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Five University of Galway rugby players spend three months in New Zealand

Five rugby-playing students from University of Galway are back home from the experience of a lifetime Down Under – thanks to a unique exchange programme between the college and a club in New Zealand.

The five University of Galway RFC players – two from senior women’s squad and three from the men’s – travelled to Auckland in May and spent three months living, working, and playing rugby just outside Auckland.

Finn McCall, Callum Wall and Sean Cullen even helped Whangamata RFC to win the senior A league while Mia Williams and Elizabeth O’Shea played for local representative side Hauraki North Diamonds. And it’s all down to a rugby exchange programme between the University of Galway’s Rugby Club and Whangamata.

All five have now returned to Galway with enhanced rugby skills and great memories of their experiences in the Southern Hemisphere – and the University of Galway RFC is now arranging for a Whangamata RFC player to visit Galway for the 2023/24 season.

This is the third year that the exchange opportunity has operated and is due in no small measure to the strong links forged by the University of Galway Club’s Director of Rugby, Bernie Kelly, with Whangamata and Thames Valley Rugby.

Bernie worked as a headmaster and rugby coach in Wellington and Auckland for 25 years.

On top of that, the senior men’s team travel to Bordeaux in mid-September for a pre-season tour that includes a game against the local side RC Gradignan.

And as the new academic year gets underway, University of Galway RFC has issued an open invitation to new players to both the intervarsity and club teams.

Training and home games take place at the University’s Sports Grounds in Dangan, Newcastle.

The women train at 7pm each Monday and Wednesday, while the men train at 7pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The University club has a strong rugby pedigree having won the most Senior Connacht cups of any club in the province to date and are current holders of the Curley Cup.

Last season, the Women’s team made it to both the Connacht Ladies’ Cup Final and the College Cup Final while the Under 20’s men’s team play in the Leinster U20s league.

For more information, email

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