Part-time rugby
academy programme

Rugby Academy Ireland provides aspiring rugby players comprehensive part-time training programmes ranging from 1 week to 4 months, as well as full-time 8 month programmes. Players can choose between full and half board options.

What to expect

Part-time course content

Rugby Academy Ireland provides a pathway for players to achieve their personal goals and full potential, through a comprehensive bespoke rugby programme. The Rugby Academy Ireland are 100% committed to a players welfare and future in rugby as a player, coach or referee, drawing on the expertise of highly qualified, experienced coaches and tutors to deliver the programme.

Each player’s circumstances are different and therefore RESIDENTIAL and NON-RESIDENTIAL courses are available:

  • 1 week to 4 month courses
Investing in a career in rugby

How much does it cost?

Cost to attend the Academy varies according to the educational programme the player chooses. We recommend you contact us for a player specific quotation to cater for a professional rugby experience with a variety of rugby and educational sessions.

Cost includes:

  •  Accommodation for residential players
  • Three healthy meals and snacks (Mon-Fri)
  • Cost related to local/overseas club trials (excluding flights)
  • Training and casual gear package by BLK
  • All training and tutor sessions as per program
  • All educational material and tutors for courses specified
  • Continuous report on academic and rugby performance
  • Develop a modern CV for each player
  • Transport to and from the Academy
  • All strength and conditioning sessions and programming
  • Lifestyle skills programs
  • Norma Tec recovery room usage
  • Weekly sports massage rehabilitation session
Cost will exclude:

  • Medical, dental or physiotherapy cost
  • Medical, personal and travel insurance
  • Costs relating to the “non optional” educational program
  • Visa if applicable

Download the brochure for the part-time rugby academy programme

Video analysis certificate

Players will attain a certificate in basic sports video analysis from Nacsport

Dedicated video coaches and video performance analysts are, today, an accepted part of the game in almost every professional sport. Extracting every last piece of data from a video and using it to your advantage to gain an edge over an opponent is paramount and big teams are investing large amounts of time and money on sports analysis. 

At the same time, analysis is becoming more accepted and accessible for semi-pro and amateur teams, especially as the cost of video recording hardware drops.

So, into this mix comes Nacsport. A leading competitor and a long time player in the field of video analysis software, our software is intuitive, powerful and effective. We have a product which is suitable for any sport at any level, from rank amateur to top professional. We also have plans to suit every wallet. From our entry level Basic package to our top flight Elite package.

World Rugby Certification

Players will receive the following certification throughout the year

as well as learning aspects of coaching at different levels 

Rugby Ready
Laws of the game
Concussion management
Keep rugby clean – Anti doping

A serious learning pathway

The education offered by Rugby Academy Ireland is officially accredited by the international awards body, ITEC.

Students who study with us will have the opportunity to achieve qualifications in Exercise and Fitness Instruction and Personal Training at EQF levels 3 & 4 through our flexible learning pathway, along with a variety of additional industry ready awards, including strength and Conditioning, suspension training and more.

Starting at level 2 students will study a combination of core and supplementary modules that combined will form the peak of their ITEC educational qualification and provide them certification at every step.

Level 2 subject progression pathway

  • Anatomy and physiology for exercise
  • Principles of exercise, health and fitness
  • How to support clients who take part in exercise and physical activity
  • Health, safety and welfare in a fitness environment
  • Gym based exercise
  • Group exercise to music sessions
  • Water based exercise
  • Health related and physical activity for children
  • Strength and conditioning sessions
  • Studio cycling sessions
  • Kettlebell training sessions
  • Suspension training

If students successfully complete the core and specialist modules at level 2 (EQF level 3) they will receive the ITEC Diploma in Exercise & Fitness instruction. This will provide them the necessary skills and qualifications to obtain entry level jobs in many areas of the fitness industry, including gym instructor, group exercise instructor and more.

Should they complete our full programme, they will develop further skills and knowledge which will enable them to work as a Personal trainer / Exercise specialist in a variety of fitness contexts and they will be awarded with the ITEC Diploma In Personal Training.

Level 2 - 3 progression

Diploma in Exercise and Fitness instruction

Planning & Instruction Personal Training Sessions
Anatomy & Physiology
Nutrition for physical activity

Diploma in Personal Training (Gym based exercise)

We believe that having an overall understanding of exercise & fitness theory is a crucial part of player development and supplements your overall playing career.

We offer our students this unique experience in an integrated, flexible, and supportive way alongside training, coaching and player development allowing them to achieve the best in all aspects of their time with us.


What exactly will be taught?

This course covers the first three elements of the SAQ Continuum of Training for Performance.

