Damien began working for Leinster Rugby as a Community Rugby Officer July 2015, in the South Dublin County Council area. He has been involved in all things rugby related for most of his life but has previously worked in financial services; he also had a stint in professional rugby after completing his third level studies.

South Dublin County Council is comprised of over 265,205 inhabitants with evidence pointing to a continued increase in the numbers of people living within the South Dublin County area. Leinster Rugby in the ‘SDCC’ area has a strong tradition dating back many years to the IRFU ‘Tallaght Project’ where rugby was widely perceived as a game for ‘others’. Today that perception has dramatically altered from a traditional football and Gaelic games stronghold to a more multi-sport area.
Rugby is now one of the most rapidly growing sports in SDCC with the playing populating ever-expanding.
Currently there are two full time Community Rugby Officers working in partnership with SDCC, Damien and his colleague Ken Moore. They are working in over 70 schools throughout the school year meaning they provide more children with an opportunity to play rugby where ordinarily they would not. These schools are made up of both primary and secondary where they aim to get as many children as possible with a ball in hand in some form of the game. Furthermore, they aim to bridge the gap for these children to join their local clubs to continue their enjoyment of the game. They also focus on third level students where again participation and enjoyment is the main aim of their engagement.

An aim of the CRO is to plan and implement a structured programme to clubs and schools with coaching support, talent identification and promotion of participation in rugby, for adults and all children through the existing clubs and school networks. Using programmes throughout schools, clubs and the community to implement this aim, Damien seeks to translate involvement in school and community projects into lifelong participation in clubs. The CROs have a strong link with the Council and working with SDCC personnel ensures they get right to the heart of every community in the area.

Development is also a big part of a CRO’s portfolio. Initiatives at primary and secondary school level introduce pupils to rugby and then provide them with a pathway to continue and develop their involvement in the sport. Primary school blitzes are held regularly throughout the SDCC area where they promote the values of rugby in a fun and enjoyable environment. Non-rugby playing secondary schools compete in the South Dublin Cup which offers students the chance to get a taste for the game in an inter schools competition. In 2015, over 350 students, male and female, took part.

Providing coaching support and assisting with club development initiatives is key to ensuring that clubs are operating to their best capabilities and can provide the best rugby experience to everyone. Damien aims to be able to serve the South Dublin community, his client clubs’ and their members and volunteers needs.

There are currently 4 rugby clubs across the SDCC area:

Senior (AIL)
St. Mary’s College RFC

Junior (Leinster League)
Clondalkin RFC
Tallaght RFC

Third level
Tallaght IT

St. Mary’s College RFC have comprehensive and successful mini and youth sections. They field multiple adult teams with both their 1st XV men and women’s competing in the All-Ireland League.

Clondalkin RFC are a Leinster League Division 1A club. They have a thriving mini & youth section and a number of adult teams – both men’s and women’s – and operate out of an ideal location in Kingswood. The club has recently undergone a very successful pitch and clubhouse redevelopment.

Tallaght RFC have a very strong rugby tradition in the local area and are making great strides at both mini’s level and will have a youth section from next season on again. They field two adult men’s team and a successful women’s team as well.

Tallaght IT competes in the SSI Third level league and cup male and female competitions. They also take part in social touch rugby blitz’s, for all students wishing to take part.

So as you can see, across the South Dublin County, there is a club and a team to cater for everyone!

On a personal note, sport and rugby in general has been a big part of Damien’s life, he is still playing himself and has been a player/coach with Enniscorthy RFC for the last 6 seasons having previously played with DLSP RFC and Old Belvedere RFC. He enjoys most sports and has a keen interest in golf. He also enjoys spending time with family, going to the gym and socialising if and when possible.

You can contact Damien at damien.mccabe@leinsterrugby.ie or find him on twitter @tedmccabe12