Henshaw and Aki Continue Shared Journey with Lions

By JOHN FALLON

Bundee Aki couldn’t bear to look as the Lions squad was announced so he left his Connacht teammates watching it on television and went outside at the Sportsground to cast his eye over the academy players training. He knew he was in contention, he just didn’t dare to dream and he didn’t know exactly how close he was to joining that small band who have played Super Rugby and also been selected for the Lions.

The academy players did enough to distract him but then all hell broke loose. “I just heard this massive roar from the changing room. I was like, what’s going on here? Then all the lads and coaches ran out. I was in shock, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say. I turned around, I said I got leave, I got to go home. The academy lads and coaches didn’t know what was going on. I had to leave, I said thanks to them.”

He rang his wife Kayla and she was in tears as well. Phone calls were made to New Zealand, messages of congratulations came flying in from all over the world as he drove home. “We were shedding tears on the phone, when I got home we shed more tears. Told my parents, same thing. To look back at the time I left New Zealand, to now. It’s been great. It’s such an honour to be able to represent the British & Irish Lions.”
One man who wasn’t the least surprised to hear Aki’s name being called out was Robbie Henshaw, his old Connacht, current Irish and hopefully future Lions centre partner.
“No, not all, I wasn’t the least surprised. From the last game he played against England he had a stormer. Definitely, when he gets a run of games that’s when he hits form. From what he has done previously, no surprise in my eyes,” said Henshaw, speaking at an Intersport Elverys and Canterbury event announcing details of a competition for young fans to train with Aki and Henshaw.

Their Lions selection is the latest chapter in their shared journey. Henshaw is three years younger and having made his Connacht debut at 19, just three months after leaving Marist College in Athlone, he had two full seasons under his belt and was an international when Aki arrived at the Sportsground in autumn 2014.

By the time Aki became eligible and made his Irish debut against South Africa in November 2017, Henshaw was a seasoned international who had returned from the Lions tour to New Zealand.

There was never much doubt about Henshaw making this Lions squad but Aki’s hopes seem to fade when a couple of niggling injuries limited game-time with Connacht during the winter and then he was out of favour with Six Nations selection before finally getting the nod against England when Garry Ringrose picked up an ankle injury.

That paved the way for his 31st Irish appearance, all of which he has started and 15 of them with Henshaw, but his red card for a high hit on Billy Vunipola hardly did his Lions hopes much good, not least as he has had no relationship with Warren Gatland up to this.

“I only met him once or twice,’ said Aki. “That time they beat us in the Millennium Stadium when he was coaching Wales. I only said hello to him then. Then the second time was when he came to training the week of the England game. Just said hello to him. I haven’t had him as a coach. He spoke to us briefly after the training session, that was it really,” said the 31-year old.

Aki has no qualms about the red card that day when he became the first Irish player to be sent off twice in an international. “It is part of the law, I am not going to argue with who made the decision. It was the right decision at the time looking back at it. It is the law in the game we have to live by and change the way we play rugby anyway.”

Henshaw was one of the first to congratulate him on his Lions selection and welcome him on board. They had hit it off from the moment Aki arrived in Galway, off the pitch every bit as much as on it.

“That was one of the things Bundee brought, just how important relationships on and off the pitch are key, particularly in close positions, to make sure that myself and himself were always staying in touch about rugby and also having an off switch. It wasn’t just about rugby. We were able to chill out and play PlayStation, just do things outside of rugby.”

“I had to watch him play the squeeze-box,” said Aki. “I didn’t realise how talented he was in music.” Henshaw spared Aki having to learn the accordion that he had been playing tunes on since his grandfather began teaching him when he was six, but he has encouraged Aki on the guitar.

Both have played just once in South Africa, Henshaw on the Irish tour in 2016 and Aki a few years earlier with the Chiefs when they played Super Rugby against the Kings and the Stormers and both are looking forward to going back.

The Springboks haven’t played since beating England in the World Cup final but Henshaw doesn’t think that will have an impact.

“I don’t think so. All of their players have been playing whether it is in Europe, Japan or in South Africa. They have all been playing throughout the year. They will be fresher. I don’t know how many games they have played but they will be good. They will have a spring in their step. They will be fresh. And they will have a good training camp under their belts. They will be well up for it,” he added.

Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki are pictured together in the official Canterbury British & Irish Lions kit, available from Intersport Elverys stores and at elverys.ie.

To celebrate the partnership, Intersport Elverys and Canterbury have teamed up to give young rugby fans a unique chance to train with their respective brand ambassadors, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw. You can enter the competition HERE.


Aoife Dunne (6) Designs New Mayo GAA Alternate Jersey

Intersport Elverys, in conjunction with O’Neills, Mayo GAA & Mayo LGFA, are delighted to announce that Swinford youngster Aoife Dunne and her alternate jersey design has been chosen as the winner of our #YourTeamYourDesign competition.

The talented six year-old’s concept was picked amongst hundreds of entries in our competition and will now see her jersey worn by the Mayo senior stars for 2021.