  1. The first topic of the course is called Dynamic Flexibility and, in this section, we cover the importance, theory, design, and delivery of a good dynamic warm-up for rugby players.
  2. The second topic is called Mechanics of Movement and this entails developing the ability of each player to move correctly. Player who can move well is the foundation of layers moving faster.
  3. The third topic is called Neural Activation or the activation and development of the fast muscles fibers which are most important for seed development.

A Certificate is presented to all successful participants. Examination is by completion of a timed and supervised Multiple-Choice Questionnaire (MCQ)

This course covers three further elements of the SAQ Continuum of Training for Performance.

  1. The first topic of the course is called Quickness of the Mark training and in this section, we cover the importance, theory, and delivery of exercises to develop reaction, anticipation and the ability to start quickly for rugby players.
  2. The second topic is called Agility Development and this entails developing the ability of each rugby player to move with agility and to change direction efficiently and effectively.
  3. The third topic is called Programming and, in this section, we illustrate how the SAQ Continuum can be implemented into rugby training sessions for children, teenagers and for adult teams of all standard.

A Certificate is presented to all successful participants. Examination is by completion of a timed and supervised MCQ

This course examines the pre-season requirements in terms of the physical development of the player for the sport of Rugby.

  1. The first topic of the course examines the Components of Fitness for Rugby as well as looking at the principle elements if each component.
  2. The second topic examines the stamina or endurance requirement for the sport and how best to implement a programme to ensure players can be skillful, fast and fit for the duration of a game.
  3. The third topic examines the strength and power development needed for the players. It looks at circuit training, body weight training, partner exercises as well as weight training – all of which can contribute to strength and power development.

A Certificate is presented to all successful participants. Examination is by completion of a timed and supervised MCQ

This course examines the function and ability to use the body that players have and use.

  1. The first topic of the course examines Functional Screening of Rugby Players to determine the compensations that they develop over the years.
  2. The second topic examines how the body functions. Every action the player makes involves two opposing muscles working together. The Functional Screen will help identify the muscles can limit or restrict how the player function. This can affect speed, skill and stamina of each player.
  3. The third topic demonstrates the exercises for stretching the tight muscles involved and the exercises needed to develop the strength of he opposing weak muscles. In this section the various compensations noted in the players on the course are the issues selected.

A Certificate is presented to all successful participants. Examination is completing a Functional Screen on a fellow student and prescribing exercise for two observed compensations.

This course is both practical and theory. Each week an one hour lecture is delivered and this is followed by a 90 minute speed training session. This session is timed with electronic timing device and is recorded for each player for the duration of the programme.

The lecture examines the theory of the wide area of speed and agility while the session are varied between acceleration sprints, run-in sprints, agility sprints and a regular speed testing session where performance times at taken at 10m and 20m intervals. These are then used to examine the progression of the player throughout his or her participation in the Academy.

A Certificate is present to all successful student who completes the written assessment by means of Multiple-Choice Questionnaire test.

What do previous players say?

Past rugby academy players and participants share their experiences

Spencer Loughman

Hear how Spencer is now travelling the world with his rugby

Gauthier Petit

Gauthier is the best Belgium scrum half of his generation.

Reggie Corrigan

Former Irish rugby union player, turned media correspondant.

David Upton

David from Belgium shares his experience of the Rugby Academy in Ireland

David Selby

David from the USA shares his experience of the Rugby Academy in Ireland

Stefan Du Plessie

Stefan from South Africa shares (in Afrikaans) his experience of the Rugby Academy

First-hand experiences

Sending our son Stefan to Ireland was one of the biggest decisions of our lives. All he wanted was to play rugby and just needed a fair chance to achieve his goals. Not only did he achieve that but he also got trials for Italy!

Charl du PlessisParent from South Africa

A professional setup in a great environment with friendly and extremely knowledgeable coaches. The academy is everything it says it is on paper and more. You can only get better both on and off the pitch from attending it. Thank you for a great year where Johan and Dan helped me to find a newborn appreciation for rugby.

David UptonAcademy student from Belgium

It is an excellent pathway if you are interested in living and training like a professional and whatever your rugby requirements are –an aspiring professional or as a player wanting to improve and develop your game, I would highly recommend the RAI programme to help you achieve your goals.

Conor Nesbitt2019 Men's Academy player

Contact us to find out more!

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Rugby Academy Standards

The Standard Approach to Field Emergencies in Rugby (SAFE) programme aims to provide rugby specific, pitch side emergency care training and skills to medical staff and non-medical individuals involved at all levels in Irish rugby.

There are three different levels of SAFE Rugby training available:

  • Level 1: Coaches, club officials, referees, parents/guardians (1-day course)
  • Level 2: Domestic game medical and allied health professionals (1-day course with assessment)
  • Level 3: Restricted to professional game medical staff (2-day course with assessment)

Our Level 2 & 3 courses are recognised for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits. All levels have pre-course online modules that must be completed before the training day.

