Cork rugby: Former Con ace Tomás Quinlan makes the switch to Colorado

Cork rugby: Former Con ace Tomás Quinlan makes the switch to Colorado
Cork Constitution out half Tomás Quinlan on the attack against Dolphin.

CORK rugby player Tomás Quinlan recently joined up with Major League Rugby side the Colorado Raptors who he hopes to lead to a successful campaign this year.

The former Cork Con and Ireland U20 rugby player joined the Colorado-based side from French club RC Narbonne.

“I am really excited to play in the MLR, a league that is quickly developing in terms of playing standard and popularity around the world,” revealed the talented out-half.

The Cork native arrived in Denver on November 30, to acclimatise to his new team-mates and the USA rugby environment.

“I landed here to a snow blizzard, so I adapted to the weather pretty quickly. Denver is a very cool place. It has lived up to everything I was told about it. I am pretty happy and excited for the future. The people are great here. They are very welcoming and they love the Irish accent.”

Kicking a penalty for the Irish U20s. Picture: INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli
Kicking a penalty for the Irish U20s. Picture: INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

The move to professional rugby in the USA from his previous club RC Narbonne happened most unexpectedly for Tomás, who was initially planning to move home to Cork Con before circumstances dictated otherwise as he recalls.

“It was around March of last season when this opportunity came about. I rang the Narbonne video analyst at the time, Steve Brett, for a chat regarding my future at the club and unknowingly to him I was planning to go back playing with Cork Con. He convinced me to give pro rugby another go. He rang around to help make it happen.

“Confidence was at its lowest at this stage regarding my ability to still perform at a decent level because the rugby side of life in Narbonne just wasn’t taking off for me, so I struggled big-time with confidence. He just told me 'look at the highlight reel that got you to France'.

“It showed how quickly I forgot the standard of rugby that Division 1A AIL rugby has got to offer and the standard of rugby I know can play at.

“The lifestyle in Narbonne was incredible, a beautiful town and the weather was pretty much decent all year round.”

He has been very impressed by the standard of Major League Rugby.

“The standard of rugby is much higher than I originally expected. Games can be really intense like any top of the table clash back home in the AIL.

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

More physical:

“Teams are a lot more physical over here with maybe not as high a skill set compared to back home. Facilities are top of the range with regards to gym, recovery and pitch facilities. The stadium is pretty cool and very unique. There are some pretty big signings in the league and we are lucky to have Rene Ranger with us who shares a wealth of experience being an All Black.

“It is really good to pick his brain. It will be great to play against the top international players. Hopefully the league can take off. If they feel it can do well enough then they won’t be afraid to invest the money.”

Tomás played for both the Munster Academy and the Ireland U20 team.

“I went through the systems and it was an unbelievable experience. One from that group of close friends survived and he’s doing extremely well. We are all delighted for him. I try my very best to watch the Munster games, even though the times are very awkward.

“I get slated when I have my phone out when Munster are playing during a gym session. I was very fortunate to play with some very talented players for Munster and Ireland. I made friends for life.”

The talented out-half also enjoyed a very successful schools’ career with Christian Brothers College.

“Schools rugby was incredible despite not winning a drop of silverware. It doesn’t get much better than playing with your best friends. We still bemoan our semi-final against Crescent in Musgrave Park. After school I joined Cork Con and won an U20 All-Ireland Cup medal under two great coaches, Brian Walsh and Paul McCarthy.

“We also won a handful of Munster Senior Cups and Bateman Cups. Winning the AIL medal in 2017 under Brian Hickey was the best achievement. Another person who makes the club special is Kenny Murphy. A lot of the work he does goes unseen. He really makes the whole system work.”

Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

The Ballyvolane rugby ace is eagerly looking forward to welcoming family and friends over to Denver in the coming months as they support his great adventure.

“My girlfriend Isabelle was over for a couple of weeks just after Christmas and hopefully she will get over again before the season ends. My parents will also be over soon. I would love to get Cork Con over for a tour after they win the league to hopefully play Colorado Raptors in a game.”

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