Aoife will also receive a new set of O’Neills jerseys, for her school Milford N.S as part of the prize.

Juliana Dunne, Aoife’s mother, said it was a really proud moment for the family.

“We were really shocked,” she said. “We thought we were coming here today just as a finalist so this has been amazing. Aoife was only five years-old when she drew the jersey design, so we didn’t think she would have a chance of being the winner.

“So we’re delighted and it’s a hugely proud moment for our family and we’re so proud of Aoife.”

Mayo senior star Paddy Durcan and Mayo ladies star Clodagh McManamon presented Aoife with the new jersey at Intersport Elverys recently. Durcan added that he ‘loved’ the new jersey, while McManamon said: “The design is so cool, I can’t believe Aoife, who is only six years-old designed it.

“I’m really looking forward to wearing it for 2021.”

The Mayo senior footballers will wear Aoife’s jersey for the first time on Sunday at 1.45pm in MacHale Park, where they face Meath in the National Football League.

The new Mayo GAA Alternate jersey is now available from Intersport Elverys or O’Neills HERE.


Your Essential Guide for Kids’ Summer Camps

Summer Camps are the absolute highlight of the season for parents and children, and that time of year is nearly upon us once again!

With so many options to choose from – FAI Summer Camps, GAA Camps, rugby camps, or whatever your child is into – finding the right camp that will help your child make new friends, enjoy new experiences and develop new skills, is easy.

So, while we’ll let you decide on what camp to send your kids to, we’ll do the hard work and help ensure they have everything they need to make their experience as fun and enjoyable as possible with our essential guide.

Sound good?

summer camps

If you’re a parent new to summer camps, or a veteran, read on to make sure your kid is ready for what could be the best experience of their lives.

Summer Camps Backpack

Probably the most important item for your child’s summer camp week. 

Why?

Well, it’s going to need to store all their essential items, which might include football boots, wet clothes, money, food and whatever else.

summer camps

And don’t forget:

– kids get excited, so it will probably get its fair share of abuse. That means their current school bag might not fit the bill either!

So, consider these three key aspects:

  • Compartments: Multiple storage areas are the best. You want compartments big enough to fit clothes, shoes, a towel at the very least. Then smaller exterior pockets for essentials like money, hand sanitiser, sunscreen, tissues, mobile phone and charger. 
  • Durability: a week at a summer camp will test even the toughest backpack, so one made of a sturdy fabric or nylon with tough zippers will make it through the week
  • Bottle holder: hydration is so important when kids are active in the sun all day, so you want to make their access to their water as easy as possible. An exterior bottle holder is a huge help

Waterproof jacket

We don’t need reminding that a standard day in Ireland can experience four seasons of weather in a matter of hours. 

So, while the forecast might predict sunshine for the week, don’t forget that the weather experts can often be wrong and it’s super important to be prepared for a washout. 

Fail to prepare and all that.

summer camps

A light, durable and waterproof jacket is an essential piece of clothing for the backpack.

Change of clothes

Speaking of clothing…

Even with a jacket, there’s no guarantee your child will stay clean and dry – kids will be kids!

So don’t forget to pack an extra set of clothing, plenty of socks and underwear and a spare towel, so if things do get a bit messy, you will have no concerns.

summer camps

Running shoes

Your child will be clocking up quite the mileage throughout the week, so a comfy pair of running shoes is a must. 

The likes of Nike, ASICS, Skechers and adidas have a wide variety of running shoes and trainers that will be able to handle the thrills and spills of an Irish summer camp.

It’s always a good idea to back two pairs as well!

summer camps

Backpack essentials

Don’t forget these items either – you’ll thank us later!

  • Sun protection: the Factor 50 and a pair of sunglasses will help for the endless hours your child will spend in direct sunlight
  • Insect repellent: the midges love summer time, so either wipes, spray or an insect repellent wristband will save your child of stress
  • Toiletries: a basic first-aid kit, hand sanitizers and mask, tissues and wet wipes may all come in useful
  • Water: at least two bottles, and freeze one the night before so it can melt throughout the day. And try and avoid surgery drinks 
  • Lunch and snacks: if the camp doesn’t provide food, high energy, nutritious bites that your child enjoys will keep them fuelled. 
  • A plastic bag: this is crucial to put wet clothes or dirty shoes into 

summer camps backpacks

And don’t forget to label all your kids’ items too with permanent marker!

Conclusion Summer Camps Fun

We really hope this guide to Irish summer camps will give your child the best experience they can have and make the experience more relaxing and enjoyable for you too. 

If we’ve let anything out that you think should be included, let us know in the comments section, we’d love to hear from you.

Make sure to check out our website to shop all things kids and ensure your child has everything they need for camp

summer camps


FAI teams up with INTERSPORT Elverys for 25th FAI Summer Soccer Schools programme

The Football Association of Ireland today launched the 25th edition of the hugely popular FAI Summer Soccer Schools in partnership with our title sponsor, the leading Irish sports retailer INTERSPORT Elverys.

