An international sports star is set to give Midwest students a shot at the big time this summer. Rugby player Justin Fitzpatrick, who has played top class rugby for Ireland and Ulster, will take part in a series of coaching camps in the Chicago and Milwaukee region over the coming weeks, with a professional rugby career potentially up for grabs for those who excel.
Fitzpatrick, who boasts 50 European caps for Ulster and 26 for Ireland, hopes to raise the profile of rugby in the Midwest region, working alongside the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee coach Scot Prunkle at a time when interest in the sport is at an all-time high in North America.
Commenting on his Midwest initiative, Fitzpatrick said, “The Northwest is home to more rugby players than any other region of the United States. There are vast opportunities for the development of the game in the Midwest, and North America as a whole. I will have a team of top class coaches, including Scot Prunkle from the University of Wisconsin, and Jamie Turkington of Ulster and the IRFU working with me, and I am certain that we can uncover some untapped local talent,” Fitzpatrick will host three camps in the Midwest this month, in which he will pass on his extensive professional knowledge to local rugby enthusiasts. The first coaching session will kick off at the University of Milwaukee campus on June 19 and 20. The second session is on June 23 and 24 at Abundant Life High School in Madison, Wisconsin and the final session will be held at the South Side Irish rugby club in Oak Forest, Illinois on June 25 and 26.
Fitzpatrick hopes that the camps will forge a strong sporting link between the Midwest and Ulster, with the potential of player and coach exchanges a realistic prospect in the near future.
The camps will also act as a scouting session for Ulster rugby, so that the best players on show could potentially tie up with the Irish professional outfit.
“There is an historic link between the people of the Midwest and Ireland. There is huge potential here for the growth of the sport in America and for potential sponsors to be part of a new relationship with international rugby” commented Fitzpatrick.
UW coach Scot Prunkle is excited to have an international rugby player in the region for the summer. “This venture will go a long way to reward the thousands of keen rugby players we have in the Midwest,” said Prunkle.
“Justin’s coaching initiative will foster the skills and stamina to ensure rugby continues to flourish in the area once the camps have been completed. We have a great opportunity here to establish firm and long-term friendships with Ulster rugby thanks to Justin’s visit” Prunkle said.
The trip has been endorsed by Ulster rugby CEO Mike Reid, as well as Ulster supporters’ group The Front Row Union.
For more information on the rugby camp schedule and format please visit: http://www.justinfitzpatrickrugby.com/
Friday, June 13, 2008
IRISH STAR TO BRING RUGBY EXPERTISE TO MIDWEST
From other sources, here is a press release I received about a rugby camp for players/coaches ages 17 and up. The camp is lead by a professional player from Ireland and will be hosted right here in Milwaukee, with other dates in Madison and Illinois. Here's the information from the press release: