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Former Ireland coach Roly Meates passes away

By Ian Cameron
The old Lansdowne Road stadium during Ireland's Six Nations meeting with Wales in 2006. (Getty)

Former Ireland and Leinster rugby coach Roly Meates has passed away after a long illness. Known as a scrum guru, Meates had a distinguished career in rugby coaching and administration.


T.W. Roland ‘Roly’ Meates played as a prop for Dublin University, Wanderers, and Leinster before making his mark as a coach. He had a remarkable 30-year spell at Trinity and served two different five-year periods as head coach for Leinster.

Meates coached the Ireland team for two seasons in the mid-1970s and led them to a memorable comeback win over England at Twickenham in 1976. He was highly regarded for his meticulous preparation, especially in set-piece work, skills, and fitness. His coaching expertise extended to scrummaging, and he conducted scrum clinics throughout his native province.

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In addition to his coaching roles, Meates served as chairman of the Ireland selection committee and made significant contributions as an administrator. He held various positions, including president of the Leinster Branch and president of the Irish Universities Rugby Union. Meates was also a trustee of the IRFU Charitable Trust.

Recognized for his exceptional contribution to Irish rugby, Meates received awards such as the Leinster Rugby special merit award and the Tom Rooney award from the Rugby Writers of Ireland. His passion for coaching extended beyond professional teams as he conducted training sessions for schools teams.

The IRFU expressed their condolences to Meates’ family and friends, highlighting his impact on Irish rugby. “The committee and staff of the IRFU were saddened to hear of the death of former Ireland coach Roly Meates and send condolences to his family and friends at this sad time,” the union said in a statement.

His funeral will be held at Sandford Parish Church in Ranelagh next Tuesday, July 11th. Meates’ legacy as a scrum coach and his dedication to the sport will be remembered by the rugby community.


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