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'If I can help in some way': Connacht's Copeland offering his house part-time to HSE workers

Robin Copeland speaks to The42 about his lovely gesture to medical workers.

Robin Copeland in action for Connacht.
Robin Copeland in action for Connacht.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT’S ROBIN COPELAND has made an incredible gesture in an effort to help healthcare workers through the Covid-19 crisis.

The back-row player posted a message on his Twitter account today, saying that he has three beds in his house in Galway, which he can offer as part-time accommodation.

Copeland, a Wexford native, lives close to the Galway clinic, which would make it a convenient place for medical workers to stop for rest amidst the ongoing epidemic.

“Can someone tell me if there is any HSE staff in Galway looking for part time accommodation?” he wrote.

“Near to Galway clinic. I have 3 beds that staff can have, place is fully furnished and clean.”

The message triggered a hugely positive response, accumulating over 300 retweets and over 2,000 likes at time of publication.

It’s also a timely gesture to make, as a further 126 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 683. Additionally, a massive recruitment drive is set to get under way across the Irish health service as it prepares to deal with the expected rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

Speaking to The42 about his motivation for extending the offer to the local medical workforce, Copeland said he shares the house with fellow Connacht team-mate Stephen Fitzgerald.

And with all four provinces out of action at the moment, he thought he could offer the space to someone who needs it.

“As soon as we were told to go away from the training base, the house has been empty,” says Copeland, who is currently in Limeick with his girlfriend.

“I was up there today, and we cleared out some stuff.

I was thinking [of] who might want it? It’s right beside Galway clinic. So I was thinking maybe I could help some of the people who are coming back into the healthcare system and have put their hand forward to take on the excess work that potentially could be there in the coming weeks or months.

“Or maybe people in the healthcare system who don’t want to go home to their families in case they’re infected or do get sick. [It's somewhere] they can go. I’m just really thinking of someone who could benefit from having the house for a while. That was just what I was thinking.”

Copeland added that he published the tweet to find out if there’s a demand for the kind of accommodation service that he can provide at the moment.

He’s still in the early stages with his proposal, but there’s a definite sense of personal fulfillment that he’s helping to curb the spread of infection.

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robin-copeland-celebrates Copeland is following his own individualised programme at the moment. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It just kind of took off, there’s been a lot of positive feedback from it. There’s been a few people in touch, but I want to make sure it’s for the right people for the right reason.

 ”Nobody has come forward saying they’re in that situation but a lot of people have liked it and shared it. Hopefully we’ll find someone who could really benefit from it.

“You see what’s happening in Italy and the unbelievably tough things their medical staff are going through. You just hope and pray that it doesn’t get that bad here. Anything that can help in this situation, I think we all should be doing a bit. If I can help out in some way, I’d love to.”

The Guinness Pro14 has been suspended indefinitely due to the Covid-19 outbreak while the Irish rugby season is to conclude with immediate effect. The situation will be reviewed in line with government advice.

All four provinces have cancelled their collective training as players are instructed to use individualised training programmes for the next two months. The IRFU hopes that all players will be able to resume group sessions on 18 May.

Copeland is working through his own training programme at the moment and also picked up some equipment from Connacht to assist him with that. Many of his team-mates are staying in Galway.

Meanwhile, IRFU has confirmed that their staff, including all professional players, will have their wages reduced by 10% to 50% due to the financial pressure on Irish rugby caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

“It’s the next eight weeks really,” Copeland explains.

“I think they’ll reassess then but I don’t think we have anything for eight weeks. What we might have is a bit of an extended pre-season from then. I don’t think the league would be finished but nobody really knows anything yet.

“We’re obviously a cross-border multiple-country competition. It’s hard for all the countries to be in the same place at the same time, recovery wise from this. It’s going to take time and we’ve all just got to stay patient and hope that we’ll be back on a pitch soon.”

Copeland says he’s paying two mortgages for houses in Limerick and Galway, but insists he’s in a position to offer his Galway accommodation to someone who could benefit from it.

“I’m taking a pay-cut and I have two mortgages to pay, but I just figure there’s other people who are potentially worse off than I am. I can afford to do it at this moment. And I’ll see for the next while if it’s something that I’d be able to help somebody with.”

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