The SAFE Rugby Level 1 course is specifically targeted at non-medical club and school coaches, players, referees and parents. Following the same key principles as the other levels, it is very user friendly and allows plenty of time to have all those questions that you had stowed away to be answered by our instructors.

SAFE Rugby has been designed to provide a standardised method of assessment and management of the initial stages of injuries occurring in rugby. Our programme recognises the fact that most people involved in rugby will only deal very occasionally with a significant injury. Our step by step, practical approach will ensure that the participant is confident and competent in looking after all eventualities until professional help arrives.

The SAFE Rugby techniques are adapted from emergency medicine and prehospital emergency care best practices and are taught by highly experienced and skilled pre hospital care practitioners and senior medical staff from a variety of specialities including anaesthesia, orthopaedics and emergency medicine.

SAFE Rugby courses at all levels include Basic Life Support / Advisory External Defibrillation training and certification by the Irish Heart Foundation as well as a SAFE Rugby certificate from the IRFU, both valid for 2 years. Core skills include the initial approach to an injured player, managing suspected spinal and head injuries, managing fractures and joint injuries and concussion awareness. The instructor / participant ratio is normally 1:6 which allows for plenty of skills practice. The training days are mostly practical in nature and have been extremely well received by all those who have attended.

The SAFE Rugby team are always happy to talk to any club/school or individual who wants to participate in a SAFE Rugby course. In addition to our planned schedule of courses, we welcome any approach to run additional courses.

Irish Rugby’s Youth Coaching Course is an introduction to the 15-a-side game for coaches and helpers with limited experience in rugby. The course is suited to people working with players aged 12+ with an emphasis on and enjoyment and coaching through best practice. The course is designed to develop the coach in the role of ‘Teacher’.

Entry Criteria:

  • Participants must be a minimum of 16 years of age
    • Coaches aged 16-18 years are restricted to performing in an Assistant Coach role, under the direct supervision and guidance of an Accredited Youth Rugby Coach aged 18+
  • Priority (where required) will be given to participants actively involved in coaching youth players

 Accreditation Criteria:

Course Requirements – all attendees must ensure the following certificates are completed and uploaded to GAINLINE, the IRFU’s online education platform:

  • World Rugby Beginners Guide to Rugby
  • World Rugby Laws
  • World Rugby Concussion Awareness

Details of GAINLINE and online modules will be available to anyone who registers for the course. Full course attendance is mandatory. Coaches must demonstrate practical (on course) knowledge of safety awareness in skills involving contact. All post-attendance course work is mandatory and must be uploaded to GAINLINE. Coaches must demonstrate knowledge of the “Child Welfare Document” and will be required to sign-off on the document.

The IRFU reserves the right to modify, replace or add to accreditation requirements in accordance with updates to Coach Development programmes.


  • The IRFU Coaching Accreditation Re-Validation programme is currently under development and due for launch in season 2020/21
  • It is envisaged that IRFU coaching accreditations will be re-validated on a 3 yearly basis provided coaches have fulfilled specific ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD) requirements during that 3-year period from when they received their IRFU coaching accreditation
  • Such CPD requirements will vary by coaching level, and opportunities to build on existing IRFU coaching accreditations will be provided by way of provincial workshops, seminars, and conferences as well as online resources aimed at promoting coach development in a more self-directed manner

Club and School Affiliate Referees are defined as Adult persons (Aged 18 to 59) who:   

  • Are qualified and appointed, by a school or club, (to referee a match, or training session) to which they are affiliated.  
  • Are qualified and appointed by their school or club (or requested by the Branch) to a ‘blitz’ or similar tournament in which their school or club is participating  
  • Are a refereeing resource within their club/school only.
  • Are not available for appointment to matches by the Branch or Branch Referee Associations/Society

Responsibility for their appointment rests with their club/school.    

Club & School Affiliated Referees may also apply, if they wish, for full membership of their Provincial Referee Associations/Society.


Qualification Requirements:

Club & School Affiliated Referees qualify by:  

  • Attendance at IRFU Club & School Affiliated Referee Workshop.
  • Database registration
  • Qualification is valid for 4 Seasons, inclusive of initial season of validation.

Qualification must be renewed during 4th Season, i.e: Workshop re-attendance.



  • IRFU 3rd party liability insurance. Accreditation ‘card’ (email) with re-validation (expiry) season.
  • Registered on IRFU/Provincial database as Club & School Affiliated Referees.
  • Access via the IRFU and World Rugby website on Law changes and rulings.
  • Overall Rationale Improve the game and refereeing standards.   Address safety issues.  
  • Formalise the status of these referees.
  • Responsibilities The Club & School Affiliated Referee must:  
  • Keep up to date on all Law Changes & Rulings (these are updated regularly on both and on World Rugby Website).
  • Ensure their re- accreditation in the appropriate season