Kiwi rugby academy expands to Australia as Wallabies legends show support


Whilst not directly linked, Rugby Australia has thrown its support behind the IRAA program and one only had to look around the room on the fourth floor of the Sofitel Hotel in the CBD to understand the level of rugby-royalty support the academy boasts.

Emily Chancellor (left) Michael Lynagh (centre) and Nick Farr-Jones (right). Credit:AJF Photography (Andrew Fraser)

George Gregan, John Eales, Matt Burke, Nick Farr-Jones, Phil Kearns and Andrew Mehrtens were all there to laud the program’s history of developing players and coaches over the past 20 years through intensive camps, mostly in New Zealand.

Michael Lynagh, the former Wallabies No.10, flew in from the UK just for the event as the IRAA’s patron and explained why he was a supporter.

“I wanted to throw my support behind this initiative because it has been so easy recently, particularly here in Australia, to criticise,” Lynagh said. “What’s harder to do is do something about it. David and his team have been positively proactive in getting this sorted in a short period of time.

“You can see the calibre of people in this room today that there is a real need and requirement that needs to be filled. People want to see Australian rugby do well and with the help of Murray and David [Mortimer] and all his team, this is the start.”

The IRAA will begin in January next year with camps at Sydney Olympic Park for aspiring rugby players aged 11 to 18. Scholarships will be offered and the IRAA is keen to work within the broader rugby landscape to share ideas and ultimately improve the standard of Australian rugby.

Former All Black Murray Mexted (left) and David Mortimer (right).

Former All Black Murray Mexted (left) and David Mortimer (right). Credit:AJF Photography (Andrew Fraser)

“It’s a fantastic concept and I think we should all get behind it and jump on board because it could be something special,” Burke said.

Eales said the IRAA offered former players who did not pursue a professional coaching career an avenue to share nuggets of wisdom.

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“It’s a way of getting you back into the game and thinking differently about the game in a way of you being able to share your skills,” Eales said. “It’s a big deal.”

Organisers, who have seen more than 100 graduates earn international honours as either coaches or players, believed the cream of the crop would come through in around five years’ time.



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