The diploma, which will be recognised at Level 7 on the National Framework of Qualifications, the same as a bachelor’s degree, was described as “world class” by HETAC chief executive Séamus Puirséil.
Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald complimented those involved with the Munster Academy, in particular manager Hamish Adams and Donal Lenihan, Irish Examiner columnist and Academy chairman.
“Since the advent of professionalism there has been an increased onus not just on performances on the field but on how players behave off it,” said Fitzgerald.
“It is vital that players receive the best all-round education to develop their personal as well as their playing skills. I believe that if we achieve this award — with its wide and varied curriculum — it will help to nurture the future stars of the Munster and Ireland senior panels.”
The aim of the Academy is to develop quality rugby players to play for Munster. The three-year, part-time programme develops the student in all areas of sporting competences while also engaging in third level education or a trade apprenticeship.
To qualify for the programme, a player must have the potential to play senior international rugby; Munster Rugby’s elite player development programme monitors potentially suitable players from U16 level upwards and Academy participants are recruited through a talent identification programme, an interview and a full medical and musculoskeletal examination.
The Academy programme began in 2004 and takes on up to seven players each September. It will have 20 students from July 1 this year and operates from Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork and the University of Limerick.
It is managed by Hamish Adams, a former provincial player in New Zealand, a Masters degree holder in sports psychology and former head coach with Dolphin RFC.