All Blacks & UNICEF Ireland give masterclass for rugby minis, highlighting ‘right to play’

21st November 2016

*NOTE* Photographer Naoise Culhane has sent photos to picture desks, on a no fee basis. Please contact if your organisation doesn’t have a picture desk.

DUBLIN, Fri 18 Nov 2016 UNICEF Ireland was delighted to be joined by All Blacks players Sam Whitelock, Charlie Faumuina, Aaron Smith and Joe Moody earlier today, at a pre-match skills & drills session for rugby minis in Dublin.

Ahead of their hugely pressurised meeting with the Irish side, the four international players warmed up Friday by lining out against 26 children at Seapoint Rugby Club, Churchview Rd, Killiney, Co. Dublin at an event highlighting children’s right to play. The 10-year-old children were all chosen for their participation in the event because of their clear commitment to sport, and to rugby in particular.

While the adults in attendance were mindful of this weekend’s high stakes clash, the children did not hold back when it came to their Q&A session with the players, causing some on the New Zealand side to question their motives. “What is your most used line out call” asked one of the boys, to which Sam Whitelock responded “Who is your Dad? An Irish International?”

UNICEF’s global partnership with the All Blacks helps to shine a spotlight on the importance of physical activity in all areas of children’s lives. Sport and play are crucial elements for childhood development and furthermore are the right of every child, as stated in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens, New Zealand Women’s Sevens, Black Ferns, Maori All Blacks and New Zealand Under 20 teams continue to contribute and interact with UNICEF’s work as they play rugby around the world.

All Blacks veteran lock Sam Whitelock said: “We know that children need to play, but children also have the right to play. It’s great for the All Blacks to team up with UNICEF to work to make sure every child is able to play sport. My teammates and I are privileged enough to travel the world in the name of sport – and we are happy that we can use this opportunity to spread the word about the importance of play.”

Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland Peter Power said: “This amazing collaboration between UNICEF and the All Blacks serves to highlight the right of children to play and develop, no matter where they are born.”

UNICEF believes every child has the right to grow up with the opportunity to develop through playing and sport and sportspeople help us to inspire and engage children in our work at home and overseas.

UNICEF Ireland recently assisted children to write a report for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It was clear from the report the important role that sport plays in their lives. In the report children highlighted their view that sport helps them keep fit, promotes their well-being and gives them opportunities to hang out with friends and have fun.

UNICEF Ireland works closely with sports people on our Ambassador programme, including rugby legend Donncha O’Callaghan and GAA star Joe Canning. On their field visits to emergency zones throughout the world, Donncha and Joe have seen first-hand how sport helps children traumatised by conflict or disaster to cope.


*NOTE* Photographer Naoise Culhane has sent photos to picture desks, on a no fee basis. Please contact if your organisation doesn’t have a picture desk.

*NOTE* Feel free to use material from the UNICEF Ireland and UNICEF Ireland youth social media channels. Please credit UNICEF Ireland, as appropriate.


UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been operating for 70 years.

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For more information, please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | Tel: +353 1 809 0281 | Mob: +353 85 1395272

Photo: Naoise Culhane for UNICEF, Dublin 2016

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