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Two promising Cork youngsters sign for Top 14 club Pau's academy

Eoghan Barrett and Ben Roche are heading to France to pursue professional rugby careers.
Jun 28th 2018, 4:25 PM 22,195 22

TWO PROMISING YOUNG rugby players from Cork have signed for Top 14 club Pau’s academy on three-year contracts.

Eoghan Barrett and Ben Roche recently completed their Leaving Certificates at Christian Brothers College, Cork and will now pursue professional rugby careers in France.

Centre/wing Barrett played for the Ireland U19s this year, while number eight/lock Roche – this year’s CBC captain – has represented Munster’s underage teams.

Eoghan Barrett on his way to scoring a try Eoghan Barrett on his way to scoring a try for CBC this year. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Barrett and Roche have starred for CBC’s Senior Cup team in recent years, with their impressive performances standing out for the Cork school, which has also produced the likes of Donncha O’Callaghan, Tomás O’Leary, Duncan Williams and Donal Lenihan.

Former Munster number eight James Coughlan is now in charge of Pau’s academy, having played for the Top 14 side before retiring from playing, and he too is a former CBC student.

With Barrett and Roche having missed out on places in the Munster academy, Coughlan and Pau have provided the youngsters with an opportunity to become professional rugby players.

Both players have signed three-year centre de formation contracts with the ambitious French side, who finished eighth in the Top 14 last season. The strong Munster links in Pau should help them to settle into life in France.

Pau’s current senior team boss is Simon Mannix, who was an assistant coach at Munster under Rob Penney, while ex-Munster players Dave Foley, Sean Dougall and Paddy Butler are part of the first-team squad.

The province’s links in Pau extend into the backroom staff, with former Munster performance analyst Elliot Corcoran in charge of that department of the club and Paddy O’Sullivan assisting him.

Ben Roche with Mark Fleming and Caolan Dooley Ben Roche has been an impressive presence for CBC. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Barrett and Roche will qualify as JIFF [Joueurs Issus des Filières de Formation] players if they complete their three years in Pau’s academy, a major advantage for the players and Pau, with tweaks to Top 14 regulations ensuring clubs will need to field more JIFF players in their matchday squads in the coming seasons.

While there are no guarantees of a senior professional future for Barrett and Roche at Pau, the presence of Coughlan should make their initial transition to life in France more comfortable.

Their promise as rugby players has been obvious to those who have seen their performances for CBC and now Barrett and Roche will look to convert their potential into top-level ability in the coming years.

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