Regan Primed To Announce Himself To The Rugby World

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Regan Primed To Announce Himself To The Rugby World thumbnailJack Regan, former Birr youth player has been selected for the Ireland U-20 World Cup squad.

2017 will go down as a major milestone in the Rugby career of JACK REGAN. The Birr native played in the U-20 Six Nations for Ireland while in the last few weeks has got the nod for the U-20 World cup squad and secured an Academy contract with Ulster.
Who knows what the future holds, but for now, he is making waves and before he departed for Georgia last Friday to play in the World Cup, he took time to sit down with BRIAN LOWRY.

BIRR is making quite the name for itself in terms of producing rugby players. With Peter Dooley and Shane Delahunt now playing full time with Leinster and Connacht respectively, the latest kid on the block is making his mark.
'It is like a goldmine in Offaly. There are lads coming up through the U-18's now still with the likes of Aaron Browne and Chris Maloney,' explains the latest exponent.
Jack Regan is a tower of a man. The commanding second row is now firmly on his rugby journey and the remainder of 2017 is certainly going to be an exciting time for him. Today (31st May), Ireland open their U-20 World Cup campaign against Italy in Georgia and he will be knee deep in the action.
Having toiled with hurling for a while with his native Birr, the time came to make the call and he hasn't looked back.
'It has been a long road. I have been playing for the last 12 years or so. I have been around some of the Leinster and Ireland squads from under 18 up to under 20. They were hard squads to make but when you are in there, the pathway is there for younger lads.
'I would have played hurling up until minor with the club in Birr but when it came to that age, I had to make a decision where if it was the case that I broke a hand playing hurling or something, it would be a big thing.
'At under 16, they were like come on, you will play a game here and there but when I got up as far as the Leinster U-18's, I was training every day and travelling up and down from Dublin as well so the hurling club and the lads involved understood.'
Hurling was always going to be an option. The son of former Offaly great and All Ireland winner, Daithi, the apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree in terms of sporting prowess. In fact, by his son's own admission, the former Birr and Offaly great has been the biggest influence on his rugby career, even if he has to put up with the advice from the sidelines as he jokingly explains.
'A lot of people might think that he is not happy with me playing rugby but he is the biggest influence on me playing rugby. He is on the sidelines roaring and shouting as well. He thinks he knows it all but he is great and I doubt I would be at this stage without him. He is good for tips and whatever. He will love that statement.'
So what about the realisation that there would be no second generation All Ireland medal winner in the family? No drama.
'He had a feeling alright', as Jack explains. 'At U-16 I was playing a good bit of hurling but the following two years I was called on to the Leinster U-18 clubs team. That was training every day in July and August so the hurling wasn't going to work. We had a chat about it and he said whatever you think, I will back you.'
It all started for Jack Regan in Birr RFC over 12 years ago. His progression to the International stage has been steady but he has never forgotten his starting block and his local club.
'I played with Birr up until U-18 and I would have played my last year with the club here in Birr when I was in my first year with Leinster youths.
'When I was U-15, I was called into the regional squad along with three other lads here, Chris Maloney, Conor Hogan and Aaron Daly. We played in that and played against the other regions. We got hammered in every game that year but after that I got called up to Leinster U-18 youths trials.
'You play that with the Interpros against the other provinces and then if you impress in those, you progress to the Irish Youths. It's a process and a pathway. It's great and you meet a lot of new people.
'My next club after Birr was UCD. I did my Leaving Cert and after that was college. I was only ever going to go to UCD for College so club wise; it was between UCD and Lansdowne. I went with UCD because they offered me a scholarship and I have been playing with the College since.
'I am doing sports and exercise and I haven't been into a lecture since last November with all the training and Six Nations stuff going on. I don't know if the parents will like to hear that,' joked the larger than life character.
He has two years of that three year course completed and all is rosy on the academic end of things but in the Autumn, he will embark on a new journey. With a host of international second rows on the books in Leinster and more coming through the Academy, the Birr man will be spreading his wings in Ulster upon his return from the World Cup.
'I wasn't expecting that and I was hoping to stick around in Leinster but they didn't have anything for me at the moment. Leinster said that Ulster are interested so you can chat away to them. That same day I got a call from their Academy head coach and he said he wanted me. It took off from there. It is an Academy contract. I have been up and down there but all will be sorted out after the World Cup.
'There is a lot of competition in the second row in Leinster and this will be a great opportunity up in Ulster. Hopefully a good World Cup will open up a few doors for me up there.'
There will also be another perk to the move, well he hopes there will anyway. 'I will be moving College to UUJ in Jordanstown and hopefully get a car. The father told me he would get me a car if I got a contract so he has to stick to his word now,' beamed the man set for his World Cup debut this week.
He made his U-20 debut in Glasgow last February when Ireland edged out Scotland. It went on to be a good campaign just falling short to England on the final day but he treasures that opening night in Scotland and the build up.
'I just remember all the texts and everything in the few days before. I never played against Scotland before. I wasn't too sure what to expect from Scotland. In the end, we won by a point, they missed a kick in the last few minutes. I was standing under the posts and it was marginal.'
Having beaten World Cup group opponents Scotland and Italy already in the Six Nations, there is a a danger that they might look past their opening two games and to the last game in the group against the mighty All Blacks.
'We haven't looked past Italy. Italy are a good side and we only scraped a win over there in the Six Nations. It's Scotland next and they are a good side too. Then it is on to the All Blacks and that will be a big game.
'If we can get over the first two games, it would be nice to have a crack off the All Blacks and back ourselves. Obviously the All Blacks are the best team in the world along with England. We had a hop off England and we should have beaten them. We have no fear of any team.'
One major difference to the GAA is the use of the panel. It is rare that subs in rugby don't get game time and this is all part of keeping standards, energy and levels of threat up throughout a game. Regan still wants to start in Georgia but he knows that if he not selected to start, he will have a major role to play.
'There is huge emphasis on lads coming on to make an impact. The way the game is now, it is a fast game and physical. I can't remember a game when one of our bench has not come on. Every player hopes to be starting but if you are not, you know you have a job to do when you come on. It isn't about you, it is about the team.'
Down the track the aim is to be a seasoned pro. Plans don't always work out but he has given himself the platform to succeed by securing that all important first contract.
'That is the goal. Getting the contract with Ulster is huge. You could call it a pro contract. I will be training every day, going to College and getting paid. Ulster is my future at the moment and hopefully I can break into the senior squad.'
Wherever his career takes him, he will always have Birr and Birr will always have him. From humble beginnings to now looking to cut his teeth. He is excited about what rugby has to offer him and to what he can bring to the table.
With the pending promise of a car, he can come home for a puck whenever he likes.
'I try to come home every second or third weekend. I love to go over to the hurling pitch for a few pucks or going to watch Birr hurling. I love coming home to the family and the lads.'


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