BANDON native James Neville recently landed his dream role working as a Rugby Services Officer with Munster Rugby.
The West Cork rugby enthusiast started his new job in recent weeks and he is loving his new role with the rugby giants.
"Munster Rugby is a great place to work and I’m delighted to be associated with them," said the newly appointed Munster Rugby Services Officer.
James has previously garnered a lot of experience through his long running association as a club member with his beloved Bandon RFC which proved most beneficial for his new role as he revealed.
"In reality, it was probably the level of experience that I picked up in my role as a club member with Bandon that made me a suitable candidate for the job. It is my intention to pass on any knowledge that I have to other clubs and schools within the province, as well as picking up on any good ideas or initiatives that I encounter and sharing that information with all the clubs.
"It must be remembered that despite the success of the professional sides in Ireland, that rugby, particularly at local level, is still relatively small.
"In county Cork for example, there are 28 rugby clubs, the same number of GAA clubs make up the Carbery region alone. Therefore, any good ideas or examples of best practice need to be shared."
The role of Rugby Services Officer is a newly designed concept specially implemented by the IRFU in the four provinces which has been specifically created to build on the recent surge in popularity in rugby within Ireland.
James has a very specific remit in his new role as he elaborated upon.
"One of my jobs is to support club volunteers in implementing club development plans, another role is to be the point of contact within the Munster Branch for the operation, support and training needs of volunteers related to the IRFU Clubhouse System.
"A third aspect of my job is to identify funding opportunities and support clubs with the preparation of funding applications, providing assistance with monitoring and evaluation. I also identify examples of good practice in the areas of club management and club and community development and share this information at all levels of the game.
"Another important role I carry out is to work closely with clubs to maximise/increase volunteer recruitment and retention."
James has played a key role within his own club Bandon RFC both from a coaching perspective and administrative aspect down through the years which will be a great help to him in his new role he acknowledged.
"I started out coaching the Bandon U16 side back in 2002 and stayed with that team right until they reached U20 level.
"I’m currently coaching the club’s U18 side, after I initially got involved with them at U13 level. The bulk of the side made the Munster Cup final last season, losing narrowly to Waterpark.
"I’ve been club secretary with Bandon for the last two years, as well as the fixtures secretary previously. I have also been involved in various off field roles and fundraising events."
The Munster senior rugby team under the guidance of head coach Rassie Erasmus have enjoyed a very successful campaign thus far this season.
They currently occupy third place in the Pro 12 Championship, while they are scheduled to entertain Toulouse in a much-anticipated Champions Cup quarter-final on Saturday, April 1st in Thomond Park.
James is very happy with the progress of the senior team this season.
"They certainly seem to have discovered a winning habit. Rassie Erasmus brings a lot of experience but the biggest change this year has probably been the move to a single training base in the High Performance Centre in UL.
"The whole playing side is now operating far more efficiently than previously, when there was a dual training base and it also appears to have generated a great squad togetherness."
Rugby in West Cork is currently thriving with a plethora of teams and individual players making giant strides this season.
The Bandon Grammar senior rugby team advanced to the last four of the Munster Senior Cup.
They eventually succumbed to a narrow defeat against PBC. Kealkil native Fineen Wycherley has established himself on the Ireland U20 team, while he also made his debut for the Munster senior team recently.
Skibbereen man Gavin Coombes is also a member of the Ireland U20 team, while fellow West Cork men, David McCarthy and Liam Coombes are members of the Munster Sub Academy.
James is delighted with their progress.
"They are all very talented rugby players with stellar underage careers to date. It would be great for the West Cork area certainly if they all made the breakthrough, as that does inspire young kids, whether they are contemplating becoming professionals themselves, or just to enjoy the game at club level.
"I would be both hopeful and confident that more players will come through from the West Cork area.
"In terms of raw footballing ability West Cork is on a par with any part of the country.
"The Grammar school gave a great account of themselves this year with a squad made up solely of players from West Cork clubs.
"Skibbereen are in the knockout stages of the Munster Clubs Cup competition again this year and John Hodnett of Clonakilty RFC was recently named in an Ireland U18 Schools Development Squad."