp on 0868578222 if you need any help or guidance, and I’ll do what I can.

David Bouchier-Hayes, Galwegians Medical Doctor

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