Carlow Rugby proud of the Byrne twins
October 7, 2014 12:00 am Richard Blake
Members of Carlow Rugby Club in particular, and the Carlow community in general, are taking pleasure these days in the remarkable progress of the Byrne twins, Bryan and Ed, in Leinster Rugby.
Last weekend, in front of over 43,000 people at the Aviva Stadium, the dynamic duo of Bryan and Edward Byrne joined the fray in the second half of the Guinness PRO12 encounter between Leinster and Munster.
But just 10 years ago the twins were key members of an all-conquering Carlow Under-11 minis side.
The Byrne twins, who turned 21 in September, are the sons of Carlow Auctioneers Thomas and Anna Byrne. Former Carlow minis coach John Farrell recalls when Edward and Bryan first came into the Carlow club mini rugby set-up as six year olds. They joined a gifted group which also included current fellow Leinster Academy player Tom Daly, current Laois footballer Stephen Attride, Michael Mannion, Owen Stynes and the Farrell twins Barra and Ronan.
John Farrell and Carlow Youth Co-Ordinator Derek Hanley recall that the Byrne brothers were “lovely lads, eager beavers who never caused an ounce of bother and always gave their all to the team”.
“In the minis rugby, we played Edward and Bryan in the backs. They had very good hands, were excellent at passing and were never selfish with the ball even though they had the ability to cut through themselves. Edward was the slightly bigger so we could tell them apart,” recalls John Farrell.
At the age of 12, Edward and Bryan joined their brother Thomas at Clongowes Wood College in Kildare where between them the Byrnes won a remarkable two Leinster Schools Junior Cup and five Leinster Schools Senior Cup medals. These were augmented by Leinster and Ireland caps at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20.
Despite their tender age the Byrnes are prospering in one of sport’s most brutal battlegrounds – the front row of the scrum. In a position increasingly dominated by behemoths the Byrnes are pocket rockets. Yet in all of the confrontations to date they have coped with the biggest of opponents.
Loosehead prop Edward is 106 kg and 5ft 11in. Hooker Bryan weighs in at 103 kg and 5ft 10in in height. They are both dynamic runners and, with their low centre of gravity, regularly break through for scores.
In the Carlow Club, the Byrnes are seen as the counterweight to Tullow rugby club’s Sean O’Brien. The twins father Thomas, Snr. says that his sons are totally dedicated to their sport.
“Depending on where their rugby matches are, we see the lads in Carlow about once a week. On arrival home their first move is usually a raid on the family fridge,” says their father.
Thomas, Snr. reckons that the twins got most of their sporting talents from their mother Anna’s side of the family. Her brothers Jack and Edward Doyle are former Irish Olympian show jumpers.
Of the six siblings in the Byrne family, five are boys and all are in to rugby. The oldest, Mark, has his own engineering business in Galway where he plays with Corinthians. Thomas, Jnr. was a member of last season’s AIL winning Clontarf RFC. Finally the youngest, Shane, is currently playing on the Carlow Under-12 minis side. Alongside their rugby the twins are studying in UCD.