Ireland players Rianna Jarrett and Andrew Omobamidede were on hand at Abbotstown for the launch of the hugely popular programme which will see the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools return to clubs across Ireland in July and August.

The INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools cater for boys and girls aged 6 to 14 in a fun and inclusive environment, with training provided by FAI accredited and Garda vetted coaches.

Last year’s programme was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as 13,000 children attended the schools at 175 venues around the country. All 2021 INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools, at over 300 venues, will be staged subject to strict COVID-19 protocols as issued by the FAI and Government agencies.

Speaking at the launch Ireland defender Andrew Omobamidele, called up to the senior men’s squad by Stephen Kenny this week, said: “I know from personal experience just how exciting it is to be part of the FAI Summer Soccer Schools programme. It was one of the highlights of the summer for me and I am delighted to be part of today’s launch.”

Ireland Women’s team striker Rianna Jarrett said: “The FAI Summer Soccer Schools are such an exciting part of the summer for young girls and boys all across Ireland and the 25th anniversary promises to be extra special for our young players as they get back on a pitch at last.”

At the launch Anne-Marie Hanly, Senior Marketing Manager with INTERSPORT Elverys, remarked: “We are delighted to have partnered with the Football Association of Ireland on the Summer Soccer Schools initiative which is designed to get more children into football. It’s great to have organised sport back and we have exciting plans around our sponsorship of the 25th year!”

Welcoming the launch, FAI Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Hill said: “The 25th staging of the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools is to be celebrated and I know the news today will be welcomed by boys and girls all across Ireland as lockdown restrictions ease and our return to football gathers pace with every day.

“I would particularly like to thank our sponsors INTERSPORT Elverys who are such a well-respected and indigenous Irish brand with branches throughout the country. They are an ideal partner for our FAI Summer Soccer Schools who fully support our objectives and ambitions for this great grassroots programme.”

FAI Head of Grassroots Ger McDermott added: “I want to thank INTERSPORT Elverys for their ongoing commitment to our FAI Summer Soccer Schools. They have a great team at INTERSPORT Elverys and we very much look forward to working closely with them again in making the 25th anniversary staging of the FAI Summer Soccer Schools even better in the Association’s Centenary year.

“I know there will be huge demand for all our dates this year and I want to thank all the parents and guardians who help to make this such a special event for our youngsters. Their co-operation last summer and the diligence of our FAI coaches and staff ensured that we adhered to the COVID-19 guidelines in exemplary fashion and kept our players safe. I look forward to the same commitment to our very strict protocols from all involved this summer.”

Bookings for the 2021 programme will go live from June 3rd. For more information and to be in with a chance to win a place on the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools, please visit www.summersoccerschools.ie and www.elverys.ie.

Get ready for Summer camps this year in-store or online at Intersport Elverys HERE.

summer camps


WIN A Training Session With Bundee Aki & Robbie Henshaw

Intersport Elverys have teamed up with Canterbury to offer underage rugby players the chance to win a training session and meet with Irish Rugby players Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw near the end of 2021! The prize winners will get the opportunity to train with some of Ireland’s finest and get an insight into their training methods. This is a unique, one of a kind prize where the winners will get a chance to learn from some of rugby’s top players. The winners will also get the lowdown on training drills, tips for staying sharp and the secrets behind game prep. A ‘money-can’t buy’ experience!

Who is this competition for?

It’s open to anyone from the ages of 6 to 18 and living in Ireland.

How do you enter?

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic experience, fill in the form below to nominate a player or team, aged 6 to 18! CLOSING DATE is Friday the 30th of July at 6pm so don’t miss out!

See all terms and conditions HERE.


Individual PlayerRugby Team


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Shop the full British and Irish Lions gear in-store or online HERE.

 


Emirates FA Cup Final Tickets Terms & Conditions

1- The promoter is Intersport Elverys whose registered office is at Moneen Industrial Estate , Castlebar  with association with Mitre Sports & Emirates FA Cup.

2- The competition is open to residents of Ireland aged 18 years or over except employees of Intersport Elverys and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.

3- There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

4- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

5- Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are on Elverys Blog.

6- Multiple entries will be accepted per person.

7- Closing date for entry will be May 22nd 2023. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.

8- No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

9- The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows: Fill out the contact form on our blog

10- The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

11- The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.

12- The prize is as follows: Emirates FA Cup Final Tickets & €500 cash.

The prize is as stated and no extra cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

13- Winners will be chosen:

[at random by software, from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents.]

14- The winner will be notified by email or social media. The winner will only ever be contacted by Intersport Elverys Official pages or an official contact. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 4 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

15- The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.

16- The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

17- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

18- The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by Irish law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Ireland.

19- The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.

20- Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

21- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to Intersport Elverys and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following Privacy Policy found at [https://www.elverys.ie/securityAndPrivacy

22 – The promotor can’t guarantee which end the seats will be located in Wembley as these get allocated nearer the time.

Thanks for entering & goodluck!