Swords man, Gerard Carmody, who now lives in Balbriggan played a very important role in the recent successful British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand. He was Director of Operations for the Lions and therefore one of the key figures who worked tirelessly to ensure the Lions tour of New Zealand was a success. He was effectively head of the team behind the team, so to speak, the man ensuring the Lions slept soundly at night, and only had to worry about playing rugby.
He headed up the team that played a huge part off the field, to ensure that players had nothing to worry about, bar winning their matches.
As every rugby player knows, it is the hard work done on the training ground and in the gym that ultimately leads to success on the pitch. Much of this success comes from the hard work of a key body of people you might never see, but whose efforts are vital to building a winning environment, the team behind the team.
The County Leader contacted Carmody, who spoke about his role in the successful tour. “The Irish Rugby Union has been very kind to me and given me a two-year secondment,” says Carmody, who will revert to his role as Ireland’s team services manager after the Lions tour. “But I actually travelled over in June 2015, which was a couple of months before the Rugby World Cup. I took a couple of weeks out and travelled over and did the first recce for the tour. I started full-time from January 2016 onwards. My job was about issues off the field of play, and involved making sure that the players only needed to worry about what went on during the matches”.
“I started off looking at every single viable option in terms of hotels, training venues and the use of gyms, pools and looking at the infrastructure of New Zealand and the challenges of the weather, traffic, distances to and from venues. It also involved suppliers and vendors that we were going to use, from laundry to buses, to freight, as well as airlines. These become important when you consider that that we are ferrying around 80 or so people across New Zealand, with all the associated equipment and freight. My job was to put all those systems in place and finalise these details with the head coach, Warren Gatland.
Issues like players’ kit and what kind to use taking into consider different weather conditions prevailing in a country like New Zealand. Will it be cold, windy, even snowy, as this was winter in New Zealand, so planning clothing was important.
A very important part of Carmody’s task revolved around the hotels used by the touring party. “When we look at hotels, we had to consider that we are bringing in 80 people and we need private dining facilities, so buffet style for breakfast and dinner and snacks for the players were of paramount importance, as they eat a lot of food. We also had to plan space for our analysts, where iMacs and computers, with 10 or 12 spaces needed. Large leisure areas with soft furnishing and large screen TVs and pool tables etc. Our equipment had to be stored, so there are only a few hotels that can cope with this.
Another consideration was that each player needed a double bed, to ensure maximum comfort and a good night’s sleep. He said.