Derval O’Rourke makes switch to rugby player development

Former hurdler will take up part-time position with the Munster squad

Four months after formally hanging up her track spikes Derval O'Rourke has now found herself a new role in the rugby arena, taking up the position of player development manager with the Munster rugby squad.

It may seem an unlikely switch of careers, although O'Rourke was seen as ideally suited for the role, which is run by the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA), the representative body for professional rugby players in Ireland.

O’Rourke will be based in her native Cork – where she now lives – and also Limerick.

The IRUPA employ four player development managers, one in each of the four provinces, and O'Rourke's position in Munster was previously held by former international player Marcus Horan, who is now pursuing another career.


The IRUPA player development managers, who work part-time are responsible for a range of player issues.

Working with both full-time and academy players, O’Rourke and her counterparts in the other provinces focus on career exploration, personal development, and general player well-being. The role will also involve the smooth induction of new players and also the transitioning of those retiring.

“We began recruiting for the position several weeks back, she made a very strong application, and Derval has already been with us for a couple of weeks now in a training capacity,” said head of IRUPA communications Sara-Jane English.

Strong advocate

“We’re certainly delighted to have her on board, and very much looking forward to working with her.

“She definitely understands what it takes to achieve at the highest level of sport, and has always been a very strong advocate of the importance of athlete and player welfare.”

O’Rourke had her first official meeting with the Munster squad yesterday, and will split her time between the two Munster set-ups, in Cork or Limerick, although there are still plans to merge the two into a centralised location.

O’Rourke officially announced her retirement from competitive athletics last June, after a 14-year international career.

She won two European championship silver medals in the 100 metres hurdles, and also a World Indoor title in the 60m hurdles in 2006.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics